China’s Growing Influence in Africa
This is a link to an article I’ve recently had published online in the Foreign Policy journal American Diplomacy (http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/), called “Chinese Expansion and Western Influence in 21st Century Africa”. A sample:
“Slavery; colonialism; Apartheid; Cold War manipulation; IMF Structural Adjustment; corruption of governments by Western corporations; and resource wars fought by white mercenaries: if independent African nations of the Twenty First Century choose to seek new relationships with non-Western allies, then we should not be puzzled by this development. Nevertheless, Western commentators watch with increasing concern as China’s growing political and economic influence makes it an attractive partner for African governments.
I will argue that while Western hegemony in Africa is certainly being seriously challenged, necessarily conflating this with a negative result for Africa is based on an erroneously idealistic view of Western interaction with the continent. While critics attribute China’s diplomatic success to it being ‘the ally of choice for Africa’s worst rulers’, in fact part of China’s attraction is ‘more than 50 years of friendly, respectful, and supportive relations [with] African countries’. Recent criticism of Chinese activities in Africa is often accurate, and is important in helping constrain destructive behaviours, but China’s conduct is not worse than the West’s historical and ongoing relationship with the continent, and will potentially be much more productive. China’s changing relationship with Africa is also part of a wider structural shift in the international system, which will create new centres of power and wealth over the coming decades, and may increasingly fracture the cohesiveness of ‘Western’ interests. For the United States and its traditional allies to remain globally influential in the coming century, they must comprehend some of the lessons offered by Africa’s changing disposition”.
Read the article at: http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/item/2010/0103/comm/robinson_21africa.html
Also to be found at American Diplomacy, an interesting analysis comparing the position of President Obama’s war in Afghanistan with President Nixon’s war in Vietnam: http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/item/2009/1012/comm/hunt_obamaafghan.html
“The Vietnam War has a bearing on President Obama’s pending decision on troops levels. Though the president himself is doubtful about parallels, historians have pointed to the relevance of Lyndon Johnson’s decisions in 1964-1965. That plunge into Vietnam, they warn, undid the Great Society program and ultimately the Johnson presidency. Obama could suffer the same fate. Richard Nixon’s Vietnam War may offer a more appropriate but no less cautionary point of comparison.
His failure to promptly accept failure and the ensuing consequences provide a stark warning of the risks Obama now runs. Another regional intervention gone wrong could distract the president and country from the pressing problems of our day. It could drain Obama’s political capital and slowly eat his presidency alive. Finally, a prolongation of the Afghan conflict could add death and suffering to a country far too familiar with both and in the bargain make Pakistan into a latter-day Cambodia. History suggests a prudent acceptance of failure; there is much good reason to listen”.