Sunday, November 07, 2004

The New Colonialism?

French military involvement in Ivory Coast escalates, with very little impact on a world focussed on Iraq and the middle east. But like Iraq, this involvement has not secured the unanimous support of the effected country.

Comparisons with British involvement in Sierra Leone are inevitable - in both cases the European countries involved were former colonial powers. Is this the face of Tony Blair's EU/African task force?

Africa has highly complex internal politics partially because of the colonial legacy (tribal and ethnic groupings divided almost arbitrarily into countries on the basis of colonial frontiers) and equally complex and potentially volatile relationships with the European countries which ran these territories and decided on these borders.

As America discovered in Somalia in the early '90s, even intervention conducted with the best of intentions can falter. This is not to say that such intervention is unnecessary - the situation in Sudan could collapse at any time with horrific consequences, more that great care is needed that force is employed in the right way, with proper planning and with great care to avoid the perception that the Imperial mapmakers of the 18th and 19th century have returned.

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