So much has happened since the last time I was able to write. Last week I had the honor of attending the SCUSA 61 Conference at West Point, and it was truly amazing. There were students there representing schools from all over the country, which consisted of California, Vermont, South Carolina, Connecticut, etc. People traveled from long and far to attend this conference, because it is really quite an honor to be apart of such an historic moment. Throughout history, many leaders, state officials, etc., have attended the SCUSA conferences, and the topic for this current one was, ”Advancing As A Global Community: Scarcity, Instability, and Opportunity”, and the subtopic I chose was the African Continent. I had the pleasure of meeting some brilliant individuals within my group, where unlike myself, most of them had lived in, or traveled to, Africa. There were students there whom had lived in Senegal, The Gambia, Kenya, and many who have studied abroad there in places such as Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, etc. To be able to discuss, and explore, different aspects of the African Continent with people who have actually experienced the struggles the different countries throughout Africa are facing, gave me a new insight into the Continent as a whole. Indeed I have learned of the horrors in Africa, and theories on how the continent can evolve, yet to have someone tell you first hand the corruption, and different ways of life, that takes place there, changes your input on theories and how the actual reality of what is occurring makes these theories irrelevant. Besides boring you with details of the African Continent, the experience is really what was most important to me. Adelphi offered me the opportunity to be apart of something bigger than myself, I was able to meet with people from all over the US and hear different ideas, beliefs, etc., on certain topics I have explored throughout my academic career, and try to come up with ideas on how the world can advance as a whole. This gave me the opportunity to evolve more as a student, because it enabled me to escape the classroom, and the theories that I have learned, and actually apply them to the real world, and discuss them with leaders of the future. Also, I had the pleasure of sharing a room with two cadets that attended West Point, and they were extremely hospitable. I exhausted them with questions about the reasons why they wanted to attend West Point, how they went about their daily routine, and what happens when they graduate, etc., but they were more then willing to tell me all about it. Even though the two girls I was staying with were a few years younger than myself, I idolized them. They told me that all the hard work, and strict rules, they had to endure at West Point, was worth it, because they to wanted to be something bigger than themselves. After graduating from the school they have to serve in the military, and they were proud to serve this great country we live in, and this bravery really touched me. If I had never transferred to Adelphi I would have never gotten the opportunity to experience something like this. It changed my life, and it made me even more committed to making a difference on Adelphi’s campus, because student leaders are the future of society as a whole, and it all begins with ones education, and commitment to clubs and organizations they feel passionately about.
If anyone is interested in reading the paper my group wrote during the SCUSA 61 Conference, I have pasted it below:
Challenges and Opportunities on the African Continent
Student Conference on United States Affairs 61
Current conditions in the African continent- resource scarcity, ethnic and political conflict, and public health concerns- warrant specific policy suggestions. In order to confront the region's challenges and enhance its opportunities, the Department of State will direct the United States' involvement. The U.S.'s main interests lie in the continent’s stability and the success of policies that pertain to the security dilemmas posed by failed states and continue humanitarian and development efforts in stable African societies. Working with limited financial and military capabilities, we will continue to emphasize the importance of "Defense, Diplomacy, and Development," as described by Secretary Clinton.
Concerning failed states in Africa, the number one priority for the U.S. is establishing long term security, which can only be achieved through strong institutions, safety of citizens, and progress toward a functional government. In order to ensure this objective, the U.S. must focus its resources on those conflicts that have the most conceivable prospects for success. We have identified three primary courses of action to address the insecurity created by states such as Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Pertaining to these standards the primary security concern in Africa is Somalia .The U.S. will only achieve these described goals in Somalia through dialogue. Urged by key allies in the region, this dialogue will aim to establish a cease fire, paving the way for a long term peace agreement. Once a cease fire has been established, AFRICOM should work on capacity building for African Union (A.U.) troops, which will enforce such accords. A cease fire will provide the conditions conducive to developmental activities by the United States.
Additionally refugee camps create regional instability and subhuman conditions which act as ideal breeding grounds for extremism and re-militarization of combative factions. These camps pose a threat to the A.U.’s abilities in keeping peace and bringing rival factions to the negotiating table. We recommend increasing material support and training to the host nations of these refugee camps through AFRICOM.
AFRICOM's initiatives, however, do not always provide sufficient results in all cases of failed states. In such situations, the U.S. must use diplomatic means to support humanitarian efforts in a region. This strategy will not jeopardize any ongoing kinetic force missions that currently target immediate terrorist threats.
In order to prevent stable African States from failure we suggest using both “top-down” and “bottom- up” development approaches to guide regional U.S. foreign policy. We recommend updating the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (PL 87-195) to address current challenges and to support our strongest development practices. To enhance our grassroots efforts throughout the continent we suggest reformed policies that will increase support to microfinance institutions and community-based organizations. Microfinance institutions will grant more small business and individual, low- interest loans to promote the growth of the middle class. Additionally, community-based organizations will play a role in improving communal social welfare. These organizations should address women’s issues, public health, anti-corruption, and other critical public needs. Furthermore, support of universal access to primary education will build the stronger communities, publics and states necessary for budding civil societies.
To address development on the macro level, we suggest reforming and reinvigorating the Millennium Challenge Account by focusing on transparency in the State Department’s grading process. We also advise that countries must submit budget proposals that will be approved and monitored by Millennium Challenge personnel. By creating a grading procedure that will reflect the progress of individual countries on an annual basis, African states will have an incentive to improve their current government programs.
In addition to the above suggestions, we recommend that the International Monetary Fund adopt debt- restructuring policies that would suspend loan repayment for a period of 10 years without interest. The suspension period will continue dependent upon the proper reallocation of funds to crucial social service programs. Finally, changing current policy on agricultural subsidies will serve as an advantage to the growth of African domestic economies.
Adoption of the above proposals will more efficiently utilize U.S. resources in the African continent to support its security and development to minimize human rights abuses and security threats that impede the advancement of a liberal, democratic world.