The Instigator
DylanDraper1993
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Volkov
Pro (for)
Winning
4 Points

Should countries in Africa become a political and economic union?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Volkov
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/13/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,894 times Debate No: 12326
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)

 

DylanDraper1993

Con

Hello. I welcome anyone to accept this debate, and to he/she who does I thank you.

In my argument i will show that the African Union, similar to the EU, is a bad thing, and does more harm than good. As Pro you will need to convince me that the AU will do more good than harm. We must both refute each others main points or simply yield them to their opponent. You may use as many rounds as provided to refute your opponents points or strengthen your own. We both carry "Burden of proof" Happy Hunting.

Africa has always been a continent in constant turmoil. There are several things that make Africa so prone to violence.

As you may know the AU was established on July 9th 2002, the current members include almost all of mainland Africa and some coastal islands. With a total of 53 independent African nations, it makes it the number one INGO in Africa. The AU was created out of a need for personal gain. The AU is, in part, the brainchild of Libya's Muammar Qaddafi.

1) Africa's biggest problem is that its countries are remnants of colonial empires. In the post-colonial period, borders were drawn between states randomly, creating ethnic tension and geographic dissonance. This is shown in other places in the world such as the middle east, where after WWI boarders were drawn with little thought for the people who lived there; we still see the repercussions of this in modern Middle east. I use this example because it is a more well known example.

2)A pan-African organization must be willing to stand up to African dictators and military rulers. Does Africa have the resources or the willingness to do this? The African Union's economy totals $1.515 trillion, ranking it 11th after Brazil. At the same time, they have a combined total debt of $200 billion. However, how much are the member nations willing to give up in order to create an all Africa police force, provide medicine, food, and water? It is my understanding the with the current tension between countries in Africa some nations may not want their money to be spent on helping these nations, and could thus bring the AU to a disagreement worth disbanding for. Already nations are leaving the AU due to political mistrust, and others are forced to leave due to situations within their government. [1][4]

3)The OAU, forerunner of the African Union, can only be judged as an abysmal failure. It failed to challenge any major dictator on the continent and stood aside while civil war, ethnic conflict, poverty and disease ravaged ordinary Africans. How is it possible that with the same list of members and similar procedure they can stop anything that was happening under the OAU? [2]

4) The AU's model, the EU, is still a work in progress and has flaws. The mighty EU has seen some tough time lately. With the current P.I.G.S crisis that will still have repercussions in the future. [3]

5) In October 2002, Muammar Qaddafi withdrew his country, Lybia, from the Arab League. His foreign minister is now called the secretary for African Unity Affairs and he has renewed calls for a United States of Africa, possibly with him as its first President. He has mentioned time and time again how it has been his personal goal to lead Africa. He does this out of a need for power, nothing more.

African Union will end up doing more harm than good to the continent of Africa as it is prone to destabilization.

-=Sources=-
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://allafrica.com...
Volkov

Pro

I thank my opponent DylanDraper1993 for this interesting topic to debate. As an avid studier of international politics, I find the prospect of an European Union-like alliance among African nations a very fascinating prospect indeed.

Since my opponent believes the AU will be similar to the EU, my argument will make most sense in the context of the European Union's current, and ever-evolving, system of federation. In lamence terms, it'll be modelled on the EU. I do this, as I think my opponent does as well, for simplicity and context.

Before I get into my argument, I'd like to point one thing out that my opponent has made a mistake on: the idea that the African Union was the "brainchild" of Libya's rather eccentric dictator, Muammar Qaddafi.

While it is true that Qaddafi has had a major influence on the idea of the AU, it's an idea that has been around a lot longer than him. The confluence of several past organizations, leaders and ideas lead to the creation of the entity, including the aforementioned Organization of African Unity (OAU), the African Economic Community (AEC, similar in scope to the EEC - European Economic Community), Thabo Mbeki (a strong supporter of the Union), the West African Monetary Zone - and the list goes on and on. Qaddafi is far from the only influence on this idea. It's an idea that has been floated by leaders from all over Africa for years, and it's important to recognize their influence and passion for the idea as well.[1]

Anyways, into refutations of my opponent's arguments:

1. Africa's biggest problem is that its countries are remnants of colonial empires.

Absolutely. What does this have to do with the AU? Aside from the fact that the AU can, and has, helped resolve border disputes among these very fault lines.[2]

2. A pan-African organization must be willing to stand up to African dictators and military rulers.

Again, absolutely. At least, that is what our democratically-inclined Western minds like to think. The problem, unfortunately, is that Africa is not a place known for its hilariously strong democracies[3]. Most members of the AU are in fact countries ruled by dictators and military juntas, with the smattering of democratic nations in between. This presents a very different situation as compared to the European Union, where all countries have strong democratic traditions. Even in the African nations that do have functioning democracies, often times it is ruled overwhelmingly by one party, exemplified by the African National Congress in South Africa[4], Namibia's SWAPO[5],. Only in a few countries (Ghana, for instance[6]) is there a competitive party system. How does my opponent expect many of these nations to stand up for democracy, when democracy itself isn't working to well in most of their countries?

That, of course, doesn't excuse anything, but it does bring up a very good point. Africa's nations entered into this Union with the idea that it would help build better diplomatic, economic and political relationships between the member nations, as well as the greater world. The AU, like the EU, exists for the purpose of uniting African countries around the cause of pooling their collective resources into one voice that can carry some weight. The AU does not therefore have to act against non-democratic countries, so long as those countries are not causing horrific problems both internally and externally. Countries that do, have been promptly suspended and intervened in, such as Guinea, Niger, Madagascar, and Eritrea, and Somalia[7].

As for the rest of my opponent's assertions here; the current state of African affairs is far from pleasant, that is for sure. But the AU has provided funds for policing operations, for medicine, for hunger operations, for economic help, for diplomatic issues, etc. Disagreements are rife, yes, but does a disagreement always need to lead to the disbanding of an alliance such as this? If this were true, the EU should've been disbanded several times over, in the past five years!

3. The OAU, forerunner of the African Union, can only be judged as an abysmal failure.

I wouldn't necessarily say that, though it didn't live up to its name, did it? The fact is that it was disbanded for the very reasons described by my opponent; member nations didn't think it was working very well. They decided to try their hand with the African Union, which has seen improvements in these areas, as I've noted above.

4. The AU's model, the EU, is still a work in progress and has flaws.

So? The EU will always have problems. That is the nature of any federation, especially any international federation. The key is that these federations exist in order to overcome these problems. Disbanding the AU doesn't help this. As well, to note, the EU crisis is currently born out of the problem of a single currency and the lack of political will on the part of some EU countries to do anything before it was politically expedient for them to do so[8]; the AU does not have a single currency, has no plans at current to create a single currency, and will probably not come to this for a very, very long time.

5. In October 2002, Muammar Qaddafi withdrew his country, Libya, from the Arab League, etc.

Qaddafi says a lot of things. The problem is, no one really follows him. Even the AU, which my opponent calls the "brainchild" of Qaddafi, was chaired by South African President Thabo Mbeki at first, backed with overwhelming support. You'd think Qaddafi, the power hungry, African-uniting dictator would at least be able to get support from his fellow Africans!

"African Union will end up doing more harm than good to the continent of Africa as it is prone to destabilization."

Possibly, but so could the Union of the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Organization of American States, the Federation of Micronesian States, et al. I don't necessarily disagree that the AU *could* lead to destabilization, but I don't agree that it *will*. It's done a job well enough so far, considering how much is really against it.

Here is my argument:

a) African nations, as with any other continent or grouping of nations, is strengthened by better diplomatic ties with neighbors. The African Union provides a common forum to strengthen these ties, including a common arbitrator for grievances, a neutral force for intervention and moderation in disputed or violent areas, as well as common forum to host and start diplomatic treaties.[9]

b) Africa is blessed with beautiful and abundant natural resources, resources which are the target of the world's powers, including the ever-hungry China, which already has sent out huge diplomatic missions to African nations[10]. The African Union, with its large grouping of mineral rich countries, could enter on to the international stage as a very large player with a very large carrot and stick. Only by banding together can African countries hope to achieve this, as individual countries, while strengthened by themselves, would never carry as much weight. Much like the EU, a collective effort can help increase influence, power and prosperity.

c) In light of these factors, it only makes sense for the continuation of the AU. It's game theory at its most basic; the AU fosters non-zero-sum relationships between African nations, by increasing diplomacy and communication, benefiting African nations, and through this, working towards creating a common front against the greater powers in the world. Non-zero-sumness is good, and should be promoted for the betterment of member states.

Thank you, and I look forward to the next round.

Sources:

1. http://bit.ly...
2. http://bit.ly...
3. http://bit.ly...
4. http://bit.ly...
5. http://bit.ly...
6. http://bit.ly...
7. http://bit.ly...
8. http://bit.ly...
9. http://bit.ly...
10. http://bit.ly...
Debate Round No. 1
DylanDraper1993

Con

First and foremost, I thank my opponent Volkov for deciding to debate with me, and I hope that it yields to be an informative and fun debate. I also apologies for making you wait so long, i had hoped to get this up sooner but stuff got into the way.

I would first like to point out my opponent's accusation that I have made a mistake in saying that the AU is the brainchild of Muammar Qaddafi. Whilst I understand that the idea of a unified African INGO had been bounced around. This is clearly shown by the fact that Africa had already attempted to create such an organization with the OAU; however, Qaddafi was the first to use his political power to put the wheels in motion on the AU, and also the first to suggest the devolvement of the OAU in order to substitute it with a new INGO. Whilst Qaddafi is not the only influence in the creation of the AU, he is certainly the largest. [2]

"Absolutely. What does this have to do with the AU? Aside from the fact that the AU can, and has, helped resolve border disputes among these very fault lines."

It has, but has only resolved what experts believe to be the easiest much like the Arab League has in the Middle East. There are still many boarder disputes, ones that have lasted over 20 years where neither side shows any side of letting up. Eritrea and Ethiopia is a prime example. How is it possible for the AU to settle a dispute when one of the members in question was kicked out by the very organization? If the AU is to achieve all of the things that it has set out to do, then it must be much more diplomatic than it has been in the past. If the AU wishes to survive then it should stop closing off the world from it and start to accept help from the few who are willing to give it. [1]
What my main point in saying that, however, is that when you create an INGO, such as the AU, when there are boarder disputes in the region then you tend to have an internally competitive INGO. That INGO is the AU and its continuation is false hope to citizens of Africa.

"How does my opponent expect many of these nations to stand up for democracy, when democracy itself isn't working to well in most of their countries?"

I wish to clarify, as it seems something has gotten lost in translation. I do not care whether the AU stands up for democracy. I am saying that the AU must be first and foremost willing to come to the aid of civilians in a country in Africa if their lives are threatened, like you said That once again brings me in a circle. Some nations don't want to have their money spent where the AU wants to spend it. We can once again come back to Eritrea and Ethiopia. Fighting a war for 20 years can put a strain on a relationship. Even today, the embassies are both vacant and vandalized. Boarder protection along the two nations is almost air tight, showing how much these nations hate each other Eritrea openly asked the Arab League to fight a Jihad against Ethiopia. The members quickly refused, but the hate continues to this day. [3]
If, at one point, Ethiopia attacked Eritrea and Eritrea asked for help from the AU then the AU should be both willing and committed to spend the resources necessary. But how would Ethiopia feel about that? Would they retaliate against the AU? I think it's a safe bet to say the Arab League, not the African Union, would back Eritrea, despite its recent indecencies, while the US would back Ethiopia. The AU simply doesn't have the resources to stop war. [1]

"If this were true, the EU should've been disbanded several times over, in the past five years!"

I can think of no reason in the past five years that would have caused the EU to disband. The closest thing I can think of is the current PIGS state. You may be referring to a few smaller arguments in Europe, but nothing in the past five years can hold a candle to the atrocities in Africa.

"I wouldn't necessarily say that, though it didn't live up to its name, did it?"

Quite correct, however I stand on the fact that the OAU was an abysmal failure. Its only success was in preserving the notion of sovereign borders in Africa. Idi Amin, the former Ugandan despot, even served as the OAU chairman for a brief spell. [5]

"The EU will always have problems"

True, but noticing that and not doing anything to change your own system is not the brightest thing in the world. Having your organization founded on a broken format further strengthens my point.

"The African Union provides a common forum to strengthen these ties, including a common arbitrator for grievances, a neutral force for intervention and moderation in disputed or violent areas, as well as common forum to host and start diplomatic treaties.[9]"

Mealy providing a place where delegates from nations can meet and discuss things is not enough. Sure, it's the best place to start but when you achieve nothing then what's the point? With the state of Africa as it is this just isn't good enough.

"Africa is blessed with beautiful and abundant natural resources, resources which are the target of the world's powers, including the ever-hungry China, which already has sent out huge diplomatic missions to African nations[10]. The African Union, with its large grouping of mineral rich countries, could enter on to the international stage as a very large player with a very large carrot and stick. Only by banding together can African countries hope to achieve this, as individual countries, while strengthened by themselves, would never carry as much weight. Much like the EU, a collective effort can help increase influence, power and prosperity."

Yes, but an entire Africa as a nation would not only highly improbable, but I would say impossible. With the many disputes there are some nations in the continent of Africa that wouldn't stand to be united under one flag. The nations staying separate insure that each and every one gets to take the path that it chooses. Letting the AU carry on its ambitions would be a violation of national sovereignty.

And now I bring you to my new point:

1)The AU is putting the cart before the horse. As UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has noted, "no amount of aid or trade will make the difference" unless war ends on the continent. There is too much distrust amongst the AU's membership already: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone all accuse each other of backing rebel movements in their respective civil wars. The UN is asking regional organizations to shoulder some of its "peace and security" responsibilities out of desperation, not as part of some strategy. In Kosovo, NATO had to intervene because Russia blocked any UN action at the Security Council. There are no other successful examples of regional organizations (i.e. ASEAN, APEC, OAS) getting involved in a military conflict. [6]

I look forward to your reply.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://allafrica.com...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Volkov

Pro

I thank my opponent for this debate, and hope he enjoys it as much as I do.

"It has, but has only resolved what experts believe to be the easiest much like the Arab League has in the Middle East. There are still many boarder disputes, ones that have lasted over 20 years where neither side shows any side of letting up. Eritrea and Ethiopia is a prime example. How is it possible for the AU to settle a dispute when one of the members in question was kicked out by the very organization?"

Whether or not the disputes are hilariously large is not a consequence; the EU did not originally start off, reworking the borders of Europe on a grand scale. The AU, like all young organizations, has to start off slow before it can truly start shifting its weight around.

As for Eritrea, there is no reason why the AU cannot still mediate any disputes. It may be that they are suspended, but the AU is still a trans-national group which will work as objectively as it can to settle disputes. Eritrea would most likely appreciate that.

"What my main point in saying that, however, is that when you create an INGO, such as the AU, when there are boarder disputes in the region then you tend to have an internally competitive INGO."

Competition, last time I checked, was good[1]. Rights conflict, whether over borders or immigration or influence, is an essential part of the diplomatic process. The AU's purpose is to be a forum for these competitive disputes to work out a solution without resorting to violence. The AU is, above all, an international federation; federations are internally competitive, and the federal government is there to provide a common, objective forum. The AU is well positioned to be this forum.

"I wish to clarify, as it seems something has gotten lost in translation. I do not care whether the AU stands up for democracy. I am saying that the AU must be first and foremost willing to come to the aid of civilians in a country in Africa if their lives are threatened, like you said."

As mentioned before, the AU is a federation. Like the EU, it's deliberative processes are slow. There's no doubt about that. Resources, as well, are not always allocated how they should be. But this overall is a case for reform of the system, and not against it. You yourself admit, directly or indirectly, that if the AU had more effective resources, they would be able to handle these threats, much like the EU. Thus your case will then rely on whether or not corruption and bureaucracy can be battled in the AU and the African nations which power it, in order to make it a more effective body, which is definitively the case[2].

"I can think of no reason in the past five years that would have caused the EU to disband."

The Lisbon Treaty, the Turkey Question, the invasion of Georgia, the attacks on Madrid and London, the many Parisian riots, the Swiss referendum on minarets, the rise of far-right and anti-democratic parties, the way forward on free speech, Afghanistan, Iraq, the banking crisis, Russian oil cutoffs, Ukraine in general, Balkan War trials, Gaza and Israel - all these things, within the past few years, which have tested the mettle of the European Union and its constituent countries, and could have lead (and already did) to deep divisions within the EU. Maybe they are not the issues that the much more unstable African nations need to deal with, but they are certainly issues which face Europe Union almost every day of its existence.

It is clearly a common occurrence that transnational organizations, like the AU or the EU or whatever, will come across these issues. How they end up handling them, whether through deliberation and diplomacy, or through violence and coercion, is what you can pin success or failure on.

"True, but noticing that and not doing anything to change your own system is not the brightest thing in the world. Having your organization founded on a broken format further strengthens my point."

As far as I am aware, the main things the AU inherited from the OAU was its members list (kind of obvious, since African nations = those in the OAU), and few provisions, as well as its chairman, though he was elected to the position separately.

If, say, the EU followed another, less successful organization, but inherited the same countries as it, would you say the EU followed its broken format, even if 90% of its structure and provisions are different? Or would you say that the EU is more likely located in the same geographical space as this precursor?

Unless you can prove that the AU was founded with exactly the same provisions as the OAU, then your argument amounts to nil.

"Mealy providing a place where delegates from nations can meet and discuss things is not enough. Sure, it's the best place to start but when you achieve nothing then what's the point? With the state of Africa as it is this just isn't good enough."

What you are asking for, then, is the AU with a completely different, and much more aggressive, role - one of judge, jury and executioner. This, however, is not in the tradition of the example of the EU, which is simply a common forum and federation for European nations, who wish to throw around their weight in the world as a stronger collective, rather than weaker individuals.

As you noted, its the best place to start. I believe it's the only way to start; Africans, more than anything, needs to talk to each other. They need ways to settle disputes without resorting to violence. The process may be long, and it may be painful, but like the EU, you can't do it overnight. If African nations have the ability to appeal to a common forum to discuss problems with neighbors, whether political, military or economic, then the chances of avoiding the very violence which plagues Africa is greater. Is that not good enough?

"Yes, but an entire Africa as a nation would not only highly improbable, but I would say impossible.... Letting the AU carry on its ambitions would be a violation of national sovereignty."

They have said the same thing about the European Union, yet decades on, despite centuries of grievances, wars and petty fighting, the EU is an extremely close, tight-knit group of nations which co-operate on everything from cattle trade[3] to foreign policy[4]. It may be improbable as the situation currently stands, but in time, the AU may end up as close as the European Union, a successful initiative if there ever was one.

"The AU is putting the cart before the horse."

Not at all. The AU is setting up what any run-of-the-mill federation would; common arbitration, common military forces made up of constituent countries, common trade areas, etc. Furthermore, the AU's military capabilities are aimed mostly towards peacekeeping - something that the NATO bombardment was not originally designed to do (later groups, such as EUFOR and the UN Mission in Kosovo, are the true peacekeeping forces). This means the AU forces will, and should, only be used to try and keep the peace in war-torn countries, thing they have done with some success[5], and of course, some failure. That is their mandate, and they're doing it.

My opponent has failed to make a convincing case against the African Union. Though the situation is far from perfect, as with any good thing, time will tell. And because the African Union, contrary to my opponent's stances, has helped foster better diplomatic relations, has helped resolve conflicts, and has already provided a common forum for Africans in order to avoid the very violence my opponent claims make this idea impossible, the African Union can, therefore, be considered successful in its mission.

Thank you, and I look forward to the final round.

Sources:

1. http://bit.ly...
2. http://bit.ly...
3. http://bit.ly...
4. http://bit.ly...
5. http://bit.ly...
Debate Round No. 2
DylanDraper1993

Con

DylanDraper1993 forfeited this round.
Volkov

Pro

Shame, such a good debate gone to waste.

My opponent clearly didn't counter my arguments well enough to warrant a "win" in this case. I hope we can redo this eventually, as the forfeit really is quite disheartening.

Thank you, and vote PRO.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Volkov 6 years ago
Volkov
Really, Dylan? You think you deserved the conduct point?
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Vote Placed by DylanDraper1993 6 years ago
DylanDraper1993
DylanDraper1993VolkovTied
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Vote Placed by Volkov 6 years ago
Volkov
DylanDraper1993VolkovTied
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