Trade Bottlenecks for Democratic Breakthroughs – THE INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS REVIEW
When the MS Ever Given, a container ship, ran aground in the Suez Canal on March 21, the world rediscovered how fragile global trade can be. While few could predict this bizarre saga in which a ship captain plotted a phallic course in the ocean before causing a major fiasco, many foresaw the need to diversify global trade routes.
Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic in search of another way to India. More recently, China has attempted to build a canal in Nicaragua to compete with that in Panama. Shipping companies turned to the US Navy to ensure safe passage around the most pirate-infested waters off the coasts of some African countries while the schedule for clearing the Suez Canal remained opaque. While this crisis lessened as the Ever Given was dislodged, this brief – and revealing – crisis shouldn’t be wasted. Lessons must be learned from the fact that one stranded ship caused a worldwide panic.
The United States can seize this fleeting opportunity to engage with African countries on maritime security with the aim of strengthening alternatives to bottlenecks like the Suez Canal. We need to strengthen ties with African countries; demonstrate America’s continued value as a global guarantor of freedom of navigation; and advance the cause of human rights and sustainable development on the African continent.
The relative absence of the United States from the African continent is inexcusable. Although Congress has consistently raised the issue of China’s relentless rise to power in Africa. Beijing is building a sinocentric world system “unconstrained by formal rules and procedures” that promotes authoritarian one-party rule, while America has been too inactive on the world’s fastest growing continent . This dynamic extends of course to the US military and the US Navy. Unlike the Chinese naval forces, which are used to intimidate and intimidate the maritime nations of the Pacific, the United States Navy is the world’s primary guarantor of freedom of navigation. The US Navy should seize this opportunity to extend its engagement in the face of Chinese mercantilism.
The United States should reaffirm its commitment to freedom of navigation and to the traditional American values of human rights and sustainable development. We must learn the lessons of this crisis by making a significant diplomatic effort to coordinate maritime security with Mozambique and the countries of the Gulf of Guinea (including Nigeria and Cameroon). These countries are particularly concerned about a remarkable increase in piracy incidents off their coasts which make them significantly more dangerous to navigation than the Horn of Africa. Such engagement can demonstrate America’s value as a defender of a rules-based order and a benevolent defender of freedom of navigation. In addition, future “Suez crises” can be mitigated by curbing piracy on alternative routes, thereby ensuring a safe and orderly flow of global shipping. U.S. Expected to Offer Increased U.S. Coast Guard and Navy Presence, Maritime Surveillance Tools, and Training Assistance for Maritime Security and Law Enforcement in Africa
Piracy is a critical issue of international security. It is symptomatic of the economic hardships, corruption and injustices that push individuals to join these seafaring gangs. Piracy can destabilize local economies by undermining the ability of coastal countries to act as trade poles, a critical stage in development. Furthermore, the outbreak of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea (where 95% of crew members have been kidnapped) and in the Strategic Mozambique Channel) increases the risk of future incidents in the Suez Canal.
The United States must make this a case study in the field of values-based diplomacy. President Biden’s inaugural address unequivocally affirmed democratic values and justice as the driving force behind his administration’s policies. Engaging with African countries whose human rights records are often laden cannot result in the kind of “realistic” complacency that has dictated America’s relations with countries like Egypt. American maritime security assistance must be offered because it benefits us, but it must also serve a purpose: to engage in dialogue about the policies and conditions of certain countries that exacerbate human suffering and conflict.
It is also true that China and Chinese fishing companies have desecrated the collective natural heritage of mankind, wiping out African fish stocks. There is strong evidence that these conditions and the exacerbation of impoverishment of Somalia’s fishing communities have led to the rise of piracy in Somalia. The United States should not improve maritime security so that the Chinese can make the very situations that we seek to improve upon worse. Engagement with African countries should seek to push regional blocs, such as the Economic Community of West African States, to toughen regulations and promote fisheries policies that prioritize the needs of local communities. , as well as to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies to break down smuggling networks.
Engaging with African countries on maritime safety and sustainable fishing will not be cheap or easy. On the one hand, Congress is quick to criticize China, but is slow to push for proactive engagement. Second, many may be reluctant to support the security apparatuses of countries like Nigeria and Cameroon, whose security forces have engaged in brutal crackdowns on civil unrest. Finally, many African countries may be reluctant to accept aid or discuss the enforcement of illegal fishing. After all, they’re much more used to dealing with Beijing and its unconditional investments than values-based diplomacy. In order not to spoil the lesson offered by the events of the week in Suez and by the years of China coming to preeminence in Africa, we must succeed in engaging with African countries on this issue so vital to the United States and the United States. global security. By drawing a straight line between security issues such as piracy and trade bottlenecks and issues such as fishing and corruption, we can better ensure that military assistance benefits local African economies and Africans. .
While it is possible that the Suez events are simply a bizarre moment relegated to the Wikipedia page devoted to weird historical events, we can also choose to use it as a new chapter in US-Africa relations. This is a unique opportunity to demonstrate the value of the United States as an international partner, our emphasis on the freedom of navigation and the defense of the environment as a priority. By working together, we can create sustainable development that is far greater than the mercantile subjugation of China and the theft of the sovereignty and economies of African countries.