Friday, 15 August 2014

#US Foreign Policy: Similarities in President Obama and Bill Clinton Approaches

Every week we look at an article that is making waves in the world of international relations. This week we look at the US foreign policy. The latest issue of Foreign Policy Magazine looks at the decline of America's world influence. In what they term as 'declinism', the issue, drawing largely from Samuel Huntington's postulation of American tendency to fear decline, looks at how America's global influence in dwindling. Paul Kennedy's book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers which has given a historical account of the rise and fall of great civilizations has been used as reference to this seemingly American decline. Has America hit the Peak as FP discusses?

Reading Stephen Walt's opinion in the FP Magazine, he tries to explore the FP prospects of Madam Hillary Clinton if she wins the Democratic nomination and win the presidential elections in 2016. Walt asserts that "With her knock against Obama, Hillary Clinton was criticizing [during her interview with Atlantic] more than one former president's foreign policy." He goes on to explain the similarities in foreign policy between President Obama and President Clinton. It makes an interesting reading observing the distinct similarities of the two when it comes to formulation, approach and execution of FP goals. Walt cheekily calls it Obama's  (Bill)-Clintonesque approach. See article for further analysis.


Thursday, 14 August 2014

CCM reading from KANU script, we all know what happened!

Having grown up and gone to school in Kenya at the height of their 'second liberation' one thing was clear: people power reigns. When the agitation for reforms started in the late 1980s, KANU government in a chutzpah fashion cracked its whip by harassing and jailing dissidents. Coinciding with the fall of the Berlin Wall that marked the triumph of liberal democracy, the reform agenda gathered momentum in not only Kenya but the world over. An intransigent President Moi and his government agreed to repel section 2A of the constitution and Kenya became a multiparty democracy in 1991. Despite the opposition loosing the 1992 and 1997 elections, they continued pressing the Moi regime calling for reforms. The opposition saw constitutional reforms as the only way out. When calls for minimum reforms were thwarted by the Moi regime in 1996, prior to the elections the following year, the writing was on the wall for Kenya. Moi went on to easily beat his opponents in the elections in 1997. 

Calls for reforms did not end there. The opposition together with other pressure groups coalesced demanding for change and constitution reforms. A Commission for Constitution Reforms of Kenya was set up in 2000 after intense pressure. Moi regime had began to cave. Despite the brouhaha, Moi continued to dillydally on the process. President Moi anointed Uhuru Kenyatta as his heir apparent since his term was coming to an end in 2002. This did not augur well with a section of KANU politicians who jumped ship. Led by Raila Odinga and a host of other political figures such as George Saitoti, Kalonzo Musyoka, Simeon Nyachae, Mwai Kibaki, Moody Awori, Charity Ngilu and many others coalesced and formed a formidable NARC coalition ahead of the 2002 election. Their agenda was to remove KANU from office and  a championed for a new constitution. Law and behold, the indomitable KANU was resoundingly defeated. Legends and tales of the 'Jogoo' party are still told to date. Ironically, CCM, the 'independence' party seems to be reading from KANU script. With the constitution process in Tanzania at a deadlock, CCM has refused to yield to the opposition demands. 

Tanzania is not Kenya when it comes to politics, neither is CCM KANU. But lest we forget, as Aldous Huxley postulates 'that men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach". 

Democracy versus Stability: Political Reconciliation and the Government of National Unity in Zanzibar

A Government of National Unity was set up in Zanzibar after protracted peace efforts between two historical rival parties CCM and CUF in 2010. The GNU was pre-election pact sealed after the Maridhiano Talks between the Zanzibar president Amani Karume and CUF leader Maalim Seif Shariff Hamad in November 2009.  This move heralded a new beginning in Zanzibar. Despite this fact, I assess in the article the prospects of democracy vis-à-vis stability in the isles.
Please find the full article from the digital forum Kujenga Amani, a forum of the African Peacebuilding Network (APN) of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) here: