Writing at The American Conservative, Gilbert T. Sewall examines new French president, Emmanuel Macron’s rebuff of a call for an “African Marshall plan.” Sewall says Macron’s answer that Africa’s problem “is civilization today,” touched the “third rail” of Western politics. Criticism from the left came at Macron almost as though the problems in Africa were make believe.
At a G20 summit press conference in Hamburg on July 8, French President Emmanuel Macron answered a call for an African “Marshall Plan” from a Cote d’Ivoire journalist. Macron’s stern, clear-eyed rebuff to was startling, as he dismissed the idea with some disdain: “We among the West have been discussing such Marshall plans for Africa for many years and have in fact given many such plans already. So if it were so simple, it would have been fixed already.”
He went on: “The challenge of Africa, is totally different, much deeper, it is civilization today.” He cited failed states trafficking in drugs, weapons, humans, and cultural property, Islamic terrorism, and said for a kicker: “when countries have still today 7 to 8 children per woman, you can decide to spend billions of euros, you stabilize nothing.”
Macron touched the third rail.
The possible impact of sub-Saharan African demography and migrations in 21st century Europe is “almost too overwhelming to contemplate,” says a world-traveled London banker I know.
In the last four years, some 600,000 sub-Saharan Africans have entered Italy uninvited from North Africa. Without a functioning government, Libya is a preferred embarkation point.
They come from Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Somalia, and Mali, all over. Mostly Muslim, sometimes Christian or animist, they come, barely literate and with few skills, from a world of shanties, disease and danger, from vast urban slums with zero sanitation or barely electrified villages, a world of bushmeat and fetishes, where life is very cheap.
They want to raise their standard of living in Europe’s welfare states, which is not hard to do. And as everyone knows, including the UN, World Bank, Macron, and the EU establishment, there are hundreds of millions more back home, itching to migrate, as well as an African population explosion going on.
To make things right in Africa in the 21st century, or at least stable, to use Macron’s well-chosen word, it might take the Chinese, who are likely to have fewer qualms about yuan diplomacy, resource extraction, policed borders, population control, and slave labor than a dispirited West. It’s true, Macron uttered forbidden thoughts. But instead of condemnation, he deserves praise for using his platform, public visibility, and political office to say something honest about Africa’s challenges.
Read more from Sewall here.