Africa’s Challenge to International Relations Theory by Kevin C. Dunn, Timothy M. Shaw (eds.)

By Kevin C. Dunn, Timothy M. Shaw (eds.)

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Therefore, the realities of political, social, cultural, religious, and other important connections to nations and the ethnic group cannot be ignored or dismissed in new African(ist) approaches for understanding contemporary African phenomena. Rather, as this chapter suggests, a return to the nation and other sub-state actors as central units of analysis may provide us with the hitherto missing tools for adequately explaining and predicting the behavior of African states. In sum, the main challenge for African(ist) theories of international relations is to avoid the temptation of simply adapting essentially Western and state-centric models of IR to Africa.

Although it has severed all ties with UNITA, the US government is not ready to see UNITA completely destroyed. In fact, the USA is still attempting to revive the Lusaka Protocol of 1994 which led to the short-lived government of unity and national reconstruction in Angola. For example, the USA has `questioned the wisdom' of UN Security Council resolutions imposing additional sanctions on UNITA in the area of telecommunications. In expressing the US view on the issue, US Deputy Ambassador to the UN Peter Burleigh declared that: `We believe that the only way to resolve this ongoing conflict is through negotiations and not through military action.

These realities clearly demonstrate that, historically, African political systems were based on pluralistic nations, not homogenous states. From this perspective, analyses of the political violence currently sweeping large portions of Africa must focus on the re-emergence and reaffirmation of nationalisms and ethnicities, not simply the dynamics of state building. The case of UNITA highlights the perils of ignoring nationalism and ethnicity. In Angola, state decay has been partly the result of the unwillingness of the post-colonial state to adequately address issues of nationalism and ethnicity.

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Africa’s Challenge to International Relations Theory by Kevin C. Dunn, Timothy M. Shaw (eds.)
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