Wednesday, December 15, 2004
previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (1)
West Africa and Islamic fundamentalism
As part of the Chicago Tribune's continuing series on the internal struggle among Islamic societies between the forces of moderation and the forces of radicalism, Lisa Anderson has a fascinating front-pager on the country of Mali.
Mali appears at first glance to be one of the most improbable democracies in existence -- life expectancy is at 45 years, infant mortality is higher than 100 deaths per 1,000 live births, it's literacy rate is 46%, and according to the CIA World Factbook, "is among the poorest countries in the world, with 65% of its land area desert or semidesert and with a highly unequal distribution of income."
However, as Anderson chronicles:
The bulk of her story is on efforts by Islamic radicals from Algeria and Pakistan to attract supporters in the arid northern part of the country, and American efforts to combat this push. Some highlights:
Read the whole thing. Anderson's implicit thesis -- and it's not a bad one, is that Mali's history of tolerant Islam is resilient enough to resist outside efforts at fundamentalism. Philip Smucker had a story in November's International Herald Tribune chronicling the efforts of African scholars -- with an assist from Harvard's Henry Louis Gates -- to exploit Mali's written history to reinforce this moderate brand of Islam:
[Oh, c'mon, this is French West Africa -- does this stuff really matter to Americans?--ed. Check out Nick Tattersall's report for Reuters on the significance of West African oil to the U.S. economy. This part stands out in particular:
Click here for an African perspective on why the continent matters to the Bush administration. And, finally, check out John Donnelly's report in the Boston Globe on the military side of U.S. efforts to prevent Islamic terrorist groups from making further gains in the West African region.
posted by Dan on 12.15.04 at 11:53 AM
Nigeria is the most pressing concern. AQ is pretty active there, I believe.posted by: praktike on 12.15.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]
Hopefully, Mali is able to resist the enemies from without trying to get in.
In reading the summation of democracy in Mali, I was reminded once again how wrong Fareed Zakaria is.posted by: Dundare on 12.15.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]
It will be interesting to see what will happen to some of the major cotton growers like Burkina Faso have the cotton subsidies victory in the WTO upheld.
BTW, I heartily recommend Howard French's A Continent For the Taking. French was the New York Times West Africa Bureau Chief for a number of years. The book is a terrific read.posted by: Randy Paul on 12.15.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]
Do you know that the current Ambassador to SA was a former classmate of yours at Stanford? A CR protegee. Her expertise on all things Africa is stunning.posted by: Diego on 12.15.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]
Great point. Other comments at my blog. Please read them. I have only one friend who reads my blog.posted by: Fearless Critic on 12.15.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]
All the more reason why European Command, which now covers Russia, Europe and Africa, should be broken up, and an African Command created. Events will force it on us someday. Why not now?posted by: Wally Ramone on 12.15.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]
great post. other aspects:posted by: jayjee on 12.15.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]
Brilliant post. A friend of mine just got back from two years in W. Africa (Ghana)--his stories were incredibly moving.
But, I have nothing to add to this. Wow.posted by: Dan on 12.15.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]
Post a Comment: