Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Africa, Part Three: Peace is Possible

There is great hope for peace in Africa, because it has been accomplished many times in the past. Over the previous twenty-five years, more conflicts have been resolved on the continent than not. Peace agreements have been signed in Ethiopia and Eritrea, Burundi, Mozambique, South Africa, Southern Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and others.

The problem is that the current approach is not working. The symptoms of conflicts are being addressed as billions of dollars are being spent on humanitarian concerns, but the root of the problem is not being focused on. The goal should be peace.

According to John Prendergast what is needed is a Peace Surge in Africa, using the soft power of U.S. diplomacy to create international coalitions to end these wars. Since Obama has voiced interest in using dialogue and diplomacy instead of only the U.S. military, there is a lot of hope that this could happen soon. The U.S. does have the largest military in the world, but it also has the largest diplomatic core. This would not cost the U.S. extra money; it would just have to use the resources it already has. Ultimately in the long run, it would save the United States money, and there would be positive byproducts for the country, like a better relationship with China. China has a rooted interest in the region, because they have already invested billions of dollars there that they would not benefit from if war continues and spreads. For example, China has invested 8.5 billion dollars in Southern Sudan in oil, which if war were to spread to this region, China would not be able to have access to this investment.

John Prendergast suggests that Obama send high power officials to China, and then launch the Peace Surge. This would include a multilateral approach to peace where experienced negotiating teams are sent to the region, backed up by Obama, so they have credibility there. The time is quickly approaching for this Peace Surge to begin, because these leaders in Africa are waiting to see what will happen with this new president. John received several phone calls from Africa when Obama was elected, because people are excited for what this means for the continent. Many in Africa have trust in and respect for Obama, so this presents an incredible opportunity for peace there.

Each American has a key role to play in achieving peace in Africa. This will be addressed in the next and last post on this topic.


  1. This takes my learning a bit further than John could during the little presentation we went to together. I was planning to post about this today but not may just link to your blog and continue on about a similar issue. I love your concern about these things!!

  2. rad post cousin! lots of good information, I say as long as we can make sure those crazy mutant apes from "Congo" dont come back peace will be acheivable

  3. brooke I made a blog go check it out!