Magazine article New African

Morbid Symptoms of the New Age

Magazine article New African

Morbid Symptoms of the New Age

Article excerpt

As Trump re-aligns global power, watch what happens to Iran. Without big power protection, it could well be a foretaste of Africa's future in a world spiralling into chaos.

Donald Trump has hit the ground running, scattering the world in his wake. China and Iran have been put on notice, but even supposed allies have not been spared. The leaders of Australia and Mexico have been humiliated. The EU, facing Brexit, a refugee debacle, terrorism, and the continuing Euro crisis, has had its unity and NATO security questioned, as Trump seeks closer relations with a resurgent Russia.

Elsewhere, it is less clear what to expect, especially in relation to Africa. For Africans, however, it is important to understand that behind these seemingly erratic moves is a bigger unfolding crisis--the postwar order is rapidly unravelling, the Western powers, especially the US, that dominated that world order (through economics, military and the Bretton Woods institutions), are in the process of repositioning themselves, as new power blocs emerge with their accompanying spheres of influence. There will be increased trade and military competition between these emerging blocs and it is possible that in order to minimise conflict, these powers will do deals and carve up spaces outside their spheres of influence.

We last saw this in the 19th century, when competing European empires met in Berlin in 1884 to decide Africa's fate. But even then such a conference was only able to delay, not prevent the inevitable war caused by the clashes between rising and declining powers, first expressed as trade, then actual wars.

Africa has choices to make in this current re-ordering; choices about alignment and about how it defends itself in the coming storm as Trump is proving that the old assumptions no longer offer guarantees. In the first instance, Africa should watch very carefully what happens over the coming months in Iran to see how a country outside the spheres of influence is treated.

Iran currently has a putative alliance with Russia (in Syria and through military underpinning of the nuclear deal); and with China (to which it sells the bulk of its oil). Trump is beginning to make the kind of noises Bush made before the Iraq invasion. …

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