Henry Kissinger & Jimmy Carter in Africa: Race & the Cold War | Wilson Center
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Henry Kissinger & Jimmy Carter in Africa: Race & the Cold War

"[Nancy Mitchell's] extraordinary research has resulted in a truly definitive account of one of the most challenging & important aspects of my presidency." -Jimmy Carter

In 1976, Africa was at the heart of the Cold War. As 36,000 Cubans flowed into Angola and Jimmy Carter battled for the presidency, Henry Kissinger triedand failedto achieve his final diplomatic coup: forging peace in Rhodesia. It would be the Carter administration, working with the British, with African heads of state, and with the leaders of the liberation movements, that would help usher Rhodesia to independence. In Rhodesia the essence of American foreign policy during the Cold War—stopping Soviet expansion—slammed up against the most raw and explosive aspect of American domestic politics: racism.

The contrast between Carter's astute policy toward Rhodesia with his bumbling policy toward the war in the Horn of Africa helps clarify his foreign policy. The Carter administration anticipated the crisis in Rhodesia and cooperated effectively with London, whereas it failed to prepare for the war in the Horn and was hampered by the inept advice proffered by its European partners.

Drawing on candid interviews with Carter, as well as key U.S. and foreign diplomats, and on a broad array of international archival sources, this study reevaluates the strengths and the weaknesses of both Henry Kissinger and Jimmy Carter.

Nancy Mitchell is a professor of history at North Carolina State University.  Her previous book, The Danger of Dreams, is a study of the clash between German and American imperialism in Latin America at the turn of the twentieth century.  Her articles have appeared in Diplomatic HistoryCold War History, and The International History Review, and she contributed the chapter on Jimmy Carter in The Cambridge History of the Cold War.

James G. Hershberg, Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University, will chair the event.

Piero Gleijeses, Professor of American Foreign Policy at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, will offer commentary.


  • Nancy Mitchell

    Professor of History at North Carolina State University
  • James G. Hershberg

    Public Policy Scholar
    Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University
  • Piero Gleijeses

    Professor of American Foreign Policy, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University