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Concrete RevolutionLarge Dams, Cold War Geopolitics, and the US Bureau of Reclamation$
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Christopher Sneddon

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226284316

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226284453.001.0001

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Ethiopia, the Bureau, and Investigations of the Blue Nile

Ethiopia, the Bureau, and Investigations of the Blue Nile

(p.75) Four Ethiopia, the Bureau, and Investigations of the Blue Nile
Concrete Revolution

Christopher Sneddon

University of Chicago Press

Along with the Litani River initiative, the Bureau’s other major international effort of the 1950s was the Blue Nile investigation in Ethiopia. This chapter begins with a discussion of the rapidly growing scope of the Bureau’s activities throughout the 1950s and 1960s and the role of technical assistance in expanding the liberal capitalist ideals of the American state. The Bureau’s crucial role in Ethiopia’s water resource development strategies stretched over a nearly two-decade period from 1951 to the late 1960s. Like the Litani experience, the Bureau’s engagement with the Blue Nile basin exhibited a mingling of geopolitics, development aid and technical assistance. This chapter highlights the Bureau’s initial experiences with river basin planning in Ethiopia, the regional geopolitical considerations of concern to US officials, Ethiopian dissatisfactions with development of the Blue Nile, and, finally, the actual outcome of the Bureau’s investigations. The response of the Ethiopian government, in particular that of Haile Selassie, to the Bureau’s proposed development of the Blue Nile is particularly salient given the emperor’s politically astute arguments for accelerated and more expansive American assistance.

Keywords:   Awash River basin, Blue Nile River basin, Bureau of Reclamation, development, Ethiopia, geopolitics, liberalism

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