Saturday, August 16, 2003

Arms and the Man: The Curse of Africa

Arms and the Man

Why did Africa "crater" in the 90s? The usual explanation is demographic stress (Rwanda), climate change, HIV, and the end of the cold war.

Why was the end of US/Russian rivalry bad for Africa? The usual explanation is "lack of interest".

This fascinating NYT article suggests a related but deeper reason. When the Soviet Union collapsed, a vast array of weaponry became available at bargain basement prices. Out of the rubble a weapons distribution system emerged, and a network to process diamonds and other forms of payment.

The result was a flood of high tech weaponry into smoldering war zones; gasoline on a fire.

Without this last insult, might Africa have started to thrive in the 90s, the way I expected it to?

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