Richard Haass, now back in the US from his stint in Northern Ireland has a couple of caveats (subs needed) to make on the general pitching of Africa as a key issue for the Group of Eight meeting in Scotland next week:
The last thing anyone needs is for the G8 to degenerate into an argument about levels of aid. Left out of simplistic calculations are investment flows, debt forgiveness, help from charities and market access. More to the point, aid is just an input and can be of little import, or even counter-productive, if it simply perpetuates dysfunctional policies and is not accompanied by governance reforms. Second, no discussion of Africa can be complete if it ignores the genocide taking place in Darfur in western Sudan. At a minimum, the G8 ought to increase and accelerate what it provides – intelligence, logistics, training, arms – to the force of the African Union.
We could be in for a remarkably high level of consensus on debt forgiveness and aid. But will the same be true for his second suggestion that the west take action on genocide? Or indeed the idea that difficult structural reforms will be key to ending endemic poverty on the continent?
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty