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How to Keep NATO from Your Door- Lessons from the Fall of Gaddafi
Mahmood Mamdani
Al Jazeera
30 August 2011
 
(…) The conditions making for external intervention in Africa are growing, not diminishing. The continent is today the site of a growing contention between dominant global powers and new challengers. The Chinese role on the continent has grown dramatically. Whether in Sudan and Zimbabwe, or in Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria, that role is primarily economic, focused on two main activities: building infrastructure and extracting raw materials. For its part, the Indian state is content to support Indian mega corporations it has yet to develop a coherent state strategy. But the Indian focus too is mainly economic.
The contrast with Western powers, particularly the US and France, could not be sharper. The cutting edge of Western intervention is military. France's search for opportunities for military intervention, at first in Tunisia, then Cote d'Ivoire, and then Libya, has been above board and the subject of much discussion. Of greater significant is the growth of Africom, the institutional arm of US military intervention on the African continent.

This is the backdrop against which African strongmen and their respective oppositions today make their choices. Unlike in the Cold War, Africa's strongmen are weary of choosing sides in the new contention for Africa. Exemplified by President Museveni of Uganda, they seek to gain from multiple partnerships, welcoming the Chinese and the Indians on the economic plane, while at the same time seeking a strategic military presence with the US as it wages its War on Terror on the African continent. 
 
In contrast, African oppositions tend to look mainly to the West for support, both financial and military. It is no secret that in just about every African country, the opposition is drooling at the prospect of Western intervention in the aftermath of the fall of Gaddafi. (…)
 
The Security Council identifies states guilty of committing "crimes against humanity" and sanctions intervention as part of a "responsibility to protect" civilians. Third parties, other states armed to the teeth, are then free to carry out the intervention without accountability to anyone, including the Security Council. The ICC, in lockstep with the Security Council, targets the leaders of the state in question for criminal investigation and prosecution.

Africans have been complicit in this, even if unintentionally. Sometimes, it is as if we had been a few steps behind in a game of chess. An African Secretary General tabled the proposal that has come to be called R2P, Responsibility to protect. Without the vote of Nigeria and South Africa, the resolution authorising intervention in Libya would not have passed in the Security Council.

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