Impact Defense African Instability



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Impact Defense

African Instability

No Impact

No African War


Burbach and Fettweis, 14 – [David T. Burbach, Associate Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College, B.A. in Government from Pomona College, and earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Christopher Fettweis, Associate Professor in International Relations at Tulane University, 2014, The Coming Stability? The Decline of Warfare in Africa and Implications for International Security, http://www.contemporarysecuritypolicy.org/assets/CSP-35-3%20Burbach%20and%20Fettweis.pdf] Jeong

Anarchy has not come to Africa at least not in the expanding, all-encompassing way meant by the pessimists of a decade or two ago. The continent is far from uniformly peaceful, and current outbreaks of violence are reminders of the need for more progress. On the whole, however, Africa is less war-torn than at any time in the past, which runs contrary to widespread perceptions that exist even among foreign policy experts. Kaplan remains unchanged, claiming recently that his most important predictions have actually been borne out.95 However, the evidence suggests that despite neo-Malthusians fears, by most measures life on the continent is improving. War is becoming less of a threat to the life of the average African than emerging middleincome threats like traffic accidents or diabetes. Nor have realist fears of predatory wars and wholesale remaking of the map of Africa come to pass. That is not meant to dismiss the suffering of residents of the Central African Republic, South Sudan or northern Nigeria, nor to suggest that all is well. There are hundreds of millions of Africans who do not face as great a threat of armed conflict as they once did, however. It is important to see Africa as more than 50 distinct countries, some – and by historical standards, relatively few – of which are beset by warfare, even if they continue to face other, even greater challenges. Nothing guarantees that these trends will continue. Indeed, several require active maintenance. If the outside world stops responding to African hotspots, at least with diplomatic resources and avoiding support to plunder-financed armed groups, conflict becomes more likely. Intense American –Chinese competition could encourage internal conflict or spur vicious circles of tension between neighbours. The United Nations, former colonizers and AFRICOM have all been useful in helping to bring stability to the continent, but their long-term interest is hardly assured. A global recession or a wave of protectionism could dash optimism about economic growth. But for now, for the first time in quite some time, there is reason for optimism about the decline of warfare in Africa. What the United States and other outsiders should not do, however, is continue to look at Africa though a lens that overemphasizes conflict and a few crisis-afflicted nations. Additional American support for African peacekeeping capability is welcome, but an increase in American investment in African economies would do even more good for more people. Policymakers should emphasize to the business community how much is now going right in Africa. The Obama Administration has taken useful steps in that direction, but at other times shows signs of the ‘Africa-as-Anarchy’ mindset. Programmes to help African governments build capacity outside the military-security sphere could be expanded, such as police and judicial systems, or the infrastructure and service delivery needs of large cities in which a growing share of Africans live. Africa faces many problems. Peace does not necessarily bring freedom, justice, or prosperity. But today a far greater percentage of people on the continent live without serious risk of dying due to warfare than pessimists expected. On the contrary, ‘end of war’ optimists may prove to be right about Africa too, if on a slower time scale than most of the world. Perhaps a rising generation of leaders and citizens are being influenced by both global norms and expectations of greater opportunities. Africa is surely the hardest test of the global trend away from international conflict. If conflict can no longer find a home there, will it be welcome anywhere?

Global Norms check instability and escalation – History proves


Burbach and Fettweis, 14 – [David T. Burbach, Associate Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College, B.A. in Government from Pomona College, and earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Christopher Fettweis, Associate Professor in International Relations at Tulane University, 2014, The Coming Stability? The Decline of Warfare in Africa and Implications for International Security, http://www.contemporarysecuritypolicy.org/assets/CSP-35-3%20Burbach%20and%20Fettweis.pdf] Jeong

Global Norms, and ‘Sameness’ Every modern state is part of an interconnected international society, where ideas and norms spread with unprecedented rapidity. As Evan Luard explained, even though at any given time states vary in their ‘particular interests and motives, in their political and social structure and in the characteristics of their leaders, all will be to some extent influenced by the aims and aspirations which are instilled by the society as a whole. No state is an island.’89 Twenty-first-century Africa exists in a complex, globalizing society whose members have been slowly abandoning the recourse to warfare. Its leaders and its people would not be unaffected by such powerful global trends. As elsewhere in the world, warfare was a natural aspect of politics for most of African history. ‘Periods of rest, or armistice, or resolution, were never taken for granted’, explained Reid, ‘nor were they always particularly welcome, because war was economically, politically and socially important.’90 Similar beliefs about the positive aspects of warfare were widespread in Europe and the United States until the First World War. That has changed. War is largely considered avoidable and regrettable, not a welcome test of societal virility.91 There exists now widespread belief that war is not inevitable, that conflict resolution need not involve violence. Perhaps war is on the decline in Africa because 21st-century ideas have evolved, much as ideas on slavery evolved in the 19th century. The post-Cold War era has been more peaceful than any of its predecessors.92 There have been no major wars involving rich, industrialized nations for at least six decades – the longest such stretch in history. There are good theoretical reasons to believe that conflict resolution norms in the global north affect decisions in the south. As Kenneth Waltz argued, systems tend to produce uniform behaviour among individual units, a tendency toward ‘sameness’.93 Success breeds imitation; the behaviour of prestigious states will be copied. Over time, a set of behaviours becomes uniform. Peace may be essentially diffusing out from the global north. It would be hard for Africa to remain immune from a fundamental transformation in beliefs regarding warfare in broader international society, particularly with modern communications reducing isolation. It is difficult for leaders to credibly claim war is a useful, necessary option when the notion is rejected elsewhere. If war-aversion has become dominant in the global marketplace of ideas in the global north, it would be hard for even determined belligerents to keep it forever out of the south. The suggestion that a war-aversion norm is spreading to Africa may be too much for some to accept. Modern African despots may not be less venal than those who came before, but if the routes to power, prestige and wealth have changed, they cannot help but have noticed. They need not have turned into pacifists, but if the structure of incentives has changed, so will their behaviour. A similar process appears to be at work elsewhere in what was once considered the ‘zone of turmoil’. Latin America is also experiencing the most peaceful era in its history. The 2004 tsunami helped bring an end to one of the few active rebellions in Southeast Asia. The only region seemingly immune to evolving norms is the Middle East. While it is certainly possible that violence in Africa could return, these potential explanations for the decline in conflict contain grounds for optimism. The continent appears poised for better economic times, and, less certainly, better governance; both trends are likely to reduce armed conflict. External influence is growing, and most of its modern forms reduce incentives to fight. And if an evolution in norms explains some of the decrease, peace may have even more staying power, for normative evolution is typically unidirectional.94 American public awareness and American foreign policy may not have caught up with these trends, and ‘more peaceful’ does not mean ‘perfect’, but there is good reason to expect a safer future for Africans.

External support and security interventions prevent any risk of conflict


Burbach and Fettweis, 14 – [David T. Burbach, Associate Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College, B.A. in Government from Pomona College, and earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Christopher Fettweis, Associate Professor in International Relations at Tulane University, 2014, The Coming Stability? The Decline of Warfare in Africa and Implications for International Security, http://www.contemporarysecuritypolicy.org/assets/CSP-35-3%20Burbach%20and%20Fettweis.pdf] Jeong

External Support According to a Kikuyu proverb, ‘when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers’. Africa had the misfortune of being a field for great power competition for centuries. As others have observed, the decline in destructive intervention and emergence of positive intervention by outside actors is an important part of the decline of conflict.79 Most obviously, great powers have largely ceased destructive meddling in the security affairs of the continent. The divide-and-conquer policies of the colonial powers and the proxy wars of the Cold War exacerbated local instability – deliberately. Rebel groups and the governments they challenged could count on the Americans or Soviets for weapons, money, political backing, even troops. Today extra-continental powers usually do not find themselves on opposite sides of African wars. For all the talk of US –China competition in Africa, in practice both generally see their interests aligned in favour of reducing conflict, not fomenting it.80 Rather than dividing and conquering, international institutions and major powers have more commonly acted in concert, for example in supporting UN and African Union peacekeeping missions in Somalia, Sudan, and Mali. External pressure appears to have led to Rwanda and Uganda reducing support for armed groups in the eastern DRC, thus facilitating UN operations against the ‘M23’ organization.81 There are some negative exceptions, such as money flowing to Islamic extremists in the Sahel from sympathizers in the Middle East. 82 Overall though an important factor in the decline of armed conflict is the decrease in external support for it. During the 1990s, when external support dried up many rebel groups turned to alternative sources of funding, notably, plunder of natural resources.83 UNITA rebels in Angola survived the loss of American funding via diamond exports while the Angolan government was oil funded. In resource-poor Mozambique, however, civil war did not outlast Cold War aid. The extraction-and-export strategy has become more difficult as the world moves, slowly, to limit illegitimate trade. ‘Con- flict diamonds’ are not as easy to sell as they were 20 years ago, and the world recently boycotted cocoa from Ivory Coast after then-President Gbabgo tried to hold on to power by force.84 Factions in the eastern DRC will find it more difficult to sell minerals if Uganda and Rwanda indeed reduce their facilitation of exports from that landlocked region. There is also now positive intervention. The explosion of UN peacekeeping since the end of the Cold War coincides with the steady drop in violence. There was only one substantial deployment of UN peacekeepers into Africa prior to 1988 (Congo, 1960 – 1964) but 20 since, as well as European and African Union operations.85 Andrew Mack of the Human Security Centre gives UN involvement primary credit for the decline in conflict-related mortality worldwide.86 Peacekeepers can do little against determined belligerents, but ever fewer seem to exist in Africa. International peacekeeping and mediation deserve some credit for the increased durability of peace settlements and the reduced recurrence of wars.87 Peace enforcement efforts have increased alongside peacekeeping.88 Interventions by France and the United Kingdom in former colonies have often been successful at relatively low cost, from Sierra Leone in 2004 to the Ivory Coast in 2011 to Mali in 2013. Paris won quick UN Security Council approval in December 2013 to deploy a small force to the Central African Republic, which seems to have greatly reduced violence. The United States has stepped up its training and support for African peacekeeping, and its own intervention capabilities, notably via the creation of US Africa Command (AFRICOM). African countries themselves have become more willing to act against outbreaks of violence, diplomatically and sometimes even with peacekeeping forces. Overall, external pressures no longer exacerbate local instability; to the contrary, today outside powers usually align on the side of peace. Their interventions are not wholly humanitarian – valuing stability can freeze injustice in place, as those living in the Niger delta would attest – but the direct influence of external countries is more conducive for peace now than at any time since outsiders made significant contact with Africa. Two centuries of poisonous policies may have come to an end.

Current growth disincentives war


Burbach and Fettweis, 14 – [David T. Burbach, Associate Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College, B.A. in Government from Pomona College, and earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Christopher Fettweis, Associate Professor in International Relations at Tulane University, 2014, The Coming Stability? The Decline of Warfare in Africa and Implications for International Security, http://www.contemporarysecuritypolicy.org/assets/CSP-35-3%20Burbach%20and%20Fettweis.pdf] Jeong

Economic Growth Since many of the states in Africa are among the poorest in the world, the ‘capitalist peace’ of prosperity and economic interdependence might not seem to be a likely explanation for the decline of conflict.71 Research links low per capita GDP to civil conflict.72 Nevertheless, changing economic fortunes may be an important part of the story. While prosperity and economic interdependence remain lower in Africa than the global north, there is growing optimism about the continent’s economic future. Six of the fastest growing economies between 2000 and 2010 were located south of the Sahara.73 The Economist even moved from ‘Hopeless Africa’ to ‘Emerging Africa’.74 Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to reach 5.2 per cent in 2014; surveys show African publics among the most optimistic in the world.75 Higher per capita income may reduce conflict, and, probably of more importance, growth and the expectation of future growth promote peace. Individuals see opportunities in growing economies. Growth increases state capacity to provide services, to address grievances, or to buy off disaffected groups without taking away resources from others. In contrast, living standards that are not just low but declining, as was common in the 1990s, create incentives for groups to move fast to seize what they can of a shrinking pie – before rivals do.76 The chicken-and-egg problem again arises regarding the relationship between economic and security trends, however. Growth and the optimism that accompanies it may contribute to the decline in conflict, but stability facilitates investment. These factors reinforce each other in a virtuous cycle of growth and peace. As former USSecretary of State Colin Powell told a Ugandan audience, ‘money is a coward’.77 There is also an international aspect of the virtuous circle: conflict in neighbouring states harms one’s own economy, especially if those neighbours provide crucial transportation links (e.g. for landlocked states).78 A reduction of conflict in nearby countries thus makes peace and prosperity more achievable in one’s own. The virtuous/vicious neighbourhood effect may explain why remaining conflict in Africa is concentrated in a contiguous zone in the Sahel and northern Great Lakes.


Democracy is expanding national peace in Africa


Burbach and Fettweis, 14 – [David T. Burbach, Associate Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College, B.A. in Government from Pomona College, and earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Christopher Fettweis, Associate Professor in International Relations at Tulane University, 2014, The Coming Stability? The Decline of Warfare in Africa and Implications for International Security, http://www.contemporarysecuritypolicy.org/assets/CSP-35-3%20Burbach%20and%20Fettweis.pdf] Jeong

Democracy Few theories have become as widely accepted in the international relations community as the ‘democratic peace’, or the suggestion that democracies do not fight each other (and, somewhat more controversially, are generally less war-prone). Perhaps it has been the spread of democracy, even in inchoate and incomplete forms, that has brought unprecedented stability to Africa. It is not clear, however, that democratization provides the best explanation of the decline in violence. For one thing, levels of democracy in Africa are still low: the most recent evaluation from The Economist’s Economic Intelligence Unit rates only Mauritius as a ‘full democracy’. Eight others earned the title ‘flawed democracies’.65 Freedom House rates ten African countries (with 13 per cent of the region’s population) as ‘free’, and 21 other states as ‘partially free’.66 Second, evidence for the democracy –peace link is much stronger for external wars than intrastate conflicts. While there are studies that suggest that democracies are marginally more likely to solve their internal disputes peacefully, the ‘democratic peace’ is a theory of international relations, not comparative politics.67 Since the vast majority of African con- flicts are internal, the power of regime type to account for their presence or absence is weakened. Timing is also problematic for the democracy argument. In the 1970s and 1980s, African nations’ average Polity IV Democracy score was in the – 5 to – 6 range, or very non-democratic.68 A rapid increase occurred in the early 1990s as many dictatorships crumbled, reaching an average around – 1. In short, the 1990s spike in conflict followed the wave of democratization. These immature democracies may have been prone to conflict as Snyder and Mansfield have argued, because of opportunist politicians leveraging violent nationalism or tribal identifies, though that seems less powerful in African cases than for example, the former Yugoslavia.69 The causal arrow between democracy and warfare in Africa may point in the opposite direction: the decline of conflict may have created the space for parties to mobilize and elections to occur. It is hard to imagine elections taking place in Liberia in 2005, for instance, if that country’s civil war had not ended two years earlier. Many of the transitions towards democracy have occurred after the end of conflicts. Democracy may be helping to prevent war’s return, in other words, but it cannot take full credit for its disappearance in the first place. The option to address political grievances at the ballot box has probably undercut the impetus to violence, but it is hard to make the case that Africa is experiencing a Kantian democratic peace.70


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