The Case for Sanctions in Syria – Lessons from Africa

Sanctions are a hard form of economic power that Joseph Nye discusses in chapter three of his new book, The Future of Power, and a topic that is discussed widely today in relation to Syria. Many policy makers are pondering whether sanctions will be useful in convincing President al-Assad to stop killing his people. No doubt some in the camp that support sanctions would point to the smart sanctions that Rose Gottemoeller discusses in her article, The Evolution of Sanctions. She claims this progress has taken place after the world noted the failure of the blanket use of the measure against the Iraq regime that lead to suffering by the target population as a whole, and the corruption it bred. Gottemoeller suggests that smart sanctions “have been honed through the ‘war on terror’, and sanctions are hitting their targets among corrupt elites more often” (109). Many argue that sanctions are better than doing nothing, and a step below military engagement. This enables countries with public opinions that do not support the sacrifice of blood and treasure to still make their preference known in a forceful way. However, despite the near constant stream of sanctions and their intellectually enhanced offspring in the past decade, where do we see successes? Nye explains where economic power can be seen in the world today, but doesn’t place it fully into a country’s diplomatic toolkit. For example, many of the United States’ links with China are symbiotic and the circular relationship requires both sides to make policy changes in order to move forward. Certainly sanctions, as a piece of the arsenal of power could not solve this problem. Thus sanctions as a mode of influence have a fairly limited scope of use, even the ‘smart’ kind.

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“Small Groups Can’t Change History or the Law” – ANC

Today, one of the most incredulous remarks by an ANC spokeswomen sparked my interest to such an extent that I felt the need to share it. The remark was from a story about a ban being placed on Julius Malema’s ‘Shoot the Boer’ liberation song. For anyone who has followed South African politics recently, they have undoubtedly come across stories describing Malema’s use of the song to fire up his supporters, often appealing to them using populist and racist speech. Malema of course defends all of this by saying that he is simply using a song from the time of liberation (despite the fact that he was only 9 years old when Apartheid began to fall), and that he does not intend to spark race based violence. Malema is in deeper trouble these days, with his membership in the ANC under review, yet the ANC still felt the need to contradict this ruling

After Malema used the song at a number of rally’s over the past few years, the group AfriForum, an Afrikaans interest group, brought a suit against his use of the song to Equality Court. The court banned the use of the song yesterday with the judge saying Continue reading

Review of Chieftaincy, the State, and Democracy: Political Legitimacy in Post-Apartheid South Africa


Click Here for: Outline for Book Critique

In J. Michael Williams’ Chieftaincy, the State, and Democracy: Political Legitimacy in Post-Apartheid South Africa, the relationship between the new South Africa’s sources of mixed authority is examined through field research conducted in rural areas in KwaZulu-Natal around the turn of the Millennium. Williams tells of an ongoing struggle in South Africa about political legitimacy between the state and chieftaincy regarding which institution has the right to exert authority in rural areas.

Williams focuses on how the chieftaincy seeks to establish and maintain its political legitimacy with the local population as well as the state in the post-apartheid era. Through comparative case studies he analyzes specifically on how chieftaincy and local populations have negotiated the introduction of specific norms, rules, processes, and institutions that are fundamental to the ANC’s policies of transformation and democratization.Through a framework that Williams calls the multiple legitimacy framework, he seeks to show how the chieftaincy has sought to establish and maintain its authority in the midst of these political changes. With chieftaincy still a central figure in the lives of rural communities in South Africa, the examination of the complexity of the chieftaincy-state and chieftaincy-society relationship that have formed and continue to evolve in the post-apartheid world.

Williams says his analysis is necessary because current assumptions about legitimacy conclude that power will eventually reside in the government as democracy and local government become more ingrained in society. He uses his framework in understanding the results from three case studies in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and supplements the data with national economic and survey data from other authors in the field. While stopping short of drawing empirical generalizations, he seeks to use his analysis to tell the story of real South Africans who deal with the struggles of the post-apartheid political structure in their daily lives.

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High level of AIDS myth in Recent Study Caused by Zuma – Zille

Zille blames Zuma for Aids myth – Mail & Guardian Online: The smart news source.

Not quite sure why this lady is continueing to attack Zuma and the ANC. She brought the full brunt of the ANC and ANCYL on her when she said he put his wives at risk for HIV/AIDS (which no one seemed to think is a given seeing as he has had sex with an HIV+ women and presumably continues to have sex with his wives), but now Zille is using a new study by the University of Stellenbosch that 27% of those youth survey believed  “they could prevent HIV infection if they bathed after sex”. 

I have to admit that during my time in South Africa, I would never have guessed that 1 in 4 youths believed such a myth. Perhaps it was because I was in a university setting that filtered out some beliefs, but this has to be a shocking finding to those in the Health Industry and HIV/AIDS groups. 

This Zuma-slant seems to be a reoccurring problem with the DA’s tactics at the moment. They start fights and say things in interviews that they know will get the ANC’s attention and cause a backlash. This carries over from the campaign of ‘Stop Zuma’. The DA needs to quickly get over that mindset and start to function as a proper opposition or they’ll soon alienate all those people they seek to win votes from.

Instead of going after Zuma over the wives stuff, the DA should be showing that the example that Zuma sets on HIV/AIDS does indeed filter down to the young people of the country. But now the debate is going to be construed in a Zille-Zuma fight and not about the real issue of education people on protection from HIV/AIDS. This also has to surprise people who believed that since the era of AIDS denialism in South Africa that significant progress had been made. The study shows that much more is needed in terms of broad public education, as people in university would see AIDS myths exposed, students that are not fortunate enough to get into that academic setting must be targeted by the education campaigns.