28 May 2014

Foreign Policy and the Less Able


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:

15 May 2014

The New Face of Colonialism

'Take up the White Man's burden--
The savage wars of peace--
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.'

The colonial era, we are told, is over. The imperialists have retreated to their shores and the third world now happily governs itself.

For much of the planet, this is true. India and China, two great colonial occupations of the 19th century, have wrested control of their economy and food security. It is largely sub-Saharan Africa, home to 1/6 of humanity, which remains the red-headed stepchild of international relations.

These rich lands were coveted by right-wing industrialists, and their people's uplift coveted by left-wing do-gooders. The footprint left by the former? Ports, canals, roads, railways, and a functioning government (their own). By the latter? Churches, missions, schools, hospitals.

What both camps agreed upon, though, was that the colonized were not able to provide these things for themselves.

Upon which they still agree today.

While many believe we live in a 'post-colonial' world, we here at Those Who Can See argue that we do not.  'We're all equal,' sing both the right and the left. But their actions do not match their words.  We believe the colonial project is, on the contrary, roaring along as full-steam as it ever did. What is the evidence?