The African State after Internationalism: What will the demise of Liberal Internationalism mean for African States?

Modern African states have usually defined themselves with reference to foreign norms shaped by foreign power, whether economic or military: norms imposed under colonialism and refined in the postcolonial, international-community dispensation. However, the geopolitical situation today suggests that Africa is revisiting the point it was at in 1990, when the OAU’s assembled leaders, facing the end of the Cold War, jointly voiced what amounted to a fear of abandonment: “the real threat of marginalisation of our Continent.” For reasons to be discuss ed below, such an abandonment, however partial, might now actually be taking place. If that is indeed the case, then the foreign-power relations (economic or military) that have undergirded the evolution of the African state will change dramatically, and therefore the African state will need to adjust to a political landscape that, for the first time, lacks a strong normative foreign element. This is not to suggest that foreign powers as such are withdrawing from Africa — the opposite seems more likely — but rather that there will be no unipolar, multipolar or bipolar order with which to measure the progress of the African state.