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Thread: Africom Stands Up 2006-2017

  1. #341
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    Jmm99,

    Okay, US sat on the fence during most of Apartheid. I retract my initial statement about collusion.

    But Africans feel that Apartheid was far too important a struggle for the US to sit on the fence for as long as it did.

    Imagine how the Poles would feel if the US sat on the fence during "Solidarity" - now that's how Africans feel about US conduct during most of Apartheid.

    Whether Africa is a marginal player to US national interests or not, is an entirely different matter. I just wanted to give you the African intellectual's perspective on these matters. Once again, my perspective isn't that important, but maybe it helps you understand my worldview.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    Imagine how the Poles would feel if the US sat on the fence during "Solidarity" - now that's how Africans feel about US conduct during most of Apartheid.
    Plenty of US institutions weren’t fence-sitters. There’s a real question as to whether divestment had any practical effect on the eventual end of Apartheid, but that’s a different story. Campuses, corporations, and city governments were doing diplomacy that it took the Federal Government years to catch up with.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    ganulv,

    Plenty of US institutions weren’t fence-sitters. There’s a real question as to whether divestment had any practical effect on the eventual end of Apartheid, but that’s a different story. Campuses, corporations, and city governments were doing diplomacy that it took the Federal Government years to catch up with.
    I wasn't talking about the American people, I was talking about the US Federal Government. The US Federal Government, not the American people implements foreign policy.

    We could argue whether divestment had any practical effect on the eventual end of Apartheid, but for far too long, the US Government showed little visible commitment, either real or rhetorical towards ending Apartheid.

    The next line of argument is that Apartheid South Africa was too important an ally to throw under the bus, but the corollary is that this implies that the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa was simply, unimportant.

    That is okay, but it still damaged the perception of the US in Sub-Saharan Africa - but that again, doesn't really matter because Africa is of marginal interest to the United States.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    ganulv,



    I wasn't talking about the American people, I was talking about the US Federal Government. The US Federal Government, not the American people implements foreign policy.

    We could argue whether divestment had any practical effect on the eventual end of Apartheid, but for far too long, the US Government showed little visible commitment, either real or rhetorical towards ending Apartheid.

    The next line of argument is that Apartheid South Africa was too important an ally to throw under the bus, but the corollary is that this implies that the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa was simply, unimportant.

    That is okay, but it still damaged the perception of the US in Sub-Saharan Africa - but that again, doesn't really matter because Africa is of marginal interest to the United States.
    Maybe most politicians think most of Africa is beyond help because there are few African leaders worth backing because for the both part they seeking personal gain, not taking care of their people. Of course there is a lot of ugly legacy stuff from the Cold War where both the USSR and the USA backed corrupt leaders to keep them in their camp, and that is part of influenced our slow response to the situation in S. Africa. Interestingly enough South Africa now appears to be more violent than ever, so once again America finds it desire for democracy and equality has backfired when imposed on a country that is not ready for it. I don't know the answer to helping Africa, I thought we were doing O.K. in the late 90s and early 2000s until 9/11 pulled us off that track, but ultimately change in Africa must come from within. What leaders in your opinion should we back?

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    Default Neither of our perspectives is that important ...

    from KJ
    Whether Africa is a marginal player to US national interests or not, is an entirely different matter. I just wanted to give you the African intellectual's perspective on these matters. Once again, my perspective isn't that important, but maybe it helps you understand my worldview.
    but, in the last few days I've read or watched a half-dozen or so African intellectuals whose dislike of the USG was far deeper and stronger than anything you have posted here. The two issues were (1) decolonialization and neocolonialization, and (2) apartheid. Judging from what I've read and watched, their dislike of the USG is not going to be put aside. Admittedly, I'm reasoning from a limited database and null hands-on African experience.

    Both of these issues were controlled, so far as USG inaction on apartheid was concerned, by two things: (1) that "the continent of Africa was only of marginal interest to the US as far as American national interests are concerned," as well-expressed by George Ball (who was no rightist, though an elitist) in what I quoted; and (2) that the "communists were coming" - especially in South Africa, where the Communist Party was well represented by the writings of Joe Slovo; and the ANC was perceived as "Marxist" - it didn't express it as a matter of tactics only (1979 Green Book):

    2. We debated the more long-term aims of our national democratic revolution, and the extent to which the ANC, as a national movement, should tie itself to the ideology of Marxism-Leninism and publicly commit itself to the socialist option. The issue was posed as follows:

    In the light of the need to attract the broadest range of social forces amongst the oppressed to the national democratic liberation, a direct or indirect commitment at this stage to a continuing revolution which would lead to a socialist order may unduly narrow this line-up of social forces. It was also argued that the ANC is not a party, and its direct or open commitment to socialist ideology may undermine its basic character as a broad national movement.
    It should be emphasised that no member of the Commission had any doubts about the ultimate need to continue our revolution towards a socialist order; the issue was posed only in relation to the tactical considerations of the present stage of our struggle.
    Beyond its fear of SA communists and socialists, the USG (via the DoD) believed South Africa was a necessary location for US military installations. That we see in the Kennedy administration's continuation of a space tracking center in South Africa (all doc links here).

    Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963
    Volume XXI, Africa, Document 376

    376. Letter From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Gilpatric) to the Under Secretary of State (Bowles)11. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 65 A 3464, Africa, 000.92-Africa 452, 1961. Confidential. A copy was sent to Harold Brown, Director of Defense Research and Engineering.
    Washington, March 16, 1961.

    Dear Chet: As you requested, I have looked into the necessity for concluding an agreement with the Union of South Africa for the establishment in the Johannesburg/Pretoria area of a missile and space vehicle tracking station extending the Atlantic Missile Range.
    ...
    We in Defense do not see any effective alternative to a station in the Union of South Africa if we are to handle the development of Transit, Midas, Advent, Ranger, and other programs which will follow from the availability of the Centaur/Atlas and Saturn boosters. A draft agreement satisfactory to both State and Defense has been prepared. We believe that this draft will be generally acceptable to the South Africans, since it follows as closely as circumstances permit the recent U.S.-South African agreement concerning the NASA station at Pretoria. The latter agreement, which in our view presented comparable questions of U.S. policy, was signed on September 13, 1960.
    Chet Bowles was another liberal at State, with an interest in Africa. He wrote in 1955, as a private citizen, Africa (by Chester Bowles; In Collier's Weekly, June 10, 1955, pp. 40-47):

    What exactly is our African policy? It is fair to say that at present we do not have one. We do not have one because for years we have told ourselves that Africa was simply a projection of Britain, France, Portugal and Belgium, and that a European policy would suffice. This same kind of disastrous reasoning in Asia led us to look upon Indochina as a French problem and not as an Asian problem. It can cost us equally heavily over the years in Africa.

    However, any responsible person will agree that the development of a rational African policy is net an easy matter. It is a subject on which European opinions are sensitive and easily aroused. It is highly complex, and wide open for reckless, racial demagoguery.
    with 11 policy recommendations - the first three being general:

    1. Let us start with the fact that we do not control Africa, that we have no desire to control it and that there is a strict limit to what we can do there.

    2. Without pompously lecturing our European friends on their colonial matters, or making a demagogic play to the applause of the African gallery, let us privately and publicly place our influence behind every orderly and responsible proposal that moves toward freedom.

    3. For better or for worse, Africans themselves will eventually decide the pace of freedom. However, if America convinces the Africans that we honestly favor their independence as rapidly as they can manage it, we shall be in a position to help moderate the demands of those Africans who now want more authority than they are yet qualified to use. Premature self-government would only lead to failures which would play into the hands of the bitter enders.
    Chet Bowles replied negatively to the tracking station.

    Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963
    Volume XXI, Africa, Document 378

    378. Letter From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Gilpatric) to the Under Secretary of State (Bowles)11. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 65 A 3464, Africa 000.92-Africa 452, 1961. Secret. A copy was sent to George Newman in G.
    Washington, May 17, 1961.

    Dear Chet: As a result of your letter of April 3, 1961,[2] I asked the Deputy Director of Defense Research and Engineering and the Under Secretary of the Air Force personally to re-examine the need for a tracking station in the Union of South Africa and possible alternatives to such a station. ...

    2. Bowles' letter to Gilpatric pointed out that the use of South African territory for the U.S. missile tracking program posed serious difficulties for the U.S. Government because of the racial policies of the Union Government and the recurring controversies between that government and the United Nations over South West Africa and apartheid. Therefore, he argued, it was unwise for the United States to enter into any long-term military agreement with South Africa for a permanent tracking station, and asked the Department of Defense to investigate other means of satisfying its requirements, such as the use of instrumentation vessels. He also suggested waiting for the views of the new U.S. Ambassador to South Africa before taking any action on the proposed agreement.
    Adlai Stevenson was also negative.

    Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963
    Volume XXI, Africa, Document 380

    380. Letter From the Representative to the United Nations (Stevenson) to Secretary of State Rusk11. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770X.56311/6-261. Personal and Confidential.
    New York, June 2, 1961.

    Dear Dean: I have recently heard about the proposed agreement with the Union of South Africa for (a) a missile tracking station, and (b) a sale of arms including fighter aircraft.

    While I am not fully informed about the necessity for this transaction, I am sufficiently concerned to presume to send you this note of caution. At a time when the feeling about apartheid and the policy of the Union of South Africa is rising everywhere, including pressure for sanctions in the U.N., I would think that the necessity must be very compelling to risk the repercussions from a transaction of this kind if and when it becomes known, as it must inevitably. I hardly need add that relations with the rest of Africa, and especially the new states, are important to our security too.
    - to be cont. -

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    Interestingly enough South Africa now appears to be more violent than ever, so once again America finds it desire for democracy and equality has backfired when imposed on a country that is not ready for it.
    I've been to South Africa twice, that is exaggerated.

    I met a South African colleague who worked in the same company (KPMG), she was black. Her elder sister was a domestic servant - why? Because the Apartheid government restricted university education to "Blacks", "Coloreds" and "Asians".

    A good number of "Asian" and "Colored" colleagues are the first generation from their families to go to university.

    A lot of white racists prefer the South Africa that existed before - where institutions and a social safety net only existed to serve the white population - but much as they wish, it ain't coming back.

    Consider that as recently as 1982 the Apartheid government of South Africa spent an average of R1,211 on education for each White child, and only R146 for each Black child.

    Is Black Economic Empowerment badly implemented? Yes. Has ANC made a mess of South Africa? Yes. Is crime a serious problem that has to be dealt with? Yes, but given the rabid racism of South Africa's past, South Africa got off relatively easily.

    You don't have to go to far to grasp this - consider what is happening between Sunni & Shia in Iraq or the mess in former Yugoslavia.

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    Default Fast forward ...

    to December 1961; and a meeting with Brits, in which the US position (different from the UK's) was presented by Soapy Williams (G. Mennen Williams, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs 1961-1966). While at State, he coined the slogan "Africa for the Africans" - I've never figured out what that exactly meant - obviously, anti-colonialist.

    Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963
    Volume XXI, Africa, Document 393

    393. Memorandum of Conversation11. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.41/11-2061. Confidential. Drafted by Cook on December 13.
    Washington, November 20, 1961.

    SUBJECT
    US/UK Talks—Summary Minutes—South Africa
    PARTICIPANTS
    United Kingdom
    Sir Roger Stevens, Deputy Under Secretary, Foreign Office
    Sir Algernon Rumbold, Deputy Under Secretary, Commonwealth Relations
    M. K. M. Wilford, Foreign Office
    J. D. Hennings, Colonial Attache, British Embassy
    D. A. Greenhill, Counselor, British Embassy
    J. D. B. Shaw, First Secretary, British Embassy
    R. W. H. DuBoulay, First Secretary, British Embassy
    United States
    G. Mennen Williams, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
    J. Wayne Fredericks, Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
    Henry J. Tasca, Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
    Olcott H. Deming, Director, AFE
    Martin F. Herz, Special Assistant for Planning, AF
    Philip R. Cook, AFE

    Sir Algernon Rumbold opened the discussion and stated that his remarks would be grouped under three main headings: (1) Speculation about the future of the Republic, (2) Negotiations to bring UK-South African relations up-to-date following the latter's withdrawal from the Commonwealth and (3) Pressures for sanctions against the Republic.
    ...
    Assistant Secretary Williams responded stating that the U.S. did not have such important interests in South Africa as the British. He noted U.S. investment, the tracking station and the U.S. Navy's anti-submarine interests but said that the U.S. was unwilling to compromise its principles to maintain those interests. Therefore, the U.S. was relatively free in South Africa as compared, for example, with Angola.

    The Assistant Secretary said that U.S. policy towards the Republic was based on three factors:—(1) South Africa's economy could make great contributions to Africans and to the rest of the African continent. Accordingly, the U.S. hated to see it destroyed. (2) The U.S. and the Republic shared a common western heritage, had been comrades in arms in two world wars and in Korea and were both unquestionably anti-communist. (3) Apartheid, however, was obnoxious. It created a breeding ground for communism and made U.S. relations with the rest of the African continent very difficult. Therefore, U.S. policy was to “rifle in” on the aspects of South Africa we did not like but support those aspects we did like. We had conveyed this policy in an Aide-Memoire to the Republic but it had been viewed as a serious impediment to the maintenance of friendly relations.

    Examples of our policy in action were:—(1) The Aircraft Sale—They wanted fighters and transports but we approved only transports. (2) The IMF Loan—We had scrutinized this closely but had approved the first tranche since first tranche approvals were traditionally granted by the Fund. (3) The Tracking Station—We were going ahead with this but we would not sacrifice our policies or our freedom of action to get it.

    Assistant Secretary Williams said the U.S. might have to pick and choose sanctions which bilaterally would help the U.S. position with the rest of Africa. He commented that the U.S. had opposed sanctions in the UN and might continue to do so. The U.S. wanted to “zero in” on the real targets but, at the same time, it did not want to force the Republic into “laager.” The U.S. recognized that South Africans were tough and wanted to show them it was just as tough.
    ...
    Governor Williams reiterated that the U.S. believed it was necessary to do something about apartheid and expressed the belief that the time of the Europeans in South Africa was limited. Sir Roger and Sir Algernon replied that if this were true there were only two possible results. Either a “bloody revolution,” which would be a “terrible mess,” or a gradual “leavening of the lump” on the race question. The UK believed that the latter was the best hope. Sir Roger added that the U.S. would bear a very grave responsibility if it gave any encouragement to Africans to attempt to overthrow the South African Government.

    Governor Williams asked whether sabotage of the Republic's gold mines would not cripple the economy. The British delegation replied that the situation in the mines was quite good and there was no history of disorders in this sector. However, there were undoubted economic weaknesses in apartheid and the Bantustan border development plan was described as “just talk.”

    At the close of the meeting Governor Williams stated that the U.S. wanted to be sure that U.S. inter-racial policies were reflected in its operations overseas. Accordingly, Ambassador Satterthwaite had been instructed to hold inter-racial dinners and improve contacts with non-Europeans. Sir Roger commented, “I presume the U.S. does not want to provoke a break in diplomatic relations with South Africa.” Governor Williams replied that the U.S. wanted to maintain diplomatic relations as long as relations were meaningful but it would run the risk of a break if its operations were restricted.
    Admittedly, Soapy Williams was a bit unorthodox - "whether sabotage of the Republic's gold mines would not cripple the economy" - but then he (like me) was and always will be a Yooper (buried on Mackinac Island).

    The SA new missile tracking station was scrapped in favor of a ship-borne station in April 1963.

    Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963
    Volume XXI, Africa, Document 402

    402. Letter From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Gilpatric) to the Under Secretary of State (Ball)11. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 67 A 4564, South Africa Rep. 1963, 383.8-676. No classification marking.
    Washington, April 9, 1963.
    Soapy Williams continued to rock the Kennedy administration's boat; one has to remember that the major players were always the President, his brother Bobby (Attorney General) and Robert McNamara (Secretary of Defense). Dean Rusk (Secretary of State) was a lesser figure - and somewhat wishy-washy.

    Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963
    Volume XXI, Africa, Document 406

    406. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Harriman)11. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Africa. Secret. Also sent to Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs Johnson, Williams, Tyler, and Rostow.
    Washington, June 15, 1963.

    Mennen Williams' memorandum to me of June 12 on U.S. policy toward South Africa raises again some far-reaching issues which ought to be considered within a broader framework of policy than that relating to the attitudes of the independent states of Africa.
    ...
    2. Williams' memorandum stated that it was time to review U.S. arms supply policy toward South Africa and argued that the United States should be thinking in terms of a total arms embargo. He noted that the current partial arms embargo policy was equivocal, was not an effective pressure on the South Africans, and was considered inadequate by the African countries and by many in the United States who were concerned about racial discrimination. Williams pointed out that a total arms embargo would fall far short of the complete sanctions already recommended by the General Assembly, and argued that this was the only way the United States could convince both world and domestic opinion that it meant business in its disapproval of apartheid.

    3 On July 12, Williams sent a follow-up memorandum to Rusk arguing that a complete arms ban was the least that the United States could do to maintain its influence with the Africans and its ability to prevent more radical and violent action on their part. He admitted that an arms ban might jeopardize the use of certain tracking and naval facilities in South Africa, but argued that this would be a calculated risk and relatively small in comparison to what else might be lost. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Williams Records, GMW Chron File)
    - to be cont. -

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    Default The End Result

    After that, the matter ended up in the White House, where the President declined to support any other sanctions against SA.

    Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963
    Volume XXI, Africa, Document 417

    417. Memorandum of Conversation11. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL-1 S AFR. Confidential. Drafted by Judd and approved by the White House on October 15. The conversation took place at the White House. The source text is labeled “4 of 6 parts.”
    Washington, October 4, 1963, 10:30 a.m.

    SUBJECT
    South Africa
    participants
    United States
    The President
    William R. Tyler, Assistant Secretary European Affairs
    Thomas M. Judd, EUR/BNA
    UK
    Lord Home, Foreign Secretary
    Sir David Ormsby Gore, Ambassador to the U.S.
    Oliver Wright, Foreign Office

    Lord Home said that an idea was being put forward at the UN for “strategic sanctions” against South Africa. The UK was opposed to the application of sanctions except when there was a threat to peace. The trouble with Security Council resolutions was that they were mandatory. The UK would accordingly have to veto any “strategic sanctions” resolution as it was unlikely that enough abstentions could be obtained. Ambassador Stevenson had indicated, Lord Home said, that the U.S. might go along with some selective sanctions.

    The President replied that we had gone along on the arms embargo. We would not go beyond that and would not support sanctions. The question was how best to stop them. He thought that the British should not be too disturbed at the idea of casting a veto.
    My lengthy treatment of what was a minor event in the long story of apartheid is not meant to convince you or anyone else of the inherent worth of the US position on SA in 1963. I do present it as an example of how the USG works at various levels; and that outcomes are very much dependent on the personnel at those various levels. Outcomes are also sometimes determined by relatively insignificant matters.

    The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act was not introduced until 1972; languished until action was taken in the House, but stopped by the Senate in 1985; passed by both House and Senate in 1986; and vetoed by President Reagan, which was overridden by both House and Senate also in 1986.

    All of this is simply fact, which can't be changed; nor do I expect that to cause anyone to develop any more love for the USG. The problem, as I see it, is that the USG has to choose between matching its rhetoric with its actions or inactions, or matching its actions or inactions to its rhetoric. I'd pick the first because it could be done. The second has a long history of not working.

    The bottom line, I suppose, is that if you say "Africa for the Africans", you have to be willing to sabotage South African gold mines.

    Both of us have spent too much time on this topic; though it has been instructive.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Default A few questions

    1. The economic conditions that facilitate the rise of terrorist groups like Boko Haram in the Sahel are likely to worsen over time. Unfortunately, nobody has the political will or resources to tackle them, so what should be done?

    2. The rise of Islamist militant groups in the Sahel is likely to widen the already deep rifts between the Islamised ethnic groups in West Africa's hinterland and the Christianised ethnic groups in the coastal regions. Is separation inevitable and if so, does the international community recognise this inevitability.

    3. Fundamentalist Islam will not exist in Africa's Sahel regions forever. When the Islamist wave subsides, what strategic interests will the US have in that region? None?

    4. What is the overarching framework guiding US policy in Africa - assuming US shale oil booms and the Islamist issue sorts itself out, what other strategic role will the US play in Africa apart from acting as a spoiler to the Chinese?

    5. France cannot continue its deep engagement with Sub-Saharan Africa ad infinitum. Just like the French left Indochina and Algeria, they will have to leave Sub-Saharan Africa. What is America's game plan? Leave with the French or replace them?

    6. There's no such thing as friendship in international relations. What is important is alignment of strategic interests - increasingly savvy African leaders might recognize the obvious - there will be increasingly little alignment between the US and Africa on economics. However, that will not be the case with India, China or other BRIC nations - so how does the US present a convincing case for containing China to the African people if China becomes Africa's largest trading partner?

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    Default Proposed dialogue wont prevent Nigeria's eventual breakup - Bishop

    A little background:

    There's a proposed national dialogue between all Nigeria's ethnic nationalities, the purpose is to negotiate the terms under which all these strange bedfellows will continue to exist under an artificially imposed, British created construct - i.e. the Nigerian state.

    Everyone knows that nothing holds Nigeria together, except the desire to share oil by Nigeria's elite, but even at that, in the wake of Boko Haram, elite consensus might be breaking down.

    I expect the trends in Nigeria to be mirrored in several other artificial states in Africa.

    Anyway, interesting set of comments from a retired bishop (religious leaders are held in high esteem in Nigeria):

    He said there are several indications that the nationalities in the country are living together under duress. He said this was evident in the high level of religious intolerance being experienced, which was reflected in politics.

    Adebiyi, who spoke on the state of the nation in Lagos on Saturday, said it would be suicidal for him to walk in some places in the North in his robe without being attacked for being a Christian.

    He noted that such would not occur, if he goes to the North as a foreigner. He said if he was killed as a foreigner from Yorubaland, there would be diplomatic row but if he was killed as a Nigerian, only his family would bear the loss.

    He identified the born-to-rule mentality of some northerners as one of the causes of the crises in the country. “An average northerner believes that he was born to rule Nigeria and that is the essence of the conference we are talking about,” he said.

    ............

    Adebiyi said, “Sometime, when I see people speak about one Nigeria, I remain silent because I know that Nigeria is not one. We have an agglomeration of nations in Nigeria. I will only go to where I’ll be tolerated.

    “It is only those who are after money; those who are selfish that say we are a country. How do I call where I’m not wanted my own? Everything is a deceit; Nigeria is a country of great deceit.

    “It is time for every one of us, if this conference is real, to say that ‘this is what we want.’ If we cannot live together, why can’t I go home? What is wrong, if I say I’m going home?”
    http://www.punchng.com/news/conferen...eak-up-bishop/

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    Default Herbert Palmer on (Northern) Nigeria - written in 1917

    Very prescient analysis of Northern Nigeria's condition. He touched on the concerns of the Northern ruling class - being seen as being under the control of a Christian government was problematic then (1917, under the British). It is also problematic today.

    This is an apt description of the potential sources of instability Northern Nigeria (Boko Haram falls under the second category):

    It will, therefore, be apparent that the potential sources of danger in Nigeria are rather among:

    1. People of the ruling caste who are not actually in power.
    2. The rather limited class of pious fanatics, or clever charlatans, and
    3. The ignorant peasantry

    Than among the actual rulers of the country.
    http://www.waado.org/colonial_rule/b...muslim_wwi.pdf

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    Another prescient observation from Palmer

    Unfortunately, however, it is impossible to consider Nigerian politics without reference to the countries to the east and north and west of it - the Eastern Chad basin, the Sahara, and the Western Sudan - because really the whole Sudan belt is one country with not real geographical obstacles, with homogeneous peoples having a common religion, and with few or no real racial antipathies.
    African nations are ex-colonial administrative units. The term "African state" doesn't mean much in practice.

    Boko Haram is Kanuri, Kanuris can be found all the way from North East Nigeria to Sudan. When Boko Haram "flees the Nigerian border", they aren't really leaving one country & going to another, they are moving within the same de facto nation.

    Problems like Boko Haram will continue to persist in Africa's poor Sahel regions and African states aren't structured to deal with problems like this, that's why they keep re-occurring.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    African nations are ex-colonial administrative units. The term "African state" doesn't mean much in practice.
    Having been independent for between 30-50 years African nations have lost the ability to blame all their current woes on the legacy of colonialism and the Cold War (principally the USA) - except in their own minds it appears.

    It is not conducive to informed debate when old hackneyed cliches and soundbites are dropped into a thread without substantiation and often out of context.

    It continues to interest me how the USA continues to be criticised its role during the Cold War period as if there was no threat from the competing interests of the Soviet Union and Communist China.

    Yes in retrospect with the 20:20 vision of a monday morning quarterback it is obvious that the US fumbled a number of situations... but this incessant whining about the USA and the almost complete lack of comment (thereby probably indicating a lack of understanding) of the role of other Cold War players is irritating to say the least. The USA were not operating in a vacuum.

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    JMA,

    When I call African state ex-colonial administrative units, my focus is not on blaming the white man but explaining the arbitrary nature of most African states.

    This is an example you'll understand - Kurdistan was split between Syria, Turkey and Iraq, but simply because lines in the map drawn by long dead colonialists insisted that Kurdistan didn't exist - that didn't mean Kurdistan was dead.

    The same thing occurs in Africa - African states are ex-colonial administrative units, they don't represent the desires of people on the ground, they have no real basis for existence or cohesion.

    This has been discussed at length on this thread - and it a real source of instability.

    I'm Nigerian, I live in Nigeria - and even if you casually dismiss history with a wave of a hand, I wont. I've seen 15,000 dead since 1999, a clash of civilizations with Sharia in the North and Evangelical Christianity rising in the South.

    Who could have dreamed up such a time bomb - the British, who had no interest in understanding the situation on the ground, just grabbing resources for the home counties.

    These things will be settled, with much blood & zero input from the West - we saw it Yugoslavia. That is Nigeria's trajectory. We could have a discussion on that.

    But not this "blame the white man" - that has never been my motivation for joining this discussion group. Check my entries.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-09-2013 at 11:53 PM. Reason: Partly copied to new thread Nigeria's future: where to start?

  15. #355
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    Default Yugoslavia - is that is Nigeria's path to the future?

    Kingjaja,

    The break-up of Yugoslavia pre-dates SWJ, it does sometimes appear in posts and there is at least one SWJ article:http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...-of-bosnia-and

    Europe, particularly Western Europe, would prefer not to remember what happened and much political plus effort has been expended to make amends. As last week proved in Kosovo local tensions can lead to skirmishing:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24798397

    The Balkans have a long history, largely out of sight when part of the Ottoman / Turkish Empire; where religion, tribe, community and more intersect in close proximity. Partnership did happen - in peace and war - and Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina's main city and provincial capital) was noted for the extent of inter-marriage.

    It took several days of violence and barbarity - my reading blames the Serbian extremists - to force everyone to "take a side" and so fracture communal partnership.

    Today there is a sort of peace in Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia, with each nation-state joining or aspiring to EU status (Slovenia, the smallest, most homogeneous and with the most peaceful escape joined the EU sometime ago).

    Is Nigeria on the same trajectory? I don't know, but the Bosnian experience provides some clear warnings.

    Moderator's Note

    There is now a new thread Nigeria's future: where to start? (Ends).
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-09-2013 at 11:57 PM. Reason: Copied to new thread Nigeria's future: where to start?
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    Default Welcome to the New Age of Military Intervention in Africa

    Welcome to the New Age of Military Intervention in Africa

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    Default Defense Expert Calls for Thousands of US Troops in Africa

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    Default US Takes Training Role in Africa as Threats Grow and Budgets Shrink

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    Default Africom Commander: Terror Threat Remains Across Africa

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    Default U.S. Military Presence in Africa Growing in Small Ways

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