Review of Articles “Strengthening African Leadership” by Robert Rotberg Essay

Review of Articles

“Strengthening African Leadership” by Robert Rotberg

In the article Robert Rotberg discusses development of African leadership from being very poor and malevolent to being more promising at the world scene. The author describes African leadership as predatory kleptocrats, economic illiterates and military-installed autocrats. Such leadership styles are attributed mainly to Zimbabwe, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo because those countries managed to have been run into the ground, though the countries were supplied with abundant natural resources. Recent researches show that more than 90% of sub-Saharan African nations are argued to have experienced autocratic rule. It means that power was used not for the public and common good; instead, power was used as an end in itself. Despotic rule remains indifferent to the progress and economic development of the citizens; despotic rule remain focused on poisonous racial and social ideologies.

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The central argument is that despotic rules are hypocrites who always try to shift their blame for country’s distress. Of course, the results of such leadership are not positive as infrastructure falls into despair, inflation increases and currencies are depreciating. Other negative sides are increased unemployment rates, deteriorated access to health services, decreased education standards and declined life expectancy. The author is willing to show that there is no place for despotism in modern democratic world and African nations are today provided with the opportunity to change their leadership style and to set the direction towards relative democracy. Despotism is strongly associated with deteriorated national security, increased corruption rates and crime rates, hidden bank accounts, and sanctioned ethic and race discrimination.

With such leadership African countries are hardly able to survive and to be recognized at the world scene. However, Rotberg says that examples of good leadership are also present in Africa. For example, Botswana is an example of promising leadership style. The country has demonstrated tolerance, participatory democracy, the rule of law, integrity and entrepreneurship. Botswana has also defended human rights and, what is more important, has encouraged civil liberties and promoted social and economic development. What has enabled the country? The author argues that relative linguistic homogeneity has played its crucial role. But Somalia can’t be considered politically stable country despite similar uniformity. Thus, peaceful and pragmatic outlook appeared to be beneficial for Botswana’s political culture, as well as its history of visionary leadership. The author says that the example of Botswana should be followed by other African countries as it gives a chance for positive changes. The problem is that too few African leaders tend to follow example of Botswana, but the positive tendency is that some African leaders start their presidential careers positioning themselves as democrats. In conclusion Rotberg argues that new democrats may use the term to put an end to the term ‘corrupt autocrats’.

“Why America Still Needs the United Nations?” by Shashi Tharoor

In the article Shashi Tharoor discusses the importance of multilateralism, and the United Nations as the institution of multilateralism. Special attention is paid to the importance of the United Nation’s inclusiveness to the United States. The year of 2002 appeared to change the world’s view on multilateralism. A new document from the new National Strategy of the United States claimed that “no nation can build a safer, better world alone”. The author argues the statement is not a means for multilateralism, it is an end. The United Nations provide f forum for sovereign states, where they are allowed to come together and to share their burdens, to discuss threats and opportunities, and to address common problems. One more positive trend is that it helps to establish the norms for European countries and for the USA how to live by. Historical researches show that the USA believed it was better to live in a world organized by the rule of law and principles. The United Nations, thus, reflect American preference for an organized world. The author shows that the united Nations remain essential to the pursuit of country’s prosperity. However, America doesn’t tend to think in terms of one’s own country.

Tharoor writes that “global forces press in from every conceivable direction; people, goods, and ideas cross borders and cover vast distances with ever greater frequency, speed, and ease”. (Tharoor, 2003) For example, Internet reflects events in Asia and Africa which can affect Americans and vice verse – we see that due to technological advances the world remains connected and mutually dependent. Therefore, foreign policy of the United States aims at managing global bilateral issues, but, at the same time, the position of the country as self-sufficient has weakened. The state is the primary political unit, but people realize today that the state can’t do everything on its own. For functioning in the world the state has to deal with individuals and institutions outside the country’s borders. Tharoor concludes that the USA may not be willing to deal with the United Nations, but it is impossible for the country to ignore it as Americans will be safer in a world improved by the United Nations’ efforts.

“The Development Challenge” by Jeffrey Sachs

In the article Jeffrey Sachs discusses economic development in impoverished countries and the role the USA plays in promoting private sector in developing countries. The author touches the question of America’s economic development. The author argues that the USA put its efforts on fighting poverty rates in developing countries, on opening trade with them and offering better official development assistance. Low-income countries face health care and educational problems, and, therefore, the USA sets the goal to double ‘the size of the world’s poorest economies within a decade’. (p.78) Of course, even such powerful country as the USA faces widely unappreciated risks. Actually, the country faces the risk of business, whereas Washington remains focused on the war on terrorism. The problem is that geopolitical, emotional and operation divide is observed within the USA, and impoverished countries are very likely to be reluctant to support Washington in major security concerns.

Sachs recommends the USA not to be complacent to the world’s views that America is caring solely about itself and even neglects its own pronouncements because it is too late to re-shape the set perception and to rectify the situation. Four fundamentals steps are needed for Washington to turn the crisis into opportunity for the USA to review its political and moral authority as the world’s leader. The crisis should be turned into international development. Firstly, American people should be explained that Us development assistance is less than they are used to think, less that is needed and affordable. People should understand that assistance delivered to health care, schools and sanitation would save not only millions of lives annuals, but would reduce poverty rates in developing and undeveloped countries. Secondly, financial needs must be fulfilled, and development assistance should be increased. Thirdly, the author recommends Washington to spend more than $50 billion in aid by using various reliable channels. Finally, the structure of the assistance development programs should be overhauled because it will give an excellent opportunity to enable development and to make the country play strategic role in national security.

Sachs concludes that the USA is able to seize the initiative in international development only if it re-assesses its top priorities and implements the abovementioned reforms. The goal is to promote hope and progress, and to reduce violence and hatred. Summing up, a better and safer world should be built beyond the war on terror.


Rotberg, Robert. (2004). Strengthening African Leadership. Foreign Affairs, July-August. Available on-line at

Sachs, Jeffrey. (2005, March-April). The Development Challenge. Foreign Affairs, 84, 2, pp.78-90.

Tharoor, Shashi. (2003).Why America Still Needs the United Nations. Foreign Affairs, September-October.  Available on-line at