The United States and the Horn of Africa

History and Current Challenge

by Paul B. Henze


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This Note is based on a presentation to a conference on the Horn of Africa sponsored by the International Institute of Strategic Studies and the University of Cairo in Cairo, Egypt, in May 1990. It reviews U.S. involvement with the countries of the Horn from the 1870s, when American officers serving in the Egyptian army were active throughout the region, though without any official sponsorship or backing, through the period of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia and World War II. It concentrates on the close relationship the United States developed with Ethiopia from the early 1950s onward and the deterioration of relations following the 1974 Ethiopian revolution which brought the country into alliance with the Soviet Union. Using statistics on arms supply over the past 30 years, the paper examines and rejects the concept of "superpower competition" as the cause of the deterioration of the region and its degeneration into war and famine. It demonstrates that the political and economic deterioration of the region has resulted from Soviet military intervention. The Note concludes with a ten-point program for initiation of a program of peace and national reconciliation in Ethiopia which the author argues is essential to restoration of political and economic health to the entire region.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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