Crises and Power
U.S. Foreign Policy
   Development & Aid
   Regional Influence
      Latin America
      Middle East
      North America

Quotes on Power

About the book Crisis and Leviathan


Center on Peace & Liberty Africa



Nothing has been better at producing power-expanding crises than foreign intervention. This should be unsurprising. When a government intervenes in the affairs of another country, it inevitably ventures into a complex and esoteric situation—such as a religious or ethnic dispute—of which it knows little. That is nearly guaranteed to create resentment, resistance, and crisis.

In Africa, Western powers in the nineteenth and twentieth century believed they could mold the continent to their liking. While their stated, and perhaps partly real, motive was to bring the benefits of civilization to primitive peoples, the unstated, more dominant motive was the quest for resources and an eventual outlet for exports. Imperialist hubris led to all the pitfalls that are associated with nation-building and central planning. The Great Powers’ drawing of boundaries on paper maps ignored real tribal and ethnic boundaries, leading to at least two time bombs: 1) single nations containing two or more adversarial groups, and 2) single ethic groups spread among two or more nations. The first led to civil war, as groups contested for the life-and-death power represented by the state. The second led to multiple secessionist movements, which often elicited bloody reactions by central governments wishing to hold their nations together and to maintain hold of natural resources.

These developments stifled progress toward prosperity and created crises that the colonial powers felt compelled to respond to. After World War II and with the advent of the Cold War, the cry for independence turned colonialism to more subtle forms, as the United States replaced Britain as the dominant international power. Nominally independent countries functioned as agents of the Great Powers. The United States and the Soviet Union supported various African rulers who were happy to accept the patronage and prestige while brutally repressing and robbing their populations and rewarding their cronies and themselves. (The paradigm case was Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, who brutally ruled and exploited his country with U.S. backing.) The resulting unrest elicited further intervention, both financial (“foreign aid”) and at times military (covert and overt). The inner turmoil and the putative threat from outside rivals easily justified an expansion of interventionist power.

An alternative policy has never gotten serious consideration: genuine free trade achieved through the peaceful efforts of private traders without government backing. Such a policy would have effected a gradual and nonviolent transformation of Africa into a prosperous region while respecting the rights of all—including the citizens of the developed countries. The returns African countries would reap from trade and foreign investment would dwarf any foreign aid received and avoid acting as a crutch to allow governing regimes to avoid needed reforms (as aid does).

Also, click here for Bibliography for Crisis and Leviathan.

Arab Nations:

Kuran, Timur. “The Vulnerability of the Arab State: Reflections on the Ayubi Thesis,” The Independent Review, Vol. III, No. 1 (Summer 1998), pp. 111-123.

East Africa:

MacCallum, Spencer Heath. “A Peaceful Ferment in Somalia,” The Freeman, June 1998.


Ayittey, George. Africa Betrayed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1993.

—. Africa in Chaos. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999.

—. Indigenous African Institutions. Transnational Publishers, 1991.

—. “New Path for Africa: Establishing Free-Market Societies,” Independent Policy Forum, The Independent Institute, April 28, 1999. [Forum Announcement, Forum Audio, Forum Transcript]

Bandow, Doug. “Review of the book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson,” The Independent Review, Vol. V, No. 4 (Spring 2001), pp. 611-614.

Kimenyi, Mwangi S. “Review of the book Africa in Chaos by George B. N. Ayittey,” The Independent Review, Vol. III, No. 3 (Winter 1999), pp. 471-474.

—. Ethnic Diversity, Liberty and the State: The African Dilemma. Northampton, Mass.: Edward Elgar Publishers, 1998.

Weaver, Mary Anne. “Blowback,” The Atlantic Monthly, May 1996.

White, Lawrence H. African Finance: Research and Reform. Sequoia Institute, 1993.

South Africa:

Doxey, G. V. The Industrial Colour Bar in South Africa. New York, Oxford University Press, 1961.

Frederickson, G. M. White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and South African History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Giliomee, Herbert and Lawrence Schlemmer. From Apartheid to Nation-Building. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Hazlett, Thomas W. “Apartheid,” The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, 2002.

—. “The Economic Origins of Apartheid,” Contemporary Policy Issues 6 (October 1988), pp. 85-104.

—. The Effect of U.S. Economic Sanctions on South African Apartheid. Davis, CA: University of California at Davis, Institute of Governmental Affairs, Applied Public Policy Research Program, Working Paper No. 3, April 1992.

Hufbauer, Gary Clyde, Jeffrey J. Schott, and Kimberly Ann Elliott. Economic Sanctions Reconsidered, 2d ed. Washington, D.C.: Institute for International Economics, 2003.

Hutt, William H. The Economics of the Colour Bar: A Study of the Economic Origins and Consequences of Racial Segregation in South Africa. London: William Harold, 1964.

Kenney, Henry. “South African Economic Development in the Light of the New Institutional Economics,” The Independent Review, Vol. II, No. 2 (Fall 1997), pp. 225-242.

Lapping, Brian. Apartheid: A History. Paladin, 1986.

Lingle, Christopher. “Apartheid as Racial Socialism,” Kyklos 43, no. 2 (1989), pp. 229-47.

Lipton, Merle. Capitalism and Apartheid: South Africa, 1910-84. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1986.

Lowenberg, Anton D. “An Economic Theory of Apartheid,” Economic Inquiry 27, no. 1 (January 1989), pp. 57-74.

Lowenberg, Anton D. and William H. Kaempfer. The Origins and Demise of South African Apartheid: A Public Choice Analysis. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, 1998.

Williams, Walter E. “Review of the book The Origins and Demise of South African Apartheid: A Public Choice Analysis by Anton D. Lowenberg and William H. Kaempfer,” The Independent Review, Vol. IV, No. 1 (Summer 1999), pp. 140-144.

West Africa:

Bauer, Peter T. West African Trade. New York: Augustus M. Kelley, June 1967.


Ahiakpor, James C.W. “Review of the book Ethnic Diversity, Liberty and the State: The African Dilemma by Mwangi S. Kimenyi,” Vol. III, No. 4 (Spring 1999), pp. 615-617.

Lal, Deepak. “Does Modernization Require Westernization?”, The Independent Review, Summer 2000, Vol. V, No. 1, pp. 140-142.

Lowenberg, Anton D. and William H. Kaempfer. “The Ivory Bandwagon: International Transmission of Interest-Group Politics,” The Independent Review, Vol. IV, No. 2 (Fall 1999), pp. 217-239.

Mbaku, John Mukum. “Constitutional Engineering and the Transition to Democracy in Post-Cold War Africa,” The Independent Review, Vol. II, No. 4 (Spring 1998), pp. 501-517.

World Bank:

Caufield, Catherine. Masters of Illusion: The World Bank and the Poverty of Nations. New York: Henry Holt & Company, Inc, 1997.

Wolf, Jr., Charles. “Review of the book Masters of Illusion: The World Bank and the Poverty of Nations by Catherine Caufield,” The Independent Review, Vol. II, No. 4 (Spring 1998), pp. 617-619.