4 Comments
Jan 13, 2023Liked by Michael Brenes

Speaking of the G-20, I noted among the few near term deliverables at the Africa summit was Bidren's undertaking to advocate for African Union membership.

Sub-saharan Africa has run hot and cold over time re how "real" they view the AU. We seem to be on an upswing in initiatives to operationalize some of the AU's potential, especially re trade. And like it or not, the greater institutionalization of the military dimension of collective security has made the AU a regular interlocuteur. So from the African view, there's likely to be more enthusiasm for a role for the AU in the G-20 today than would have been the case in some other eras.

I find the proposal may have merit beyond the purely symbolic. Giving the AU a seat at the table would create a forum to deal with collective issues that are beyond the scope of bilateral relations. Widely shared issues, like debt restructuring and regional climate change, would also benefit from more focused collective attention than can be achieved in the fragmented structure of multilateral lending operations.

As a more general response to your post, the Global South is far from monolithic and isn't interested in a replay of the Non-Aligned Movement. Looking for governance opportunities that reflect the dynamics of different regions, as varied as the AU or ASEAN or APEC, may be a constructive way to avoid Cold War-style bloc formation.

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Jan 13, 2023Liked by Michael Brenes

Germany also using AU as focus - supporting African membership on UNSC - vua RL/RFE today

“German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on January 13 called for closer cooperation between the European Union and the African Union to respond to crises in the world, including Russia's invasion of Ukraine, climate change, and food shortages. In a speech to African Union (AU) leaders at the group's headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Baerbock said Germany, France, and other European countries are counting on support from Africa. "We as Europeans need the support of our friends and partners worldwide in times when peace in Europe has been attacked by the Russian war of aggression," she remarked. Baerbock also called for AU support for reforms to the UN Security Council that would add additional permanent seats to the body, including two for Africa.”

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Thanks for these thoughtful comments. I agree with many of your points. Debt restructuring is important, and I'd like to do a Substack post on it down the road. On a related point, I also like this piece by Olúfẹ́mi O Táíwò and Michael Franczak on Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) through IMF as possible avenue for redistribution of resources: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/14/heres-how-to-repay-developing-nations-for-colonialism-and-fight-the-climate-crisis. I felt I couldn't squeeze it in the piece, but should have, I think.

And completely agree about rejection of non-aligned movement. I don't think we could repeat it now, even it was a good thing to do so. But the framework of great-power competition collapses these distinctions--as do national security figures-- and the piece tried to speak to the limitations of the moment, to create agency for Global South in a U.S.-centered framework.

Thanks again for reading.

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You leave out the power of the war merchants. They control congress and public policy, and are ever more in the process of arming many other countries. I agree with much of what you write, but as long as we remain a capitalistic country, an empire run by multinational corporation, much of what you suggest won’t happen even when we do it for “ national interest.” Corporations saturating global markets are not nationalists but global capitalists.

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