Tuesday Headlines

Colonialism Is Not The Root Of Evil In The Middle East
There are some among the community of foreign policy analysts and historians who claim the current turmoil in the Middle East is an outgrowth of colonial rule decades ago. Roula Khalaf is not in that crowd. In fact, Khalaf maintains the stating that colonialism as the root of the current mayhem is “misleading.” In particular, the boundaries drawn as part of the 1916 agreement between the British and French, known as Sykes-Picot, are not the basis for present-day tensions.

“To emphasise Sykes-Picot in the Middle East’s current predicament, is to miss the region’s real problem: the tragic failure of successive postcolonial governments to build inclusive states that would reinforce a national identity. It is the tyranny of Syria’s ruling Assad clan, the dictatorship of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and the ineptitude of Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, that have driven the Middle East to catastrophe, rather than century-old lines drawn in the sand,” asserts Khalaf in The Financial Times.

Afghanistan Is Not Lost – Yet
Writing in Commentary, Jonathan Foreman believes not all is lost in Afghanistan. His opinion is a unique one. And he recognizes that uniqueness is made more difficult as it is hard to get a “wholly convincing, comprehensive impression of the military situation in Afghanistan” or to see the positive in Afghanistan’s progress.

Failing to recognize that progress and a commitment to the timetable governing US withdrawal, he contends, is increasing the likelihood that the US is about to abandon Afghanistan at a time when things are beginning to turn around.

“But the truly awful aspect of this retreat is that America may be about to abandon Afghanistan just when it seems to have turned a corner—when a new leader is about to take power after a peaceful democratic process, when economic growth is transforming life for millions, and when the security forces are beginning to become genuinely effective in a limited but promising way.

“It wouldn’t be the first time that the United States has chosen to lose a war without being defeated in the field, or risked rendering meaningless a huge expenditure of blood and treasure, or let down a beleaguered ally. But it would likely rank high in any list of the nation’s strategic blunders and shabby betrayals, and its fallout might be felt for many years to come in the region and beyond,” he writes.

Can Africa’s Lack Of Infrastructure Be To Its Benefit?
For years, the dearth of landlines in Africa has been viewed as a detriment, an impediment to progress. But, that is not necessarily the case today with the dawn of the age of the mobile phone.

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry says one reason the mobile phone industry blossomed in Africa is because there were no landlines, and, in turn, “this allowed mobile payments and mobile finance to take off faster in Africa than anywhere else, largely because there was little dominant financial infrastructure.”

This scenario, he says, is a perfect example of “leapfrogging,” which is the idea that  “poor countries can skip ahead of the rich world because they are less encumbered by ingrained ideas and existing institutions.”

Leapfrogging, Gobry asserts, may be the key to Africa avoiding the negative trappings of the welfare state.

“This is but one example; there are many other instances of local, community-driven forms of voluntary mutual aid, which accomplish for many communities what the welfare state is supposed to offer — a safety net and a hand up — without the bureaucracy and bloat. Obviously Africa does not have the quality of life of Sweden, but we are merely at the seed stage of what may be a real phenomenon in the future,” he writes.

 

 

Africa is the continent of the future. And just like Africa’s poor telecoms and banking infrastructure allowed African countries to leapfrog the West in mobile finance, perhaps the all-too-real incompetence of most African states will allow Africa to leapfrog to Western welfare state

 

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