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Kaplan%20Coming%20Anarchy

Kaplan%20Coming%20Anarchy - 3 i by ROBERT B KAPLAN How...

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Unformatted text preview: 3) i/ by ROBERT B. KAPLAN How scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribaiism, and disease ._ lingers: rapidiy destroying the social. ti a,» fabric of our pianet .P he , M3 wiggles $331an "LE b\§ GOVS ‘ ‘13; em- rm a iii-ea W “‘3' H E Minister’s eyes were like egg yolks, an aftereffect of some of the many illnesses. malaria especially. endemic in his country. There was also an irrefutable sadness in his eyes. He spoke in a slow and creaking voice, the voice of hope about to expire. Flame trees, coconut palms. and a ballpointwbiue Atlantic composed the background. None of it seemed beautiful, though. “In forty-five years I have never seen things so bad. We did not manage ourselves well after the British departed. But what we have now is something worse—the revenge of the poor, of the social failures. of the people least able to bring up chil- dren in a modern society." Then he referred to the recent coup in the West African country Sierra Leone. “The boys who took power in Sierra Leone come from houses like this." The Minister jabbed his finger at a corrugated metal of cw“ war! dumped new ”m shack teeming with children. airporl. par “-3,,“ gave”, “In three months these boys men: troops in Sierra Leone confiscated all the official reoccupy- a rebel position Mercedes, VOiVOS, and BMWS Righi: outside Monrovia, Liberia. civilian victim: 44 -. . Reproduced with permission of copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited. k 0 (a?! ”L...” . cowl.- Ami -u--.w9..wfi «mace». q,».mm....h_........_.._.._.... _ ,. . ....mlu..w.-L—m.-._iw_.n..1.... . t. t. PATRICK IOIERTISVGMI. 'l and willfully wrecked them on the road." The Minister men- tioned one of the coup's leaders. Solomon Anthony loseph Musa. who shot the people who had paid for his schooling, ”in order to erase the humiliation and mitigate the power his ‘middteclfisponsors held over him.“ 5 ,. § ~. 3 o E z_ E 9 o O = 3 . hféfln nothing new in Sierra Leone or in the rest of West Africa. But it is now part and parcel of an increasing lawlessness that is far more significant than any coup, rebel incursion. or episodic experiment in democracy. Crime was what my friend—a top-ranking African official whose life would be threatened were i to identify him more precisely— really wanted to talk about. Crime is what makes West Africa a natural point of departure for rmy report on what the political character of our planet is likely to be in the twenty- v_-M ”M." wanna. .,. ._.____. .em,....._w_ The cities “of West Africa at night are some of the unsafest places in the world. Streets are unlit; the police often tack gasoline for their vehicles; armed burglars. carjackers, and muggers proliferate. “The government in Sierra Leone has no Writ after dark," says a foreign resident, shrugging. When I was in the capital, Freetown, last September. eight men armed with AK-47s broke into the house of an American man. They tied him up and stole everything of value. Forget Miami: direct flights between the United States and the Mur- tala Muhammed Airport. in neighboring Nigeria‘s largest city. Lagos. have been suspended by order of the US. See- retary of Transportation because of ineffective security at the terminal and its environs. A State Department report cited the airport for “extortion by law—enforcement and immigra- tion officials." This is one of the few times that the US. gov- ernment has embargoed a foreign airport for reasons that are linked purely to crime. in Abidjan, effectively the capital of the Cfite d'lvoire, or Ivory Coast, restaurants have stick- and gun-wielding guards who walk you the fifteen feet or so be- tween your car and the entrance, giving you an eerie tasu: of what American cities might be like in the future. An Itaiian ambassador was killed by gunfire when robbers invaded an Abidjan restaurant, The family of the Nigerian ambassador 45 was tied up and robbed at gunpoint in the arnbassador’s residence. After university students in the Ivory Coast caught bandits who had been Ifflflfl plaguing their dorms. they executed them by hanging {EGNE Is A Mlcnocosm tires around their necks and setting the tires on fire. In one “I: WHAT IS (ISBIIIIIIING instance Ivorian policemen stood by and watched the IN WEST AFRICA AND “necklacings,” afraid to inter- vene. Each time I went to the MUG" OF THE "NBEII- Abidjan bus terminal, groups of young men with restless, nEVELflPEI} wan”): “IE scanning eyes surrounded my -- taxi, putting their hands all WITHEBIHS AWAY of overthew1ndows,demand1ng “tips" for carrymg my lug» {Era-“Al aflVEBNMEN-Is gage even though I had only a ' rucksack. In cities in six West African countries I saw simi- TIIE RISE OF TfiIBAL Al'ill lax young mm cvmwhm_ hordes of them. They were, ‘ tritium BBMAINS, 3m W WHIP-1963‘.“ m a W unstable “socialmfluid. alluid "E UHCHEGKEI] SPREAD that was 9533:5— 9_n_ .3319: verge 0F DISEASE; AND ”my friend the Minister told me. ”in the vil— .THE GBBWIHG PERVA- lages of Africa it is perfectly natural to feed at any table SWEHESS OF WAR. and lodge in any hut. But in the cities this communal exis- tence no longer holds. You must pay for lodging and be invited for food. When young men find out that their relations cannot put them up. they be- come lost. ’I‘hey join other migrants and slip gradually into the criminal process.” “In the poor quarters of Arab North Africa." he contin- ued. “there is much less crime, because Islam provides a so- cial anchor: of education and indoctrination. Here in West --Africa we have a lot of superficial Islam and superficial Christianity. Western religion is undermined by animist be— liefs not suitable to a moral society, because they are based ”(on irrational spirit power. Here Spirits are used to wreak Vengeance by one person against another. or one group against another." Many of the atrocities in the Liberian civil war have been tied to belief in jujrt spirits—and the BBC has reported, in its magazine Focus on Africa, that in the civil figluing in adjacent Sierra Leone. rebels were said to have “a young woman with them who would go to the front naked, aiWays walking backwards and looking in a mirror to see Where she was going. This made her invisible. so that she 46 could cross to the army’s positions and there bury charms .to improve the rebels' chances of success?” \ Finally my friend the Minister mentioned polygamy De- thrive in sub— Saharan Africa even though it is increasingly uncommon in Arab North Africa. Most youths i met on the road in West Africa told me that they were from “extended“ families. with a mother in one place and a father in anothert. Translated to an urban environment. loose family structures are largely responsible for the world’s highest birth rates and the explosion of the HIV virus on the continent. Like the . communalism and animism, they pr0vide a weak shield against the «naive social effects of life in cities. In those cities African culture is being redefined while desertification and deforestation—also tied to overpopulation-drive mere and more African peasants out of the countryside. A PREMONITION OF THE FUTURE EST Africa is becoming the symbol of worldwide demographic, environmental. and societal stress. in which criminal anarchy emerges as the real “stutte— gic" danger. Disease. overpopulation. unprovoked crime. scarcity of resources. refugee migrations, the increasing ero~ sion of nation-states and international borders. and the em- powerment of private armies. security firms. and intema- tional drug cartels are now most tellingly demonstrated through a Wesr African prism. West Africa provides an ap» propriate introduction to the issues, often extremely unpleas- ant to discuss that will soon confront our civilization. To remap the political‘keaiih the way it will be a few decades hencemas l intend to do in this article—I find i must begin with West Africa. There is no other place on the planet where political maps are so deceptive—where, in fact. they tell such lies-35 in West Africa. Stan with Sierra Leone. According to the map, it is a nation-state of defined borders, with a government in con- trol of its ten-itoiy. In truth the Sierra Leonian government. run by a twenty-seven-yeanold army captain. Valentine Strasser, controls Freetown by day and by day also controls pan of the rural interior. in the govemment‘s territory the national army is an unruly rabble threatening drivers and passengers at most checkpoints. in the other part of the country units of two sep- arate armies from the war in Liberia have taken up residence, as has an army of Sierra Leonian rebels. The government force fighting the rebels is full of renegade commanders who have aligned themselves with disaffected village chiefs. A pre-l modern ferrulessness governs the battlefield evoking millions in medieval Europe prior to the} M348 Peace of Westphalia. which ushered in the era of organized nation-states. As a consequence, roughly 400,000 Sierra Leonians are internally displaced. 280.000 more have lied to neighboring Guinea. and another l00.000 have tied to inherits, even as l'llBllLkll‘l 195% 1}. Permission of copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited. l I 400,000 Liberians have fled to Sierra Leone. The third largest city in Sierra Leone, Gondama. is a displaced-per- sons camp. With an additional 600.000 Liberians in Guinea and 250,000 in the Ivory Coast, the borders dividing these four countries have become largely meaningless. Even in quiet zones none of the governments except the ivory Coast's maintains the schools. bridges. roads. and police forces in a manner necessary for functional sovereignty. The Koranko ethnic group in northeastern Sierra Leone does all its trading in Guinea. Sierra Leonian diamonds are more likely to be sold in Liberia than in Freetown. In the eastem provinces of Sierra Leone you can buy Liberian beer but not the local brand. In Sierra Leone, as in Guinea. as in the Ivory Coast. as in Ghana, most of the primary rain forest and the secondary bush is being destroyed at an alarming rate. I saw convoys of trucks bearing majestic hardwood trunks to coastal ports. When Sierra Leone achieved its independence, in 1961, as much as 60 percent of the country was primary rain forest. Now six percent is. In the Ivory Coast the proportion has failen from 38 percent to eight percent. The deforestation has led to soil erosion, which has ied to more flooding and 48 THIS. PAGE AND OPPORTS; Em MSSIWOCDRN CAM! more mosquitoes. Virtually everyone in the West African in— y z terior has some form of malaria. Sierra Leone is a microcosm of what is occurring. albeit in a more tempered and gradual manner, throughout West Africa and much ofthe underdeveloped world: the withering away of central governments. the rise of tribal and regional domains, the unchecked spread of disease. and the growing pervasiveness of war. West Africa is reverting to the Africa of the Victorian atlas. It consists now of a series of coasral trading posts, such as Freetown and Conakry, and an intert— or that, owing to violence, volatility. and disease, is again becoming. as Graham Greene once observed. “blank” and “unexplored." However. whereas Greene's vision implies a certain romance, as in the somnolent and charmingly seedy Freetown of his celebrated novel The Heart ofthe Matter. it is Thomas Malthus. the philosopher of demographic dooms- day, who is now the prophet of West Africa’s future. And West Africa's future, eventually, will also be that of most of the rest of the world. C ONSiDER “Chicago." I refer not to Chicago. Illinois. but to a slum district of Abidjan. which the young toughs in the area have named after the American city. (“Washington” is another poor section of Abidjan.) Al- though Sietra Leone is widely regarded as beyond salvage. the ivory Coast has been considered an African success sto- ry, and Abidjan has been called “the Paris of West Africa." Success, however, was built on two artificial factors: the high price of cocoa, of which the ivory Coast is the worid‘s leading producer, and the taients of a French expatriate com- munity, whose members have helped run the government and the private sector. The expanding cocoa economy made the Ivory Coast a magnet for migrant workers from all over West Africa: between a third and a half of the country‘s pop ulation is now non-Ivorian. and the figure could be as high as 75 percent in Abidjan. During the 19805 cocoa prices fell and the French began to leave. The skyscrapers of the Paris of West Africa are a facade. Perhaps 15 percent of Abidjan’s population of three million people live in shantytowns like Chicago and Washington, and the vast majority live in places that are not much better. Not all of these places ap- pear on any of the readily available maps. This is another in— dication of how political maps are the products of tired con» ventional wisdom and, in the ivory Coast's case, of an elite that will ultimately be forced to relinquish power. Chicago, like more and more of Abidjan, is a slum in the bush: a checkerwork of corrugated zinc roofs and wails made of cardboard and black plastic wrap. It is located in a gully teeming with coconut palms and oil palms, and is ravaged by flooding. Few residents have easy access to electricity. a sewage system. or a clean water supply. The crumbly red The prela of population. Coast. Left: the nearly impassable downtown of Lagos. Nigeria. FEBRUARY l59+ l 3 Right.- doing the wash in a lagoon in Abidjan. the Ivory l Jug . ,2 Ed “1th permission of copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited. g l laterite earth crawls with foot-long lizards both inside and outside the shacks. Children defecate in a stream filled with garbage and pigs, droning with malarial mosquitoes. in this stream women do the washing. Young unemployed men spend their time drinking beer, palm wine. and gin while gambling on pinball games constructed out of rotting wood and rusty nails. These are the same youths who rob houses in more prosperous Ivorian neighborhoods at night. One man I met, Darnba Tesele, came to Chicago from Burkina Faso in 1963. A cook by profession, he has four wives and thirty-two children, not one of whom has made it to high school. He has seen his shanty community destroyed by municipal authori- ties seven times since coming to the area. Each time he and his neighbors rebuild. Chicago is the latest incarnation. Fifty-five percent of the Ivory Coast‘s pOpulation is ur- ban. and the pmportion is expected to reach 62 percent by 2000. The yearly net population growth is 3.6 percent. This means that the Ivory Coast’s 13.5 million people will be- come 39 million by 2025. when much of the p0pulation will consist of urbanized peasants like those of Chicago. But don’t count on the Ivory Coast's still existing then. Chicago, which is more indicative. of Africa’s and the Third World's THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY demographic present—and even more of the future-wthan any idyllic junglescape of women balancing earthen jugs on their heads. illustrates why the Ivory Coast. once a model of Third World success, is becoming a case study in Third World catastrophe. President Felix l-louphouét-Boigny, who died last Decem- ber at the-age of about ninety, left behind a weak cluster of political parties and a leaden bureaucracy that dlseourages foreign investment. Because the military is small and the non— lvorian population large, there is neither an obvious force to maintain order nor a sense of nationhood that would lessen the need for such enforcement. The economy has been shrink- ing since the mid«19805. Though the French are working as- siduously to preserve stability, the Ivory Coast faces a possi- bility worse than a coup: an anarchic implosion of criminal violence-an urbanized version of what has already happened in Somalia. Or it may become an African Yugoslavia. but one without mini-states to replace the whole. Because the demographic reality of West Africa is a coun- tryside draining into dense slums by the coast, ultimately the region‘s rulers will come to reflect the values of these shan— ty—towns. There are signs of this already in Sierra Leone— 49 l-iuer-H‘ .t- . - Ir dinette em: em and in Togo, where the dictator Etienne Eyadema,«iir power since 1967, was nearly toppled' 1n l99l, not by demoerats . but by thousands of youths whom the London- based maga- zine West Africa described as “Soweto-like stone-throwing adolescents." Their behavior may herald a regime more bru- tal than Eyadema‘s repressive one. The fragility of these West African ”countries" impressed itself on me when I took a series of bush taxis along the Gulf of Guinea. from the Togoiesc capital of Lorne. across Ghana, to Abidjan. The 400—mile journey required two full days of driving, because of stops at two border crossings and an ad- ditional eleven customs stations, at each of which my fellow passengers had their bags searched. I had to change money twice and repeatedly fill in currency-declaration forms. I had to bribe a Togolese immigration official with the equivalent of eighteen dollars before he would agree to put an exit stamp on my passport. Nevertheless, smuggling across these bor- tiers is rampant. The London Observer has reported that in 1992 the equivalent of $856 million left West Africa for Eu- rope in the form of “hot cash” assumed to be laundered drug money. International cartels have discovered the utility of weak. financially strapped West African regimes. The more fictitious the actual sovereignty, the more severe border authorities seem to be in trying to Prove otherwise. Getting visas for these states can be as hard as crossing their borders. The Washington embassies of Sierra Leone and Guinea—wthe two poorest nations on earth, according to a 1993 United Nations report on "human development"—aslted for letters from my bank (in lieu of prepaid round—trip tickets) and also personal references, in orderto prove that I had suffi- cient means to sustain myself during my visits. I was remind— ed of my visa and currency hassles while traveling to the come munisr States of Eastern Europe, particularly East Germany and Czechoslovakia, before those states collapsed. Ali A. Mazrui, the director of the Institute of Global Cul- tural Studies at the State University of New York at Bing- hamton, predicts that West Africa—indeed, the whole conti- nent——is on the verge of large-scale border upheaval. Mazrui writes, In the let century France will be withdrawing from West Africa as she gets increasingly involved in the affairs [of Europe]. France‘s West African sphere of influence will be filled by Nigeria—a more natural hegemonic power. . . It will be under those circumstances that Nigeria's own boundaries are likely to expand to incorporate the Repub- lic of Niger (the Hausa link), the Republic of Benin (the Yoruba link} and conceivably Cameroon. THE future could be more tumultuous, and bloodier, than Mazrui dares to say. France will withdraw from former coionies like Benin, Togo, Niger, and the Ivory Coast, where it has been propping up local currencies. It will do so not only because its attention will be diverted to new challenges 52 in Europe and Russia but also because younger French offi- cials iaclt the older generation’s emotional lies to the ex- colonies. However, even as Nigeria attempts to expand, it. too, is likely to split into several pieces. The State Depart- ment's Bureau of intelligence and Research recently made the following points in an analysis of Nigeria: Prospects for a transition to civilian rule and democratiza- tion are slim. . . . The repressive apparatus of the state se« curity service . . . will be difficult for any future civilian government to control. . . The country is becoming in- creasingly ungovemable. . . . Ethnic and regional splits are deepening, a situation made worse by an increase in the number ofstates from 19 to 30 and a deubling in the num-...
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