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Masci_AidingAfrica[1]

Masci_AidingAfrica[1] - «a w ~ Protected by a Nigerian...

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Unformatted text preview: «a» w ~ Protected by a Nigerian peacekeeper, Liberians unload U.N. food aid in the port city of Monrovia. Civil wars have devastated Liberia and other African countries in recent years, as have AIDS and famine. Corruption and economic stagnation also have taken atoll. Now the United States and other industrial nations are calling for new infusions of international humanitarian and development aid. From The CQ REMdI't/n’f, August 29, 2003. AFP Photo/lssout Sanngn i Aiding Africa 1 l2“? ”m ”liars flfil mt; DauidMaser itring on his velvet throne ina crisp, white suit, Liberian President Charles Taylor looked every bit the African strong— man. But Taylor’s position on a recent August morning was anything but secure. After six violent and chaotic years, he announced he was stepping down and going into exile in Nigeria. “1 have accepted this role as the sacrificial lamb,” he said, com- paring himself to Jesus Christ and vowing one day to return.1 Taylor had been pressured for months, by the United States and most of the rest of the international community, to leave his utterly devastated country, which has seen tens of thousands of civilians die during more than a decade of civil war. “He was in every way bad for his country, and his departure is long overdue,“ says Ali A. Mazrui, chancellor of lame Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Thika, Kenya, and a respected Africa scholar. “This is especially good news because Africa has had so many leaders like Taylor, but few of them have ever resigned.” But while Taylor’s resignation is unusual, the hallmarks of his _ rule—authoritarianism, violence and brutality—are all too common in sub—Saharan Africa. Since the late 19503 and early ’603, when most African colonies achieved independence from Europe, scores of repressive dictators have come and gone, from the late Idi Amin of Uganda to Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko. Their legacy of underdevelopmenr, corruption, desperate poverty and violence continues to hobble Africa. The nearly 700 million inhabitants of sub—Saharan Africa are the poorest in the world, with a per-capita gross—domestic product (GDP) of $460—— just over a dollar a day. African life expectancy also is the world’s 229 230 DEMOCRATIZATION Liberia: Civil war - and a humanitarian crisis prompted the ' international com- munity to push President Charles Taylor into exile, Ghana: Despite econom- Sierra Leone: Elections "2 W095. the country has in 2002 helped cement the preserved Its democracy peace following the civil war that ended after British intervention in 1999. "_ Nigeria: Africa's most populous country re- turned to democracy in 1999 after 15 years of corrupt military rule. Céte d’lvoire: Once-peaceful ivory Coast has seen political vi- olence and military coups in re- cent years. French troops now help maintain order. Congo: Power-sharing be- tween the government and reb- el groups offers hope the five- year civil war may be over. Angola: The death of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi last year ended a 28-year civil war. Offshore oil may ease the nation‘s poverty. Source: Economistcom LARABIA Ethiopia and Eritrea: A bloody border war be tween the former allies Sudan: US. efforts to ended in 2001' 3 end a 19-year civil war : have made steady progress. Uganda: Efforts to ' stop the AIDS epidem- A 'FthAN lo and grow the econ- UBLlC omy have succeeded. Kenya: The recent elec- tion of Mwai Kibaki ended 30 years of one- party rule. Rwanda: Nearly 10 years . after ethnic strife killed nearly 1 million Rwandans, the economy is growing, and national elections are, taking place. Zimbabwe: President , Robert Mugabe's corrupt 23-year rule is intensely unpopular. South Africa: Nearly a decade of post»apartheid stability has been marred by government mishandling of the HIV/AIDS crisis, Population Life expectancy GNP Under-5 AIDING AFRICA 231 Percent with . Selected ' (in millions) at birth per capita mortality rate access to Regions 2001 (in years) 2001 '1': source;12v003‘Wo_rld _e lowest—and falling even lower, dropping from 50 years in 1990 to 46 in 2001. The decline 1n lifespan 1s largely due to HIV/AIDS, which has killed millions in southern and eastern Africa and is still being largely ignored by governments in sev— eral aflfected nations Now the disease is rapidly spread- ing into West Africa. Meanwhile, rulers with little or no democratic legiti— macy govern more than half of all African states, even though Zambia, Malawi and several other African coun- tries made the transition to democracy during the 1990s. While some experts point to recent elections in Kenya as evidence that the trend toward elections and freedom continues, others contend that the push for democratic change has largely stalled. Either way, democratic reform is often hindered by instability, which has plagued many parts of the con— tinent since independence. Civil war, revolution and even genocide have been all too common since African coun~ tries began governing themselves roughly 40 years ago. In the last 10 years alone, wars have been fought in, among other countries, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo, Angola, Sudan and Rwanda. Even Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), once a bastion of stability in West Africa, has recently descended into a bloody civil war. (in SUS) (per 1,000) clean water 2000 Since the end of the Cold War, Africa’s internecine fighting has occurred largely unhindered by the West, even . when the blood—letting reached horrific proportions. In Congo alone, an estimated 3 million people have died From fighting and starvation in a civil war that has embroiled eight other countries. An earlier tragedy in Rwanda, where a 1994 genocide led to an estimated 1 million deaths, also provoked little action from the developed nations. Lately though, the world community has been paying more attention to African conflicts. Earlier this year, about 8,000 peacekeepers (mostly from France) arrived to try to stop the fighting in Congo. In addition, British forces entered Sierra Leone in 1999 to stop a civil war. Similarly, the world community had been calling in recent months for the United States to intervene militar- ily to stop the civil war in Liberia and ensure the flow of humanitarian aid. After more than a month of indeci- sion, President Bush on Aug. 14 finally sent 200 Marines and dozens of helicopters to Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, to back up a much larger contingent of Nigerian peace- keepers already there. The president’s hesitation over sending troops to Africa on a humanitarian mission stemmed in part from the deadly I992 U.S. experience in Somalia, where a military intervention to help feed famine victims thrust American 232 DEMOCRATlZATlON troops into the middle of a civil war. Eventually, 44 Ame- ricans died, and the rest of the force was hastily pulled. from the country. Critics of humanitarian intervention say U.S. blood should not be spilled in places like Somalia and Liberia, where American strategic interests are not clear-cut. “We need to focus our military on those areas where we have big interests and allow regional powers to deal with these smaller peacekeeping operations,” says Jack Spencer, a senior defense-policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. But advocates of intervention contend that saving inno— cents from violence and starvation—and preventing war and political chaos from spreading to other countries— is in America’s strategic interest. “We should understand by now that letting problems fester can lead to horrible consequences,” says Joseph Siegle, a senior fellow and Africa expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, noting that al Qaeda terrorists have taken advantage of instability in countries like Somalia, Sudan and, most notably, Afghanistan to recruit and train converts. Many experts see the deployment of U.S. troops in Liberia as the latest in a series of recent Bush administra- tion actions reflecting almost a sea change in U.S. attitudes about Africa’s political, economic and strategic impor— tance. Since the Sept. 11 attacks almost two years ago, the White House has proposed a number of ambitious aid programs, ranging from promoting democratic change and open markets to easing the continent’s AIDS crisis. Indeed, many experts see Bush’s recent five—nation trip to sub—Saharan Africa—only the second by an American president—as a sign of America’s new interest in the long—neglected continent. In Botswana and Uganda, the president visited AIDS clinics to underscore his recent $15 billion commitment to fighting the dis— ease that has already claimed 20 million Africans and infected 30 million more. And during a speech in Nigeria, Bush stressed the need for both African and Western, countries to reverse the continent’s history of poverty, instability and underdevelopment. “Working together,” the president said, “we can help make this a decade of rising prosperity and expanding peace across Africa.” The president’s emphasis on cooperation is reflected in a proposed U.S. development—assistance program pending before Congress that would reward countries that make political and economic strides. In 2002, he announced a $5 billion aid package for countries that create more democratic, open and accountable societies. ’ Called the Millennium Challenge Account, the new pro- gram has been bolstered by promises of more aid from European and other prosperous nations. But some Africa-watchers contend that foreign assis— tance often does more harm than good in Africa, feeding corruption and warping the very market forces that could help lift Africans out of poverty. Like opponents of. domestic welfare, critics of foreign aid charge that it cre- ates a damaging dependency, robbing recipients of the incentive to solve their own problems. The opposing sides in the aid debate do agree on one thing: Much work needs to be done before Africa can begin living up to its enormous potential. And all agree that the West, and the United States in particular, have an important role to play. As policymakers debate Africa’s future, here are some of the questions they are asking: Should the U.S. intervene militarily in Africa to stop wars and humanitarian crises? The recent civil war in Liberia has renewed the debate over whether American troops should intervene in African countries that are not considered strategically important. The dilemma has confronted the United States only in the last decade or so—particularly since the end of the Cold War. Traditionally, Africa has drawn more attention from European powers, most notably Britain and France, which colonized much of the continent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Even the rise of the United States as a superpower after World War II and the breakup of Europe’s colonial empires did not lead to direct American military involvement in sub—Saharan Africa. Instead, the United States, then embroiled in the Cold War with the Soviet Union, limited its role to pro- viding money and arms to African countries—often run by corrupt dictators—or rebel forces fighting communist ~ or socialist governments. But the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the only nation on Earth able to deploy large numbers of troops in distant theaters. In addition, cable television and later the Internet brought far—off humani- tarian crises into Americans’ living rooms 24 hours a day, often sparking widespread demands for action. Such factors drew the United States in 1992 to its first and so far, only major, humanitarian intervention in ‘::nx.—...... 5f n( In S[( 50 ac: CC( Co tol itar in I a st: of c and “flu Afgh Africa. That year a bloody civil war in Somalia had led to Widespread famine and American troops were called on, as the lead nation in a United Nations—sponsored coalition, to help feed millions of people and stabilize the country. At first, the mission succeeded. But efforts to stabilize the country put American soldiers in the middle of a chaotic civil war. After 44 Americans died, and a U.S. soldier’s body was dragged through Mogadishu, Pres- ident Bill Clinton withdrew all the U.S. troops. Two years later, Clinton faced a similar choice in tiny Rwanda, where tribal tensions between the Hutus and Tutsis were threatening to erupt. But still smarting from the Somalia debacle, the United States and other allies didn’t aid Rwanda, and an estimated 1 million people eventually were killed in the worst ethnic genocide in recent history. Rwanda is often cited by supporters of humanitarian military intervention as an example of what can happen when a chaotic situation is allowed to continue. “I was in an airport hangar waiting to go into Rwanda when the mission was scrapped, and I’ve never felt good about that,” says Army Special Forces Maj. Roger Carstens, a member of the Council on Emerging National Security Affairs, a private think tank. “If sending 2,500 troops in can make a situation like that better and save the lives of millions of people, it seems like a pretty good trade—off, if you ask me.” Carstens and others argue that intervening in trouble spots like Rwanda can prevent them from destabilizing neighboring countries, something that commonly occurs. Indeed, Rwanda’s troubles spilled into Burundi and Congo, stoking the flames of Congo’s long—running civil war. “These sorts of humanitarian conflicts are the main source of instability in the world because they move across borders through refugee flows, through slower economic growth and through warfare itself,” says the Council on Foreign Relations’ Siegle. “Avoiding that has to be in our strategic interest.” As a result, Carstens says, it is folly to say that human— itarian crises like the current troubles in Liberia are not in America’s strategic interest. “After 9/11, everything is a strategic interest more or less, especially if it is in a state of chaos,” he says. “Look at Afghanistan: When ignored and left to its own devices, it became a haven for drug smugglers and terrorists.” In Carstens’ view, African trouble spots could, like Afghanistan, turn into direct threats to American security. AlDlNG AFRICA 233 Young workers carry dirt out of a gold mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Economists say most African economies are much too dependent on exporting price-sensitive commodities like gold. “When you look at failing states like Congo and Liberia, you have to remember that we now live in a world where terrorism and weapons of mass destruction have taken on a global dimension,” he says. Some experts even say Liberia’s Taylor may have laundered money for al Qaeda.2 But others counter that while crises like those in Rwanda and Liberia are tragic and even important to the United States, they do not represent the sort of strategic interests that American soldiers should risk their lives protecting. “The United States has a unique role to play in the world, and that is keeping the big peace, doing the sort of things that other countries can’t do,” says the Heritage Foundation’s Spencer. “Our job is to deter aggression and promote stability in strategically important regions like Europe, the Middle East and Asia, not respond to every flareup everywhere.” APP Photo/Silt Fanamrn 234 DEMOCRATIZATION As for sending American troops to Liberia, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said recently on Fox News, “In principle, it’s a bad idea because foreign pol— icy is not social work There are a lot of bad guys in the world, but we don’t spend our blood and treasure going after all the bad guys. We go after bad guys who are our enemies. . . . The military is to defend the United States, it’s not to do relief.”3 Moreover, Spencer adds, the American military is not trained to do the kind of work necessary to stabilize a Rwanda or Liberia. “U.S. ground forces are trained to fight and win wars, not to do peacekeeping duties,” he says. Opponents of humanitarian missions also contend that they deter other nations capable of doing peace— keeping missions from undertaking them. “We need to stop communicating to the rest of the world that the US. has a responsibility to do this because we’ve created an expectation that we will intervene,” says Christopher Preble, director of foreign-policy studies at the Cato Institute. “In most of these situations, there are local and regional powers that have a role to play, and we should let them play it.” For instance, Preble says, Nigerian troops delayed their entry into Liberia by more than a month due to expectations that the United States might intervene. “I got the sense that they were ready to go into Liberia [in June,] but then they decided to wait because they thought we might go in.” But Princeton Lyman, former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria and South Africa, says expectations of U.S. inter- vention don’t delay other countries from carrying out their responsibilities. “No one expected us to go into Congo or Sierra Leone, and we didn’t,” he says. “Instead, the French and British went in, as they should have.” Even in Liberia, Lyman points out, the Nigerians only delayed their deployment because the United States was very publicly considering intervention. “Bush went all over Africa saying we might go in, so of course the Africans waited until a decision was made.” Will Africa’s recent democratic gains be sustained and expanded? In the 19905, many African countries made substantial steps toward democratic reform. In Zambia, for instance, longtime dictator Kenneth Kaunda stepped down after losing multiparty elections in 1991. Similar events occurred in Malawi, South Africa and N igeria.4 But Africa’s march toward democracy has by no means been smooth, and much of the continent remains mired in dictatorships or quasi—democratic systems that do not give citizens much voice in state affairs. For instance, nations such as Eritrea, Congo and Sudan have repressive, authoritarian governments. And in some places—notably Zimbabwe—governments that once had at least some trappings of democracy have largely lost them. According to the democracy-advocacy group Freedom House, only 18 of the 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa are electoral democracies. And of those, only 11 received the organization’s highest rating of “free,” meaning they respect citizens’ full political and civil rights.5 Some experts argue that Africa’s 19905 trend toward democracy has lost momentum and that the continent is unlikely to make substantial progress on democratic reform in the foreseeable future. “There is no question that the democratization process that was moving forward in the mid-19905 has stalled today,” says George Ayittey, a professor of economics at American University and president of the Free Africa Foundation, which promotes democratic change on the continent. Robert Rotberg, director of the Program on Intrastate Conflict at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, agrees that Africa’s momentum toward democratization has slowed. “I don’t think we can say that there is some democratic blossoming in Africa right now,” he says. “Until some of the states that are large and influential, like Congo and Sudan, begin going democratic, it will be hard to say that the trends are running in the right direction.” Part of the problem, Ayittey says, is that many African governments are making cosmetic changes just to please aid donors, but are not committed to real democracy. “Many have twisted the rules of the game and then stood for elections, knowing full well that they would win," he says, citing countries like Togo, where the electoral process has been “rigged” to ensure the continuation of the current ruling clique. “That’s not democracy.” Moreover, Rotberg says, the ruling elite is perfectly willing to ignore the popular will in order to preserve its privileges. “There is a growing middle class in Africa, and it wants the same things that middle Classes in other part5 of the world want, including a say in how their country is run,” he says. But you have a d...
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