We have asked if Sub-Saharan Africa can really be considered 'post-colonial,' and concluded that it cannot. When the More Able butt up against the Less Able, the power dynamic can be so uneven that normal relations are impossible. Westerners (and, increasingly, Easterners) just can't seem to keep their fingers out of all those little pies, commercial or humanitarian. But the doctrine of international relations today says that all peoples sit at the same table, negotiating as equals.
If it were proved tomorrow, beyond a shadow of doubt, that Sub-Saharans as a group were far less able than Westerners,... what would be the right policy response? We at Those Who Can See argue that such a policy framework is not hard to imagine-- as it is largely the one being used now.
World Trade Organization: Do we all belong at the Grown-ups' table?
1) Trade policy
We don't force children to play by the same rules as adults. In the context of the WTO, if a More Able people were faced with a profoundly Less Able one, what could be considered a 'fair' trade position to take? It may look something like this:
The first Lomé Convention (Lomé I), which came into force in April 1976, was designed to provide a new framework of cooperation between the then European Community (EC) and developing ACP [African, Caribbean, Pacific] countries, in particular former British, Dutch, Belgian and French colonies.
It had two main aspects. It provided for most ACP agricultural and mineral exports to enter the EC free of duty. Preferential access based on a quota system was agreed for products, such as sugar and beef, in competition with EC agriculture. Secondly, the EC committed ECU 3 billion for aid and investment in the ACP countries.
Why are these countries singled out for special treatment? After all, the list of places colonized by Europe is much longer:
On further inspection, it seems most of the 'ACP' countries have something in common. Besides the handful that are run by Mestizos, East Indians, or Micro/Mela/Polynesians, all the rest (75%) are Afro-run. But most of the former are micro-states: In reality 98% of the population of the ACP states is Afro. In addition, we note that every Afro-run nation on earth belongs.
With this group and this group only, then, trading as equals was out of the question. And as colonialism receded further into the past, the need for this special treatment...got bigger:
The convention was renegotiated and renewed three times. Lomé II (January 1981 to February 1985) increased aid and investment expenditure to ECU 5.5 billion. Lomé III came into force in March 1985 (trade provisions) and May 1986 (aid), and expired in 1990; it increased commitments to ECU 8.5 billion. Lomé IV was signed in December 1989. Its trade provisions cover the ten years, 1990 to 1999. Aid and investment commitments for the first five years amounted to ECU 12 billion.
Not everyone looked so benignly on these lowered goalposts:
In 1995, the United States government petitioned to the World Trade Organization to investigate whether the Lomé IV convention had violated WTO rules. Then later in 1996, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, effectively ending the cross-subsidies that had benefited ACP countries for many years.
With the U.S. raining on the E.U.'s post-colonial parade, the Lomé convention was cut short. But really, nearly forty years after independence, these ex-colonies were surely able to stand on their own two feet and trade as equals?
[In 2000] the Cotonou Agreement replaced the Lomé Convention which had been the basis for ACP-EU development cooperation since 1975. The Cotonou Agreement, however, is much broader in scope than any previous arrangement has ever been. It is designed to last for a period of 20 years...
...Or maybe not.
Under the Cotonou Agreement, however, this [Lomé] system will be replaced by a new scheme which is to take effect in 2008: the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). These new arrangement provide for reciprocal trade agreements, meaning that not only the EU provides duty-free access to its markets for ACP exports, but ACP countries also provide duty-free access to their own markets for EU exports.
Equality at last?
True to the Cotonou principle of differentiation, however, not all ACP countries have to open their markets to EU products after 2008. The group of least developed countries is able to either continue cooperation under the arrangements made in Lomé or the "Everything But Arms" regulation.
The 'least developed':
Generations after independence, some are still being given special consideration. Why?
Modern blank-slatism argues that ethnic groups have no deep differences, neither cognitive nor behavioral. If Western Europeans really believed it, then accords such as Cotonou would be slowly phased out. Is there any evidence this is the case?:
But the reality in 2020 – when the Cotonou Agreement ends – is likely to be drastically different from today. ... Ahead of the next scheduled revision of Cotonou in 2015, and ideally even before, the roadmap for the post-2020 regime needs to be clear to foster a smooth transition into the next phase of ACP-EU partnership.
A phase which will not, by all accounts, resemble the normal trading relations that Europe shares with its other ex-colonies.
Caveats if you plan to trade with the Less Able:
- They may plead special conditions; be prepared to extend them.
- If you take the sensible step of subsidizing your own farmers, be prepared for harsh criticism. Advise your critics to follow your lead.
2) Lending policy
What to expect from a group of international partners who are endowed with far less impulse control, conscientiousness, organizational ability, and commonweal-orientation than others? A smaller economy and very low human development indicators.
Unable to generate much income themselves, such partners may want to borrow funds for development. But if capital markets consider them a bad risk, from whom can they borrow? From your taxpayers.
Though it was founded by Euros for Euros after WWII, the IMF has experienced mission creep over the years. It has now turned into the international equivalent of a payday loan place. When neither foreign nor domestic banks will lend to you anymore, and even your family's decided you're a bad risk, your only hope is to cross fingers and roll up to the IMF. One may ask if this sounds like the borrowing history of a people that's 'just like everyone else':
Because analysts at the time [late 1970s] thought most African countries were facing temporary liquidity problems from the oil shocks and other world developments, the IMF was seen as a natural instrument for this purpose. Inside the Fund, the Managing Directors—H. Johannes Witteveen until 1978 and then Jacques de Larosière—shared this vision and made extensive efforts to broaden and deepen the Fund’s role. The surge, it must be said, did not succeed. The adverse external conditions of the 1970s did not go away, and “temporary” financing needs became permanent.
As is so often the case with Afros, egalitarian assumptions end up in smoke:
...IMF credit outstanding to African countries hit an all-time peak at the end of 1985, at $9 billion (SDR 8.2 billion), owed by 38 countries. Lending continued unabated, and nearly half of the countries in Africa were prolonged users of Fund resources for at least part of the 1990s. ... One reason the volume declined was the Fund’s concern that many African countries were accumulating dangerously high levels of debt.
Outstanding IMF debt today:
Caveats if you are thinking of lending money to the Less Able:
- Intensive oversight may be needed to avoid this money going up in a haze of Mercedes, Champagne, and Parisian villas.
- Where local lending solutions (such as the African Development Bank) are created, you will still be called on to contribute heavily.
- Resign yourself to the fact that you may never see this money again. Your 'loans' may, ex post facto, have become grants.
3) Aid policy
Lending to the uncreditworthy is part of dealing with Less Able countries. But so is giving to them. TV images of extreme poverty make public pressure mount; foreign aid is also a political tool, never more so than during the Cold War. A kind of charitable 'keeping up with the Joneses' also has the Eurosphere digging deep:
And when it comes to official aid, it is largely ethnic Euros who give:
Ex-colonies peopled by those who are your equals will eventually not need any more aid. But those who are 1) Less Able, and 2) stuck in the Malthusian trap, will only need more and more as their numbers swell:
Caveats for those giving aid to the Less Able:
- The need may never go away, particularly if population continues to explode. Be prepared for lifetime commitment.
- Food aid as a way to use up your subsidized surpluses is a disaster for local farmers.
4) Military policy
Less Able countries are often unable to generate enough revenue to properly outfit their militaries. As many of these nations suffer constant ethnic tension, outside help will be asked for--'outside' in Africa's case meaning 'outside the continent.' If you have economic interests in such a country, be prepared to contribute heavily in order to protect your assets:
The UN fielded one of its first peace operations, the UN Operation in the Congo (ONUC) in 1960. The mission proved to be a very costly attempt to solve the many ethnic differences in the Congo and to this day more peacekeepers died in ONUC than in any other UN peace operation. The experience resulted in reluctance for UN peacekeeping on the continent for 25 years.
Until 1980, African states proved to be reluctant and/or unable to help themselves by organizing peace operations with continental assets. Major General Martin Luther Agwai informed participants at a July 2001 meeting that African states want to participate in peace operations on the continent. However, many are not able to deploy peacekeepers because they require logistical and financial assistance to accomplish the task.
Sub-Saharan states fumbled along as best they could (albeit with frequent Western help) until the 1994 Rwandan genocide. This was horrific even by the continent's standards, and led to much hand-wringing in the West. Seeing clearly that an African-led intervention force was not in the cards, Euros opened their wallets yet again:
The [U.S-founded] Africa Crisis Response Initiative (ACRI) began in 1997 with the mission of enhancing the capacity of African partner nations to participate in worldwide multinational peace operations.
It soon changed its name to the even more unwieldy Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA), under the wing of the State Department:
Since 1997, ACOTA has provided training and non-lethal equipment to 254,228 peacekeepers from African partner militaries in 257 contingent units. ACOTA’s 25 partners include Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.
The U.S. has not been alone in its endeavors:
France has established peacekeeping training centers in Cote d'Ivoire and Benin. ... The British helped establish peacekeeping training centers in Ghana and Zimbabwe and is funding a third center in Kenya. ... Program participants who have deployed their peacekeepers include Benin, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa.
The U.S. has also--presumably in response to Chinese influence--been coyly extending its military presence around the Dark Continent these last years:
A final warning by the author of this exhaustive report:
Despite an October 2002 mandate to field a peacekeeping operation into the Central African Republic and a November 2002 mandate for Cote d'Iovire, the contingent providers have been reluctant to actually deploy their soldiers into the crises. One thing is certain, African countries will not be able to meet the requirements of a dangerous operation without Western support and training.
Caveats for those contributing militarily to the Less Able:
- Where you have trained armies to intervene in their own neighborhoods, don't be surprised by foot-dragging and more calls for Western help.
* * *
Though they say they can, the More Able cannot truly deal with the Less Able on equal terms. The uneven power dynamic we see within our own communities is still present, though greatly scaled up, in the international arena. The old solution to this was to treat them as children: colonialism. The new solution is still to treat them as children--while loudly insisting on their 'equality.'
What, then, is the proper attitude to take when dealing with international partners who are far more impulsive, more aggressive, less conscientious, less commonweal-oriented, and less organized than others? One could simply leave them to stand or fall alone. Even fervent anti-colonialists of the 19th century decried such a stance. J.A. Hobson (1905):
If organised Governments of civilised Powers refused the task [of colonialism], they would let loose a horde of private adventurers, slavers, piratical traders, treasure hunters, concession mongers, who, animated by mere greed of gold or power, would set about the work of exploitation under no public control and with no regard to the future; playing havoc with the political, economic, and moral institutions of the peoples, instilling civilised vices and civilised diseases, importing spirits and firearms as the trade of readiest acceptance, fostering internecine strife for their own political and industrial purposes, and even setting up private despotisms sustained by organised armed forces. (1)
We may keep up the kindly fiction that these are states capable of first-world governance. Or we may come back to an older, more honest appraisal: that some peoples are Less Able than others, and that simple noblesse oblige compels the More Able to lend them a hand. Were such a notion to (re-)hit the mainstream, we argue that international policy towards the tropics would in all likelihood continue to look very much as it does today.
(1) Hobson, J.A. Imperialism: A Study. London: Allen & Unwin, 1905.