Review: China Safari–On the Trail of Beijing’s Expansion in Africa

5 Star, Country/Regional, Culture, Research, Economics, Information Operations, Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, Earnest, New Insights, a Great Contribution

February 22, 2010

Serge Michel, Michel Beuret, Paolo Woods (Photos)

Of the modest number of books focused on China in Africa, this is one of the two best, and both are unique–if you buy only one, at least read my summary of the other, China into Africa: Trade, Aid, and Influence Whereas this book is direct journalism with wonderful color photos and direct ground-truth stories, China Into Africa is a best in class collection of academic essays.

Sixteen full pages of color photos in the middle of the book were unexpected and a complete delight.

On balance between the two books, this one taught me more and provided insights I could not get elsewhere to include the clear understanding, documented across multiple encounters by the authors, that the Chinese consider any Chinese business area or housing area of, by, and for their Chinese workers, to be sovereign territory of China immune to indigenous inspection or intervention.

Highpoints for me:

+ Africa is undergoing a huge transformation, and in combination, the infusion of Chinese infrastructure with the discovery of new energy fields and the growing need of all for what Africa has, is creating a perfect environment for a wealth explosion, and the US is missing it.

+ US has given up in Africa, in large part because the US Government other than the military does not have the resources, the human capital, the area knowledge, or the innate interest to actually do something strategic. The Chinese, in contrast, are unifying and pacifying Africa with infrastructure and commerce, while gaining direct access to natural resources that they can take possession of at half the market value by controlling the supply chain and no doubt lying about how much they are extracting.

+ Chinese presence in Africa is vertically and horizontally integrated, to include relatively thorough exploitation of what I have named the eight tribes of intelligence (academic, citizen-civil sector, commercial, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental), the Chinese appear to be way ahead of the US and all others in the Information Operations (IO) domain.

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Review: China into Africa–Trade, Aid, and Influence

4 Star, Country/Regional, Diplomacy, Economics, Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of Two “Best” on China in Africa

February 22, 2010

Robert I. Rotberg, contributing editor

Of the modest number of books focused on China in Africa, this is one of the two best, and both are unique–if you buy only one, at least read my summary of the other, China Safari: On the Trail of Beijing’s Expansion in Africa. Whereas t his book is a best in class collection of academic essays, China Safari is direct journalism with wonderful color photos and direct ground-truth stories.

While this book good easily be five stars in terms of staid academic documentation and reasonable insights, is just does not give me–nor does the other book–a 360 degree view aided by a few maps and charts. This is all print, and while there is a great deal of detail, the over-all synthesis and analysis is not there–each piece stands on its own. Here are my distilled notes.

01 Rotberg China’s Quest for Resources, Opportunities, and Influence in Africa
+ Third era in Chinese-African relations, first was in the 600-700 AD period
+ Since 2006 China has displaced Europe and is set to displace the USA within the decade
+ India and Japan are pushing back in Africa, but weakly
+ China is building infrastructure as a means of capturing below-market price direct access to natural resources
+ China’s neutral non-interventionist policies have opened doors closed by Western human rights badgering
– Downside is the substandard goods that China is dumping, and sub-price, displacing local economy suppliers
– Downside is Chinese labor brought in, thousands as a time, not hiring or training local labor
– US Government generally “ill-prepared” to monitor or understand China’s broad presence in Africa
– Neither the African Union nor any of its regional economic commissions have a China strategy or policy
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Review: SMS Uprising: Mobile Activism in Africa

6 Star Top 10%, Associations & Foundations, Autonomous Internet, Best Practices in Management, Change & Innovation, Communications, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Democracy, Economics, Education (General), Environment (Solutions), Information Operations, Information Society, Information Technology, Intelligence (Public), Media, Mobile, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Priorities, Public Administration, Security (Including Immigration), Stabilization & Reconstruction, Survival & Sustainment, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Six Stars–Hugely Important Useful Collection

February 20, 2010

Edited by Sokari Ekine

Contributing authors include Redante Asuncion-Reed, Amanda Atwood, Ken Banks, Chrstinia Charles-Iyoha, Nathan Eagle, Sokari Ekine, Becky Faith, Joshua Goldstein, Christian Kreutz, Anil Naidoo, Berna Ngolobe, Tanya Notley, Juliana Rotich,  and Bukeni Wazuri

This book will be rated 6 Stars and Beyond at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog, where we can do things Amazon refuses to implement here, such as sort useful non-fiction into 98 categories, many of the categories focused on stabilization & reconstruction, pushing back against predatory immoral capitalism, and so on.

When the book was first brought to my attention it was with concern over the price. The price is fair. Indeed, the content in this book is so valuable that I would pay $45 without a second thought. I am especially pleased that the African publishers have been so very professional and assured “Look Inside the Book”–please do click on the book cover above to read the table of contents and other materials.

This is the first collection I have seen on this topic, and although I have been following cell phone and SMS activism every since I and 23 others created the Earth Intelligence Network and put forth the need for a campaign to give the five billion poor free cell phones and educate them “one cell call at a time,” other than UNICEF and Rapid SMS I was not really conscious of bottom-up initiatives and especially so those in Africa where the greatest benefits are to be found.

I strongly recommend this book as a gift for ANYONE. This is potentially a game-changing book, and since I know the depth of ignorance among government policy makers, corporate chief executives, and larger non-governmental and internaitonal organization officials, I can say with assurance that 99% of them simply do not have a clue, and this one little precious book that gives me goose-bumps as I type this, could change the world by providing “higher education” to leaders who might then do more to further the brilliant first steps documented in this book.
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Review: Come Home America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Civil Society, Congress (Failure, Reform), Consciousness & Social IQ, Corruption, Culture, Research, Democracy, Economics, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Future, History, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Intelligence (Public), Justice (Failure, Reform), Misinformation & Propaganda, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Philosophy, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Priorities, Public Administration, Survival & Sustainment, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Read Fire Side Chat Review–This is Supplemental

February 20, 2010

William Greider

Very rarely do I find reviews as lengthy as my own. Please read and appreciate the Fireside Chat review that is deservedly popular with readers. I first encountered William Greider while managing the international conference on “National Security and National Competitiveness: Open Source Solutions,” and I realized that the way the US Government was mis-managing our democracy and our public commons was central to the demise of America. The two books I have most appreciated by him are Who Will Tell The People? : The Betrayal Of American Democracy and The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy but I have to remind myself that before I knew him personally I had also read and appreciated Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country as well as One World Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism (Hardcover).

I like the “fireside chat” description of this book and am providing my own summary primarily for my own benefit and the benefit of those that follow all of my non-fiction reviews at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog where all of my reviews, in 98 non-fiction categories, are more easily exploited than here at Amazon (but they all lead back to Amazon.

QUOTE (1): We live in a country where telling the hard truth with clarity has become taboo.

QUOTE (7): From the birth of our nation, it was always ordinary people, pushing from the bottom against an entrenched status quo, that led to the most momentous changes in American life.
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Review: Comeback America–Turning the Country Around and Restoring Fiscal Responsibility (Hardcover)

3 Star, Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Budget Process & Politics, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Complexity & Catastrophe, Congress (Failure, Reform), Corruption, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Economics, Electoral Reform USA, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Intelligence (Wealth of Networks), Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), True Cost & Toxicity, Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)

3.0 out of 5 stars Ten Years Late, More Whimper than Roar

February 7, 2010

David Walker

I was watching David Walker as he served nine of his fifteen years at Comptroller General, with light-weight whimpers to Congress until he finally got Peter Peterson to bail him out of government and give him a chunk of cash for making movies and writing a book and creating a web site that very few serious under 40 pioneers pay attention to.

I was thrilled to see him tell Congress in 2007 that the US was bankrupt–both Senator McCain and Senator Obama could have cared less–and so he walked quietly back to his holding cell at the General Accountability Office (GAO).  His “loyalty” to impeachable masters is just as troubling to me as the loyalty of our military leaders during the neo-con rampage.

This book loses one star for the publishers arrogance and ineptitude in failing to use all of the tools Amazon provides, so that readers like myself who read a great deal and do not buy books on whim, can actually look at the table of contents. If you want a sense what the author has to say, see the Wikipedia page on the US Federal Budget where the author’s fingerprints are elegantly visible.

If and when the publisher acts more responsibly and provides Look Inside the Book information as well standard entries via Amazon Advantage (about the book, about the author, editorial reviews), I will buy the book, read it, and review it.

The book loses a second star for being wildly praised by all the unethical losers that got us into this mess in the first place by sacrificing their ethics and selling the two party system out to Wall Street. Bill Bradley in particular is a major disappointment, he slunk off to Allen and Company where George “Slam Dunk” Tenet is also in hiding, and they have profited handsomely for betraying the public trust for over a decade. Edumund Burke said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Even better is the following from Chief Justice Louis Brandeis:

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