Magazine article New African

Another Moment in Time: We All Know We Are Living in Interesting Times. Will We as Africans Seize the Moment or Will We Be Devoured Even More in the Next Cycle?

Magazine article New African

Another Moment in Time: We All Know We Are Living in Interesting Times. Will We as Africans Seize the Moment or Will We Be Devoured Even More in the Next Cycle?

Article excerpt

Many people who lived through the Second World War had a strong sense that once it finished, the world would be a radically different place. It wasn't just because of the death and destruction, the multiple theatres of war, or the devastating atomic bombs dropped on Japan, rather it was the feeling that a massive re-ordering of the globe would follow.

The war of course broke and divided Europe, saw the rise of the US and the Soviet Union as the new superpowers, and began the unravelling and liberation of large numbers of former European and Japanese conquered territories. Indian independence was first, then China (above), followed by North African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries, then African and Caribbean countries.

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With such profound change coming, the question that individual or regional leadership faced on the eve of 1945 was how to manage this change so that they could emerge with the best possible hand. The post-1945 period lasted over 60 years and began unravelling with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and then decisively and with great speed with the credit crunch in 2008.

Looking back now as we live through another of those moments when a massive transformation and realignment of the world is under way, it is possible to judge how successful individual countries have been in riding the post-1945 wave.

The United States was the big winner, emerging at the end of the period as the indisputable global hegemon, active in every theatre in the world. In its own sub-continent, Europe and parts of Asia, this hegemony was unchallenged. Through the NATO military umbrella, the US acted in an "oversight" capacity as Europeans created a union to offset the loss of their colonial possessions, anchor German ambitions, and offer a bridge back to their occupied and divided half in Eastern Europe.

Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and the other Asian tigers realigned with the US, and all became great trading nations under various American military and economic guarantees.

Elsewhere, the Soviet Union saw itself as a counter-hegemonic power before collapsing and fragmenting from its own moral, economic and political contradictions.

The Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern, Caribbean and African nations that belonged to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) played the big superpowers as they attempted to define an independent position, but many were in turn played themselves. …

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