Stephen Burgess


In launching the African Standby Force (ASF), African leaders over-promised to stop genocide, given their lack of political will, the weak capacity of their states, and the weak military capability of the Force’s subregional brigades. The explana- tion lies in a combination of South African idealism and determination to exert continental leadership and the desire of African leaders to sustain or increase aid to their under-resourced militaries. South Africa does not have the power or resources necessary to supply sufficient public goods to make the ASF fully func- tional and capable of fulfilling all tasks. African leaders promised to stop genocide with the calculation that no one with sanctioning power would challenge them. Burden shifting by the United States and other major powers was such that African leaders expected to be rewarded with increased aid flows. A combination of African nationalism and aid dependence trumped a highly needed international public good—the political will and military capability to stop genocide.