Economic Statecraft, Media Influence Strategies, and the Impact on Public Perceptions of Chinese Influence in African Countries

This paper empirically demonstrates that in African countries with higher proportions of citizens who believe electricity and water supply to be national priorities as well as higher proportions of citizens who consume news from television, positive perceptions of Chinese influence are higher. By identifying these relationships, this paper contributes to the discourse on Chinese economic statecraft and soft power in Africa, theorizing that economic statecraft is only effective when conducted in tandem with media strategies that attribute development projects to Chinese investment. Click post to view full paper.

The Humanitarian Hypocrisy of US Counterterrorism Policies in Uganda

The main analysis section of this paper provides examples of two humanitarian crises, the War in Northern Uganda and the abuse of the political opposition, and illustrates how the US is responsible for such humanitarian violations via two mechanisms: contributing directly to the abuses by supporting the Ugandan military which carries/allows them to be carried out, and accepting such abuses either as a result of the Ugandan government's use of anti-terrorism rhetoric to justify them or simply in order to maintain the counterterrorism partnership, thereby allowing such abuses to continue. Within this main analysis section, quotes from US officials and agencies are provided to highlight the hypocrisy of US humanitarian goals given its counterterrorism policies, with the exemplified crises and mechanisms evoking America’s culpability. Following the main analysis section, the latest US actions to address human rights issues are considered, raising the possibility that the two-decades long hypocritical policies might come to an end under the newly inaugurated Biden administration. However, the final section concludes that while progress is possible, the past twenty years of the US-Uganda counterterrorism partnership have not only undermined human rights and the humanitarian agenda purportedly championed by the US government, but that the counterterrorism partnership has ended up supporting state-sponsored domestic terrorism as well. 

Multilateral Trade Agreements Should Constitute the Cornerstone of Biden’s US-Africa Policy

On November 24, 2020, in her nomination acceptance speech to become the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield declared, “America is back. Multilateralism is back.” President Joe Biden echoed these remarks at the 2021 Munich Security Conference, proclaiming “America is back. The transatlantic alliance is back.” While this recommitment to multilateralism is welcome, it is imperative that the Biden Administration’s conception of ‘transatlantic multilateralism’ not be limited to that of relations with Western Europe.

Assessing Assumptions, Efficacy, Ethics, and Accountability of Humanitarian Organizations

Classic/emergency humanitarianism and resilience/alchemical humanitarianism—which constitute the two broad categories of humanitarian practice—maintain different assumptions and principles that affect their efficacy in implementing their respective goals. Classic/emergency humanitarianism rests on assumptions of humanitarian action being solely needs-driven and crisis-based, and employs Dunantist principles, such as impartiality and neutrality. Such assumptions and principles allow effective responses with respect to the stated goals of such organizations, though such responses are perhaps problematic when viewing humanitarianism through other lenses. Resilience/alchemical humanitarianism assumes that humanitarianism ought to remove the root causes of suffering and extend beyond immediate needs, thus requiring intrusions into politics and support for local capacity and response. While taking political stances may allow for solutions to more long-term problems, the overemphasis on local capabilities and ‘crises as normality’ can reduce the effectiveness of intervention and abandon vulnerable populations. Though the two forms of humanitarianism differ significantly, both would benefit from certain ethics—which would improve efficacy and humanity—when intervening in African societies, including: avoiding dehumanizing depictions of aid recipients and extreme relational dynamics, and consulting with local actors and recipients of aid. 

Democracy Disruption: The Second Wave of Global Authoritarianism

This paper characterizes the second wave as ‘democracy disruption’ rather than ‘autocracy promotion’ because while the strategy of disrupting the normative global hegemony of democracy is new, the core motivations and ultimate goals remain strategic and material. Authoritarian regimes are simply taking advantage of the great power competition in an increasingly multipolar world by altering the normative playing field for non-normative (i.e. strategic and material) ends. Therefore, in order to understand and assess the threat that this second wave of global authoritarianism and the emergence of ‘sharp power’ pose to democracies and democratic norms globally, it is imperative that this ‘democracy disruption’ characterization is adopted.

The Effect of State Capacity on the Comparative Employment Growth Rates of Government-Owned-Firms and Non-Government-Owned Firms: Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa

By examining the effect of macro-level political variables on firm-level economic variables, this paper attempts to more deeply understand micro-level political economy in a developing context. The results of this paper fill in the research gaps regarding the effects of state capitalism and political institutions (i.e., state capacity) on firm-level employment growth by demonstrating that in countries with high state capacity, government-owned firms have significantly lower employment growth rates than non-government-owned firms, whereas in countries with low state capacity, government-owned firms have significantly higher employment growth rates than non-government-owned firms.

Bobi Wine Profile

Robert Kyagulanyi Sssentamu, famously known by his stage name Bobi Wine (Bobi, a homage to his music idols Bob Marley and Bobby Brown, and Wine because he realized he only gets better with age), is a rapper/singer turned politician in Uganda. A member of parliament since 2017, Wine employs music to rally his People Power Movement in resistance to the autocratic, repressive, and corrupt rule of longtime President Yoweri Museveni’s government. In 2020, he became the leader of a small opposition party, the National Unity Platform, in order to run as a presidential candidate, challenging Museveni in the 2021 election. 

Under its current leadership, MassGOP has lost more than elections

This op-ed originally appeared in the Boston Globe *** In 2016, amid the Republican National Committee kowtowing to the policies and rhetoric emanating from our nation’s capital.of Donald Trump, my 16-year-old self, a political newcomer, found solace and a political home in the Massachusetts Republican Party. At the time, MassGOP offered a sharp contrast to… Continue reading Under its current leadership, MassGOP has lost more than elections

Mau Mau and the Kikuyu

First published in 1952 at the precipice of the Mau Mau uprising, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu is a short book by Louis Leakey, a Kenyan-born British paleoanthropologist. Intended for British audience, Leakey’s primary motive for penning the book stems from his desire to inform British readers about important Kikuyu customs (given his experience growing up among the Kikuyu and studying their traditions) and also to argue for how the introduction of British colonialism upended these longstanding social customs, ultimately resulting in grievances that brought about the Mau Mau uprising. In the first chapter, Leakey writes, “if we are to understand the underlying causes which made it possible for the movement to come into being and to reach the proportions which it has reached, we must know something of the history and customs of the Kikuyu” (1). Throughout the book, Leakey explains how the social grievances underlining the Mau Mau uprising stemmed from the breakdown of Kikuyu customs (such as those pertaining to the Kikuyu system of clan-based authority and marriage) resulting from British colonization and land dispossession. In contrast to A Grain of Wheat, which focuses on ties of Mau Mau to a broader Kenyan identity, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu specifically focuses on the breakdown of Kikuyu customs and identity as a result of colonization and as an impetus for Mau Mau. However, the two sources are similar in that they identify the breakdown of local customs and traditions stemming from European “modernization” and land dispossession as core grievances stimulating the Mau Mau movement.

It’s up to Gen Z to chart a new vision for the GOP

As we’ve grown up in politics, the Republican Party has gifted us many things: a political home, sound principles, and, most of all, each other. But while this party has brought our friendships closer together, its current iteration of right-wing Trumpian populism has been tearing our country apart. In a sense, we’ve become politically alienated, as rhetoric and policies move toward the extreme.