Another Fine Mess
America, Uganda, and the War on Terror
Is the West to blame for the agony of Uganda and its neighbors?
In this powerful account of Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni’s 30 year reign, Helen C. Epstein chronicles how Western leaders’ single-minded focus on the War on Terror and their naïve dealings with strongmen are at the root of much of the turmoil in eastern and central Africa.
Museveni’s involvement in the conflicts in Sudan, South Sudan, Rwanda, Congo, and Somalia has earned him substantial amounts of military and development assistance, as well as near-total impunity. It has also short-circuited the power the people of this region might otherwise have over their own destiny.
Epstein set out for Uganda more than 20 years ago to work as a public health consultant on an AIDS project. Since then, the roughly $20 billion worth of foreign aid poured into the country by donors has done little to improve the well-being of the Ugandan people, whose rates of illiteracy, mortality, and poverty surpass those of many neighboring countries. Money meant to pay for health care, education, and other public services has instead been used by Museveni to shore up his power through patronage, brutality, and terror. Another Fine Mess is a devastating indictment of the West’s Africa policy and an authoritative history of the crises that have ravaged Uganda and its neighbors since the end of the Cold War.
Early praise for Another Fine Mess:
"Epstein forcefully showcases the collateral damage of myopic American foreign policy that obsesses about terrorism everywhere -- even in Uganda -- to the detriment of all other considerations. Another Fine Mess chronicles how American foreign policy driven by short-term security concerns results in long-term crises and an entrenchment of authoritarian rule in the process. An important and prescient cautionary tale." —Brian Klaas, Fellow at The London School of Economics & Political Science and author of The Despot's Accomplice: How the West is Aiding and Abetting the Decline of Democracy
"A sizzling indictment of Uganda's current strongman and of the American policy in Africa that supports his corrupt regime with generous foreign aid." —Kirkus Reviews
"As her new book reveals, Helen C. Epstein is an eloquent advocate of human rights and democracy for Africans, as well as a courageous critic of how U.S. aid supports oppressive dictators like Yoweri Museveni in Uganda.” —William Easterly, Professor of economics at NYU and author of The Tyranny of Experts and The White Man’s Burden
“For decades, Western policy-makers have hailed Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni as a benign autocrat, a charming African Bismarck and trusted partner in the fight against Islamic fundamentalism. Another Fine Mess reveals a far darker side to this key African ally, while exposing the cynicism at the heart of American policy in Africa’s Great Lakes region. This gripping, iconoclastic, angry book raises a host of uncomfortable questions.” —Michela Wrong, author of Borderlines and It’s Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower