Monthly Archives: October 2016

Guinea and Foreign Aid: The Role of Democratization

Guinea is the recipient of both bilateral and multilateral assistance. In particular, bilateral aid to Guinea has largely been characterized by an emphasis on social development while being sensitive to major domestic events. Moreover, France and the United States are the top two donor countries to Guinea, which is not at all surprising due the role of colonial legacy in shaping foreign aid and American commitment to global assistance. Foreign assistance from France and the U.S. to Guinea is primarily directed by AFD and USAID, respectively, and is focused on fighting poverty through various socioeconomic programs. Nevertheless, the ODA Guinea receives is relatively small ($360million) compared to many other countries across the continent and has failed to spur the country’s economic growth. A glimpse into the sociopolitical history of the country as well as an evaluation of the various aid programs may provide some explanations for foreign aid’s minimal impact on Guinea’s economic development.

Since its creation in the 1960’s, USAID programs in Guinea have mainly targeted agriculture, education and health. In addition, these programs were and continue to be complemented by Peace Corps projects with the same fundamental objectives. With a focus on human development, USAID has funded initiatives aimed at strengthening local capacity of human health resources, agriculture and natural resource management, and governance through the implementation of programs that reduce infant mortality, increase small businesses’ access to finance and facilitate the building of transparent and accountable government institutions. Similarly, the endeavors of the AFD have been centered around the promotion of good governance, rural development and youth support Moreover, the agencies’ weight on institutional development represents the influence of Guinea’s socioeconomic and political climate on the type of foreign assistance it receives.

In the 1970’s, USAID shifted its approach to agricultural development to focus on local entrepreneurship as a result of a change in government that led to a more market-oriented economy. Moreover, with the country’s gradual liberalization in the 1990’s under Conté, USAID “worked toward balancing public sector and private sector interventions” (USAID.gov, June 2016). Two more obvious examples of how foreign assistance to Guinea has been influenced by domestic events are the $2.1 billion debt relief the country benefited in 2012 shortly after electing its first civilian government and the total share of U.S. aid dedicated to fighting the Ebola outbreak in 2014. Of an estimated $18.3 million in bilateral aid in FY2014, 97% was designed “to support Guinea’s national health strategy with a particular focus on health system strengthening” (Guinea: In Brief, CRS report 2014). This certainly raises questions about the significance of other USAID programs not necessarily aimed at the health sector.

Despite the creation of several entrepreneurial programs, which Dambisa Moyo advocates as one of the reasons for growth and poverty reduction, Guinea still has one of the lowest per capita GDP in the world. While it is important to acknowledge the devastating role of Ebola on the country’s current underperformance, the nature of foreign aid to Guinea is not particularly conducive to economic growth. For example, less than 3% of bilateral ODA in FY2014 was directed specifically towards economic infrastructure and services. Therefore, a greater emphasis should be put on market development and other programs with long-term effects in order for international assistance to have a positive impact on Guinea’s economic development.

 

Sources:

https://www.usaid.gov/guinea

http://www.afd.fr/home/pays/afrique/geo-afr/guinee/afd-guinee

https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R40703.pdf

https://public.tableau.com/views/OECDDACAidataglancebyrecipient_new/Recipients?:embed=y&:display_count=yes&:showTabs=y&:toolbar=no?&:showVizHome=no

http://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/documentupload/2%20Africa%20-%20Development%20Aid%20at%20a%20Glance%202016.pdf

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB123758895999200083

 

 

 

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Foreign Aid, Economic Growth, and Corruption in the DRC

Like most of its regional neighbors, the Democratic Republic of Congo receives great deal of foreign aid, and has since its independence, according to USAID’s overview of the country. The DRC however is notoriously corrupt, and it is hard to tell just how and where its foreign aid is being put to use.

Notable unilateral donors to the DRC include the United States and China, while the World Bank is its largest multilateral donor. According to a Global Humanitarian Assistance report, in 2013, the United States provided $1.9 billion in official development assistance to the country, and an additional $0.4 billion in humanitarian relief. In March 2016, the World Bank had a total commitment of $3.3 billion to the Great Lakes nation, of which 63% was designated for infrastructure, 16% for health, education, and social programs, 15% for agriculture, and 6% for governance. The United States commitment is allotted for similar projects. To some extent, foreign aid appears to have been and continue to be helpful to the DRC’s economic development.

The DRC is developing rapidly, at least on paper. The World Bank cites the DRC’s 2015 GDP growth rate as 6.9%, and its 2013 inflation rate at 1.9%. Between 2005 and 2012, the poverty rate was reduced from 71% to 63%. Inflation rates were drastically reduced from a high of 53% in 2009, due to close work with the World Bank, and more careful monetary and fiscal policies. The growth rate is well above average for Sub-Saharan Africa. Economic appears to be going smoothly, and foreign aid seems to be an important factor.

How is it then, that, although reduced, the poverty rate is one of the highest in the world? Why does the DRC rank 176 out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index? (2015). Why is per-capita income ($380 in 2015) among the lowest in the world? Although obvious, the answer lies in corruption, opaque institutions, and lack of responsiveness by the government to its citizens.

As Dambisa Moyo asserts, aid creates a vicious cycle, in that it creates dependency, halters investment, and facilitates corruption. During his time as President of Zaire, Mobutu is estimated to have stolen about US $5 billion. His corruption did not go unnoticed, and watchdogs were well aware of Mobutu’s motivations.  An IMF representative vacated his post in Zaire  in 1978 after seeing the rampant corruption, and giving up all hope for the country. Soon after, the IMF gave the largest loan it had ever, to that point, given an African country.

Today, the DRC still receives enormous aid packages, however corrupt institutions keep this aid from being used for its full potential. In turn, this creates situations where more aid is appropriate, showing how Moyo’s vicious cycle is still at work.

Current President Joseph Kabila exploitatively utilizes the DRC’s natural resources, notably its mining resources for personal gain, which keeps growth rates lower than they could be, and suffocates the middle class, who have no voice, as Kabila has little need for their tax money and thus is not responsive. As poverty rates remain extremely high, donors are incentivized to respond with aid packages. Indeed, as Moyo points out, oftentimes aid goes to the most corrupt countries.

Although USAID and the World Bank both note concerns about transparency in the government, and transparency in the way aid is used, which Kabila has agreed to rectify, long legislative proceedings and an incompetent bureaucracy ensure that Kabila, his friends, family, and closest advisors will continue to use foreign aid to their personal financial advantages for years to come. The resources that the citizens of the DRC so desperately need will continue to fail to reach them in any significant capacity, and thus poverty and quality of life will remain significant issues. Even as growth overall increases steadily, the people of the DRC will see no substantial benefits from foreign aid.

 

Sources

https://www.usaid.gov/democratic-republic-congo.

https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/drc.

http://www.globalhumanitarianassistance.org/countryprofile/democratic-republic-of-congo.

Dead Aid: why Aid is not Working and how there is a Better Way for Africa – Dambisa Moyo

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Journal 4

Egypt, like many countries receives considerable foreign aid from the US and other nations. US aid in Egypt is exceptionally pronounced, with Egypt receiving the second most US aid in the entire world after Israel. Other countries such as France and Japan give large amounts of aid as well, but their impacts have not been as historically, politically or economically profound, and as a result this post will focus on the results of US aid. A large part of the reason the US’s aid has been so important is due to its nature and how it is spent.

Egypt’s annual aid budget of 1.3 billion dollars is twice as large as the next three largest aid recipients combined. Much like in Israel’s case, most of the US money that Egypt receives is focused on military spending, with only about 250 million dollars going towards anything else. Much of this military aid comes directly in the form of tanks, helicopters and other advanced weapons. Egypt has received as many as 1,200 US Abrahams tanks and 20 F-16 fighter jets since 2013, despite the toppling of its first democratically elected president by a military coup. There are no official statistics on how much of Egypt’s total military budget comes from US aid, but it has been speculated to be up to 80 percent. In short, US military aid is grossly disproportional to its humanitarian or infrastructure spending in Egypt.

The issues discussed in Dambisa’s articles of foreign aid slowing national growth due to the unproductive, aid-reliant policies it creates are less of a concern in Egypt than the direct impact of US military aid on the functioning of democracy and freedom of citizens. That is not to say that US and other foreign aid has not impacted the economy of Egypt significantly, as discussed later in this post US military contributions have defined as much as a third of Egypt’s economy. The US AID website does not even list programs in Egypt on its interactive map, preferring instead to focus on the much more politically popular aid programs it has created in Sub-Saharan Africa. US military aid has propped up every one of Egypt’s dictator’s since its independence from colonial rule. From Nasser all the way up to the modern reign of el-Sissi, the US has consistently given military aid to ensure stability and good political relations in Egypt.

There have been arguments made that it is possible Egypt could have economically benefited from having a centralized, totalitarian authority directing control of the economy. Such arguments fail to account for the loss of Egypt’s educated, innovative thinkers who largely preferred to flee the country rather than stay and build new industries and improve existing ones. Additionally, the regimes the US supported by their very nature had to focus huge amount of their budgets towards remaining militarily dominant.

The Egyptian army has historically been one of the largest in the world for the country’s size and has dominated its economy dramatically. Anywhere from 10-30 percent of Egypt’s national budget goes towards supporting the military. Military spending is only truly beneficial for a modern nation state if it either fuels local industry (as it does in the US) or can be used to negotiate stronger trade deals due to the threat of force. Most of the Egyptian military’s weapons are made in the US, providing little local industrial growth. It has been ineffective as an international trade tool either, since the primary aid provider (the US) gives aid mostly to ensure stability and prevent international conflict.

http://www.cgdev.org/blog/aid-egypt-numbers

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/07/09/the-u-s-gives-egypt-1-5-billion-a-year-in-aid-heres-what-it-does/

http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/11/politics/us-foreign-aid-report/

 

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Somalia and Foreign Aid/Development

The choice by strong states to provide foreign aid has always been classically justified by humanitarian intentions. However, post 9/11 foreign aid has become a clear calculated tool by states to stabilize war-torn/unstable regions across the globe. These regions that a marred by generally corrupt political systems and broken chains of governance provide solace for current modern terrorist/insurgent groups. Foreign aid from this perspective shows that the onset of incentivizing development within the African continent is undoubtedly a self-serving cause. The goal of the larger global community then becomes nothing short of security. Providing aid to Africa is a diplomatic method of mitigating the threat of the turmoil and extremism present within large swaths of the continent’s populace.

The Federal Republic of Somalia is indisputably guilty of such high degrees of both political stability and violent extremism. To truly understand the necessity for foreign action, understanding the socio-economic state of the failed state is also required. In terms of economics Somalia maintains an average GNP of about 288USD per capita and has very few profitable economic sectors. There are self-proclaimed governments in Puntland and Somaliland that further fragment the nation, along with continual border disputes with its neighbors in Ethiopia as well as Kenya. The most destabilizing force within Somalia remains to be the extremist Islamic terrorist force known as Al-Shabab. At one point this armed force controlled a majority portion of the federal republic, until a united international coalition (AU & UN) pushed the remaining forces to the fringes in rural Somalia. These facts show pointedly that the benefits of foreign manipulation far outweigh the negatives of leaving such nations to attempt success blindly by themselves.

Somalia’s particular relationship with foreign aid is primarily shaped by two factors the actions of its newly reformed recognized government and the presence of Anti-Western ideology sourced from Al-Shabab. Like all weak and fractured governments Somalia has suffered from the failures in leadership and utilization of aid, because of overt corruption and culture of neopatrimonialism. It is however an understated fact that the trends of severe corruption and political coups has slowed in its frequency within Africa. Arguably it is because after years of consistent incentives to develop that Somalia enjoys the state in which the nation now finds itself. Programs through USAID and NGO’s and military training through AFRICOM; have improved the social status of the Somali people channeled the latent energy of the populace to reform and stabilized the region, which all ultimately allows government to function. Somalia is now a recognized nation by the international community because the current regime has a heavy incentive to offer at least the façade of improvement. Intentions of reform and collaboration with foreign powers in terms of providing security and additional social development allows international donors to pledge billions of dollars to Somali aid (24 bil- New Deal). Another tangible affect of foreign aid in Somalia is the significance of remittance to the Somali economy. The large diaspora of Somali people throughout the globe often contribute money back to their original territory in what is presently a 1.5 billion dollar trade relationship. Foreign aid allows the Somali government to focus the resources received abroad and allows a domestic economy to be build in order to reduce the dependency on remittances. The impact of Al-Shabab on Somali culture is no doubt great, but specifically changes the nature in which foreign aid can affect the populace. Early in the Somali and foreign donor relationship, the populace was receptive associating foreign intervention with that of resources and infrastructure. However, due to the implementation of sharia law amongst the fringes of Somalia as well as the monopolization of education by the Islamic extremism progress within the nation becomes that much harder. Anti-Western ideology disallows foreign aid and development to truly reshape the Federal Republic into a more successful national power.

Sources

https://www.usaid.gov/what-we-do/democracy-human-rights-and-governance

http://www.ibtimes.com/somalia-receive-24-billion-aid-global-donors-president-promises-focus-development-1406836

Marsai, V. (2015). Somalia: Security for whom? The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs, 24(4), 35-III. Retrieved from http://www.wesleyan.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1783994333?accountid=14963

http://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/dkwdr/somalia/0

Al-Shabab: Ten things to know about the Somali Islamic extremist group

http://muse.jhu.edu/article/525642

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Foreign aid to Uganda

Similar to the rest of Africa, the US is the largest donor of foreign systematic aid to Uganda. The US accounts for over ½ of Uganda’s total received foreign aid of $560 million. Most aid activities in Uganda are executed by USAID. Over ¾ of the aid is for health reasons. I think it is apparent that the foreign aid in Uganda is not working to ameliorate the poverty, which remains high in the north. Similar to Moyo’s argument, in Uganda the life expectancy has stagnated while poverty has slightly increased. I think aid in Uganda has also helped to stabilize and legitimize the current regime of President Yoweri Museveni. Museveni is practically a dictator, but continued to find more foreign aid throughout the 2000’s.

Development is happening thanks to aid in Uganda, but it is also making the country more corrupt and unequal. After Museveni passed an anti-Gay bill into law in 2014, the US, Netherlands and Britain all cut foreign aid to Uganda. Luckily for Uganda, China has stepped in to fill the void. This transition is scary both for US and Uganda. Democracy will no longer be promoted, which the US has not doing a great job of. What is also interesting is that Chinese aid actually goes into economic development such as infrastructure, whereas most USAID to Uganda goes to health issues. Maybe the Chinese are better for economic development in Uganda. But, on the whole I think aid in Africa is a good idea, but needs to be less politicized and focus on each individual country’s needs.

 

 

US AID

BBC

CIA World Factbook

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Foreign Aid in Botswana

Botswana’s experiences with foreign aid conflict with Dambisa Moyo’s argument that aid has been harmful to African countries. Though Botswana receives extensive development and humanitarian aid, it is generally considered a development success, which could be largely attributed to the effectiveness of its government.

Since independence, Botswana has received extensive bilateral and multilateral foreign aid. For instance at independence in 1966, half of Botswana’s government budget came from British aid. Throughout the 1980’s, Botswana received bilateral aid from the U.S., U.K., Germany, Sweden, and Norway, in addition to grants from various NGOs. Currently, Botswana still receives extensive foreign aid, for example from USAID. USAID provides Botswana with 1) development assistance and credit to diversify their economy; 2) grants for environmental conservation; and 3) perhaps most importantly, HIV/AIDS relief through PEPFAR. Altogether Botswana has been a high recipient of foreign aid, further illustrated by the fact that in 2008 Botswana received the second highest amount of Official Development Assistance per capita on the continent.

Moyo argues that aid has had a negative effect on African growth and has been an “unmitigated political, economic, and humanitarian disaster” (Foreword, pp. ix). Though she recognizes the diversity of African countries’ experiences, she contends that there are common ties—poverty, corruption, disease, political instability, etc.—that are shared by most of the continent, including “disease-afflicted Botswana” (Preface, pg xvi). However, though she includes Botswana in her discussion, the outcomes in the state run counter to her argument.

Though Botswana has received extensive foreign aid, it has experienced relatively successful development. It has continually had one of the highest economic growth rates; its government scores well on good governance, democracy, and corruption indices; and it has been effectively responding to its HIV/AIDS crisis. Moss identifies the “attitudes, intentions, and actions of the host government” as a critical component of development success. Thus Botswana’s successful development with foreign aid could be attributed to its government’s effectiveness at applying the aid, with minimal corruption, to development and social welfare programs. Overall Botswana’s success with foreign aid suggests that though Moyo’s conclusion on the failure of foreign aid might be correct for some countries, aid itself may not be a universal root problem. It might be some other mitigating factor, such as governance, that is preventing success in other states.

However, it is important to note that Botswana does not have perfect development—as it is still heavily reliant on a single export, diamonds—or that aid has been a panacea. Foreign aid has been imperfect even when considered beyond strictly economic development terms, such as the case of international aid to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS disrupting Botswanan cultural values. There has been an influx of foreign-funded food aid to orphans and their caretakers in Botswana. This has caused schisms in some villages over the perceived decline in traditional kinship values about taking care of one’s family and an increase in concerns about consumerism, excess, privilege, and inequality. This is to illustrate that even in a case like Botswana where foreign aid and economic development have harmonized—an example contrary to Moyo’s argument—there can still be uncertainty about the overall effect of foreign aid in a society.

 

Sources

https://www.usaid.gov/botswana/our-work

http://us-foreign-aid.insidegov.com/l/22/Botswana

Moss, Todd. “The International Aid System.”

Moyo, Dambisa. Dead Aid: Foreward, Preface, and Chapter 1

Rakner, Lise. 1996. “Botswana-30 years of economic growth, democracy, and aid: Is there                 a connection?” CMI Report.

Dahl, Bianca. 2014. “Too Fat to be an orphan”: the moral semiotics of food            aid in Botswana. Cultural Anthropology: 29(4), 626-647.

 

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US – Morocco Relations

Morocco and the United States have a historic, formal, and fairly rewarding relationship with each other. The two countries share coasts along the Atlantic Ocean and have utilized their land by trading products and sharing cultures. In 1777 the Unites States and Morocco began to establish a commitment that recognized an international relationship each other. Sultan Sidi Muhammad Ben Abdullah wanted to create a friendship with a Christian power and establish trade as a main source of revenue. Formal negotiatons between the two countries began in 1783. After negotiations, the Moroccan-American treaty of Friendship was signed on 1786. This treaty helped develop a long history that would guarantee aid, antiterrorist support, and economic investment.

The United States and Morocco obeyed with their treaty until the French protectorate between 1912 and 1956. The United States avoided getting their hands dirty by intervening with Morocco and the French. Since the United States had influence and soft power in Morocco, it was smart to let France play its card especially after the Scramble for Africa. Once the United States recognized Morocco’s independence, the two countries continued diplomatic relations. The Moroccan-American treaty of Friendship is one of the longest unbroken treaties in Unites States history. Sultan Abdullah’s dream of a prosperous relationship has taken shape and both parties’ leaders continuously visit and communicate. The late King Hassan II visited the United States and Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr, and Clinton. Those visits surely helped Morocco build their relationship with the United States government. Additionally, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been providing assistance programs in Morocco since 1953. After the Arab Spring, Morocco has been able to gather aid from the United States.

Morocco has coasts on the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, which has historically made the country a hotspot of trade and cultural exchange. Across the Atlantic Ocean sits the East coast of the United States. Morocco is the sixth largest trading partner of the States and Morocco’s lead exports are textiles and phosphates. Phosphates are extremely important for fertilizers and industrial products in the United States. Morocco joined the United Nations on November 12th, 1956 and has been an active member.

 

Sources:

  • http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5431.htm
  • https://www.un.int/morocco/about
  • https://morocco.usembassy.gov/early.html
  • http://www.embassyofmorocco.us/usmoroccorelationship.htm
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Kenya’s Strategic Relationship with the United States.

International relations between any nations do not form naturally but are constantly designed for strategic reasons, so is the relationship between Kenya and the United States. Kenya’s relationship with the US has always been sturdy since its inception in 1963, and it was recently cemented by President Obama’s visit to Kenya last year. However, US interests in Kenya are due to her strategic geo-political position. Kenya borders Somalia which is seen by some as a a “safe haven for terrorism.” Somalia is currently home to the Al-Shabaab terrorist group which is strongly affiliated with Al-Qaeda. A strategic relationship with Kenya thus enables the US to counter the growth of terrorist groups in its counter-terrorism efforts. Kenya on the other hand faces security challenges in terms of technology, resources, and personnel. Kenya has probably faced more terrorist attacks in the last 2 years than the US has in the same duration. Therefore, inasmuch as Kenya benefits from counter-terrorism initiatives with the US, it makes her a target and creates a dependency on the US for military support while Kenyans still continue to die at the hands of terrorists.

Th fight against terrorism has not always manifested itself in directly confrontational wars. However, the presence of proxy wars against terrorism can be seen in some countries such as Kenya where the battle is fought on Kenyan grounds leading to the loss of many Kenyan lives. The recent attacks in Garissa university that claimed approximately 147 lives reminded Kenyans the consequences of their allyship with the US, which is geographically far away from the calamity. Kenyan borders with Somalia are porous and not well protected and even when they are, the corrupt security officers take bribes from immigrants trying to get into Kenya. This has enabled the free entry and exit of terrorists into Kenya as they please, making Kenya vulnerable to terrorists attacks at any given time. The terrorists see Kenya as a sympathizer for the West. These feelings compounded by Kenya’s vulnerability put her in a position of complete jeopardy that has been manifested by the over 600 deaths through terrorist attacks since 2012.

Kenya does not have the right resources to counter terrorism and even when intelligence is provided, the Kenyan government is either reluctant to pursue the warnings or does not have the resources to execute it. However, the US provides equipment to Kenya, training for security personnel, and other logistical support. Kenya, just like many “developing nations” has developed an over reliance on the US for military support. This is not healthy for Kenya because it does not promote technological innovation in the country and economic growth. When will Kenyans think for themselves and try to come up with superior weapons of their own choosing. Kenya already imports more ( $1.85 billion in 2014. ) from the US than it exports( $420.8 million in 2014) thus creating an unfair balance of trade as some of these imports include military weapons. US military support for Kenya is also in the form of foreign aid hence adding to Kenya’s debt.

Kenya needs the US for military support but then should there be a separation in terms of how both nations manifest their close allyship to the rest the world, in order to prevent the terrorist attacks on Kenyan citizens. At the end of the day, it is the ordinary Kenyan (who lack protection) who faces the wrath of the terrorist and not the government leaders or the diplomatic ambassadors.

Sources.

  1. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/africa-in-focus/2015/07/24/deepening-kenya-u-s-relations-prospects-for-president-obamas-visit-to-kenya/
  2. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2962.htm
  3. http://www.cfr.org/somalia/terrorism-havens-somalia/p9366#p1
  4. http://www.cfr.org/kenya/crs-us-kenya-relations-current-political-security-issues/p31511

 

 

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Central African Republic: A Case Study in the Limits of American Humanitarian Intervention

 

US Ambassador Samantha Powers meets peace keeping forces in Bangui (https://thinkprogress.org/why-there-are-now-u-s-troops-in-the-central-african-republic-9f153dfcd24e#.qkusbyuqy).

US Ambassador Samantha Powers meets peace keeping forces in Bangui (see source 1). 

A headline from the Associated Press on October 4th, 2016 reads, “Head of Central African Republic armed forces assassinated.” Though some major sources covered the story, this breaking news was curiously missing from the top of the news cycle. This implies that the United States has little connection with CAR, either diplomatically or financially. After all, our main recipients of aid and assistance are in heavy rotation in the news cycle—think Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and even places with relatively low levels of “hot” conflict, like Nigeria. And yet: in 2016, the U.S government committed to $31,228,000 in planned funding for CAR, and the current administration has provided on the ground troops in CAR to assist in fighting the regional insurgent group, the LRA. What kind of relationship is one in which our government is moderately involved in their state of affairs but most of our citizens don’t even know that their country exists?[1]

A highly complex one that cannot be categorized as either disengaged or heavily engaged, it seems. Because of CAR’s level of perpetual conflict across ethnic and religious lines—yielding a ranking of 185 out of 187 on the United Nations Human Development Index—American foreign policy has been unable to turn a blind eye. Our international relations have (at least in rhetoric) rested heavily on intervention in the face of human rights violations since the close of the Second World War, and fully cutting off ties with CAR would be an affront to our state department’s reputed character. But the same level of constant violence that has compelled continued American aid to CAR has simultaneously strained relations and prevented further engagement. In 2012, the coup by Seleka and the ensuing conflict in Bangui and beyond prompted the American embassy to shut down and send all personnel stateside for the third time in thirty years.[2] Though the embassy reopened in 2014, the United States has maintained an at-arms-length relationship.

This strained nature of American-CAR relations is perhaps most visible in our bilateral trade relationship. CAR is not eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), passed in 2000 and renewed until 2025 to promote extra-attention paid to our trade relationship with developing African nations. CAR has been deemed ineligible for AGOA since 2004 as it has failed to meet many of the necessary stated criterion, including “development of political pluralism and the rule of law; efforts to combat corruption; policies to reduce poverty, increase availability of health care and educational opportunities; protection of human rights and worker rights.”[3]

AGOA fits perfectly into the narrative of “Africa Rising”, and CAR’s ineligibility illuminates the dissonance between that fantasy and the reality on the ground for many African nations. Though United States does maintain a low level of bilateral trade with CAR, it is not enough to undo the picture that the rest of this exploration of American-CAR relations paints, one of United States intervention if and when it is beneficial to both our image and our economic gains. A place like CAR, with comparatively few resources (and a particular lack of mineral reserve) but constant disorder and violence, does not fit the trend of our nation’s priorities in foreign affairs. It’s no wonder that it took an archival search to find less than a page of coverage from the New York Times on Marcel Mombaka’s death.[4]

Sources:

1) https://thinkprogress.org/why-there-are-now-u-s-troops-in-the-central-african-republic-9f153dfcd24e#.gruemiy91

2) https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/12/09/president-obamas-message-people-central-african-republic

3) http://beta.foreignassistance.gov/explore/country/Central-African-Republic

4) http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/11/politics/us-foreign-aid-report/

5) http://www.nytimes.com/aponline

6) http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/4007.htm

7) https://agoa.info

Footnotes:

[1] http://time.com/70923/what-americans-dont-know-about-the-central-african-republic/

[2] http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/4007.htm

[3] https://agoa.info/about-agoa/country-eligibility.html

[4] http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2016/10/04/world/africa/ap-af-central-african-republic-violence.html

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Guinea-U.S. Relations: A Continuing and Flourishing Partnership

Guinea-U.S. relations is much in line with American leadership in Africa, as defined specifically by the U.S Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa. The current socio-political atmosphere in Guinea puts the country at a favorable position on the international stage and is a work in progress of U.S’s long time partnership with the country. The U.S. established formal diplomatic relations with Guinea right after the country gained independence in 1958 and its mission has since been promoted through 5 agencies of the U.S Government which include the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of Defense, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Moreover, Peace Corps volunteers have played an integral role in executing some of the long-term goals of U.S interests in Guinea.

The United States maintained close relations with Guinea prior to 2008, in spite of the fact that the country had been rule by only two men in a period of 50 years. Despite a repressive domestic agenda and his anti-western stance, Touré received assistance from the United States and saw investments from U.S companies interested in the prolific mining sector. Not surprisingly, Cold war politics played a significant role in assuring bilateral relations with the United States. Initially, Touré turned to the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries for technical and economic assistance. Thus, to counter Soviet influence in the region, the U.S. sponsored a peace corps program and provided other types of assistance, primarily through USAID programs and military cooperation.

These forms of U.S aid would continue during the rule of Touré’s successor, Lasana Conté, and even extend as a result of his relatively progressive agenda. While consolidating power after the coup that instated his rule, Conté gradually implemented several progressive reforms and policies, such as privatization of state firms, legalization of multi-party politics and private media broadcasting, in the hopes of promoting the economic liberalization and the democratization of Guinea. As a result, the ruler was rather favorably viewed by the United States government and witnessed a moderate rise in U.S assistance. Particularly, when Conté decided to reinstate elections in the country, the United States government provided financial and technical support despite the ensuing elections being marred by electoral fraud and intimidation. Alas, U.S relations with Guinea would receive a blow following a coup by a military junta (CNDD) after Conté’s death in 2008.

The United States condemned the coup and refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the CNDD. Despite Gen. Camara’s promise to hold presidential in a year’s time, the U.S. suspended all bilateral aid to Guinea at the exception of exception of humanitarian and democracy-promotion assistance, which included primarily USAID programs. Fortunately for Guinea, in less than 2 years, the junta was overthrown and presidential elections were held in 2010 during which Guinea elected its first civilian president, Alpha Condé.

Considered a major step in Guinea’s democratic development, all prior relations with the U.S. were restored and some have even expanded. Guinea continues to receive financial assistance through AGOA benefits and technical support for its military via AFRICOM and the department of defense. Ultimately, U.S. relations with Guinea epitomizes the four pillars of U.S Strategy towards Sub-Saharan Africa as the country advances toward democratic consolidation.

 

 

 

http://www.voltairenet.org/IMG/pdf/Guinea_s_2008_Military_Coup.pdf

https://conakry.usembassy.gov/about-us.html

https://www.usaid.gov/guinea/democracy-human-rights-and-governance

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2824.htm

The White House. 2012. U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa

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