Wednesday, 21 December 2011

North Korea is a Chinese client state. Don't look for change to the status quo.

Kim Jong-il and son Kim Jong-un. Dear Leader and Dear Leader II

North Korea: Kim Jong-il brought state sponsored poverty and famine to his people.
by Tom Thorne
A while back a friend gave me a copy of Barbara Demick's excellent 2010 book entitled, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea. This first rate piece of reportage catalogues, in poignant detail, the Kim Jong-il years in North Korea and the negative effects this regime has had on ordinary people. 
The book documents the repressed experiences of people under this brutal regime. The entire country is sunk into a stupor of suppressed thoughts and actions. It is very important to be seen enthusiastically supporting Kim Jong-il because to be critical in the slightest way is to be marginalized as a social pariah. To become a pariah means that the state security apparatus may place you on their radar. 
Government induced fear is the main ingredient of North Korean life. Individual thoughts are suppressed and even basic emotions expressed to others are always guarded and done with great care unless they be misinterpreted as " individualism" or reported as suspect to the authorities. Having real friends and relationships is risky. In North Korea fitting into rigid rules of a dictatorship is the norm. 
North Koreans live in an old style Stalinist dictatorship.
People who look the wrong way disappear into gulags and prisons operated by a security service. They have the absolute authority to arrest, detain and execute offenders of the regime. Often prisoners never returned but when they did they were "re-educated" into a shell of their former selves spouting the Dear Leader's point of view as gospel.
This atmosphere of mistrust masks a failed state in the 1990s that proved incapable of providing the necessities of life. Famine, starvation and ill health became the norm for almost a decade. Of course in a state such as this, famine never officially existed and so even while millions starved they had to support the lie that there was enough to eat.
The boss of all this repression styled himself as Dear Leader. Dictator Kim Jong-il was a weird little guy with platform shoes who took over from his father Kim Il-sung who founded the Communist North Korean state. He would always be a second banana to the godlike stature of his father.  
China uses North Korea as a buffer state.
North Korea was supported by China during the Korean War of 1950-53 as a client state. Kim Il-sung lasted until 1996 when Kim Jong-il took over. Subsequently Kim Il-sung was deified and mummified in a glass coffin even though his death showed him to be very mortal. No doubt Kim Jong-il will also be preserved and pickled for posterity.
Kim Jong-il's death this week after 15 years in power now places North Korea in a limbo as his son Kim Jong-un perhaps will take power. Of course the son is only 27 years old but is already the head of the security apparatus and a four star general in the North Korean military. 
Kim Jong-un is a pudgy porcine person who is now the heir to his father if the military remains loyal to the divine right of the Kim family. However he lacks the preparation that his father had serving his father for 20 years before taking power.
All these North Korean leaders have comic opera appearances but unfortunately there is nothing funny about the personal absolute power they  wield in this totalitarian kingdom. They control a one million strong North Korean Army that supports and maintains their Dear Leader’s power and by association their own power. 
Dangerous nuclear games at play on the Korean peninsula.
They control a state security apparatus that is loyal because they also maintain their special rarified status by persecuting the population into silence. In addition, the Dear Leaders have their hands on intercontinental ballistic missiles and many analysts believe they have nuclear weapons. They have also been recently bellicose off their coasts when they sank a South Korean naval ship. In addition they appear to have ballistic missiles capable of reaching North America.
As a result the Chinese, South Koreans and the Japanese take North Korea seriously although they are a rogue state by any definition. The Chinese formally recognize North Korea and probably see them as a remanent of old style totalitarian Communism of the Mao Zedong type. 
North Korea is a living museum of the old Communist China and useful as a Chinese buffer state. As a result the Chinese like the status quo to continue.
The Chinese also see North Korea as a convenient way to keep the real politick pot boiling in the Far East. North Korea borders Russia and themselves but this state keeps a constant tension going with South Korea because there is no post Korean War peace treaty. Technically South Korea and North Korea are still at war.
This keeps the United States on edge in the Far East dealing with a rogue state that does dirty work for China irritating the West and keeping the United Nations in a state of do-nothing diplomacy. The US has no diplomatic representation in North Korea so they remain in deep mystery concerning totalitarian bravado at work there.
What happens now?
So what will happen now?  The poverty and lack of industrialization will keep North Korea economically curtailed. The Chinese recognition of North Korea means that the status quo will continue and no real change will happen. Hence Kim Jong-un will become the next dictator probably controlled some think by family members but more likely by the military elite.
Any notions that the Korean peninsula will solve their state of war is remote. It is remote because China likes the status quo to continue for its own selfish real politick reasons. Will the North and South soften relations? Again unlikely. One thing is certain the Chinese will maintain the status quo (rogue state with nuclear weapons and large standing army) keeping the North Koreans on short leash just on this side a hot war. 
So the point of North Korea is Chinese influence maintaining an old fashioned Communist state at their back door that makes the US and the West spend billions on Pacific Far East military defense just in case Korea explodes into a hot war again or tests and maybe launches nuclear weapons. 
This idea is not so crazy. In 1950 the Chinese Army crossed the Chinese-Korean border along the Yalu River to start the Korean War. This time there is a Korean Army of one million men to do the job themselves. This fact makes South Korea spend billions on defense and serves the Chinese well.
It does very little for the North Korean population who remain largely in poverty and literally in the dark without even a basic electrical  infrastructure in place.

The lights are always out in North Korea 
when compared to South Korea.
Nothing to Envy, Ordinary Lives in North Korea, Barbara Demick, Spiegel & Grau Paperbacks, New York, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-385-52391-2   USA: $16.00 / Canada: $19.00.
© Copyright 2011, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Jason Kenney, Canada's Immigration Minister has stepped on the Niqab landmine. Let the discussion begin.

Examples of niqab fashion in all its intriguing diversity.

Face veils and full body robes may provide modesty and privacy for the person wearing them but more likely in a Western context they draw negative attention to the wearer.

by Tom Thorne
Who is beneath a niqab or face veil? Only the eyes can be seen and the rest of the person under the robes and veil is a mystery. Muslim scholars assure us that oppression comes when the woman has no choice but to wear the veil. They also remind us that there is no Islamic religious reason to support these veils and that traditions like this are simply cultural manifestations some of which predate Islam.
Despite the arguments that veils are strictly cultural and they do not oppress women, there are lots of problems for woman in the Arab and Muslim world who don't wear them or at least follow very conservative dress codes when they are in public. In the Arab world a woman not modestly dressed is a reason for insensitive jibes and comment from men.
The cultural argument is one that is often mistakenly enforced by religious police especially in conservative Muslim states like Saudi Arabia so there seems to be some misunderstanding about what the Quran actually says on this matter and there is a conflict between Muslim religious scholarship and daily practice of the Muslim faithful of a conservative bent.
The argument for modesty and privacy is often used to support niqab use but unfortunately in the West identifying yourself adequately is a tradition that trumps these ideas imported from the Arab and Muslim world to support veiling here. In some jurisdictions Niqab wearers are now in conflict with courts and other legal traditions of the West. It has been banned in Belgium and France for these reasons.
When in Rome?
So what do we do about this issue? One argument says when in Rome do as the Romans do. If you come to the West you are expected  to adapt to a lifestyle of the West. If you want to bring these traditions with you as a immigrant then you may wish to reconsider how a niqab looks on the streets of Toronto. This is not an issue of multiculturalism as much as it is a problem about how to identify who is under the niqab. 
Frankly niqab in a Western context draws attention to the woman. It doesn't provide her with modesty or privacy. In fact it turns her into a billboard for Muslim militancy whether that is the intention or not. 
Omar Kadar's media relations opportunities were lost.
I remember the mother and sister of Canadian born Omar Kadar talking to the media about his imprisonment by the US in Guantanamo Bay for alleged terror offenses. They wore a niqab for a TV interview and frankly their covered faces did little to help Omar Kadar's cause. They looked sinister no matter how reasonable their arguments may have been.
And that I am sure is not the intention of the women who wear niqab. Many of them when interviewed seem to be reasonable, often well spoken articulate and educated woman of substance, so it is strange to Western sensibilities that they feel a need to live under cloaks and veiled faces now that they are living in the West. What is even stranger is the numbers of Western born women who wear these clothes. 
I have heard several interviews with young Muslim women recently on CBC radio who have adopted the niqab. I have not yet heard a convincing argument why they feel it is needed in their lives here in Canada but perhaps I missed something cogent in their arguments.
Western sensibilities are challenged by the niqab.
For me the niqab is a statement about who you are and what you aspire to be and how you want to be perceived. It is also a conscious projection of yourself onto Western sensibilities and traditions. 
Yes, sociologically it is a statement of intent that is in many ways like a protest even if it is intended to be a positive protest. It draws attention to the wearer and says that you and all the wonderful things you are cannot be seen in public. It begs the question why?
Does its use in the West mean that the Muslim fact, however ill defined, is being projected? Does it represent the tensions we now see in the Arab and Muslim world with the West ? Does it represent an in your face statement about the plight of Palestinians? Is it a way of bringing forth the tensions between Iraq situation, or Iran or what is happening as Syria slips into chaos? Does it have political intentions?  Is it simply stating that Western society is the Great Satan?
Who really knows what it represents even in Middle East. It is at best a visit to the past when men were men and women were women and everyone knew their place. However, when this tradition is interfaced with Western experiences it takes on a new meaning. It has an iconographic meaning and it is psychologically potent as an image especially when it is out of its normal context.
Let's look at where it takes us in our Western contexts. First it creates conflict to not see a face on someone when they are in public. It goes against our Common Law traditions of identifying without doubt who you are dealing with.
Our legal traditions call for identification of oath takers and witnesses.
In our law courts it is essential to be identified without doubt. That tradition is probably older than wearing the niqab is in the Muslim world. When you are voting your face must match your driver's license so we know who you are. And now Jason Kenny our Minister of Immigration wants new Canadians to take off their niqad to swear an oath of allegiance in public to Canada and Her Majesty the Queen during Citizenship ceremonies.
This act is seen as an attack on multiculturalism. Actually it is simply following principles of British and Canadian Common Law practices that predate Magna Carta. It would be interesting to see how Sharia courts in the Muslim world swear witnesses. Maybe your husband or father identifies you for the court so you are saved from the immodesty of showing your face.
When you practice multiculturalism  there is a tendency to try too hard to accommodate everyone and that usually leads to silly notions of political correctness where no one is satisfied but everyone feels good and cozy that they tried hard to make it all work. That is the core of this issue that Jason Kenny has brought up with his rule for Citizenship ceremonies.
He is going back to first principles which is your identity swearing oaths in public must be public so that all the citizens know who you are are what you have sworn to uphold. In our law and traditions that requires those taking the oath to be clearly identified and wearing a niqab while making an oath of any kind doesn't satisfy the traditions of British-Canadian law.
A Charter of Rights and Freedoms challenge is not justified.
If there is a Charter of Rights and Freedoms challenge to Jason Kenney's announcement I believe that Common Law principles to identify yourself publicly will stand. The idea that a niqab wearer should be taken into a private room to reveal her face to an official or judge as a way to identify her defeats the idea of solemn oaths being taken in public or in court. 
In a legal defense the defendants cannot gauge reactions of a witness if the face is covered. It is the right of a defendant and the lawyer's defending them to see a face in cross examination. It could be argued that the niqab is an unreasonable barrier for a defendant to mount an adequate defense against accusations or assertions of a niqab clad plaintiff. That may raise the issue of whose rights under the Charter have really been truncated.
© Copyright 2011, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

Monday, 12 December 2011

Getting the Eurozone act together may kill the Euro currency.

If the Euro not broken it is at least cracked.

The Euro is a currency without currency. The US dollar is suspect. Why is the Canadian dollar looking good?

One thing that a currency must be able to do if it is to become a medium of exchange is be acceptable when it is offered for payment or to settle debts. That is basic. The US dollar enjoys universal acceptance. It is truly a world wide medium of exchange despite the wiles and political  vacillations of the US Congress since 2008.
I have used US dollars to pay for a coffee in a tiny Spanish Pyrenees village without any problem. US dollars can be pulled out anywhere on this planet and they are immediately acceptable for trade. They are simply pretty pictures printed on rag paper but we accept them  and somehow value them as useful to do business. 
Really no one needs Euros.  We could all adopt US dollars as the world standard and perhaps some nationalistic feathers would be ruffled but very likely Europeans would accept US dollars for payment throughout Europe without too much of a hit to their Euro centred egos or sensibilities.
US debt doesn’t stem the US dollar appeal.
US dollars are printed by a country with a lot of debt not unlike the Eurozone countries who are also living well above their means. However the US dollar remains a world standard for payment and exchange despite these economic woes. The Euro does not enjoy the same appreciation. Neither does the Canadian dollar even if Iceland wants to use it to replace their struggling debt ridden situation.
The Canadian dollars are prettier than the US dollars. They are colourful and now they are now to be printed on plastic. Canadian dollars are really neat compared to US dollars and I can see why there might be an attraction to have these pretty objects in Iceland. 
Please note that the Icelanders do not want the Euro. They want a stable currency backed by a stable country and they are selected Canada as that choice. They are focused on recovering from their slide into bankruptcy and the Canadian dollar looks like a good bet along with Canadian banks and banking.
The Euro is over valued in the European sea of debt.
The Euro is losing its luster. The reason is that the Eurozone is under a lot of stress and it is coming apart mostly because of political vacillations. Even Greece gave a passing thought to dumping the Euro and restoring its Drachma. Not a good idea, but it shows that the Euro is now a currency without much currency. The British are now patting themselves on the back for retaining the Pound Sterling and not surrendering to the Euro as Ireland did with the devastating results we know. The Euro doesn't really inspire confidence with its Greek and Irish track record.
The Euro is under fire. It's mainly because even now the Eurozone countries cannot seem to get their fiscal house in order. They vacillate they try to weasel out of what they agree to do to solve the debt crises of their member states. And so the world is tired of the Euro and it may very well go the way of the Dodo. It won’t happen fast. The Euro will fade away as it is dumped by Eurozone states.
Imagine the problems associated with the Euro. It is used by larger economies like Germany and France and it sets a standard of exchange based on the industrial performances and GNPs of these two large Eurozone members. The Euro is really fueled by German discipline and energy. France doesn’t really have the same clout as Germany especially when some of its banks are on the edge.
Poor Eurozone countries can't afford the Euro.

When other poorer countries adopt the Euro like Spain, Portugal and Greece the result is the exchange rate established by highly industrialized countries in the Eurozone is imposed on these poorer and slower performing economies.
The Euro sets standards of living that are unsustainable in Spain, Portugal and Greece and probably this is also true in emerging post Soviet Eastern European countries. This is one reason for the growing debts of these countries. They are trying to keep up with more powerful and active industrialized economies.
It is a myth that one central currency in Europe is useful. The Swiss like Britain stayed out of adopting the Euro mainly because they operate important world financial centres in which the Euro was a smaller player.  
Greeks, Spaniards and Portuguese users find that the Euro and Eurozone requirements create inflationary spirals and costs to their poorer economies. The Euro raises standards of living. Since taxes cannot be adequately collected in Greece, Spain and Portugal due to widespread avoidance, debt builds as these countries try to keep up with Eurozone standards.
The Euro may be an interesting experiment in play money.

The Euro may be an interesting experiment in centralized currencies and its effects on economies of different sizes and aspirations. The last time Europe tried a centralized currency was during the Roman Empire and we all know what happened to that experience as Roman Europe fragmented into smaller parts all pursuing their own feudal and nationalistic interests. 
History may now repeat itself as the Eurozone immersed in debt it cannot pay, defaults into a fragmented New Dark Age where countries pursue their own interests and their citizens begin new rounds of political, ethnic, cultural and fiscal independence as they try to survive. 
The current Eurozone fiscal crises may also be a harbinger of Information Age effects where large corporate and Eurozone centralizing planning ideas are fragmented by the nature of instant and constant digital communications. 
In this world many of us are still getting used to 24/7 fiscal systems influencing events in one timezone from other timezones on the other side of the world. These trades are controlled by programmed trading software that can inflict fiscal uncertainty in markets as they open thus creating change that was not expected or adequately controlled. That is the new fragmentation and it may ultimately be able to stress any economy or currency with impunity.
© Copyright 2011, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Social media are not revolution but they are the stage setters for change.

What happens after the protests are over?

Trends: Finally some good news creeps onto the world stage.

by Tom Thorne
The first two Trends pieces I wrote for this blog concentrated on some bleak prospects for the next ten years. Good news is in short supply with European Eurozone countries moving at glacial speed to sort out their profligate economies. Political and economic stagnation is everywhere in Europe and also in the United States. The status quo is strong and change seems to be only a wistful hope. 
Then in the second Trends piece I discussed issues for Africa which seem obvious to correct but there seems to be no will to deal with these problems. Clearly depressing stuff.
Leadership is in short supply. Greed and careless form without substance business and politics seem to be the norm. Well it won’t do and many people (mostly young and without prospects) are beginning to realize that their futures are not with the aims of power elites and sadly even with their elected officials. The power elites hold onto their power but it is no longer without challenge.
Dare we hope for democracy?
There is a demand across the world by people for a more public controlled democratic politics. Connected to this is another important change. Women expect to have respect and be able to control their lives often in parts of the world where they are treated as second class citizens and where their human rights are under constant stress by honour killings and other misogynous imbedded practices. 
The wealth, resources and power controlled by a minority are now being challenged. Many oligarchies and dictators are under stress or have been removed across the Arab World. Egypt has removed Hosni Mubarak and held its first wave of Lower House elections, Libya has unceremoniously removed Mu’ammer Gadhafi and President Assad is losing control of Syria as the army and the people polarize into a likely civil war. In addition, Iran is stressed within its borders by its own people as much as it is by world opinion. In North America we see the Occupy Movement camping in parks to get change rolling.
In the US, Republican presidential hopefuls are self destructing in scandals and Congress although still in self-imposed gridlock is in status quo mode which cannot ultimately work for the US. Control by the few is slipping and there is change in the air. President Barack Obama is the first US president who effectively used social media to get elected. The Occupy Movement is also using social media to organize and their presence in the streets has all the makings of the Vietnam protests of the 1960’s and those events did alter politics to the point of ending that war.
The Occupy Movement is in the streets continually. There is no major city in the west that hasn’t had to deal with the Occupy groups just as the Arab world has been dealing with their versions of this phenomenon. The main feature of these groups is that they are leaderless and the power elite people can’t relate to groups that just exist with no perceivable agenda or perceivable leadership. As a result there is little focus for persecutions and secret police forces have little focus on who to arrest, intimidate or try to control. These protests are apolitical at least in a content way. They are amorphously joined together by social media. 
The Internet and its social media is a technique of our times has a content free influence over events. It signals a need to change.
The Internet is inherently democratic and fragments large formal power structures and hierarchies. Once the power brokers get wind of this fact they begin attempts to control this amorphous entity that can bring disenfranchised people into the centres of large urban areas to protest the very existence of power itself that is concentrated into the hands of a few.
Propagandists for the powerful few call it insurrection. In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak ordered the Internet shut down and turned off cell phones. It took seconds for phone land lines to light up with computers and social media to begin dialogues and structures to keep the “revolution” running. The results you know.
So that is the good news. It remins me of the 1976 film Network. In that film the audience is extolled by the on air TV news host Howard Beale, played by Peter Finch, to go to the window, open it, stick your head out and yell: "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore." That is the current message of the social media induced actions that assemble “revolutionaries” in Tahrir Square in Cairo or fill public places worldwide as the Occupy Movement. It’s better to do something than sit and watch power brokers run your life by intimidation. 
Refreshing developments
I find this development refreshing and very positive. The "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore." is typical of social media induced protest. It is largely unfocused except by generalities. It means that the Internet is changing thought patterns of its users in ways no one in authority can understand, and what’s more important, they cannot control what happens. It’s an edge for people to gain their freedom without an actual content focus.
Social media are inherently democratic. The Internet social applications focus almost pure energy without any real propaganda attached to that energy. Ideas no matter how general and unfocused can go “viral”. Truly the medium, in this case, is the message. The message is that we can organize, connect and make things happen without defining the content or creating focus to put down protests for change. Social media are inherently change itself. 
The content of what’s happening is ill defined change. It is change as change. It is the fact that the protesters or users can do it that’s important. It is too diverse to carry one propaganda message. The message is the medium’s ability to create an environment where change itself is expected while remaining undefined and vague. In Tahrir Square the simple message was “Mubarak Leave Office”. Just how that could be achieved was not the point.
Let’s look further at the recent Egyptian experiment. The actions of the “revolutionaries” was that most of them were linked by cell phones and in a portion of the “revolutionaries” had smart phones with web access. Twitter and Facebook played a part along with simple texting and email. The activities focused through the Internet brought a critical mass of like thinking which was basically to protest the Mubarak regime and get it to peacefully resign. 
The content was only that deep. If you don’t like Mubarak, protest by going to the streets or Tahrir Square. There was no detailed political agenda or discernible political movement or ideology at play. Not even very much specific anti-Mubarak propaganda. The content was to link and protest a generic dislike of the socio-political conditions Egyptians find themselves in. Mubarak was the brand to attach very complex economic and political  troubles in Egypt to although details remain vague as to how his removal would change anything.
Most Egyptians attached their troubles to the Mubarak brand identity. 

The protests crossed all political bounds from Islamic fundamentalists to secular Arabs and Christians and even the Army. Why you were protesting was not based on agendas except that you could network to do so using social media on the Internet.
Only when the “revolution” is won and Mubarak fell and elections were set did the political differences and agendas emerge. Violence started in Cairo and Alexandria. Christians were persecuted and their churches were burned down as old prejudices surfaced. The Army and security forces still in control, knew that they could not control the protest part which is so amorphous that it cannot be focused into any real tangible political form. The recent Egyptian parliamentary elections did that part. Now there are some fears that the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing will take power with large portion of the popular vote setting the stage for an Islamic state. 
In short the cool medium of social media is without propaganda it is a form to organize protest. The hot medium here is the election process which is all propaganda and isolates points of view into conventional platforms and positions on where Egypt should go after Mubarak’s downfall. 
Politics are pure content, social media induced protests are without focused content. The social media are cool. Elections are hot and live in the world of content and the political need to define problems and provide solutions. Elections are promotional events that run on content. Social media protests are simply a medium to organize a content free protest. They merely set the stage for change to happen.
Egyptians twittered themselves to Tahrir Square each day.

© Copyright 2011, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

Friday, 2 December 2011

If Africa remains on its current course it will implode in ten years time. And then what?

Arms sales to African countries.

Trends about our near future. Some realizations about Africa and the needs of Africans.

by Tom Thorne
Earlier I outlined some of the bleaker prospects I see for the next while particularly in the area of an expected and prolonged economic downturn in North America and Europe and by association the rest of the world. 
The reality of our expected world population growth over the next ten years is daunting. Add to population growth, environmental degradation and debt ridden governments with no time to really sort out their problems and our prospects really dim as we attempt to redefine our economic world models.
How do we get ourselves juiced up to respond and solve these problems? First, we must now really move to sustainable economies rather than the economics of greed that we saw exemplified lying beneath the 2008 financial meltdown. I know this sounds wide eyed and innocent but there is no choice but to act to correct this inequitable situation. Profligate uses of resources, unbridled population growth and selfish development strategies must stop immediately worldwide.
The focus today is how do we stem the poverty in Africa and its offshoot the HIV-AIDS epidemic on that continent? How do we introduce human rights into a continent so broken that it feeds off its own distress in ever increasing feedback loops of despair? I refer to examples like Somalia, the Congo, and other areas of Africa barely functioning as states and where the idea of  “government” is a synonym for corruption and the antisocial self interest of either tribal groups, war lords or politicians who ego trip at the expense of the common good.
Stopping violence means weapons controls
How do we stem the supply of Chinese and old Soviet bloc weapons into Africa? Weapons control and a halt to the distribution of these arms by their manufacturing countries could make a difference to promote peace. Weapons create instability and violence and again in my wide eyed innocence I ask why does this trade continue and why is it allowed? I think we know why. It provides money and in some cases it is an arm of a realpolitick practiced by certain states with vested interests in controlling Africa to gain access its considerable resources. In short is is exploitive and does not serve the needs of Africans. 
Of course the human rights toll continues as part of these selfish policies. It is the sordid cost of destroying futures with violence and continual mayhem. The sad realization I have is that a more useful development strategy for Africa could be implemented for the cost these weapons. 
The big challenge is turning off the violence and mayhem in Africa and beginning the development of that continent in a fair way that can support the needs and ultimately control the growth of their ballooning population. The real development would be to fight AIDS/HIV and other preventable diseases with drugs and support families in a safe environment so they have a chance to create stable economies and governments. 
Empowering women in Africa can lift economic prospects.
Empowering the women of Africa is also a very positive strategy if only because everywhere the women are a positive force for change, reconciliation and the anchors of families. This is a huge chore but to do less is to see by 2020 an uncontrollable poverty on a scope that will dim even the wretchedness we see today.
To fail Africa will mean that the rest of humanity will witness uncontrollable poverty in ten years time with constant famine and disease that will be so widespread it will become the new normal. If there ever was an economic opportunity for the west and the industrialized Orient it is the economic development of Africa in a fair way. The pillaging and violence going on at the moment does not work so it is a no brainer to do world development of Africa where Africans benefit from as the first priority.
Of course some will say that development on this scale coming from the west and the industrialized Orient is tantamount to reestablishing colonialism in Africa. That does not have to be the case. If the G7 and G20 nations want to they could enter Africa as an opportunity for Africans and as a way to generate world opportunity and sustained development strategies for the first time that generally helps the world cope with the next ten years. The cost of doing nothing is very high ten years out. 
United Nations: Observing the dislocation of African well being.

The United Nations (UN) could be involved but they also need to escape their old highly bureaucratized ideas which to this point in time have tended to tamp down the problems of Africa rather than solve them. What is needed are solutions and fast and galvanizing the UN may be hard but not impossible. 
 Again the stepping down of violence and its tangental problem the creation of refugees is the first step for the United Nations. They need to Peace Make not just manage wretchedness with refugee camps that become permanent. That will take more resources but it will be an investment not a cost.  G7 and G20 countries need to make this happen by providing investments that don’t support dictatorships and tribal prejudices . Non traditional contributors to UN Africa problems such as oil rich Arab States need to contribute resources to make peace stick in Africa. 
Will this happen? Somehow I doubt there is a will or interest at the UN and in the rest of the world to save Africa. It is easy to be horrified, appalled and shocked by the abject poverty that we see now. In ten years time if nothing is done and the status quo is allowed to continue the African continent will be left to its fate as human populations grow out of control and tax resources well beyond the breaking point. 
© Copyright 2011, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved