The Day After Russia Attacks
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It is already clear that the most serious obstacles to Britain's entry into the Common Market lie not so much in any direct clash of economic interest between Britain and Western Europe as in the difficulty of transforming and modifying the vast web of Britain's external trading commitments. A loose, worldwide, pragmatic association has to be shrunk, without too much damage, into a close, contractual relationship. For extra-European communities, the squeezing and pinching threaten economic disturbance and political resentment and nowhere perhaps do the problems seem more daunting than in independent Africa where, by a chance of history, the confrontation of Commonwealth and Common Market is physically most direct and potentially most disruptive.
A glance at the map of Africa shows the physical entanglements. Into the solid bulk of ex-French West Africa clutch the fingers of the English- speaking communities-Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria-and, one should add, Liberia. In the Cameroons, an ex-British and an ex-French territory have come together in an uneasy federal association. Down to Katanga, the French speakers prevail. But across from them, on the other side of the continental divide, independent Tanganyika may well be the first member of a new, wide, English-speaking association in East Africa.
These intermingled territories cannot ignore each other. However inchoate and undirected, the sense of African unity is already a strong political force. The new nations, most of them desperately weak, have come to independence in an age dominated by vast federal structures-by the United States, by the Soviet Union, by the ambition if not the fact of a United Europe. And even were the idea of common markets and political associations not fashionably in the air, African leaders would still feel the gap between the frailty of their fledgling and fragmented independence and the giant communities abroad. Their post-colonial status and the continuance of Western colonial control on their southern frontiers only increase their sensitiveness. Dr. Nkrumah may not be accepted as a leader of continental scope. But few African statesmen can ignore the influence of his passionate pan-Africanism, especially among the younger men.
There are solid economic reasons, too, for transcending the new state boundaries. Apart from the Union of South Africa, the African continent is still a system of essentially colonial economies. In spite of decisive differences between the colonizing policies of the different metropolitan powers-differences which go to the heart of the Common Market-Commonwealth controversy- the results of their work bear a family resemblance. In each economy, the core of the modern sector is primary production for export, either minerals or tropical foods and fruits. In each, the main infrastructure has been built to forward that trade. All lines of communication drain down to the ports which are-save in Western Nigeria-the only really big cities. Contact between territories is so slight that in some neighboring countries roads do not meet at frontiers and telephone conversations can be conducted only through Paris or London. Inter-African trade is minimal and the earnings from exports are spent largely on the import of manufactured goods, mainly from Europe and through foreign intermediaries, and on food which a static subsistence economy in the countryside no longer produces in sufficient quantity.
This colonial pattern cannot be changed simply by intensifying economic relations with the metropolitan powers. A world surplus of coffee and cocoa is already in prospect. If all the expansion plans of the separate African economies are successful, surpluses in palm products, peanuts, sugar, citrus, bananas and pineapples lie ahead. The aim of added agricultural output appears in every plan. Yet the Western stomach cannot be stretched to consume so much. Industrialization is the alternative adopted by every government, but industrialization will hardly succeed rapidly or adequately if it has to rely on export markets already choked by the West's sophisticated products or the cheap manufactures of Asia. Africa's most urgent need-like Latin America's-is thus an internal market large enough to absorb the products of industrialization, and this need points toward local coöperation and integration. Economic necessity reinforces the political arguments for greater unity.
Thus the aftermath of the colonial years makes closer association essential. Equally, it makes it remarkably difficult. Although French and British colonial policy helped to produce types of local economy which are recognizably of the same type-dependent economies, economies de traite-the relations between these economies and their metropolitan powers diverged sharply. France saw its territories in Africa as extensions of the mother country and as, in a sense, part of the French state. Citizenship and political representation on a basis of complete equality between Frenchmen and French Africans would be the ultimate political achievement. Meanwhile, as much assimilation as possible was the rule in economic policy. This approach led to a species of economic closed circuit between France and its dependent territories. All the colonies were part of a single monetary system-the franc zone, in which the local African franc was freely convertible into French francs and had behind it the entire resources of the French Treasury. No territory had to worry with the problem either of financing imports or of balancing local expenditure against local receipts. French grants provided much of the capital and when recurrent costs rose, France covered part of the local budgetary deficits as well. In addition, tropical products had guaranteed markets in France at prices which were often well above the world price level.
As a result, those engaged in the small modernized sectors of the economy- the export trades, the cities, the administration- acquired standards of living and expenditure often much above what the local economy could really support. In return, the colonies imported their manufactures almost wholly from France at prices often above the world level, and French officials and residents sent their savings and profits back to France. So, of course, did other "expatriates" in other colonies. The French were, however, twice as numerous as the British. Thus, in a sense, the franc zone functioned independently of world markets as a species of closed economic world of its own. The circuit would have been broken only if the dependent territories had succeeded in buying extensively from other countries and thus presenting the central monetary authorities in Paris with insistent demands for foreign exchange. But strict exchange control and a quota system prevented any leaks of this kind.
Since 1948, the French Union has totally abandoned, in a rapid series of concessions, the doctrine of political assimilation. Today, all its African colonies are politically independent. But some of the economic practices which once reflected integration still continue. In some ways, they are more powerful than ever. In the last decade, the amount of public capital which France has poured into Africa, south of the Sahara, has reached the startling sum of $300,000,000 a year. At the same time, the weakening of world demand for tropical products and the steady fall in their price has made even more valuable the quotas and agreed prices available in the French market. Moreover, France's entry into the Common Market has offered to its ex-colonies-now associated with the Market under the Treaty of Rome1- a further real strengthening and extension of their advantages. The joint Common Market Fund for Development (FEDOM) adds another $100,000,000 a year to the sums flowing into Africa. Tariff barriers against the territories' exports to Western Europe are coming down-although internal excise taxes mitigate the advantage in some degree. Ultimately, a common external tariff will give them a competitive advantage against tropical suppliers outside the Association. It is therefore not surprising that in the talks that are now being carried on to negotiate a new form of association, based this time upon the free political choice of the African territories, the Africans are tending to demand a further consolidation of their present very real advantages, and the extension of the new agreement to cover not five but seven years. Some participants even suggest tough quota systems designed to discriminate against outside competitors.
Meanwhile the evolution in British Africa has followed a different route. Since the ultimate aim of British colonial policy was to produce self- governing and finally independent territories, countries such as Ghana or Nigeria were not drawn into a centralized economic system directed by Britain. They had to balance their own books and cover their own expenditure. Membership in the sterling area gave no guarantee that internal overdrafts and external imbalances could be covered by London. Welfare and development funds remained small. Britain granted some imperial preference on tropical products-it varied from 2 to 10 percent-but received no preferences in return except in the two very small territories of Gambia and Sierra Leone. As a result, British Africa traded widely with the rest of the world. During the postwar boom in primary products, large capital reserves were built up by using the device of marketing boards. These boards bought the entire crop, paid the peasant producer a fixed price for his cocoa or his peanuts and then siphoned off the balance between this and soaring world prices into reserves for development. In 1957, on independence, Ghana's reserves reached $700,000,000. But these reserves were not grants from the metropolitan power. They had been truly earned and, save for some restrictions on dollar purchases, could be spent anywhere for capital imports once the local governments began-after 1955-to attempt development in earnest. The system was thus open, geared to world prices, low-cost compared with the French system and connected only loosely with British policy and control. Equally, it received nothing equivalent to France's massive outpouring of capital assistance.
These, then, are the two major systems2 which confront each other in Africa- profoundly alike in basic structure and problems, profoundly different in their external relationships. And at this point in history, it is the divergence in their relations with Europe that dominates and disturbs the African scene-and, through Africa, the prospects for unity in Europe as well. Britain seeks to enter the Common Market. Unless it can secure associate status for its African ex-colonies, they will, over the next ten years, lose their mild imperial preferences in the British market and face a rising tariff barrier excluding them not only from Europe but from Britain as well. In addition, they may find themselves more directly excluded by quota systems and price-fixing arrangements. Greater production of such export crops as cocoa and coffee may be stimulated in the associated countries by protection and by artificially high prices. The surpluses will grow and depress prices further in the world market. In political terms, the doubling of old colonial frontiers by new customs barriers will damage, perhaps fatally, any hopes of closer African union. These are the risks inherent in Britain's bid to unite with Europe. Unless they can be overcome, they may inhibit the bid itself.
For many observers, the simple and obvious solution is that Britain should secure associate status for its ex-African territories and eliminate at one stroke the difficulties and estrangements which threaten to arise between the English-speaking and French-speaking areas of Africa. But the issue is not so straightforward. Within every group concerned with the negotiations there are hesitations and objections-often opposite ones. In fact, a certain amount of schizophrenia reigns over the whole debate. Take the African associated states. Some of their leaders are pressing for even more exclusive advantages and some governments, notably the Ivory Coast, seem very reluctant to water down the very real gains they derive from trade discrimination by admitting other African competitors to the charmed circle. Nor do all relish the idea of FEDOM having more clients. Britain's record in aid-giving is not such as to suggest that it would fill the gap if the potential claimants of assistance were to increase threefold by the crowding in of the ex-British territories. Yet these same ex-French leaders go off to Monrovia and Lagos and there in solemn conference concur with the leaders of Liberia and Nigeria on the need for an African common market, an African development fund and the closest economic coöperation on a continental scale. They do not seem troubled by the fact that the policies they advocate in Brussels and Paris, on the one hand, and in West Africa, on the other, are diametrically opposed.
There are contradictions on the European side as well. The Germans are full partners in the current negotiations to revise the Treaty of Rome- negotiations which most observers expect to result in an extension and consolidation of the present preferential system. Yet Dr. Erhard has gone on record against discrimination and a quota system and the German Government is exceedingly anxious not to affront the interests of Latin American suppliers of tropical products whose markets are valuable outlets for German exports. In this concern for producers in other continents, the Germans share reservations that are felt by the Americans too. The United States Government is most unwilling to see Africa acquire in perpetuity preferential entry to one of the world's largest markets to the exclusion of other developing lands. Pressure from this more liberal side has influenced the Economic Commission of the Common Market to recommend that on all tropical products the eventual external tariff should be halved-a step which would bring the level down to an average of only about 4 percent. Yet in the actual negotiations, it is not yet clear whether this more liberal approach will help to modify and determine the outcome.
But even France, the fount, origin and "onlie begetter" of the whole system, seems of two minds. The traditional approach prevails but it is not unchallenged. In part, the opposition is a sheer question of expense. No one can estimate what the maintenance of the association costs the French taxpayer. Price supports, subsidies, budgetary subventions-a particularly unpopular item in the Assembly-capital aid and technical assistance must, added together, far exceed the published sum of $300,000,000 a year. True, unspecified gains accrue from high salaries to seconded French officials and from the protection granted French exporters. Even so, the amounts are formidable, and it is not only the well-known journalist Raymond Cartier who is beginning to ask whether some of the money might not be better spent in France's own underdeveloped regions-in Brittany or Dordogne.
There are political objections too. Some criticize the whole idea of the closed association as an outdated attempt to extend French présence and influence to what is in effect a group of client states. Others argue that once the problem of Algeria is solved, any idea of an elaborate, intensive vocation africaine makes little sense. And among some younger officials one even finds the conviction that the whole concept of "Eurafrica," of Africa associated by close vertical relationships with Europe, undermines precisely what it is supposed to foster-friendship with emergent Africa. "The more we recall the old colonial ties," they argue, "the more rapidly will good will towards us and towards Europe be undermined. 'Eurafrica' still suggests the subordination of Africa to Europe, of poverty-stricken primary producers to developed industrial powers, and we lay ourselves open to attacks on our 'undercover economic imperialism' and our 'neocolonialism.' The need now is to modify or abandon the vertical approach and to encourage instead a parallel movement of unity in Africa to match the growing unity of Europe. Then, perhaps, there can be a fruitful dialogue between the two groups."
At this point we reach the fundamental reason why the straightforward solution of association for all the new African states with the Common Market is, in fact, a pipe dream. At least three politically vital and strategically situated African states reject association and largely for the reasons put forward by the young French critics. Guinea on the ex- French side, Ghana on the ex-British side, oppose association on the ideological ground that the relationship is basically dependent and neo- colonialist, perpetuating unequal relationships, making economic mockery of new-found political independence and frustrating the great pan-African dream. Nor can this simply be dismissed as an extremist view. The moderate Nigerian Government has refused, so far, to consider association and "Eurafrica" has few more forceful and eloquent critics than Mr. Jaja Wachuku, Nigeria's Foreign Minister. In the East, the Tanganyikan Government has let it be known that if Britain joins the Common Market, Tanganyika will leave the Commonwealth.
These are overt official reactions. In addition, one must reckon with a strongly dissident current of opinion emerging everywhere in Africa-even in countries whose leaders support close association. The young Senegalese with pictures of Sékou Touré on their desks, the Action Group opposition in Nigeria, the party extremists who brought about Mr. Julius Nyerere's resignation from office, the supporters-in schools and ministries, in universities and party offices-of the Nkrumah brand of pan-Africanism, all these add up to a kind of second, submerged Africa just below the level of the present leadership, but one which a political earthquake at any time or any point might bring bursting to the surface. And this Africa has in common one thing-rejection of colonialism and "neo-colonialism" in all its forms, from the Portuguese presence to the image of "Eurafrica."
Faced with this apparent impasse, there are those in Britain who argue that it must simply be accepted. Ghana and Nigeria, they say, have decided to stay out of the new association, in spite of all its advantages. So be it. They have chosen. Let them go. Then Britain can enter the Common Market unencumbered by either their claims or their protests. In fact, such a course would lead almost certainly to a grave political deterioration. The politics of Africa are already dangerously polarized between the Casablanca grouping of Guinea, Ghana, Mali, Morocco and Egypt and the Monrovia group which contains almost all the others. So far, it has not been entirely easy to define the difference between them. The lines are still fluid. Both support African independence and unity. Both denounce colonialism. Both speak of African economic integration. The Casablanca group includes in Mali a member of the franc zone and a state associated with the Common Market. And constant efforts are being made by one or another member of the Monrovia grouping to end what is still a gap based on emotion, ambition and rival leadership. If, however, Britain's entry into the Common Market consolidated the economic advantages of the ex-French territories leaving Ghana, Nigeria and the rest of ex-British Africa outside, it seems virtually certain that all the not negligible forces of anti-colonialism and pan-Africanism that Dr. Nkrumah and Mr. Sékou Touré between them can mobilize would be directed fiercely against the whole concept of special links with Europe and the Association would become perhaps the principal target of violent pan-African and open anti-European propaganda. All hope of lessening the Monrovia-Casablanca split would be at an end. On the contrary, the dangerous polarization of politics between "moderates" with Western links and "extremists" with adventurous foreign policies would be fatally intensified.
Nor would the economic consequences be any more encouraging. Economic frontiers and customs barriers following the old colonial boundaries would check any genuine move towards regional integration. The states left outside the Association would be likely to sabotage any bold local schemes for better communications, more rational transport and power systems and for better coördinated planning. In addition, such small buffer states as Upper Volta or the slivers of Dahomey and Togo would come under fierce economic pressure from their neighbors. At the African end of the axis, the whole procedure looks unmistakably like a recipe for unsettled politics and economic frustration.
It is the bleakness of these prospects that has encouraged a growing discussion-both in Western Europe and in the United States-of possible alternatives. Underlying a wide variety of proposals and suggestions lie two principles-the first that the vertical lines of close political and economic association between Europe and Africa are not likely to last and that a sounder political aim would be to develop unity on two parallel lines, the absorption of Britain into Europe being matched by a steady rapprochement between the ex-British and ex-French and ex-Belgian territories in Africa. Then between the two regional groupings-European and African-there could be close and genuine ties of aid and interest but based on no more formal machinery than has proved necessary and workable in, say, the Colombo Plan.
The second principle is that a specific general alternative should be found for each preferential advantage now enjoyed by the associated states. Where, for instance, the robusta coffee production of Ivory Coast or the peanuts of Senegal are sustained by guaranteed French import quotas at fixed prices, agreement should be reached to tackle the world coffee surplus or the future peanut surplus in such a way that stable prices and orderly marketing become feasible. If, over the years, world prices are fixed at levels lower than those under the old system-a not unlikely outcome since French prices for robusta have on occasion risen to 50 percent above world prices-then special direct assistance would be given to tide the economy over its difficulties and to secure diversification of local output.
On the question of tariffs, the Common Market should move toward a species of "one-way free trade" in tropical products, removing all tariff barriers from tropical imports while demanding no quid pro quo in the shape of free entry for European manufactures since this would check Africa's infant industrialization at birth. In the matter of aid, general Western assistance, possibly coördinated through the Development Assistance Committee of the O.E.C.D., might supplement present contributions-and be ready against the day, perhaps not too distant, when "Cartierism" wins in France and capital aid is switched to the Dordogne. Thus the aim would be to see that no existing associated state was worse off as a result of losing its preferential position and at the same time to lay the foundations for a more integrated, yet more open, African system in the future.
What are the prospects for such a reorientation of Western policy toward Africa? The answer is as paradoxical as the problem-no prospects at all in 1962, reasonable prospects in 1967. The present generation of leaders in ex- French Africa are already signing up for a new period of preferential arrangements. Indeed, in the case of the Ivory Coast, the agreements reached with France last fall go even further than earlier undertakings. France guarantees an import quota of 100,000 tons of robusta coffee for five years-no previous agreements covered more than a year and the amounts were always smaller. In return, the Ivory Coast guarantees French industry a specific percentage of its imports of manufactures. Both countries agree to keep trade as much as possible flowing in the old channels and to mitigate the foreign exchange problem by keeping down trade with third parties. Clearly, on this analogy, the renegotiated Treaty of Rome is more likely at this stage to propose a closed association of the Ivoirien type than any retreat from the preferential system. Yet by the end of the five- or seven-years of the new Treaty, it is probable that all the political and economic pressures working against the closed system both in Africa and in the West will have gathered formidable momentum. Newer, younger African leaders will have arisen, proclaiming African unity, French taxpayers will have tired of the burden, the Germans will have refused to exclude other suppliers, steady American hostility to the arrangements will have had its effect. Meanwhile, however, it is 1962 and Britain has to reach its decision. Must one conclude that the impasse is unbreakable? Is there no way in which a sense of the likely mood of 1967 can modify the rigidities of the present stance and prevent the disaster-for disaster it would be-of Britain's inability to find its way round the African roadblock?
One possibility at least could be explored. It would be an extension of the temporary solution already reached in the Cameroons where the extreme difficulties of merging an ex-British territory with an ex-French state already associated with the Common Market were shelved by a species of standstill agreement under which, for a year, no change in existing tariff or trading arrangements was attempted. The situation was in a sense frozen to allow for fuller studies and further experience.
In this analogy, the path of wisdom might lie in accepting the next five or seven years as a period during which the economic arrangements with Africa both on the side of Britain and of the Common Market remain as they are today. The associated territories would not renounce their present preference. The ex-British territories would keep such advantages as they enjoy today. And nothing would be done on either side to increase the degree of discrimination exercised against the others. For instance, no steps would be taken to introduce a high uniform external tariff round the present associated states. This aspect of the Treaty of Rome would simply be postponed. At the same time, the Common Market powers would pledge themselves, during the five or seven years, to look for general, non- discriminatory solutions to Africa's particular economic problems and to put a steadily increasing emphasis on greater economic unity in Africa. In this way, Britain's immediate entry into the Common Market would not be blocked by the African obstacle, and time would be gained during which the potentially ephemeral concept of "Eurafrica" could be transcended and a more lasting pattern of coöperation evolved between two parallel movements of integration-in Europe on the one hand, in Africa on the other.
In the last analysis, the issue is one of political judgment. Is the present partially preferential solution of association with the Common Market likely to contribute to growing stability in both Europe and Africa? There are some strong reasons for doubting whether it will. The arrangements of today grew out of a particular colonial policy-the assimilationist policies of France-and conform to a type of solidarity which has been almost entirely eroded away in the political sphere. In the post-colonial phase, Africa's dominant political mood seems increasingly to be colored by pan-Africanism, by more or less explicit longings for greater unity, by an angry resentment at all forms of continued colonial control and an almost morbid ability to see them lurking under any aspect of Western policy. Given this mood, it is at least possible that policies of close "Eurafrican" economic assimilation may, for all their immediate advantage, become both the target and the irritant of a more vocal and violent nationalism in Africa and actually increase the instability of that disturbed continent. Meanwhile, they almost certainly present a daunting obstacle to Britain's entry into Europe. These are high prices to pay for discriminatory forms of economic assistance to a relatively small part of a large continent and an even larger world- especially since that assistance could, with a little patience and a little judgment, be equally well supplied by more general and less divisive means. 1 The Associated States in Africa are Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the two Republics of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville and Congo- Leopoldville), Ivory Coast, Dahomey, Gabon, Upper Volta, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Somalia, Tchad and Togo. 2 The future of the former Belgian Congo is still too confused to define, but its past economic history suggests a hybrid between the British and French systems. By treaty, it was committed to non-discriminatory trade and, as a very wealthy colony, it financed its own development. But Belgian assimilation and settlement resembled the more inclusive French pattern, and since 1958 the Congo has been associated with the Common Market.