Summary of The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa

Looking for the book?
We have the summary! Get the key insights in just 10 minutes.

The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa book summary
Start getting smarter:
or see our plans

Rating

7 Overall

7 Importance

8 Innovation

6 Style


Recommendation

This study of the sometimes brutal politics in the Horn of Africa looks at the region’s startling body count from a new angle. Where outsiders see human rights violations and ethnic hatreds, researcher Alex de Waal sees a simple, if bloody, calculus: Human lives are little more than pawns in a larger game. Warlords attack government assets to stake their claims, and governments, in turn, massacre civilians in rebel-held territory as a straightforward statement of power. Not that de Waal excuses this sort of violence; he considers it barbaric. Yet his analysis helps make sense of the senseless. De Waal focuses his analysis on a few key nations in Africa, including Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia. He also shines a spotlight on Somaliland: a rare example of peace and political stability in the Horn of Africa – perhaps because its lack of commodities and tax revenues means there’s little opportunity for kleptocracy. While de Waal delivers an important new perspective on politics in the Horn of Africa, his writing style is sometimes clunky and inscrutable. He often adopts a distant, bureaucratic tone, only rarely offering examples and details describing life in the Horn of Africa. Despite these shortcomings, getAbstract recommends this insightful book to everyone interested in African politics.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How a “political marketplace” operates and
  • How this system has played out in Sudan, South Sudan and other nations in the Horn of Africa.
 

About the Author

Alex de Waal is executive director of the World Peace Foundation and a research professor at Tufts University.

 

Summary

Selling Allegiances to the Highest Bidder

While it’s accurate to say that violence is part and parcel of politics in the Horn of Africa, the region also makes for an ideal case study in the “business of power.” There’s little pretext of democracy in this region, so allegiances can be sold to the highest bidder – or just the most ruthless one. Despite the high body count, political players in the Horn of Africa aren’t driven by ethnic hatred, although it can seem that way to outsiders. Rather, human life is seen as a simple commodity, and political loyalty is exchanged according to the laws of supply and demand. Killing a rival’s followers is a straightforward way to exert power or gain advantage – much as business competitors might cut prices to gain market share.


More on this topic

Customers who read this summary also read

Refuge
Refuge
8
Warming World
Warming World
9
China's New Revolution
China's New Revolution
8
The Shadow World
The Shadow World
7
From Crisis to Calling
From Crisis to Calling
7
Europe’s migration impasse
Europe’s migration impasse
7

Related Channels

Comment on this summary