There is serious turmoil in Burundi, but in the major hothouses of death and destruction, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan, right now there is a remarkable level of peace.
Tuesday, Secretary of State Kerry became the first high American official to visit Somalia since Blackhawk Down in 1993. Kerry justified his visit because Somalia “is turning around.”
There are many wonderful indications to suggest this is true.
There is worrisome fragility in the current Mali government, and troublesome weakness in a number of West African governments probably due to the prolonged ebola outbreak, but governments in North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa (other than Burundi) look strong and stable.
The answer is becoming clearer and clearer. Very strong military assistance mostly from the U.S. and France has propped up existing governments and laid to waste many areas of terrorism.
The starkest of the stark is Nigeria.
Literally for the last 5 years Nigeria was decimated by Boko Haram, at its worst situation (hardly a few months ago) ceding nearly 20% of its territory to terrorists.
Today Boko Haram is absolutely on the run. The explanation from one of Nigeria’s best media outlets:
“Unlike a year ago, when Nigerian troops would run away from Boko haram militants after running out of ammunition or for possessing inferior weapons, the Nigerian soldiers are now better armed, better equipped and better motivated.”
‘Better equipped’ is the understatement of the decade. The list of new equipment in the hands of Nigerian soldiers is astonishing, particularly when compared to the situation less than a half year ago.
It was not for wont of giving. The western powers were ready, as clearly demonstrated by the current situation, to arm the Nigerian military sufficiently. But a mixture of local politics and western hesitation because of the equivocal politics kept the ammunition in warehouses until now.
Legitimate concerns with protecting human rights were front-and-center in the paradigm that kept the previous Nigerian government of Goodluck Jonathan weak. These have been cast to the crows by the current president Buhari, a former general nearly imprisoned by his own society for human rights’ violations.
Ditto in South Sudan, the more “peaceful” Somali and ever more stable Kenya.
In addition to arming Africa to the teeth, Obama’s militarism these last six years has decimated terrorist cells and American drones have wiped out more than two dozen terrorist leaders.
Media freedom is a great barometer of authoritarian governments, since there has never been a government in the history of mankind that wasn’t vain.
Press freedom is under serious attack in … Nigeria, South Sudan and ever more stable Kenya.
So that’s the reason it’s safer than ever for you to travel to Africa: growingly authoritarian governments infused with western military might.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m troubled by this. I’m delighted that Africa is a calmer, safer, more stable place, but troubling if at the expense of freedom and the sanctity of human rights.
It seems that this age-old paradigm is near inviolable. Freedom and prosperity are at least somewhat mutually exclusive.
Didn’t we try this, once? Weren’t there horrible South American generals and racist American governments and horribly cruel potentates that ruled the world for a long time not too long ago.
Did things get better? For whom?