Walter Russell Mead recently addressed Aspenia Italia, the Aspen Institute’s Italian affiliate, on the geopolitics of Africa. While we couldn’t fly you all to sunny Rome, his remarks are now available to read.The crux of his analysis centered on competing visions for the continent:
There are also recent myths surrounding Africa, essentially two views opposed to each other. One view is the expectation of the African emerging giants of the 21st century: they are supposedly going to grow rapidly because they have so far to go. We’ve seen different countries from time to time seizing the headlines as the rising economy of the future, but Africa now runs the risk of being the next Brazil: the economic success story of the future that will always be so – whose time may never come.
On the other hand, we have Afro-pessimism: the Dark Continent, bad governance, poverty, and even outside powers struggling to keep it down just to exploit the continent’s resources. So there is a deterministic and pessimistic view of Africa’s future. The real answer is that one needs to be both more optimistic than many of the optimists and more pessimistic than many of the pessimists to capture the richness and the complexity, the opportunities and the dangers, of Africa’s evolution.
As ever when Walter is involved, we recommend reading the whole thing.