27 April 2016

Gardening in Africa with The New York Times' Thomas Friedman

TeleSUR English

Africa is not a frequent destination of New York Times foreign affairs columnist and corporate globalization fiend Thomas Friedman, despite his unlimited travel budget and what amounts to a free pass to write whatever he wants whether it makes sense or not.
When he does manage to get over to Africa, of course, he produces some important insights.
Back in 2009, for example, he descended upon Botswana to report that neither his BlackBerry, wireless laptop, or satellite phone functioned in the Okavango Delta. One hundred twenty-one words of that particular column were devoted to a description of a leopard eating an antelope in a tree.
This month, a return trip to the continent has thus far produced two articles, predictably titled “Out of Africa” and “Out of Africa, Part II.”
The first one is datelined Agadez, Niger, which Friedman describes as the “main launching pad for migrants out of West Africa.” According to our tour guide’s calculations, “between 9,000 and 10,000 men” are launched in the direction of Libya each month.
The second dispatch is from the remote village of Ndiamaguene, Senegal, which we’re told constitutes “the headwaters of the immigration flood now flowing from Africa to Europe via Libya.” Citing a near-total absence of young and middle-aged men in the town, Friedman explains that “they’ve all hit the road” in search of economic relief because Ndiamaguene’s “climate-hammered farmlands can no longer sustain them.”
He continues:
“This trend is repeating itself all across West Africa, which is why every month thousands of men try to migrate to Europe by boat, bus, foot or plane. Meanwhile, refugees fleeing wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are doing the same. Together, these two flows pose a huge challenge for the future of Europe.”
Never mind that the Iraqi and Afghan “flows” happen to be fleeing wars overzealously championed by none other than Friedman himself. Perhaps Europe can bill him for damages.
Meanwhile, Friedman concludes his foray into the West African plight with this prescription: “Gardens or walls? It’s really not a choice. We have to help [the Africans] fix their gardens because no walls will keep them home.”
Leaving aside the fact that the word “gardens” appears nowhere else in his two-part series and that it’s thus a bit unclear as to how we arrived at this particular choice, let’s take the metaphor and run with it—for just long enough to point out that the garden solution is fundamentally irreconcilable with the economic system Friedman and his ilk have devoted their lives to promoting. READ MORE AT TeleSUR ENGLISH.