Economic Cold War: South Sudan Crisis and the Influence of "Invisible Hand." – Part I


“You can always track global conflicts to oil and gas pipelines”. ~Unknown~


Contemporary politics since 1945 has been characterised by distinct national identities, which explicitly manifest to humans’ understanding in forms of ideologies. In turn, these ideologies shape politics, from micro-level domestic policies to the epitome of foreign policies, ‘economic pursuit and security interest’. History has compiled a chain of events since the Second the World War to present day, events such as the competition over spheres of influence between Russia and America, the Cuban Missile Crisis, signing of series of the Détente treaties, the establishment of the Bretton Woods institutions, the collapse of Soviet Union and etcetera, which can all be understood in the contexts of identity, ideology, security and economics. Nevertheless, following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, the international political circumference remained contested between the communist East and the neo-liberal West, setting China and U.S at different ends of spectrum. Albeit, the impending threat to U.S hegemony posted by China is largely low-key, thus rarely spoken of, it is so, because the threat is more of an economic challenge as supposed to military. Unlike the Cold War, which was centred on exhibiting military might, this challenge is less imminent when the time, technology and economic interdependence, between the two rivals, are all taken into consideration.


Despite the supposed insignificance of China’s economic threat to U.S hegemony, it is still a threat nonetheless. It has ‘domino-effect’ potentials that could possibly influence factors including military confrontation. For example, China’s unprecedented economic growth warrants it an inclination to surpass America economically approximately 25-30 years from now and technologically in just over five decades. America’s exposure to such statistics is claustrophobic. The formidable rise of China is inevitable, unless of course America slows down China’s economic growth, by “containment” tactics, which will counter the threat, though only indefinitely. Such situation does not require rocket science for the U.S to make note of. The situation sets America up in a delicate dilemma, because America owes China billions of dollars in debt. In addition, American citizens are the biggest consumers of Chinese goods; and most high value firms in China seeking economic rent are American firms. Therefore, a confrontation between the powerful duo will not only devastate both of their economies and bring destruction to the rest of the world, but would also see a new power emerge from elsewhere, to usurp the hegemony, just like America did when Great Britain lost tenacity on global leadership during the First World War. So it is only imperative that America exercise prudence in its approach to countering China.


By now, dear reader, you are probably wondering what identity (enshrined in a given ideology) and the altercation between China and the U.S got to do with South Sudan’s politics. As inexplicitly ushered in the title of the article, this dissertation attempts to explain how the “invisible hands” (understood in the context of this paper as foreign powers) could have possible influence in South Sudan, in light of the unfolding circumstances. I would like to start off by issuing a caveat. The preceding parts of the article transcend to look at the problems of South Sudan outside the context of South Sudan’s internal affairs. At first, it scrutinises Africa at large, before narrowing the scope to South Sudan. The paper pays particular emphasis on Africa’s economic and political relationship with the U.S and China respectively; and touches on the relationship between Africa and the U.S briefly.


Afro-U.S Relationship


First and foremost, it is crucial to point out a few things about polity of the hegemony. ‘Hegemonic power’ is arguably America’s raison d’être. It has positioned America as the most powerful state on the globe. It also empowers America’s foreign policy and enables America to make and break international laws, as it deemed appropriate to its interest, hence, shaping global politics to its greatest advantage. Therefore, it is important to comprehend what is America’s biggest threat to its stability. This threat is undisputedly responsible in driving America out of its sovereign borders, in an attempt to consolidate security, pursue its economic interest and facilitate global leadership. So what threatens America’s hegemony?


The author views that it is necessary for caution to be applied here, as to avoid making the readers fall into the deceits of war on terror. That “war”, as understood by many scholars that have excelled in International Security and Counter-terrorism discipline (including myself, who took a few of its modules, as part of my political frame-work) is a mere propaganda. As fellow lecturer in counter terrorism unit once underscored, the war on terror was an excuse that western governments sold to the media, perhaps to justify the intervention of the western coalition on sovereign territories, which would otherwise fall not within the parameters of the international law. Had that been the case, the repercussions could see the senior members of the Pentagon’s echelon subdued by the Rome Statute. Now having said that, what then really constitutes the “nature” of the threat that America faces?


We know that the purported war on terror was fought almost exclusively in the Middle East. However, the war has gradually but swiftly pivoted to Africa overtime. Africa now hosts US military bases in all four points of the compass, from Djibouti in East Africa, to Burkina Faso in the far West and from Botswana down South to Algeria up North. Need I not be oblivion to bring to your attention the operation hub in Uganda and the addable facility in Rwanda, which are both responsible of serving an American covert mandate in Great Lakes Region (Central Africa). America’s military bases have very much littered the continent. However, the fundamental questions remain the same. What explains U.S military manoeuvre in Africa? Is Africa a significant threat to U.S hegemony? If it is, then there is need to elaborate how?


Africa is less inferior relative to U.S, technologically, militarily and economically. Given this incontestable fact, what then is America doing on the pre-develop continent that is not a threat to its sovereignty? Sure, the resources can be extracted and shifted to the foreign markets but that only require firms and their intermediaries, hence installation of military bases is highly unessential.


Various media houses have held countless interviews with the senior members of the US military, questioning the presence of American forces all over Africa under the direct command of AfriCom, but the answers provided have always been unsatisfactory if not fallacious. Purportedly, it is claimed that American forces in Africa are there to pursue the Al-Qaida militants and to suppress insurgencies that operate in affiliation with the Al-Qaida, a terrorist organisation that received international condemnation for having orchestrated the perilous September 11th bombing. If this indeed explains the presence of American forces in Africa, then one should make an exception to America’s presence in Somali, Mali and few other countries within the continent that host insurgent groups that fits into American definition of terrorism.


Nonetheless, one can still be inquisitive about the presence of American forces on other parts of the continent that do not harbour terrorists. Africa is not a country per se but a continent, what have other countries within Africa (currently accommodating American forces) got to do with war on terror? America claims that the Al-Shabaab insurgents in Somali have links with Al-Qaida, yet America is not even present in Somali, instead it is a coalition forces comprised of East African countries that are battling these so called Al-Qaida affiliates in Somali, why is that? Why is Africa fighting America’s war? In Mali where similar circumstances are taking place, it is the France that is mostly oppressing the Tuareg insurgency. Again, since when did Bin Laden bomb Paris? I thought it was New York as supposed to Paris that was bombed by the Islamic extremists! This “War on Terror” must be an ulterior motive covering something more diabolic but beneficial to America and its Allies. But what could it possibly be? Okay, inquisition aside, let the reality speak for itself. AfriCom is in Africa just to ensure capitalism flourishes.


Mali is a France’s former colony, it continuous to pay France a postcolonial debt for the benefits it received from colonization, such as infrastructures build by France.Mawuna Remarque KOUTONIN emphasised that “Without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century. He further wrote that,“14 African countries (including Mali) are obliged by France… to put 85% of their foreign reserve into France central bank under French minister of Finance control… African leaders who do not compromise are killed or (become) victim(s) of coup. Those who obey are supported and rewarded by France with lavish lifestyle(s) while their people endure extreme poverty and desperation”. As an inference, a change of regime in Mali suggests a change of the entire administration. This would not rule out the possibility of Tuareg stopping reparation payments received by France once in power, or when they successfully petitioned for an independent state.


Furthermore, this will trigger a domino effect across all other former colonies to follow suit, therefore, setting precedence that France administration cannot condone. Is this not a reasonable excuse for a sane being to observe, as to why France intervened in Mali to suppress the Tuareg insurgency? France claimed the same lie of pursuing terrorists in Mali and America turned a blind eye to it, for the sake of their NATO alliance. In the meanwhile, America is too busy expanding its military might in countries within Africa that Al-Qaida insurgents have not even bear arms in, like Angola and Cape Verde Islands and so on. Again, one can question how is Africa a direct threat to U.S hegemony in-spite of its feeble economic and technological capacity? To assist us in connecting the dots, let’s stop here for a second consider the underlying factor behind China’s foreign policy.


Afro-China Relationship


China is caught up in what political economists have termed ‘growth-equilibrium’. China has been a bastion of communism since its establishment 1949. Despite its great leap towards global leadership, for instance, its admission to UNSC in 1971, Chinese people are exposed to western history and western culture. They are aware of events such as the French Revolution and the birth of democracy, they have witnessed events such as Cold War; hence have thoroughly studied distinct ideologies. After more than five decades of communism, Chinese people are under temptation to try western administration, of free elections, multi-party system, even freedom of speech and other pecks democracy has to offer. This inclination sets enormous pressure to the mono-party’s ruling aristocracy to continuously expand the economy (create employment) to increase Chinese people’s utility, as to avoid biting the tempting apple (Democracy). This perhaps helps explain China’s hunger for resources, particularly China’s thirst for the African oil, which fuels its development. As a result, China’s annual growth rate has persistently registered beyond 6% and even tripling the growth of United States at some periods. This rate of development prove China’s tendency to emulate the west and its epitome of superiority, technology. One would therefore, be evinced that, the rise of China is America’s biggest threat after scoping China’s unprecedented growth. So how does America attempt to quell China’s growth that threatens its hegemony? America’s strategy is to contain China’s economic growth. To successfully do that, America has to maintain its presence at the very place that China’s economic lifeline lies, Africa that is. How does it go about this? Well America plays something close to a game of chest. The paper will exemplify this by looking at the case of the two Sudans.

… be continued….

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