Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We Have A New African State. Place Your Bets!

A front in the Third World's War is quiet for now. After decades of fighting, South Sudan is now independent. The future of Africa's newest country? I'd like to be optimistic, but it's going to be gloomy. Reasons?

  • They have oil. This is a curse to all countries that don't have industry and infrastructure, and a lot of trouble to those that do. They think they will pump wealth out of the ground and all problems will be solved. We all know it will be spent on vanity projects and sycophants.
  • They have never been a nation before. Yes, there have been some civilizations in the north, but the south has historically been the Outland between Egypt and Abyssinia.
  • The flag sucks. Standard Africa colors, standard Africa design. I'm a big believer in unique designs that people can rally behind.
  • The people who ran the war are running the government. I saw policemen with armbands identifying them as police. Too bad the armbands had "SPLA Police" on them.
  • It's Africa.

Now, there is some good as well.

  • John Garang is dead. He was leader of the SPLA for many years until his death in a helicopter crash. Sorry, but Moses can't enter the Promised Land. People who fight the wars are pretty crappy at following the laws later on. If you get your way by shooting people and blowing thing up, that's nearly impossible to undo when peace comes. Sadly, Back Up Leader is filling the shoes nicely.
  • Potentially, they are rich, rich, rich. Minerals, fertile land, water... they have it all. But so do a lot of places. If the people who inhabited the Nile ever put a few of their differences aside, it would be the dominant region of the world; they have that much.
  • They are (kind of) Christian. If your faith has helped you through decades of a war which has been fought partly because the other side doesn't like your religion, that could be something to unite, especially if the evangelicals have managed to pass on even a little of the Protestant work ethic.

Random observations:

  • The White Nile and The Blue Nile by Alan Moorehead are the histories to read for anyone interested in the area. Part of my essential reading series.
  • I think that the "Tolerant Arabs" is a little bit of a myth that the British had a hand in creating when dealing with the peoples of Empire. "Don't worry, [insert religious or ethnic minority here]! You can form a single country with the Muslims. After all, they were tolerant when the Europeans were burning [insert victim of ignorance here], blah, blah, blah... We're off to ride across the sands!"
  • When I was posting on a kind of militant (kind of. Heh.) Islamic site, I had hell trying to convince them that Western governments didn't give a crap about Christians around the world, just like Muslim governments were lukewarm to persecuted Muslims, giving the South Sudan as an example.
  • Contrary to common knowledge, borders in Africa were not totally drawn on a map in a European conference hall. It takes a big dip in Chad, but there is a rough line crossing Africa from Guinea to the South Sudan that follows the border between tropical and desert. It doesn't cross Ethiopia because that country sits on a massive plateau with a climate all it's own, but Puntland and Somaliland on the other side are also on the climate divide.

1 comment:

  1. Now the fun begins. They have a brand new nation. Whoopee. Only in all the politics and rhetoric meant to boogie up the masses, no one thought about how it will be financed.
    But never mind: Big Daddy USA, despite not being able to take care of its own people, targetting the elderly for benefit cuts, adopting foreign kids but not American ones, and screaming that there's not enough money and we must bite the proverbial financial bullet-Big Daddy USA will step right in with millions, thinking favor is being bought through gratitude.
    It's not. They aren't in the least grateful. But they'll holler loud and long, make threats, and assorted other greedy noises from yet another country the USA has made dependent.
    All this free help does is engender contempt for a country that is so stupid to give money away without requiring anything in return.
    Failing that (and it won't fail), they will fall back on tired old Great Britain, send them on a Colonial guilt trip, and expect payment for supposed long-ago 'crimes against humanity.' That's always a good fallback: play on people's ancestral guilt.
    The more small countries that develop, the less money Big Daddy USA will have for its own people. Why isn't Congress doing something about THIS?