Trump and Africa: reciprocity will be key

Original Content Provided by: Frank Samolis, as interviewed by Shannon Manders
Edited for the purposes of this site by: Lina Abisoghomyan
 
  Source: Africa Independent

Source: Africa Independent

The Players

 

Trump Administration- as presidential candidate made claims to take a strong stance on American jobs, and particularly to keep them in the US at any cost.

Obama Administration- did not, in fact surprisingly, expand the agreement. The PowerAfrica and Electrify Africa Act were huge steps for expansion of influence, and establishment of precedent for involvement in Africa. They are perhaps some of the few initiative the Trump administration will continue.

AGOA- this is the only trade agreement large enough to be considered a threat to American jobs. It is not, however. In fact, AGOA represents a positive opportunity for US jobs by having strong commercial ties to Africa that would drive up demand for American goods.

  Source: The Habari Network

Source: The Habari Network

The Background

There is no evidence to suggest radical changes to Africa policy with the new Trump presidency. Why? Simply because he doesn't have the capacity or power to do so. In fact, it's not even necessary unless for any reason the AGOA or any other Africa trade begins to directly affect American jobs. 

  Source: Dipnote

Source: Dipnote

The Story

The Trump administration would actually be more likely to continue to develop trade with Africa, particularly in the commercial sector by improving the AGOA. It is one of the few cases where liberalization would be beneficial to the campaign's goals. The exports to the US from Africa are mostly raw goods, and it would look like Trump may actually reach out for further negotiations. It may also serve the dual purpose of countering Chinese influence, by stabilizing vulnerable countries through an influx ofprivate money and public aid dollars. 

Cooperating, not competing, in Africa: a case for Transatlantic rapprochement

 

Original Content Provided by: Frank Samolis
Modified for the Purposes of this Site by: Lina Abisoghomyan
 
  Source: Somaliland Sun

Source: Somaliland Sun

 

The Players

African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA)-  is a free trade agreement incentivizing economic growth and open markets, including six African nations. Signed into law in May of 2000, it has been a huge step for US-African trade relations. The largest critique currently being made was that it did not actually facilitate the African products being circulated in global supply chains, and instead provided free and unlimited market access for pseudo-imperialist gains. 

US- A key partner in international markets, Barack Obama held the first ever US- Africa Leaders Summit in 2014 that expressed a strong interest in pivoting towards a strong trade agreement. Congress has the power to set out eligibility requirements that the African countries must adhere to.

EU- Another party that is interested in trade and investment in Africa, the EU uses EPA's, Economic Partnership Agreements, which vary based on the capacity of each country. It prefers to negotiate with each country individually, with deals that vary case to case. 

  Source: International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

Source: International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

The Background

A trade agreement with blossoming, resource-rich Africa is a key to Western nations with a high capacity for expansion and always looking for new partners. AGOA was an attempt to do just that, but the fact that it was so dragged out gave critics the ammunition they needed to to show why the deal was not mutually beneficial. 

 
  Source: Pintrest

Source: Pintrest

 

The Story

In analyzing what strategy would bring the greatest gains to both parties, that is, the African nations would be better off trading on the outside market in a way that is mutualistic and not zero-sum The US and the EU coming together to help create that united front was pushed forward by President Barack Obama during the 2014 US-Africa Leaders Summit, and AGOA is the form in which these efforts will continue. 

We Need Fact- and American Values-Based Debate on Border Wall

Original Content Provided by Brian Walch
Modified for the purposes of this site by Samantha Young
 
 Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

 

The Players

Donald Trump- Currently running for president as a Republican. One of the most notable aspects of his campaign is his emphasis on building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

 
 Courtesy of Big Bend News Wire

Courtesy of Big Bend News Wire

 

The Background

     Immigrants cross the U.S. border undocumented under terrible conditions and at risk for exploitation and suffering. Current breaks or gaps in the wall attract migrants that often meet an untimely end. 

 
 Courtesy of Immigration Impact

Courtesy of Immigration Impact

 

The Story

     Expanding upon the current protection with the Mexican border might just cause the U.S. more harm than good in the end. The cost of construction and upkeep as well as the potential success rate are all factors that need to be considered. 

     An alternative solution to the undocumented immigrant crisis in the U.S. may lie beyond a better wall. Development and progress in Mexico and Central America would tackle the root cause and result in less people feeling the need to cross the border into the U.S. for a better life. With the U.S.’s foreign policy goals of uplifting people in other countries, the U.S. may have better luck supporting these countries rather than shutting them out.

Original article may be found at:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/we-need-fact-american-values-based-debate-border-wall-brian-walch?trk=hp-feed-article-title-like

The Supreme Court Nominee Impasse

Original Content Provided by Brian Walch
Edited for the purposes of this site by Samantha Young 
 
 Courtesy of Tea Party Forward

Courtesy of Tea Party Forward

The Players

Antonin Scalia- Former conservative US Supreme Court Judge who passed away on February 13th, 2016, leaving an empty spot in the Supreme Court.

President Obama- The current lame duck, Democratic President of the United States.

The Senate- Currently controlled by the Republican Party. 

 Courtesy of NBC News

Courtesy of NBC News

The Background

        There’s been much argument about how and when the next Supreme Court Justice should be chosen. Democrats and Republicans clash as each party wants their respective party represented. Some Republicans have argued the nominee should be elected after Obama leaves office—this is good news for conservatives, who might have a chance if a Republican takes office as president next term. 

    The Senate usually works with the President to decide the next Justice. However, some have questioned this method of election.

 Courtesy of Slate

Courtesy of Slate

The Story

The next Supreme Court Justice is at risk of not being chosen until January 2017. With all the commotion and roadblocks to inducting our next Supreme Court Justice, it is not too far fetched to propose the nomination up for a vote amongst the public. The Constitution never advised against this—it’s perfectly constitutional and feasible. 

Original article may be found at:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/supreme-court-nominee-impasse-brian-walch?deepLinkCommentId=6116640430126874626&anchorTime=1458320720236&trk=hb_ntf_MEGAPHONE_ARTICLE_COMMENT
 

Tell Me How This Ends

Original content provided by James Stevenson
Modified for the purpose of this site by Samantha Young
 Courtesy of Russia Direct

Courtesy of Russia Direct

The Players

Russia- Supports the Assad regime along with Iran, and wants all anti-regime groups extinguished, including IS and similar groups.

Syria under Assad- Quickly losing power over Syria and is backed by Iran and Russia.

ISIS and other militant opposition- Gaining power and becoming increasingly difficult and complicated to defeat. Controls much of Syria.

The US- Interested in the ousting of Assad but also against many anti-regime groups such as IS.

 
 Courtesy of The Jerusalem Post

Courtesy of The Jerusalem Post

 

The Background

Russian relations with the Assad regime have historically been good for almost 50 years. In the past few years, Russia has supplied Syria with weapons and military advisors, and even has a naval facility within Syria. Iran shares similar interests in supporting the Assad regime. Despite their aid, Assad controls less than a fifth of original Syrian territory, and recently lost support of Hezbollah against the insurgents. Therefore, it’s confusing that Russia has only supplied limited intervention in Syria. The way things are going, the Assad regime will continue to lose power, and Russia will lose a major source of its influence over the Middle East. 

 Courtesy of Syrian Free Press

Courtesy of Syrian Free Press

The Story

After a prolonged absence from the UN General Assembly, Russia has returned to propose an international coalition to save the Assad Regime in Syria. This would require the involvement of Russia in the Syrian civil war, conveniently distracting from the current Ukrainian crisis and making the West look bad. With this proposal, Russia has stolen the power to lay down the Syrian settlement to Russia’s advantage to restore order in the country.

Under the guise of an anti-terrorist crusade, Putin’s real intention is to preserve the Assad regime and putting down all those who challenge it. Therefore, a settlement is key for Russia in order to preserve their interests. However, terrorist groups like IS and Jabhat al-Nusra are not likely to settle after the momentum they have gained so far. They continue to grow by massive numbers, in part thanks to international intervention from Shiite states and supporters such as Iran and Russia. It is not too far-fetched to imagine a temporary alliance amongst the terrorist groups in order to defeat these common enemies.

The Russian army is small and weak when put up against the massive terrorist forces in Syria. Additionally, this intervention, along with Iranian support, will only feed the fire.

The complex nature of this crisis renders things almost impossible to fix, but it is necessary. One could draw parallels between Russia’s Syrian intervention to the US’s Iraqi intervention—minor involvement in a serious crisis, and neither with much success. Furthermore, both countries are dangerously close to outright support of Shia and Iran, and choosing sides in the Sunni-Shia divide could have major consequences.

Despite the US’s lack of support for Assad, they certainly don’t want the insurgents to succeed, which would lead to certain genocide against all those who don’t share their radical Islamist views. Again, this is a complex situation. The only answer is to defeat IS and the other threatening militarized opposition. The only way to do this is a large military intervention—but by who? Surrounding Sunni states have no stakes in intervening, and Russia, Assad, Iran, and Iraq are not powerful enough. Even the US would have to make a massive effort to defeat IS, at the cost of countless lives and funds. There’s limited potential with a proxy war, but similar past efforts in the Middle East have failed.

Even if IS could be defeated, there’s no telling what would rise in its place. It could be another Islamic insurgent group even more powerful. It’s hard to see the end of such a wicked problem.

Climbing Out of Kleptocracy

Original content provided by Stable Outcomes
Modified for the purposes of this site by Niall Patrick

The Players

Liberia- Located in the Southern part of West Africa and is Africa's oldest republic. 

Kleptocracy- A form of government where the people in charge seek to create personal gain at the expense of the citizens being governed.

Poverty- About 50% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa are in extreme poverty. They are living on $1.25 or less per day. 

 
 Courtesy of TC Daily Planet 

Courtesy of TC Daily Planet 

 

The Background

Corruption is Collective.

While Liberia demonstrates many incremental successes since climbing from the bottom of international corruption rankings following decades of conflict, successful navigation of the Liberian working environment requires an empathetic reality check to understand, ethically navigate, and influence institutional change. While the clichés of shady characters in dark offices accepting brown paper bags of cash do exist in Liberia, a clear view of its endemic corruption requires a look at the ground-reality at corruption’s lowest echelons. While countries of vital foreign policy interest like Somalia, Afghanistan, and Sudan still hold the bottom rungs of the rankings, Liberia offers a great test-case as a nation in transparency recovery.

In our work in Liberia, we’ve encountered a wide swath of ethical challenges as small groups and even individuals exploit vulnerabilities and chokepoints: government offices delay needed documents, hospital workers pad out invoices, contractors take a loose view of their contracts, and police checkpoints often serve little function other than to extort small bribes.

 
 Courtesy of Blog Transparency 

Courtesy of Blog Transparency 

 

The Story

Stable Outcomes is working to provide help and guide ethical business behavior in Liberia. They have noticed that individuals have exploited weaknesses of business in Liberia. Corruption exists in multiple forms in Liberia. Stable Outcomes looked to expose these unethical business behaviors by looking at the lower levels of business. They found that most unethical behavior is coming from desperate need. In other words, workers with low salaries, war torn victims, and child soldiers are all part of the unethical behavior that exists in Liberia. Workers constantly find themselves able to cheat out their bosses or clients. It is a situation much different from here in the United States and will continue to harm businesses in Liberia unless something is done about it.

Empowering Women in the Liberian Workplace: A Case Study of Gender Integration on the Kwendin Biomass Energy Project

Original content provided by Stable Outcomes
Modified for the purposes of this website by Niall Patrick

 

The Players

Kwendin Village, Nimba County- A small village located in the central North region of Liberia.

Stable Outcomes- A capacity building firm that identifies a means and a mechanism of re-stabilizing communities post-conflict and post-disaster. 

 
 Courtesy of Stable Outcomes

Courtesy of Stable Outcomes

 

The Background

Recently, my team and I were asked to document how we were able to effectively include women on projects in rural Liberia, where our female staff are working in non-traditional roles seamlessly alongside their male counterparts. We would like to share this information with our colleagues across the world to use in their endeavors. 

 
 Courtesy of Stable Outcomes

Courtesy of Stable Outcomes

 
 

The Story

Stable Outcomes is an organization that works on projects in Africa. They recently have been trying to include women on these projects to provide examples of how they work alongside the men. In Liberia they are working to integrate women into their energy project. For the Kwendin Biomass Energy project, in Kwendin, Nimba, Stable Outcomes have been working to guide personnel to hire women in skilled labor positions. They were able to achieve their goal of showing that women can work alongside men. 


Original article may be found at:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/empowering-women-liberian-workplace-janiece-marquez?trk=hp-feed-article-title-share

Keep Calm and Carry On

 
Original content provided by James Stevenson
Modified for the purposes of this site by Samantha Young
 Courtesy of Heartbeat International

Courtesy of Heartbeat International

 

The Players

The U.S.- A major world power with interests in the Middle East and the power to intervene in the rise of ISIS and other various threats to the region.

The Assad Regime- The current government of Syria with Bashar Assad at the helm. Currently being challenged by anti-Regime rebel groups and ISIS.

ISIS/Daesh- Islamic extremists who have quickly rose to power in Syria and threaten the surrounding Middle East, notably Iraq.

Iraq- Still recovering from the wake of the Iraq War, Iraq is additionally threatened by the rise of ISIS.

Russia & Other Middle Eastern Countries- Other players with various conflicting interests yet almost universally united against ISIS.

 
 Courtesy of Truth Revolt

Courtesy of Truth Revolt

 

The Background

The U.S.’s long-term involvement with the chaos and crisis infesting the Middle East is drawn out, tiring, and sometimes seemingly hopeless. Panic and disorganization sweeps the U.S. as we stumble over our foreign policy towards the Middle East and something needs to change.

 

Similarly, the Middle East is also falling, marred by increasingly complicated and conflicting interests among states. Syria has devolved into crisis over rebel groups and ISIS, with Russia and Iran backing the Assad Regime because of their interests and investments in the country. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia and Turkey oppose both Iran and the Assad Regime. Iraq is caught in the middle, racked by conflict between various ethno-religious groups. The U.S. wants to oust Assad, yet is fighting with similar goals alongside every other country to defeat ISIS. To add even more complexity, these Middle Eastern states value the annihilation of ISIS on different levels, due to their own problems taking precedence.  .

 
 Courtesy of the Middle East Monitor

Courtesy of the Middle East Monitor

 

The Story

In the midst of this confusion and loss, the U.S. needs to draw from the clear-headedness of Britain during WWII, notably remembered from their influential poster depicting the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

 

A highly militarized attack in Syria and the Middle East was too risky in this situation, and the U.S. rightfully held back. However, notable criticism has stemmed from this apparent indecision and reservation to join the Syrian civil war.

 

In Iraq, ISIS has been prominently halted in their progress, thanks to the U.S. as well as other foreign intervention. It is in the U.S.’s interest for the Iraqi forces to have the power to defeat ISIS in their country. However, Syria has its own myriad of additional problems that complicate the situation in terms of U.S. interests, justifying the hesitation to make such a giant commitment in terms of military forces.

 

In taking responsibility of fighting ISIS in Syria, however limited, the U.S. is paradoxically supporting the Assad Regime in enabling them to focus on their own opposition. But left untouched, ISIS would similarly wipe out Regime opposition. Without U.S. intervention, all fighting groups would slaughter each other and everyone involved—including innocents. Of course, the self-destruction of Syria and the resulting massacre of Syrians is not a U.S. interest. Therefore, the U.S. is put in a tough situation, in which ISIS cannot be fought in Syria without implications on political strife within the region, and the U.S. cannot intervene in a way that satisfies all of its interests.

 

Since the early 2000s, the U.S. has been caught in this “Long War,” a termconceived by General John Abizaid. There’s no clear victory is sight, and even less of a concept on how to get there. Therefore, the U.S. needs the morale and determination of WWII era Britain, because this fight will be a long one.