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

South Africa’s Trade with Africa is Valued by the BRICS

BRICS logoThis past spring, I heard a lecture by a communications professor about Globalization in Africa. It was a very generic talk, covering many broad issues that concern Africans and policy makers. I was dissappointed to take nothing substantive away from the talk, as I felt it was simply a quick overview of basic themes and topics. However, it was during the second part of his talk, that on South Africa, that I become motivated for my latest paper, Globalization in Emerging Markets United: How South Africa’s Relationship to Africa serves the BRICS (Click here to Read). In no uncertain terms, the professor mitigated South Africa’s involvement in the continent in terms of trade and investment. For someone who claimed to have a special place for the Rainbow Nation in his heart, I was taken aback by the mistatement. Since his talk had contained numerous inaccuracies and misintepretations of South African history, I decided to bite my tongue rather than start a critique on his presentation after the Q&A part began. The talk did provide me an incentive to correct his statement through a research paper that would show how deep South Africa’s involvement with the continent, especially the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Then I would explain that the BRIC countries see this importance and have integrated South Africa into its organization.

The paper starts off by discussing Apartheid South Africa’s interactions with the continent during the time of Total Onslaught and the origins of South African hegemony in the region. It then explains the links through which South Africa and its neighbors are inter-connected by covering certain markets and business sectors that South Africa capital had swept into after the dismantling of anti-apartheid sanctions. The paper then specifially talks about South Africa Telecom by examining the New South Africa poster child for success, MTN, and their continental ventures.

Finally, the paper dives into the formation of the BRICS and South Africa’s invitation to join the organization this spring. By examining trade data from the International Trade Centre, I was able to show how strong South African trade is with the region despite its economy being of much smaller size than it’s new BRICS partners. It turned out to the one of the most empirically based papers I have written to date, but it allowed me to play around with charts and graphs that really made the information come through to visual learners like me.

With this data presented, hopefully a much clearer involvement of South Africa in Africa can be seen. As BRICS membership is likely to change the business and economy of South Africa, this paper would be a useful start for anyone beginning that journey.

Social Media, ICT, and 2011 Elections in Africa

I’ve been brainstorming lately of a project for my thesis that would combine my interests in technology and politics on the African continent. With last semesters’ research into deregulation of African ICT, I want to focus on something more current. With the current events in North Africa being partially attributed to Twitter, Facebook, and the like, I want to see if Social Media and the ICT that powers it can have any discernible effects on other parts of the continent, specifically Sub-Saharan Africa, where there has been no spillover of the democratic movements. Thus with 17 presidential elections happening on the continent south of the Sahara this year in Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, DRC, Djibouti, The Gambia, Liberia, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe there would seem to be a large sample size  to gather data about ICT and Social Media’s impact on elections. But how to measure this impact? What indicators would I need for ICT and elections? Are these countries a large enough sample size, or should it be expanded to countries where ICT data is more readily available but are having only Parliamentary or Local elections? Or perhaps this should cover 2011 and 2012? With the massive growth of mobile phones on the continent, and more landings of fibre-optic broadband cables, using this connectivity for good governance could be a critical feature of studies on the continent in the coming years. Continue reading