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Kenya: The King’s Shadow Army  

Henrik Laugesen

The classical theoretical civil–military relations (CMR) perspective is traditionally concerned with how to obtain civil control of the armed forces. This theme is preeminent in the writings of Samuel Huntington and Morris Janowitz, the two most dominant voices in the debate of this subject field since the 1960s. By 2019, the character of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) was heavily influenced, if not determined, by CMR, as CMR seems to be the only constant factor when trying to understand KDF. During British colonial rule in the East African protectorate, the use of force was primarily dedicated to securing the extraction of natural resources from Kenya and maintaining internal security. It was in this colonial context of exploitation and extraction that the KDF was born in 1902, in the form of the King’s African Rifles (KAR). Therefore, to understand the “genetics” of the present-day KDF, one has to understand the political context in which the KDF was born and raised. The surprising point here is that although Kenya has since undergone far-reaching political changes, the KDF still seems to be caught in King Edward VII’s long shadow of colonial repression. The effective, ethnically driven political system and Britain’s military guaranties have dominated CMR and kept an iron grip on the military for more than 100 years.

Article

Guatemala’s Struggle for Justice  

Mario Roberto Morales

Guatemala is one of the most complicated countries in the Latin American region, especially because of the interethnic dimensions of its historical processes. Its history goes back 35,000 years, when the territory was first populated. Thereafter, it saw the development of the most advanced culture in the Americas: The Maya civilization. No less interesting is its colonial history. The years of the war of conquest and the centuries of colonial rule by the Spaniards are the very matrix in which all of the complicated ethnic differences among its peoples originated. These differences give an ethnic face to the economic, political, social, and cultural powers and events in everyday life. The name Criollos (Creole) was given to the sons and grandsons of Spaniards born in the Americas. The formation of a Creole or Criollo motherland in the hearts and minds of the descendants of the conquistadors quickly developed because of the feudal land ownership imposed by the invaders, which provided the Criollos with a love of private property. Land ownership disputes among the Criollo elites gave way to wars that led to a failed attempt at Central American unity by liberals against the conservative forces representing the interests of the Catholic Church in matters of state. In the end, a liberal “modernity” was imposed, but this modernity contained a basic contradiction that remains alive to this day: A feudal land tenure as the basis of a supposed democratic liberal state that, oddly enough, often took the form of military dictatorships. The impossibility of modernity characterizes the Guatemalan 20th century. An authoritarian state and army represented the oligarchic Criollo power throughout the first four decades of that century until a civic and military movement overthrew the dictator in charge, General Jorge Ubico. Democracy was established, thus modernizing the state and all public affairs, and the foundations of a “democratic Capitalism” (as President Jacobo Arbenz called it in his inauguration speech) were laid through a land reform affecting only public lands and buying private non-cultivated properties at a fair market price. In the midst of the Cold War, this meant defiance against the U.S. government. In 1954, the CIA, the local oligarchy, the Catholic Church hierarchy, and a faction of the National Army, perpetrated a coup d’état that ended Guatemala’s path toward real economic, political, and cultural modernity. The country went back to where it was: Oligarchic and military rule and the overexploitation of the landless campesino workforce, especially in the indigenous communities of Maya ascent. In the early 1960s Guatemalans experienced the emergence of a guerrilla socialist movement inspired by the Cuban revolution that unleashed a war that lasted 36 years until peace accords were signed in 1996 by a militarily defeated guerrilla force and a triumphant National Army. This “peace” was the local requisite imposed by the corporate transnational capital on the local oligarchy to install a neoliberal regime in the country. Immediately after the peace accords were signed, the oligarchic government of Álvaro Arzú began to privatize public assets like the electric and telephone companies. The effect on the popular sectors and the middle class was devastating. The state abandoned its development plans, and this responsibility was shifted to international funding agencies. The resultant non-governmental organizations (NGOs) began to call themselves “civil society” and still do today. This simulacrum of a civil society was composed by well-funded groups of ex–left-wing militants and sympathizers that soon embraced and advanced issues related to multiculturalism, following the international agenda of the funding agencies. Class struggle was totally abandoned by these politically correct NGOs, which soon became “new social movements.” Public powers were absorbed by illegal private powers now in association with drug trafficking and many other forms of organized crime. Neoliberalism became the national economic paradigm. And when public corruption was incontrollable, the United States intervened, waging a “struggle against corruption and impunity” that led to a “color revolution” and a soft coup d’état in 2015.

Article

Attitudes Toward LGBT People and Rights in Africa  

Jocelyn M. Boryczka

Capturing the nuanced attitudes toward LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people and rights in Africa involves examining them from within and outside the African context. Constructions of the entire African continent as holding negative attitudes toward LGBT peoples and denying them any rights remain quite commonplace across the Global North. However, closer analysis of specific nation-states and regions complicates our understanding of LGBT people and rights in Africa. Advances in the global study of LGBT attitudes through tools such as the Global LGBTI Inclusion Index and the Global Acceptance Index survey African peoples’ beliefs about LGBT communities. These measures locate African attitudes about LGBT peoples within a comparative context to decenter assumptions and many inaccurate, often colonialist, constructions. Attitudinal measures also expose the gap between legislation securing formal rights and the beliefs driving peoples’ everyday practices. These measures further specify how African governments can, often in response to Western political and economic forces, leverage homophobia on a national level to serve their interests despite a misalignment with the population’s attitudes toward LGBT peoples. Nongovernmental organizations and advocates raise awareness about LGBT rights and issues to impact socialization processes that shape these attitudes to generate political, social, and economic change. A rights-based approach and research on attitudes emerging from the African context represent shifts critical to better understanding how LGBT peoples and rights can be more effectively advanced across the continent.

Article

Mexico: The Evolution of a Multiparty State  

Nora Hamilton and Patrice Olsen

Several distinct features have shaped Mexico’s political development, among them its geographic characteristics, including its proximity to, and shifting relations with, the United States; the existence of a significant indigenous population whose distinct cultures and interaction with the Spanish colonists helped determine the trajectory of Mexican history; and the Mexican revolution, which in turn shaped the political system and ideology of much of the 20th century. These in turn have influenced research issues and debates, including (a) conceptualizations of the indigenous populations and the impact of colonialism (caste system vs. mestizo/cosmic race), growing emphasis on size and identity of indigenous groups and other minorities, and the search for autonomy by indigenous communities; (b) foreign relations, and especially the impact of the United States, including annexation of half of Mexico’s territory following the Mexican–American War, foreign ownership and control of Mexican assets (dependent development, “triple alliance”), and the impact of globalization and neoliberalism (outward- vs. inward-oriented development, North American Free Trade Agreement, cross-border alliances); (c) the nature and impact of the Mexican revolution, including origins and goals of distinct revolutionary groups, the Constitution, reforms and their limits in the early postrevolutionary period, and the creation of a unique political system combining elements of flexibility and repression; (d) the role of the state, including debates regarding the independence of the state vs. class control, and its significance in the protection of national interests and promoting social reforms and economic development; and (e) migration, including U.S. recruitment of Mexican labor, increasing emphasis on the Mexican border and restrictions on migrants, contributions of Mexican migrants to Mexico (remittances, hometown associations and other associations linking Mexicans to their home communities), and cooperation of Mexico with the United States in controlling Central American migration. International research issues, including concerns about human rights and the rights of women, minorities and other disadvantaged groups, as well as developments in Mexico in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, have also had an important impact on Mexican research, among them (a) democratization, including the role of social groups, decentralization, and the limits to democracy (ongoing corruption, fraudulent elections, and continued poverty and inequality), and (b) the drug issue, including the emergence of the cartels and increased violence with the militarization of the drug war under the Calderón presidency, policy concentrating on kingpin strategy, and the role of the United States as drug market and supplier of guns as well as a source of assistance in the drug war focused on military aid and the destruction of drug producing areas. These conditions present formidable challenges to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, whose anticorruption, proreform agenda and widespread support brought hope for change.