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  • Author: Ashley Neese Bybee
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: In the last decade, West Africa emerged as a major transit hub for Latin American Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) transporting cocaine to Western Europe. Since that time, there has been cause for hope and despair. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and an array of international donors have made great strides in acknowledging the growing problem of drug trafficking and have implemented practical measures to stem this flow. All the while, the fears of many observers have been confirmed as the insidious effects of the drug trade have begun to take effect in many West African states. Consumption is on the rise and narco-corruption now undermines the rule of law and legitimate economic growth necessary for development and stability. One of the most alarming trends that place Africa and Africans on the radar of policy makers, law enforcement, and researchers alike is the number of new fronts on which the illicit drug trade is growing. Its geographic expansion beyond the relatively confined region of West Africa is now endangering East and Southern Africa. The arrival of new drugs to the region—heroin and Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (ATS, commonly referred to as synthetic drugs)—has been accompanied by the discovery of local manufacturing facilities to process them. Lastly, the growing level of involvement by Africans—who initially served as facilitators but now appear to be taking a more proactive role—raises concerns that a new generation of African DTOs is rising in the ranks. This paper examines how each of these trends are contributing to the twenty-first century expansion of the drug trade in Africa and summarizes some of the impacts they are having on the states and their populations.
  • Political Geography: Africa, Latin America, Western Europe
  • Author: Alina A. Smyslova
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Much has been written about the global drug trade, the international cartels, and the men at the top, creating an illusion that women are not a part of this illicit business. In Strange Trade, author Asale Angel-Ajani shatters this stereotype with an intimate account of two African women involved in drug trafficking, who were brought together in Italy's Rebibbia prison. Angel-Ajani's retelling of their narratives, as well as her own experiences, makes this book not only a story of the drug trade, but also one of the author's adventures researching this dangerous subject. The greatest lesson communicated by this book is that women are not necessarily mules and victims. As demonstrated in the stories of "the Ugandan," some women "chose the business" and lead their own international cartels. One of the women's tales offers a stark contradiction of the stereotypical female experience: a desperate victim tricked into becoming a mule. Angel-Ajani offers glimpses into subjects that could be books in themselves: the horrors of the Liberia's civil war, life in Rebibbia Prison and refugee camps, the business of global drug trafficking operations, and more. These glimpses only graze the surface, and when combined with the author's quick transitions between individual viewpoints and timeframes, often make the work seem disorganized and prevent the reader from connecting with the women. Perhaps the strongest connection made is that with the author and the consistent interjection of her own emotions and experiences in the narrative. While this adds a personal touch to the book, an academic audience might find it unnecessary and distracting. Including additional facts and data would have made this a stronger and more attractive read to academics who will not find much scholarly content to add to their personal research. But to readers interested in female experiences in drug trafficking, this is a worthy and quick read.
  • Political Geography: Africa, Liberia
  • Author: Krisztian Simon
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade Andrew Feinstein (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011), 672 pages. In Shadow World, a book on the global arms trade, author Andrew Feinstein argues that there is only a thin line between what constitutes legal and illegal. "With bribery and corruption de rigueur," he writes, "there are very few arms transactions that are entirely above board." Feinstein notes that manufacturers are often major donors to political parties and prospective employers of defeated politicians, which ensures that the beneficiaries of arms deals seldom face justice. According to the author's estimates, including the trade in conventional arms-which includes military vehicles, missiles, and ammunition-is worth $60 billion per year, accounts for more than 40 percent of the corruption in world trade, and has cost the lives of 231 million people in the last century. The money spent on arms, especially by developing countries, is desperately needed in other areas. Feinstein, who resigned from the African National Congress and South Africa's governing party after they were unwilling to launch an investigation into a major arms deal recalls that, in the late 1990s, the South African government spent £6 billion (nearly $10 billion) on guns it barely used, even while it could not afford antiretroviral drugs for the country's 6 million HIV-infected citizens. According to Feinstein, more than 355,000 of them died between 2000 and 2005. Using numerous interviews and confidential documents, Feinstein reconstructs the major arms deals of the last hundred years, describing in great detail the interactions of governments, manufacturers, and powerful arms dealers and provides an astonishing and insightful description of the world's "second-oldest profession." Although many of the stories were reported in the international press, they have rarely been described in such great detail. What is missing, however, is a more detailed analysis of the reasons for the lack of political will for reform, though Feinstein does offer some guidelines to help future policy makers deal with the arms industry. Unfortunately, Feinstein does not expect to see any changes in the near future; the first decade of the new millennium was, in his view, even more violent than the previous century.
  • Political Geography: Africa, New York, South Africa
  • Author: Fantu Cheru, Cyril Obi
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: This article explores the strategies used by China and India, two emerging global economies, to build a strong relationship with Africa. It analyzes China and India's competing interests and strategies around four broad issues: access to Africa's potentially vast markets, development cooperation, diplomatic influence and energy security. Several questions are raised based on the nature, similarities, differences and impacts of Chinese and Indian strategies. Will these create a new dynamism in South-South relations, or lead to a new form of asymmetrical relations between Africa and its Asian giant friends? What are the likely implications of closer Sino- and Indo-African ties for the continent's relations with the West, Africa's traditional trading partner, with which it has long-established relations, economic and strategic interests? In seeking explanations or answers, we caution that the differences between Chinese and Indian strategies of engagement are more of form than intent, underscoring the primacy of the competing national interests that do not completely foreclose mutually reinforcing strategies. We note that India's strategies presently swing between playing “catch up” with China—which has clearly made greater inroads—and pragmatically accommodating Chinese and other interests in Africa. There are even instances, as in the case of the Sudanese oil industry, in which Chinese and Indian oil companies are cooperating as partners in an oil producing consortium, despite competing in other African countries. While the emerging scenario is one of competition that is moderated to some extent by accommodation, we conclude, based on certain conditions, that in the medium to long term, India may turn out to be more competitive than China in its engagement strategies with Africa.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, India
  • Author: Mario Bours Laborin
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: As ideological challenges to the West dissipated after the end of the Cold War, many authoritarian regimes found themselves political and economic orphans. In this context, a new breed of hybrid regime emerged—democratic in appearance but authoritarian in nature. The democratic aspects of these regimes were mostly a product of the desire to conform to Western norms in order to access aid as well as political good standing.
  • Topic: Cold War
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Until 2008, thanks to domestic policy reforms, external assistance and high commodity prices, most of the economies of sub-Saharan Africa experienced sustained and accelerating growth for over a decade. Poverty was declining, health and education indicators were improving—albeit from a low base—and there were signs that Africa's HIV/AIDS prevalence rate had begun to decline. Then, in 2008, the continent was subjected to three major global shocks: a 50 percent increase in food prices, a surge in world oil prices that reached $140 a barrel and the financial meltdown and worldwide recession that is still running its course. The initial impact of these shocks was devastating, but African policymakers and the international community responded quickly and effectively, preventing a far worse outcome. Using external assistance, they scaled up existing safety net programs to cushion the poor from the food price shock, and for the most part avoided unproductive but politically compelling policies, such as price controls and export bans. Leaders of the affected countries also increased the share of high food prices accruing to Africa's farmers. Similarly, many oil-importing countries passed on higher fuel prices to consumers, avoiding the temptation to increase poorly targeted and often regressive subsidies. Finally, when the price of oil plummeted, Africa's largest oil exporters were able to withstand the shock because they had been using a conservative reference price per barrel in their budgets and saving the rest. As the global recession worsens, the coming months or years will be extremely difficult for Africa. However, the combination of domestic policy reforms and prudent foreign assistance that enabled Africa to experience economic growth over the past decade and manage the food, fuel and financial shocks thus far, can, if replicated, enable the continent to minimize the impact on its poor and return to a path of self-sustaining growth.
  • Topic: Education, Health
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: David H. Shinn
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: The United States and China are the two most important bilateral, external actors in Africa today. While the United States wields more influence in most of Africa's fifty-three countries, China has surpassed it in a number of states and is challenging it in others. Both countries look to Africa as an increasingly significant source of raw materials, especially oil. China, more than the United States, views Africa from a long-term strategic perspective. Both countries seek political and economic support in international forums from African countries, which constitute more than a quarter of the membership of the United Nations. The interests of the United States and China in Africa are more similar than dissimilar. There will inevitably be some competition over access to African natural resources and political support, but there are even greater opportunities for cooperation that can benefit African nations.
  • Topic: Oil, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, China
  • Author: Guy Lamb, Dominique Dye
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: I n February 1994, Robert Kaplan published a highly controversial article in the influential Atlantic Monthly titled, “The Coming Anarchy.” Kaplan prophesized that a combination of “scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism and disease” would swiftly undermine the social fabric of the world we know. Africa, and especially West Africa, was depicted as one of the key ground zero sites. Kaplan's article has been widely read and debated by both academics and policymakers.
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Africa's influence on Western culture has been celebrated for centuries, yet the continent has long been seen as requiring outside intervention to fuel its progress. Today, however, the growing number of high-profile African entrepreneurs across numerous sectors and industries, and the increasing visibility of African leaders in the international community, are among the most tangible illustrations of the continent's potential.
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Robert I. Rotberg
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Governance is performance—the delivery of high quality political goods to citizens by governments of all kinds. In Africa, as everywhere else, those political goods are security and safety, rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity and human development. The Ibrahim Index of African Governance, created at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, evaluates forty-eight sub-Saharan African countries according to fifty-seven variables. The results of this massive measurement exercise produce overall rankings of governance attainment, plus rankings for each of the five categories of political goods and each of the fifty-seven variables. Yet, the purpose of this Index is not to rate, but to diagnose. The Index is a diagnostic tool for civil society, donors and governments so that performance can be enhanced and the lives and outcomes of Africans can be strengthened. Improving African governance is the goal.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Africa