On the theme of a new world order – Part 4
Thirdly, the elasticity of the definition of Europe which now includes Israel. It is instructive that Morocco, Algeria, Egypt etc. which are physically closer to Europe are excluded.
The prime mover of the idea is President Emmanuel Macron of France who since Brexit has not hidden his desire of France leading a new Europe especially after the retirement of Chancellor Markel and the irascibility of President Donald Trump on foreign policy issues.
The Ukraine war while energizing NATO, has also made the agenda of Macron more compelling. Two weeks ago, President Macron and the Finnish President openly took President Biden to task with Macron telling Biden “We must speak with prudence when commenting on such matters”. Such public put down of one President by another underlines fundamental disagreement. There are many other organizations, regional and global in nature which are in existence but which are not relevant to the theme of this lecture. However this is the beginning and not the end of this development. The war in Ukraine for example, turned what normally passes as a routine economic exercise into the political quagmire.
On October 5th 2022, OPEC announced a cut of 2m barrels of crude oil only for the United States to launch a blistering attack on OPEC for siding with Russia. Attacks such as these are bound to widen the gap between the United States and the global South. Recently also, at the current session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Emmanuel Macron of France lashed out at the nonaligned countries for not siding with the global west on the Russia-Ukraine war.
President Macron said “ I also know that some countries here have remained neutral in the way with regard to this war, but what I want to say to you very clearly today: those who would like to imitate the cause of the nonaligned movement by refusing to express themselves clearly are mistaken and bear a historic responsibility.
The cause of the nonaligned was the cause for the sovereignty of states and for the territorial integrity of each of them. That is what the cause of the nonaligned was . In spite of themselves or secretly with a certain complicity, those why are silent today further the cause of a new imperialism, of a modern cynicism that breaks up our international order without which peace is not possible.” In my twitter response, l pointed out that it is western policies like French invasion of Libya, the Colonial Pact, the continuing economic exploitation of Africa by the West that are all responsible for the African position.
The Indian and South African Foreign Ministers were even more poignant in their public positions that the West could not even point out the last time the West identified with Issues that are of primal importance to the global south. Even at the recent meeting of the 51session of the United Nations Human Rights Council held between 12 September and 7 October 2022, to the United Kingdom, United States and Ukraine voted against a resolution to take action against racism. countries that voted against the resolution include the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Montenegro, the Netherlands and Poland. The immediate evidence is that the global south has refused to be corralled into the Western camp on the specific issue of the war. What we should focus on now is the need for Africa to promote a common position on issues that will form the 23 agenda of the new world order.
Firstly, Africa must ensure that it speaks with one voice, on its own steam rather than as an adjunct of any power. I am aware that this is going to be difficult. France is still embedded in Africa and through its surrogates could influence the direction of African policies and who claims to speak for Africa. The position of France in global politics is dependent on the African countries that it controls. President Jacques Chirac, the 22nd French President said in 2001 “ we drained Africa for 4 1/2 centuries.
Next, we plundered it’s raw materials. After that we said they Africans are good for nothing. In the name of religion, we destroyed their culture and now, as we have to act with elegance, we are picking their brains with scholarships.” Furthermore in March 2008, the same Chirac said “ Without Africa, France will slide down into the wrong rank of a third world power” France will not easily give up this position of control and power. France with its control of 24 countries out of 55 members in the African Union has a formidable block. France has military bases in ten countries.
The second foreign influence in Africa is the United States acting as the arrowhead for the global west. The United States has established the United States Africa Command. Although its headquarters is in Stuttgart in Germany, the US has an East African Force presence in Kenya and Djibouti, forces in Somalia and the Sahel. In total, the United States has twenty-nine known military facilities in fifteen countries. The United States has a military drone base in Agadez, Niger, near Nigeria. There is an American 24Proposal for a-Ghana-United States of Forces Agreement which has proved very controversial within Ghana itself for fear that it provided for the establishment of a military base.
The increased American military and strategic interest in Africa is related to the increase presence of China in Africa. Hence the competition is not even hidden. Djibouti has military bases from Germany, Spain, ltaly, France, the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Saudi Arabia, Russia and India. United States is not going to be indifferent to who represents Africa in the Security Council as a permanent member. This is the most opportune time to resolve the thorny issue of the expansion of the membership of the Security Council of the United Nations. The dispute revolves around four issues.
Firstly is the issue of the veto power. Secondly is the issue of expansion of the ratio between permanent and non-permanent members. Thirdly is the issue of distribution of the expansion among geographical zones. Finally is the issue of who occupies the new seats. Right now, there is no consensus on any of these issues. However a speculative position is that Africa will get representation on the permanent seats without veto power. The African Union is not united on which African state or states will occupy the seat or seats. The African Union should be aware that there are external forces. which are prepared to choose for Africa. While I have already dealt extensively with the position of France which is likely to sponsor Senegal, the West is likely to be more inclined towards South Africa. South Africa is a member of BRICS since 2010, and has been a regular attendee at G20 meetings.
Another issue is the evolution of currencies for global trade. Before the war, the dollar has been the currency for global trade with a lot of resentment in attendance. Any attempt to challenge this has been regarded as a hostile act by the United States. Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on record that one of the reasons for the overthrow of Ghadaffy was his plan for the evolution of gold for OPEC trade and the basis for an African currency.
To be continued tomorrow
Akinyemi, Professor of International Affairs delivered the 2022 Nigerian Institute of International Affairs Distinguished Lecture on October 20, 2022.