Modern post-conflict security sector reform in Africa: patterns of success and failure

Promoting security sector reform (SSR) in countries emerging from war is one of the critical missions that the African Union (AU) – following the path laid out by the United Nations (UN), the World Bank, and others – has increasingly assumed in recent years. However, despite two decades of implementation experience, as of 2016 there has been no increase in the tiny number of post-conflict SSR efforts generally considered successful. In another field of endeavour, the approach might have been discarded as unworkable in practice. However, in the absence of any alternative path to the same critical ends, i.e. stable, self-governing states in which citizens enjoy basic security and justice services, do not export security problems (refugees, militants, drug-traffickers, etc.), and do not require continual aid and periodic intervention, SSR remains indispensable.

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A New High, A New Low

But a billion here and there adds up, with the F35 program cost ballooning from $219 billion (1997) to $395 billion (2012) and counting. Even after the Pentagon finally strong-armed Lockheed into serious cost control a few years ago, and significantly cut the number of planes it will buy, the total lifetime cost of the F35 looks to be, optimistically, $1.02 trillion.

All of the figures in the previous paragraph are so enormous that they cease to have any real meaning – they’re unimaginable. To bring them down to earth, the World Peace Foundation decided to have a concrete look at what else that money could have bought:

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