Rise Of The Orient

In the decades following World War 2, Asian States saw a surge in wealth and industrialization that many other nations with similar economic / industrial standing did not. Most notably, sub-Saharan Africa has not fared well, and is currently mired in government and economic instability.

Sixty years ago, sub-Saharan Africa had a higher GDP than Asia, however, due to situational factors, Asia was able to fabricate a prosperous future for itself, unlike Africa. One contributing factor would be the foreign aid provided to these Asian nations. East Asian nations in particular received massive amounts of aid from the United States and from other international organizations, which segued into extensive opportunities for contact with knowledgeable foreigners and industries. Being that East Asia was the front lines in the war against communism, these nations were replete with U.S. advisors of nearly every specialty. "These were overwhelmingly Americans, who became in effect tutors, not only in modern technology and management, but in the broader aspects of industrial society." (Vogel) Africa was not to be so lucky.

As the West began to focus on Asia, it withdrew from Africa. History indicates that Africa as a whole has never been a place of innovation, and has always fallen behind the rest of the world. Even the wheel saw little to no use, until the 19th century, its adoption only occurring after the arrival of Europeans as they explored the region with the purpose of exploiting it. Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia were the only African countries to even form systems of writing, and only Ethiopia created and successfully used a plow. (Chaves, Engerman and Robinson) Africa's issues were exacerbated by the exodus of foreign government from their colonial holdings. The denizens of sub-Saharan Africa were left with meaningless borders, forcing different ethnic groups and tribes, to cohabit small areas and vie for resources. The period of Western investment was over, and the West's new found fear of communism forced Asian industry into overdrive.

American Aid flowed like water into Hong Kong, Singapore, and to an even greater amount, into Japan. These nations were able to take advantage of the U.S.'s involvement in the Asian conflicts. "The Japanese economy, from 1950 on, not only received a great overall boost from the "special procurement" of the Korean War, but also gained expertise in advanced technology and management systems needed to coordinate support services and repair equipment." (Vogel) Similarly, the Vietnam war provided nearly all of the regional economies with an intensification of their industries. For example, the Vietnam war allowed for South Korea's blooming construction industry to flourish. Permanent U.S. military bases would become centers of commerce for the host nation, supplying foods, clothing, machinery, and other daily items of subsistence.

With protection being supplied by the West, many Asian companies which had originally produced instruments of war, had the opportunity to transition into the civilian market, producing automobiles, construction equipment, and eventually computer parts. On the other hand, military posts and factories within Africa were nearly cleared out, the only things remaining were weapons and vehicles that were too costly to ship home. The figurative goldmine of arms allowed warlords and clan elders, who were able to access these weapons first, to wreak violence upon opposing tribes, and to pursue genocide. The international community seemed to have little interest in stopping these crimes against humanity.

Unlike Africa, the fall of Asian colonialism allowed for new ideas, self governance of once conquered areas, and a reorganization of governments. These factors would lead many to argue that it was not only investment that allowed Asia to grow, but the destruction of Asian clans and old ways of order. The new governments established post World War 2 in Asia were less beholden to the traditional elites and were therefore freer to make policy decisions that held the interests of the people at large. For instance, a Singapore leader by the name of Lee Kuan-yew, an opponent of earlier Asian colonialism, was not beholden to the local business community, and was able to pursue a strong state, free of elitist oppression. (Vogel) Also, in Hong Kong, the ruling British were not controlled by the local business elite, and the people there would be able pursue their interests as well. Taiwan and South Korea would advocate land reform, thereby further undermining the power base of the traditional rural elite. A desire for economic achievement had swept the continent, and the people used their access to the new networks of governance to divide newfound wealth.

Governance has been a crippling issue in modern Africa. Most leaders either look out only for their self interests, or the interests of their power-backing group. Few leaders stay in power for long. Most of Africa's leaders have been ousted by coups, or from outside intervention. Almost none of the fledgling governments have facilitated economic growth. Though insensitive, it would seem that most Africans in a position of power are more interested in killing their own people, or warring with neighbors. It wasn't even until the mid 2010's that private capital flows to Sub-Saharan Africa, primarily from the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China), private-sector investment portfolios, and remittances began to exceed official development assistance. (Pugliese)

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