Apologies for missing Tuesday’s post. I’m a bit jumbled on helpful content to post, but here’s some of what’s on my mind.
Alassane Ouattara’s Second Term
Alassane Ouattara stepped into his second and final term as President of Ivory Coast earlier this week. Five years ago, President Ouattara was barricaded in a hotel after Laurent Gbagbo and his supporters refused to step down after an election that didn’t go their way.
Today, Ivory Coast has taken its cocoa production to new heights though it is having to deal with the effects of El Nino and questions about the country’s export policy favoring President Ouattara’s stepson. Important power and transportation infrastructure projects are in the works, and foreign investors are paying ever closer attention to the country. Meanwhile, former president Gbagbo stands trial next month for his role in fomenting violence in the country over several elections. Granted, there has been conversation about President Ouattara’s role in violence while seeking office at several points over the past decade and a half.
I look forward to seeing where President Ouattara takes the country in his second term.
Henry Kissinger and the Cold War Years
I’m in chapter 81 of Niall Ferguson’s biography of Niall Ferguson and this peek into the shaping of foreign policy during the Cold War is amazing. Twenty chapters to go!
Ferguson’s recounting of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations is less than flattering. The Kennedy administration’s corruption in securing the presidential election, hand in three or four assassinations of leaders around the world, and penchant for women is a rather sobering cocktail.
The anecdotes of the Johnson administration’s ignorance of the global players in this fight against communism was pretty shocking. This was a time when the future of so many countries was being shaped by the United States! I’ve had many a chill reading some of the stories.
Also, the recounting of Barry Goldwater and the 1964 Republican Convention was pretty amazing. The narrative seemed so reflective of the narrative around Donald Trump. I don’t know whether that is a fair comparison, but Trump kept coming to mind while reading.
Ferguson makes a pretty convincing argument for Kissinger being an idealist. It is very interesting to see his disgust at the Kennedy administration’s unwillingness at times to thoroughly face itself on the question of nuclear power and take a position. Kissinger’s concept of morality doesn’t seem to be so much concerned with whether one’s morals were good or bad, but that one had taken the time to think and take a position no matter how ugly that position may be. I’m still wrapping my head around this, but it is interesting to consider.