“The richest countries of the world are not in geopolitical competition with one another, fighting wars, proxy wars, or even engaging in arms races or cold conflicts,” author and journalist Fareed Zakaria famously observed.
To find a similar period of great power peace, you’d have to go back hundreds of years.”
According to Zakaria, the number of people who have perished as a result of conflict (in wealthy countries) has decreased by 50% this decade compared to the 1990s, and by 75% over the previous five decades. Indeed, these countries are regarded to be living in the most tranquil period in human history.
The industrialized world’s political stability has allowed for the development of a solid economic structure, allowing them to prosper and grow enormously. For example, the ordinary Chinese person is now ten times wealthier than he or she was 50 years ago, and projections suggest that one-third of all babies born in wealthy countries this year will live to be 100 years old.
Armed conflicts and civil wars, on the other hand, continue to be the norm in Africa and are only becoming worse. According to a review of the most recent events, at least 20 African countries would be involved in active armed conflicts by 2021. As a result, almost 30,000 Africans were ruthlessly murdered.
Growing violence and military tensions in African countries such as Ethiopia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, and Mali have resulted in a large number of deaths, exacerbated urban problems, stymied social progress, and locked these countries into an intergenerational cycle of poverty.
In contrast to a general reduction in other regions of the world, African states’ increased military spending is taking a growing share of their already restricted national budgets. According to available data, Africa’s military budget would top $43 billion in 2020, up from $15 billion in the 1990s.
We must recognize that when weapons become a national fixation, all other social and developmental requirements become a luxury. “Mankind must unite,” stated former US President John F. Kennedy on one occasion.
And, in my judgment, most of the armed conflict and violence in a large number of African countries is driven by resource competitiveness, corruption, inadequate government, and a failure to manage ethnic diversity and develop a single national identity.
There has been a persistent link between countries with lower GDP per capita, poor institutions, and the possibility of civil conflicts and armed conflict. A power struggle, a failed national election, and poverty, for example, are among the reasons that have contributed to Ethiopia’s two-year-long crisis.
While the reasons of these armed conflicts can be as varied and complex as the obstacles of resolving them, most parties – past and present – are essentially pursuing the same objectives. And for some reason, those in positions of power never learn from their mistakes — some are drunk on power and sick on ambition.
Watching countries like Libya, Ethiopia, Senegal, Sudan, and the Ivory Coast become mired in instability, lawlessness, and violence is heartbreaking. This is because, not long ago, these countries were the envy of the continent (and possibly the globe), and their economies were among the fastest expanding.
Since the late nineteenth century, the impact of war has had a succession of fatal but indirect consequences on many African economies, robbing countries of their developmental potential and democratic possibilities. The African continent has grown at the slowest rate of any of the world’s continents.
Surprisingly, Africa has never been more prone to violent wars than other regions, both historically and globally. Indeed, Africa’s share of the more than 180 million people who died in armed conflicts during the twentieth century is relatively small: there is no African equivalent to Europe’s First and Second World Wars, or even the civil wars and atrocities in revolutionary Russia and China in terms of sheer scale of casualties.
However, for many industrialized countries, war is a thing of the past, and they have learned from their painful past experiences that deploying force should not be one of the primary options in conflict settlement. In contrast to Africa, they have continuously used different engagement strategies to attain national goals.
Yes, I am aware that the African Union (AU) has attempted to address this issue in the past, but the majority of these initiatives have failed horribly. Take, for example, the African Union’s “Silence the Guns in Africa by 2020” project, which was established in 2013.
The goal of the program was to create a conflict-free Africa, avoid genocide, make peace a reality for everyone, and rid Africa of wars, violent conflicts, human rights violations, and humanitarian crises. By 2020, the leaders wanted to have all firearms silenced.
Clearly, rather than improving, the situation worsened in 2020, with the sad return of military coups in Africa after a lengthy period of absence, and the AU’s failure to actively intervene has further tarnished the Organization’s credibility.
Despite what former drug lord Pablo Escobar claims, not all empires, especially in the modern world, are built on blood and fire. A military siege is always costly, in terms of lives lost, time, energy expended, and money spent. With each conflict, we become weaker.
“Why can’t we finally grow up, take off our blindfolds, chart new paths, put our hands on the rudder, and set sail for the far goal, the port city of peace?” said Dr. Martin Luther King. We must discover an alternative to war if we believe that life is worth living and that man has a right to survive.