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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
  • Author: James Kraska, Brian Wilson
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: More than 200 years ago, just as the United States was developing into a nation, corsair piracy challenged the ability of the country to conduct international trade throughout the Mediterranean Sea. While the Barbary threat was defeated, piracy continues to thrive and has become a feature of the contemporary age. Now, pirates operating off the Somali coast represent a destabilizing force in the region, and their attacks wreak havoc on world shipping markets at the very time the industry is suffering from economic collapse. Although piracy in the Horn of Africa has picked up throughout the past five years, 2008 was an especially remarkable year. In 2008, Somali pirates attacked more than one hundred vessels in the Gulf of Aden and western Indian Ocean. The audacity and scope of this piracy campaign is unprecedented in the modern age. Twenty thousand ships transit the Gulf of Aden annually and in 2007 about 6,500 tankers, carrying 12 percent of the world's daily oil supply, used the route. This strategic area links trade between the east and west through the neighboring Strait of Bab el-Mandeb and into the Suez Canal. Piracy also occurs in Southeast Asia, off the African west coast and in the Caribbean, but the explosion in the number and scope of incidents in the Horn of Africa has galvanized world attention. Increasingly, Somali pirates seize and hold for ransom seafarers and valuable cargo. Among the take are thirty three Russian armored tanks, 2 million barrels of crude oil valued at $100 million and tankers full of bulk chemicals.
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, United States, Southeast Asia, East Africa
  • Author: Princeton N. Lyman, Kathryn A. Robinette
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: T he election of Barack Obama as president of the United States has aroused expectations around the world, but nowhere as much as in Africa. Obama inherits a record of achievement on the continent from George W. Bush that w ill be hard to match, if not exceed. He will also be far more heavily engaged elsewhere in the world than in Africa, with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the nuclear threat from Iran, problems encompassing Russia and the worldwide economic crisis. Yet, Obama has singular potential to make his mark on Africa as neither his immediate nor earlier predecessors were able to do—that is, to carry his message of personal and political responsibility, which was emphasized in his inaugural address to African leaders. In addition, he can help empower the institutions of Africa's governments and civil society that can demand accountability, service and democracy where Africa has lagged and been held back. These steps will make American aid and trade programs—on which he can draw from an impressive Bush legacy, and which he must still improve—all the more effective.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, Russia, United States, Iraq
  • Author: Anya Schiffrin
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Journalism in Africa has come far in recent decades. The decline of one-party dictatorships, which traditionally kept a grip on the press, has brought about rapid changes. The number of media outlets has expanded and in many countries, such as South Africa and Nigeria, the press is now known for being lively and outspoken. The old days in which the government controlled the one broadcaster, strictly licensed just a few newspapers and kept a tight grip on newsprint allocation are gone in most countries. From having a few dozen media outlets at the end of the colonial period, Africa now has hundreds. Across the continent, small newspapers and radio stations have sprung up, many with just a few thousand listeners and tiny staffs. The rapid expansion of new technology also bodes well for journalistic freedom. Online publications also allow wider participation and the growth of citizen journalism, which can boost governance and promote transparency.
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Wafula Okumu
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: As the African Union (AU) moves toward its tenth anniversary in 2012, it is drawing a great deal of attention to its handling of mounting crises on the continent. Across the continent, the AU is faced w ith crises that test its commitment and capability to fulfill the ambitious agenda it adopted at its formation in July 2002. This agenda includes the promotion of peace, stability, human rights, democracy, good governance and sustainable development. Among the motivating factors for the formation of the Union was to provide Africa with a platform and voice to survive and benefit from the wave of globalization. The AU, as stated in its Constitutive Act, was Africa's response to “the multifaceted challenges that confront our continent and peoples in the light of the social, economic and political changes taking place in the world.” It was concocted as a vehicle for accelerating “political and socio-economic integration of the continent” and for establishing “the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations.”
  • Topic: Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Clapperton Mavhunga
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: The Maxim gun and the Martini-Henry rifle ushered anglophone Africa into 20th century colonialism. The Cold War, in turn, presented a moment for black political elites to acquire weapons (the AK-47 in particular) with which to define and present themselves as African nationalists fighting—with all the material ramifications of this word—to end colonial rule. Could information technology— specifically radio, the Internet and cell phones—be the Martini-Henry, Maxim and AK-47 of the 21st century?
  • Topic: Cold War
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Katherine J. Almquist
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Since 2001, the United States has dramatically increased its commitment to development in Africa and has transformed the way it is implemented. In the last eight years, U.S. foreign assistance to sub-Saharan Africa managed by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has increased by $5.5 billion, or 340 percent. An additional $3.8 billion has been provided through Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) compacts, ten of which have been signed with sub-Saharan African countries since 2004. The United States is currently on track to meet its 2005 G-8 commitment to double aid to Africa again by 2010. This commitment of financial resources by the United States represents former President George W. Bush's vision of using America's power to help Africans improve their own lives, build their own nations and transform their own future.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, America
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Patrick Awuah is the founder and president of Ashesi University, a private liberal arts college located in Accra, Ghana. He was born in Ghana but left in the mid-1980s to pursue an education in the United States, earning a bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College and a master of business administration from the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. He later earned an honorary doctorate from Swarthmore College. After eight years working as a program manager and engineer for the Microsoft Corporation in Seattle, Awuah returned to his home country to found Ashesi University, currently the sole accredited coeducational liberal arts college in West Africa. Awuah solicited massive financial support from the private sector, particularly American corporate donors, like Microsoft. Beginning with a pilot class of thirty students in 2002, Ashesi University now has 352 students, 87 percent of whom are Ghanaian, and 50 percent of whom receive financial aid. Awuah has earned international acclaim for his commitment to creating a model for quality private education in Africa. He spoke to Emily Gouillart of the Journal of International Affairs about the experience of founding and building Ashesi University, the future of education in Africa and the importance of ethics in curriculum building.
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States
  • Author: Elizabeth Sperbee
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Since the mid-1990s, China has rapidly expanded its engagement with African states. Study of Sino-African relations has subsequently begun to burgeon. In China into Africa: Trade, Aid and Influence, Robert Rotberg's multinational slate of authors introduce key issues in this literature from a variety of perspectives. The result is a volume worth reading cover to cover. A sometimes redundant, sometimes contradictory assemblage, China into Africa nevertheless provides a fascinating introduction not only to a variety of issues at stake in Sino-African relations, but also, necessarily, to the issues at stake in the study of those relations.
  • Political Geography: Africa, China