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As a Top Secret National Security Council (NSC) briefing put it in 1954, “the Near East is of great strategic, political, and economic importance,” as it “contains the greatest petroleum resources in the world” as well as “essential locations for strategic military bases in any world conflict.”Continued and in some cases increased foreign assistance following the September 11th attacks had the benefit of giving “the United States leverage on key foreign policy issues, since it can make assistance contingent on cooperation,” notes a recent RAND report.
But these assistance programs “can have a negative effect on democratic development by strengthening a state’s capacity for repression,” and as one study concluded “the more foreign police aid given [to repressive states], the more brutal and less democratic the police institutions and their governments become.”With the arguable exception of Portugal, France stands unique in modern political annals in the powerful and seemingly inseparable synergy between itself and its former African empire.
In Tunisia, the most recent developments could provide a catalyst for robustly proliferating democracies across the Maghreb, Africa, and indeed, the entire Arab world, or it could deteriorate into a situation like that of Algeria in the early 1990s, where democratisation was abruptly halted, and the country plunged into a murderous civil war, when it became evident that a democratically elected Islamist government might legitimately come to power.
Despite Washington’s obvious prior knowledge — at least in 2009 — of Tunisia’s blatant human rights violations, abuse of power and the existence of a police state, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress June 30 (2010) of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Tunisia for the refurbishment of 12 SH-60F Multi-Mission Utility Helicopters, being provided as Excess Defense Articles, and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of 2 million.“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for economic and military progress in North Africa.” In mid-April, The New York Times reported, “even as the United States poured billions of dollars into foreign military programs and anti-terrorism campaigns, a small core of government-financed organizations” channeled money to democratic movements within these countries.
there was always the emergency escape-hatch of out-migration to the developed world, or at least, to a less chaotic world.
The persistent challenge always remains — even in the developed nations with democratically selected institutions — how to protect the rights of minorities and other marginalized groups, from both democratically imposed “tyrannies of the majority” and the frequently intolerant and authoritarian tendencies of absolutist religious belief.Whether the end result will be good or bad is unknowable at this juncture, however, one can state with confidence that the probability for continuing and increasing social protest and unrest in 21st century Africa (and within the region) is substantial.In considering contemporary multiculturalism and the nascent democratic institutions which are presently being forged in the crucible of revolution, it is critical to remember that one shoe does not fit all — never has, never will.Indeed, the longer it takes for the blowup to occur, the worse the resulting harm in both economic and political systems.”Viewing a contemporary map of African countries shows the borders imposed on the African continent by the European colonizers during German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck’s Berlin Conference (1884).A map of Africa's tribal or cultural groups, however, reveals much more complexity.
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In the Post-Colonial period this boundless font of hope and energy has morphed into a less focused, less cohesive, and energetic phase in a general war against poverty.