Diversity is unavoidable but raises big security challenges

15Jan 2022
The Guardian
Diversity is unavoidable but raises big security challenges

​​​​​​​THERE is an expression we are used to observe in the past 20 years at the least, that Tanzania is an island of peace in a wider environment of turmoil. The fact however is that most countries that we on this side think are in chaos are actually having just pockets of chaos-

-in mainly peaceful environments, until there is an outbreak of civil war, which by nature leaves few places, or activities in a country intact. So our neighbours have pockets of disturbances (one or two provinces out of 26 or thereof) in DRC, for example.

Yet there are other threats that have been avoided for the most part since Africa attained independence, and the founding generation of African leaders knew the Cold War in ideological terms, where each country chose what allies it wanted on the international stage, and the language it observes. Most of that ended in 1989 at the time that the Berlin Wall collapsed and Eastern Europe started to rapidly move to the Western orbit, and it appeared that was the path for everyone. Democracy and capitalism were the twin elements of the world’s future, and soon each country was practicing democracy of one kind or another.

As  a matter of fact no country has really ever disputed the need for democracy, but the definitions are twisted to suit current purposes those in power wish to advocate, explaining their own failings in the area in terms of disbelief – and influence – of external forces in their countries. One mode of such definition is to identify democracy with Western culture, but over time the idea that people of other cultures can durably live with oppression by grasping it as a cultural preference has waned.  So there is more of visible democracy around the world, but when nations reach limits of potential reforms they think of hitting back.

That is partially what is happening at the moment, as two permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are showing a kind of readiness for actions that were unexpected in the past, demanding for instance assurances that a country along its borders will never be admitted into the Western alliance. But why is that necessary unless it is meant to remove the sense of allies’ duty to protect its democracy if someone moves to check that? Wishing for this assurance is being cited as an aspect of ‘indivisibility of security,’ that the big power won’t be secure if the tiny neighbour becomes part of the Western alliance.

Another major cloud to global peace is the principle of ’indivisibility’ of major ancient civilisations which split into various governments when power shifted via a revolution. Here too, a small regime’s affinity to the Western alliance prevents its being dragged into an indivisible nation, a problem of cultural diversity, attachment to ancient tradition and unity as one sovereign country. It becomes an inflexible principle tied to culture rather than democratic modernity, referendum, and it can spark a dangerous nuclear standoff.