[interact_list] [Africa_approach_making] 'recolonisation is the only solution' _William Pfaff/R.W. Johnson

  • From: Akio Fujita <A.Fujita@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: superflychic98@xxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2001 13:48:18 +0100

[basically this is regarding Lynn's dis, but - well it's not that=20
ignorable issue in general anymore - last year I met many classmates=20
saying 'Africa is a black hole in my world'. While these indifference=20
continues - what's goin' on is basically private corporates are=20
installing paramilitaries and doing buch of resource extraction=20
missions - the cheapest way to satisfy demands from Northern consumer=20
societies, - diamonds/gems, some rare metals etc.]

But that recolonisation would be done like MacDonald does even at its=20
best - I imagine. then,=20


This is the page of William Pfaff - basically he is a very 'realistic
(not that of IR realist) ' commentator about all sorts of international=20
poltical/economic issues. And this page contains 4 to 5 articles about=20
Africa, Sierra Leone etc.=20

Also from IHT's 'advanced search' - you can get articles=20
about AIDS, Africa, Nigeria, Congo, etc.=20



Tells you that R.W. Johnson released a kind of controversial comment=20
about the 'future' of African Continent - it is retrievable at


(R.W.Johnson's book is (ed. with David Welsh)
- Ironic Victory: Liberalism in=20
Post-Liberation South Africa (OUP, 1999)
- Launching Democracy in South Africa,=20
edited with Lawrence Schlemmer, and=20

And on the web, you may find some other articles by him, like=20



As an ex-coloniser - British media carries certainly 'good' coverages=20
about issues of Africa - I think so you can hunt around in Guardian,=20
Times etc too. Of course there are Journals. (Like 'Current Hitory'-=20
available at Borders in Leeds :not in JBPL I think)

And here is a counter opinion like this:


But by so far - I think Africa has no hope for future.
It's white's playground/trash yard. Like US does to Latin America.=20


Sooner or later Africa must face some form of recolonisation
By R W Johnson

IN his New Year speech, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa=20
announced: "We must, as Africans, say enough is enough - we have seen=20
too many military coups, too many wars. We have had to live with=20
corruption. We have seen our continent being marginalised." Mbeki=20
followed this up with a ringing attack on Western countries, demanding=20
that they reduce the continent's debt burden and get more involved in=20
settling African disputes.

Such appeals no longer work. Given that much of Africa's debt derives=20
from its leaders' widespread habit of siphoning off public funds and=20
funnelling them into their foreign bank accounts (Nigeria's late=20
president, Sani Abacha, had more than =A31.5 billion in such accounts and
Zaire's Mobutu a multiple of that) it is not obvious why the West=20
should forgive such theft by writing off the debt.

And doesn't Africa marginalise itself? At present no fewer than 20 of=20
the Organisation for African Unity's 53 members are involved in wars of
one kind or another, and no African leader has been willing to=20
criticise Robert Mugabe's campaign of state terrorism against his=20
opponents in Zimbabwe - indeed, President Mbeki himself recurrently=20
appears hand in hand with Mugabe, whose thugs are committing torture,=20
murder and gang rape.

More fundamental still, the first thing most African states did at=20
independence was to lurch from self-sufficiency in food to desperate=20
dependence on Western handouts. The Food and Agriculture Organisation=20
lists 15 African states now experiencing serious food supply=20
difficulties, often as a result of the ravages of war. About 10 million
people are said to be short of food in the Congo, 900,000 refugees in=20
Rwanda are "in need of urgent food assistance", while violence in=20
neighbouring Burundi has forced the suspension of international aid,=20
despite a growing famine. In Eritrea 500,000 are affected - and more in
Ethiopia, two other states at war with one another; the civil war in=20
the Sudan means that two million people there rely on emergency food=20
supplies. An estimated 1.6 million are starving in southern Somalia,=20
but are inaccessible to relief because of civil conflict.

War-torn Angola is, the UN says, "the worst country in the world in=20
which to be a child". Food shortages are looming in Sierra Leone and=20
Zimbabwe. Per capita income for the continent as a whole has fallen=20
from =A3420 in 1975 to =A3325 last year; everywhere else it has soared.

It is no answer to blame Western colonialism. Many former colonies from
Malaysia to Mauritius are doing just fine, after all - and in much of=20
Africa local people regard it as uncontroversially true that things=20
were better under colonialism. But in any case, blaming colonialism=20
doesn't answer the question of what needs to be done about Africa - the
problem child continent - now.

The choices aren't easy. One African UN official, aghast at the Rwanda=20
atrocities, spoke bitterly but off the record. When you look at what=20
they've done, he said, there's no way you can want to hand power back=20
to the local elites. So the world has three choices: to put in place a=20
long-term UN mandate system - in effect recolonising the place; to=20
allow private companies to do the same; or to walk away. The trouble=20
is, much the same could be said of many other parts of Africa.

Other remedies are possible. One would be to break up some of the=20
bigger countries. The never-ending war in the biggest state of all, the
Sudan, pits northern lighter skinned Muslims against black Christians=20
in the south. Why not face reality, partition the country and start=20
again? The same is true of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The=20
Congo was created and held together only by brutal Belgian rule. Once=20
that ceased, mayhem and war were the norm - punctuated by a long period
of similarly brutal dictatorship under Mobutu. We have seen=20
interventions there by the UN, the CIA, French paras, mercenaries of=20
every kind and now by neighbouring African states. None of these has=20
done more than produce a pause in the mayhem. Surely it would be better
to partition into more manageable units there, too? Angola's endless=20
war similarly suggests a partition between a Unita-ruled south and=20
MPLA-ruled north.

There is some force to this, but not enough. The war between Eritrea=20
and Ethiopia shows that conflict need not cease after partition, while=20
some of Africa's smallest states - Uganda, Equatorial Guinea and=20
Rwanda, for example - have seen some of the worst dictatorships and=20

The really key variable appears to be the nature of Africa's political=20
elites. Irrespective of their political orientation, these elites have,
with few exceptions, been corrupt and authoritarian and have often=20
presided over the virtual destruction of their national economies.=20
Often their rule has culminated in the complete disintegration of their
states, so that all that is left by the end are feuding warlords in a=20
Hobbesian state of nature. The end of the Cold War saw Western donors=20
make their continuing aid conditional on "democracy and good=20
governance". This has produced some improvement - but has also shown=20
that you cannot drag these elites, kicking and screaming, towards=20
democracy if they don't want it themselves.

Old colonial hands tend to regard the continent's elites as=20
incorrigible and insist that trying to bully them into becoming=20
democrats is a bit like trying to make a lion become a vegetarian. In=20
any case, they argue, you can't divorce elite behaviour from the more=20
general culture of African societies, in which patrimonialism and=20
communalism remain the key values. Patrimonialism, they argue, breeds=20
the cult of the big man who is expected to aggrandise himself in office
and whose authority is not to be checked by mere elections - or mocked=20
by a free press.

And communalism and the lack of private land ownership, they say, mean=20
that Africans are used to taking whatever they want from their=20
environment and making no effort to maintain or protect it. In=20
conditions of dramatically increased population this leads to soil=20
erosion, a failure to maintain the infrastructure and an endemic=20
tendency toward pilferage.

There is enough truth in such assessments to make many commentators=20
snort with derision when they hear President Mbeki speak of the 21st=20
century being "the African century", the era of the "African=20
renaissance". But whereas African leaders would once have denounced=20
greater Western involvement in solving African disputes as colonialist,
Mbeki is actually appealing for it - acknowledging in effect that=20
Africa cannot manage itself. And the West, in any case, cannot just=20
walk away. It is not merely that Africa is rich in raw materials,=20
including huge and still untapped oil and gas reserves. With human=20
rights becoming an ever more prominent theme of foreign policy - this=20
is what the Bosnian and Kosovo interventions were all about, after all=20
- it is just not possible for Western policy-makers to avert their eyes
from human catastrophes of every kind in Africa without subverting=20
their own policies elsewhere in the world. As the CIA now accepts, in a
globalised world Aids in Africa is a threat to American security.

The real question is what form will Western involvement take? We have=20
seen brief interventions, emergency famine relief and, as the=20
realisation grows that this is a continent where only tough love works,
diplomatic and economic pressure. This has not been enough. What is=20
staring us in the face is a reversion to the old mandate system: an=20
acknowledgement that decolonisation has not really worked and that=20
Africa needs sustained outside help in reconstructing its ravaged=20
economies and collapsed states. At present such a reinvention of=20
colonialism - for that is what it is - brings gasps of politically=20
correct horror. But sooner or later this is what will have to be faced.


Why we can<RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK>t walk away from Africa<RIGHT SINGLE=
 QUOTATION MARK>s problems
David Begg: time for a new approach

By David Begg=20

David Begg, Chief Executive of AlertNet member Concern Worldwide, wrote
the following commentary in response to the portrayal of Africa by the=20
British magazine the Economist as "the hopeless continent". It first=20
appeared in the Irish Examiner newspaper on June 8.

In the 1970s, it was expected that much of Concern's future energies=20
and attention would be concentrated on Asia, rather than Africa. With=20
many of its nations newly independent, Africa was a place of hope and=20
confidence, a continent destined for prosperity and development. But=20
the flowering of Africa never took place. It was Asia that progressed,=20
while Africa has regressed over the last 20 years.

Internationally, despondency about Africa has reached alarming levels.=20
Floods in Mozambique, war and (recurring) famine in Ethiopia and=20
Eritrea, the implosion of Sierra Leone. All told there are some 25 wars
in progress across the continent.

Africa has become virtually synonymous with despair. The few candles of
hope that do exist are flickering weakly.

This was encapsulated in a recent issue of the Economist. The cover=20
featured a picture of a man carrying a rocket-launcher, superimposed on
to a map of Africa. The headline was self-explanatory: "The hopeless=20

Inside, the Economist opined: "For a brief moment in the mid-1990s,=20
there were signs of improvement. World Bank figures showed a clutch of=20
African countries achieving economic growth rates of more than six=20
percent, enough to lift most of their people out of poverty in years=20
rather than, as more usually predicted, in decades.

"At the same time, multi-party democracy spread across the continent. A
new crop of leaders emerged: Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Yoweri=20
Museveni in Uganda, Meles Xenawi in Ethiopia. This new breed wanted to=20
make life better for all their people by providing basic health care=20
and education. They seemed to understand that peace and good government
were essential. Though most of them had been socialists, they embraced=20
the free market. Democracy and liberalisation seemed to flourish. There
was talk of an <LEFT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK>African renaissance<RIGHT=20
SINGLE QUOTATION MARK>. It was an illusion."

These gloomy conclusions were echoed on May 22 by R.W. Johnson, in the=20
Daily Telegraph. He offered a similarly depressing analysis and went on
to propose some form of recolonisation by the West, as the only=20

While his "modest proposal" is almost laughable, it is becoming=20
increasingly difficult to convincingly dispute arguments about Africa's
"failure". The Nigerian writer and academic Okey Ndibe has attempted to
do so, but not very effectively in my opinion.

Thabo Mbeki, the South African President, is the strongest proponent of
the concept of an African Renaissance. In his New Year speech he=20
remarked: "We must, as Africans, say enough is enough. We have seen too
many military coups, too many wars. We have had to live with=20
corruption. We have seen our continent being marginalised."

Mbeki also attacked Western countries, demanding that they reduce=20
Africa's contentious debt burden and become more involved in settling=20
the continent's many disputes.

Whereas many denounce greater Western involvement in Africa as=20
essentially colonial in nature, Mbeki is actually appealing for it.=20
Characteristically, the Daily Telegraph interpreted this as an=20
admission that African cannot manage itself. I doubt that this is what=20
President Mbeki had in mind.

One thing is certain -- the West cannot simply walk away from Africa.=20
With human rights an ever more prominent theme of foreign policy --=20
this is what the Bosnian and Kosovo interventions were all about, after
all -- it is just not possible for Western policymakers to avert their=20
eyes from Africa's daily human catastrophes, without subverting their=20
own policies elsewhere in the world.

Indeed, self-interest alone dictates that such a response is=20
unthinkable. For example, the CIA now accepts that Africa's AIDS crisis
--=AD seven people newly infected every minute -=AD- constitutes a real=20
threat to U.S. interests and security.

Moreover, Africa contains 15% of the world's population. What claim can
we in the West have to any form of civilisation, if we are content to 
enjoy exclusive access to the spoils of the global economy, while the=20
majority of the world's population subsists in conditions of utter=20

In many respects, the people of Africa have shown remarkable resolve in
the face of enormous adversity. The famine of 1845-47 left a very deep=20
imprint on the Irish psyche. It halved our population and established a
trend of emigration that has only been reversed in the last five years.

Colonisation left us with a national inferiority complex, which=20
everyone over the age of 40 is at least aware of. It was only with=20
membership of the European Union that our national self-esteem started=20
to grow. Prosperity has come largely as a result of cohesion funding=20
from Europe and foreign direct investment from U.S. multinationals.

Yet we find ourselves floundering when a small level of immigration=20
threatens even minimal dilution of our unicultural society. And in the=20
matter of conflict resolution, it has required the undivided attention=20
of a host of world leaders -- including Africans -- to help us solve=20
our problems.

So if we Irish, blessed with a benign climate, a fertile country, a=20
strong institutional framework, good governance and strong financial=20
investment, have found life so challenging, surely it is a near miracle
that so many people in Africa can manage at all.

At the end of World War Two, then Irish taoiseach (prime minister)=20
Eamon de Valera responded to Churchill's criticism of Irish neutrality=20
with the following remark: "Mr Churchill is justly proud of his=20
country's achievements against great odds. Can he not find it in his=20
heart to respect a small nation which survived occupation and injustice
for 800 years?"

Today, cannot we in Ireland find it in our hearts to respect the people
of a continent who have withstood slavery, colonisation, war and=20
genocide, environmental degradation, disease and famine -- on a=20
cyclical basis -- =AD while also having to accommodate some 20 million=20
refugees and internally displaced people?


>From the evidence it is clear that Africa is not working as it should.
Existing policies of development cooperation are not enough. I also=20
believe that we in the NGO community have, until recently at least,=20
been diverted in pursuit of objectives that, of themselves, will solve=20

Debt reduction is important, but an unemployed person with a big=20
mortgage doesn't just need mortgage relief =AD-- he/she primarily needs a
job. In addition, the achievement of the 0.7% of GNP target for=20
overseas aid has been something of a mantra for us -=AD but it is a=20
20-year-old mantra!

Another aim has been to reduce by 50% the number of people living in=20
absolute poverty by the year 2015. Should that international=20
development target be reached, there would still be some 700 million=20
living in absolute poverty. That's hardly something to boast about!

It is time for a new approach. We need a new paradigm, one which is not
limited to aid or debt relief, but which has the broader goal of=20
integrating the developing world into the global economy. Opposing=20
capitalism as such is a waste of time -- we should aim to make it work=20
for the poor.

If the recently published Dollar & Kray World Bank report on the=20
beneficial effects of economic growth on poverty is correct, then such=20
integration is the only solution.

But integration will not happen without a massive effort. At the end of
World War Two, Europe lay in ruins. It was only saved by a massive=20
injection of funds and investment, in the shape of the Marshall Plan.

It is quite conceivable that without the Marshall Plan, Europe today=20
could resemble the Europe of the Middle Ages, with whole societies and=20
economies laid waste. But it does not because the political will=20
existed to ensure that it did not.

Slavery was abolished only when it became politically and ethically=20
impossible to sustain. Poverty in a world of plenty is also without=20
ethical or moral foundation. Have we the courage to make it politically

Thus, its abolition would require the sort of political will that gave=20
birth to Europe's Marshall Plan. Perhaps, it is time to forge a=20
Marshall Plan for Africa. Perhaps it is time to acknowledge that Africa
requires sustained help to reconstruct its ravaged economies and=20
collapsed states. As Marx famously observed: "The philosophers have=20
merely interpreted the world, the point is to change it."

A recent edition of the Financial Times carried a story about a=20
Liberian woman who had set up a company in Tanzania, with the aim of=20
providing low-cost universal telecommunications services in developing=20
countries. Unfortunately, the company collapsed under the weight of=20
bureaucracy, financial obligations and management challenges.

The company could have been successful in time. But it did not have the
resources to "wait out" the process of adjusting to the demands of=20
global business. The woman concluded, rather ruefully, that: "You can=20
change the world as long as you don't try to do it on a shoestring."

Similarly, Africa's acute problems cannot be resolved by Africa alone,=20
nor on a "shoestring" level of resource transfer from the West. That=20
resolution will require very serious political commitment from the West
and, most of all, the political will in Africa itself.

Other related posts:

  • » [interact_list] [Africa_approach_making] 'recolonisation is the only solution' _William Pfaff/R.W. Johnson