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Power Cycle in International Politics: Africa’s Role in this Game – PRIO Blogs

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Amitav Acharya characterized the current world order as “a world of multiple modernities, where Western liberal modernity (and its preferred pathways to economic development and governance) is only a part of what is on offer”. A world, he adds, of interconnectedness and interdependence, and “not a singular global order, liberal or otherwise, but a complex of crosscutting, if not competing, international orders and globalism”.

Cold War in Africa in 1980. Source: Wikimedia Commons

This context pushes us to realize that there is no general agreement on what shape the “world order” will take in the decades ahead.

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What is certain, however, is that Western democracy is declining.

By using the Power Cycle theory lens in international relations, we realize that we are currently in the transition phase from a Unipolar system to Multipolar system. As such, we ask the question: what impact would a new international order mean for Africa’s political development?

The Power Cycle Theory

The Power Cycle theory claims that a state’s evolution involves a generalized, cyclical pattern of ascent, maturation, and descent.

This pattern of growth and decline is explained by changing rates of international economic and political development as well as power. Although every state theoretically is subject to the full cycle of growth, maturation, and decay, many have traversed only a small section of the curve in their entire existence. Power cycle theory asserts that the ability of a state to influence international politics and play a principal foreign policy role is determined in large part by its stage of evolution. Accordingly, as a state gains power in comparison with others, its capacity to exercise leadership expands; and as it falls behind, its ability to influence international politics diminishes. The role of the state is conceptualized within the international system.

The outcome of the Second World War led us into the confrontation between the world’s two superpowers (Western bloc, led by Washington and Eastern bloc, led by Moscow), often known as the Cold War. Hence, in the aftermath of this so-called Cold War, which took place between 1947 to 1991, the USA as a state uniquely “obtained a large share of total power increasingly”, and as consequence, they competed against themselves rather than against other states on the international stage.

From a Unipolar to Multipolar System:  The Cold War Dynamics in Africa

During this first major change in international politics, European countries, such as former colonial power France, were pushed to abandon their territorial countries in places such as Africa.

This allowed suppressed African states not only to seek for their independence, but also to choose in terms of who to align with between the two blocs. In many cases, the Cold War dynamics involved regime changes and a transition to independent states in Africa, and the process often was characterised by violence and political turmoil.

The post-Cold War period, also recognised as the second major shift in international politics in which Western allies increased their power significantly by creating new norms and tools of domination on the international stage. Through Neoliberalist institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group (WBG), and their structural adjustment programs, Western geopolitical dominance was extended to more countries in the so-called Third World. This process was characterised by the rise of Western democratic ideology through multi-party elections in regions such as Eastern Europe and newly independent African countries (Non-Aligned).

In Africa, the democratization process completely changed the political arena and the orientation of socio-economic development via economic liberalization and massive privatization across the continent[3]. The unipolar system limited African states capacity via the structural adjustment programmes and created conditions for the rise of new actors such as NGOs and other international organizations to play greater roles in these weak or fragile states in Africa.

In recent years, we have observed the rise of new superpowers such as China, and a return of old players such as Russia on the international stage, thereby posing a serious threat to the United States’ s domination. With a potential shift from a unipolar to multiple polar systems, we may also witness various dynamics leading to the decline or rise of some powers across the globe. Some may even say that we are currently in the transition phase into a new international order called “triangle power” between Western countries led by the USA, against Russia, China, and other players.

What would the implication of this new triangle power be on African countries?

The Role of Africa in the Game

Drawing on historical evidence, it is clear that the political and socio-economic development of African countries is directly linked to world geopolitics, and a changing world order has therefore direct implications on Africa’s current geopolitics. On the other hand, the resourceful continent remains an important player in the international stage. The growing influence and presence of big new players such as China and Russia may allow African countries to have multiple political and economic leverages on the international stage. In terms of choice, African countries seem to be diversifying both their economic and military partnerships outside US, France, and other Western states. Politically, we are currently witnessing a decline in Western democracy and the rise of authoritarian regimes through military coup d’état (e.g. West African states of Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Chad).

Through the lens of the Power Cycle Theory in international relations, we can arguably say that since the period of independence, the African continent has continued to be a battlefield for world’s superpowers in their search for total domination on the world’s stage.

However, and we say, however! Poor leadership displayed by the continent’s current leaders may become an undermining factor in utilizing this political leverage successfully. Consequently, the continent may fail to realise its strategic potential on world’s stage, and instead remain again a spectator and non-active political actor.

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Canada politics: NDP to talk health care with Trudeau – CTV News

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OTTAWA –

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said that he would sit down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday to discuss private health care ahead of next week’s summit with premiers.

Trudeau is expected to meet with provincial and territorial leaders in Ottawa next Tuesday to discuss a new health-care funding deal.

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“The deal will be a failure if it doesn’t include major commitments to hire more health-care workers,” Singh said Monday, adding that the funding should be kept within the public system.

The last time Trudeau and Singh met one-on-one, as outlined in the confidence-and-supply agreement between the Liberals and the NDP, was in December.

Singh said now is the time for the Liberal government to make clear that funding private health-care facilities will not improve the shortage of health-care workers Canada is facing.

On Monday, legislators’ first day back at the House of Commons after a winter break, the NDP requested an emergency debate on the privatization of health care. The request was denied.

During the first question period of the year, Trudeau said his government will continue to ensure the provinces and territories abide by the Canada Health Act.

“We know that even as we negotiate with the provinces to ensure that we’re delivering more family doctors, better mental-health supports, moving forward on backlogs, supporting Canadians who need emergency care, we will ensure the Canada Health Act is fully respected,” Trudeau said.

“In the past, this government has pulled back money from provinces that haven’t respected it. We will continue to do that.”

Singh said that while health care falls under provincial jurisdiction, he believes the federal government could be using the Canada Health Act more aggressively to challenge for-profit care.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government announced earlier this month that it’s moving some procedures to publicly funded, private facilities to address a growing surgery wait-list, which worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan have already made similar moves.

“We think the federal government should be making it very clear that the solution to the current health-care crisis will not come from a privatization, for-profit delivery of care. It’ll only come by making sure we hire, recruit, retain and respect health care,” Singh said.

“Health care is already dramatically understaffed, and for-profit facilities will poach doctors and nurses — cannibalizing hospitals, forcing people to wait longer in pain and racked with anxiety.”

The New Democrats say they’re also concerned that private facilities will upsell patients for brands and services not covered by the province, and tack on extra fees and services.

Singh spent some of Parliament’s winter break holding roundtable discussions on health care in British Columbia to discuss emergency room overcrowding and worker shortages.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.  

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Prime Minister stands behind newly appointed special representative on combatting Islamophobia – The Globe and Mail

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Amira Elghawaby, a human-rights advocate and journalist, pointed out that the specific sentence from a 2019 article co-authored that has raised ire – that Quebeckers appeared to be swayed by anti-Muslim sentiment – was not her opinion, but rather, a description of a poll’s findings.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood by his newly appointed special representative on combatting Islamophobia as the country marked the sixth anniversary of the deadly Quebec City mosque shooting, while the Quebec government and federal Conservatives called for Amira Elghawaby to step aside.

Outcry over her appointment dominated headlines in Quebec. The backlash stemmed from a 2019 article co-authored by Ms. Elghawaby – a particular line of which was perceived as showing anti-Quebec sentiment. The piece opposed Bill 21, the Quebec law that bans some public servants from wearing religious symbols, such as hijabs.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Ms. Elghawaby, a human-rights advocate and journalist, pointed out that the specific sentence that has raised ire – that Quebeckers appeared to be swayed by anti-Muslim sentiment – was not her opinion, but rather, a description of a poll’s findings.

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After criticism was raised last week, Mr. Trudeau said he expected Ms. Elghawaby to clarify her remarks, which she did, saying she does not believe Quebeckers are Islamophobic. Mr. Trudeau said Monday he is satisfied and wants to move forward.

Ms. Elghawaby’s mandate – to support the federal government in rooting out Islamophobia and highlight the diverse experiences of Canadian Muslims – has grown increasingly urgent. In recent years, hate crimes against Muslims have skyrocketed. And, over the past five years, Canada has taken the dark title of the Group of Seven nation with the highest number of Islamophobic killings, advocates note.

“There are anti-Muslim sentiments across Canada,” Ms. Elghawaby said. “This is not a Quebec issue. This is a Canadian issue.”

Amid the fracas, Ms. Elghawaby’s appointment is being celebrated by Muslim and non-Muslim advocates alike.

Stephen Brown, chief executive officer of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, or NCCM, said they are very happy to see Ms. Elghawaby’s appointment, noting she has a long history of advocating for Muslims, is bilingual and very dedicated.

He said the recommendation for the role came out of the National Summit on Islamophobia, in 2021, after the killing of four members of one Muslim family – the Afzaals – in London, Ont., which police said was motivated by anti-Muslim hate. Six Muslim men were killed and another 19 injured in the Quebec City mosque shooting in 2017.

Born in Egypt, Ms. Elghawaby was a baby when her family immigrated to Canada, where her father worked for decades as an engineer with the federal government and her mother raised her and her siblings in an east-end Ottawa suburb.

When Ms. Elghawaby decided to start wearing a head scarf – while studying journalism at Carleton University in the early 2000s – she recalled her father warning her against it. He worried about the barriers that a visible marker of faith could pose, she said.

“I remember telling him, ‘I really believe that Canada is a place where I can put on the head scarf and I can still contribute and I can still succeed,’” she said.

Despite the realities of Islamophobia – ones that cause her to be on guard while at mosque – Ms. Elghawaby said she has always had immense hope for Canada.

Over a career spanning two decades, Ms. Elghawaby has written for CBC News and held forth as a contributing columnist for the Toronto Star; been a founding board member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network; and worked with the National Council of Canadian Muslims and, most recently, for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

In interviews, several people said Ms. Elghawaby is known for her work building connections across communities.

Debbie Douglas, the executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, described Ms. Elghawaby as very concerned with how Islamophobia ties into women’s rights and to anti-Black racism, as well as issues of antisemitism.

She pays attention to “the need for real bridge-building and conversations,” Ms. Douglas noted. “You often found her where there’s lots of cross-cultural communications happening.”

Bernie Farber, chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, called Ms. Elghawaby the “perfect appointment.”

“We are living in very dark times,” he said. “Most people allow the darkness to envelop us. Amira is quite the opposite. She insists that there is light.”

He said Ms. Elghawaby has been instrumental in bringing Jewish and Muslim leadership together for difficult conversations. He also described doing trainings – he on antisemitism and she on Islamophobia – for police agencies.

And together, the pair authored the 2019 column that elicited criticism from some.

The pair wrote: “Unfortunately, the majority of Quebeckers appear to be swayed not by the rule of law, but by anti-Muslim sentiment. A poll conducted by Léger Marketing earlier this year found that 88 per cent of Quebeckers who held negative views of Islam supported the ban.”

Ms. Elghawaby said the pair had seen Montreal Gazette reporting on the poll, which stated that “anti-Muslim sentiment appears to be the main motivation for those who support a ban on religious symbols,” and that the poll found most Quebeckers supported Bill 21.

Mr. Brown, of the NCCM, said no one felt that Léger was “Quebec bashing” when it put those numbers out.

Sarah Mushtaq, a community advocate in Windsor, Ont., who writes columns for the Windsor Star, said Ms. Elghawaby’s kindness and wisdom – and ability to navigate tense issues – have made an impact on her.

Part of being a Muslim in the public sphere means that, sometimes, “no one is ever happy with what you said,” she said.

“You never know how certain comments are going to get dug up and misconstrued,” she added.

She said the role of a federal representative dedicated to combatting Islamophobia is “long overdue” and it’s important that a visibly Muslim woman is filling it.

“Despite the naysayers, there’s a lot of people who are grateful that this role exists,” she said. “We are behind her.”

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Parliamentarians kick off return to House of Commons with debate on child care

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Parliamentarians kick off return

The economy was top of mind for members of Parliament as they returned to the House of Commons Monday, with the Liberal government kicking off the new sitting with a debate on child care.

Families Minister Karina Gould tabled Bill C-35 last December, which seeks to enshrine the Liberals’ national daycare plan into law — and commit Ottawa to maintaining long-term funding.

The federal government has inked deals with provinces and territories in an effort to cut fees down to an average of $10 per day by 2026.

During a debate today, Gould said all parties should support the bill, and the national plan has begun saving families money.

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But Conservative MP Michelle Ferreri said the plan is “subsidizing the wealthy” while failing to reduce wait times for child-care spaces and address labour shortages in the sector.

Ferreri told MPs that the Conservatives would be presenting “strong amendments” to the legislation.

The debate comes amid concerns about a possible recession this year, with both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre saying their focus will be on the cost of living.

But Poilievre’s Tories may have little room to manoeuvre in the legislature.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters upon his return to the House of Commons that he does not believe there is any room to work with the Conservatives during the upcoming sitting.

Instead, the NDP says it plans to push the Liberals to fulfil the terms of the parties’ confidence-and-supply agreement, such as the planned expansion of federal dental care.

Under the deal signed last March, the NDP agreed to support the minority government on key House of Commons votes in exchange for the Liberals moving ahead on New Democrat policy priorities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.

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