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Nice try, but that ain't the point. The point is that from any technical, economic or practical perspective, the Mediterranean is quite simply a smaller barrier to integrate across than the Sahara.

Of course, North Africa should be perfectly free to pick their alliances, or remain alliance-free for that matter. And Europe should support North African political and economic development under whatever banner it takes. Not just for altruistic reasons either - stable, prosperous neighbours make for a better neighbourhood.

... But if I were sitting in a government office in Cairo or Tunis, I know which compass point I'd place my bets on.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 04:45:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes, I understand the "point" of the pop density map is to dramatize natural barriers, oceans of sand and sea, languages and tyrannies, religions and so forth, between civilized peoples. The natural barrier between North Africa and Europe is smaller than the barrier between North Africa, therefore Europe, and "Black Africa" is insurmountable. Regardless of whatever.

Reflecting on a trope of 18th century neo-Hellenistic phases of humanity would be comical if it were not 2010 and its repetition so eurocentric, mindless, and creepy.

So where we will disagree apparently is in acceptance of a foregone conclusion: the necessity of "integrating" Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Lybia, and Egypt with Europe for all practical, technical, and economic intents and purposes of a plan devised by the Club of Rome and the Union for the Mediterranean, programmed by M. Sarkozy (UMP). <insert concern troll>

The only purpose I've read at ET, until  Melanchthon alluded to consummating "centuries of shared history, economy and culture," is to expropriate energy resources in the Sahara which --you've illustrated so graphically-- are obviously idle inspite of Europe's great time of "decarbonised" fuel needs.

60 years ago it was rubber and oil. 100 years ago, iron ore and oil. 200 years sugar and slaves. 400 years ago, gold.

The PwC business case, "100% Renewable, a roadmap to 2050 for Europe and North Africa," is here. This is a thoroughly researched strategy for expropriation, where "the integration of North Africa and Europe" is nothing more than "the smooth flow of electricity and revenues" to Europe to be consumed.

This story is credible. This story is consistent with compulsive, acquisitive premises of industrial governance. It kinda squeals for lipstick.

Like European investment banks supporting "North African political and economic development" because Algeria, Lybia, or Egypt are close, good neighbors.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 01:46:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and the only reason the EU expanded to Central and Eastern Europe was to take over the exploitation structure put in place by the Soviet Union to the Wes's benefit.

Are you saying that there is no path to genuine cooperation between Europe and Africa, because it can only be about exploitation of Africa by Europe? Or what?

The Mediteranean basin was a single world centuries ago, and the links have never really left. Quite frankly, quite often it feels like there is more in common between a Marseillais, a Sicilian, a Tunisian or a Lebanese than between a Marseillais and a Dane...

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 03:52:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... of a thread some time ago (hello Migeru!) where Mig produced an interesting outline/map for Europe of economic/cultural areas based upon watersheds, river basins, natural barriers etc.

I have been focusing my efforts for some time on the historic 'Hanseatic' area around the North and Baltic Seas, but extensible to (say) Ireland, Iceland, Faroes and so on.

It seems to me that the Mediterranean basin is in many ways a more natural geo-political, cultural and economic nexus than the national and international accidents of history we have.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 09:27:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I cannot speak to the vagaries of continental European alliances with Russia or against the USSR.

Unless you care to discuss adventures in Angola.

Are you saying that there is no path to genuine cooperation between Europe and Africa, because it can only be about exploitation of Africa by Europe?

If there were a "path to genuine cooperation" --in contrast to resource exploitation and postcolonial suzeraignty-- it would be self-evident at this point in time in the "genuine" integration of cultural and material enterprises among and between peoples in Africa and Europe.

We be celebrating "liberalization" of capital flows and human migration assured by intergovernmental administration of EU and African Union members. We would be celebrating the resolution of COP15.

But no.

And I am walking a ring of a self-deception about "natural" barriers to cooperation. The fantasy that French West Africa does not exist. But a cosmopolitan metropolis of antiquity is risen.

To serve the purposes of a Greater Europe.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 11:21:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cat:
If there were a "path to genuine cooperation" --in contrast to resource exploitation and postcolonial suzeraignty-- it would be self-evident at this point in time in the "genuine" integration of cultural and material enterprises among and between peoples in Africa and Europe.

It is true that the current relationship between European countries (mainly France and the UK) and most of the Sub-Saharan African countries is still shamefully neocolonialist.

But do you mean that because a genuinely cooperative relationship doesn't exist, it cannot exist? At the end of the 1940s, one could have said a European Union was not possible...

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 11:46:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
re: "But do you mean that because a genuinely cooperative relationship doesn't exist, it cannot exist?"

As I've described "a genuinely cooperative relationship": Not in my lifetime.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 12:15:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cat:
Not in my lifetime.

Ah, but I was thinking long term. And, as Jérôme Keynes would tell you: "In the long term, we're all dead"...

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 12:24:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe has been evil and will always be evil. I get it. What are you doing on European Tribune, exactly?

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 06:04:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had supposed for the many of the reasons you continue to post at dailykos.

Now I know better.

good-bye.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 12:20:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that I'm not writing that nothing good could ever come of any policy coming out of America, just because it is coming out of America. I've been critical of policies, and politicians but I don't think I've ever written on dKos "whetever you do, it's bad" like you basically did about Europe in this thread.

So,non the comparison is not valid.

In any case, I'm not denying Europe's colonialist past, nor the continued exploitative beahavior of many of its companies in Africa today, but your blanket rejection that anything done with Africa is going to be exploitative by definition is just not acceptable.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 07:10:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That sounds awfully like love it or leave it...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 01:34:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but there is no room for manoeuver in Cat's position.

It's a different thing to say "there is a significant risk, given the past and some still current European behavior in Africa, that a partnership would end up being unfair" and to say "any partnership will be exploitative because that's what Europeans are and do"

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 07:12:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and if you dare suggest that North Africa joining a Euro-Mediterranean union might make sense economically and politically:

That's your inner, patronizing imperialist speaking


"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 07:28:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I fear that it has more to do with self regard and aspiration than with analytic rigor. What Cat was saying comes from perspective highly critical of US and European civilization and its impact on the rest of the world. She cited Edward Said and, to the extent that I understand Said, seems to be mostly consistent with that approach.

While many of us in the US and Europe are critical of the nature of our societies and do not wish them to continue to have the impacts that they have had on much of the rest of the world we have been signally ineffective in bringing about such change -- to the extent that total system collapse is more likely than orderly internal change.

This is not to say that Jerome, Melanchthon and others are not sincere in their desires to bring about such change, but that has not made it so. I took Cat's comments as being directed at the fact and the likely probability of outcome concerning the relationship between the USA, Europe and Africa. On that I personally suspect she is right. "Not in my lifetime" -- unless via collapse. The poison in the soul of our shared cultures is deep and at the root of its organization. We all have to take responsibility for that, whether we are benificiaries, victims or both.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Sep 8th, 2010 at 12:34:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a very real risk that any such relationship will be exploitative. The industrial development business is overrun with economic hit men, pork barrel and assorted other colonial nastiness.

However, the risk of an exploitative economic relationship is, I would argue, an argument for increased involvement of people who are not in favour of colonialism and who know how to spot an economic hit man and beat him at his own game. Because if we do not beat the economic hit men in some way, we'll end up with this, at least if history is any guide:

another scenario would be that Siemens et al build multi-billion-dollar facilities but keep complete control of it, without tech transfer or ownership, and thus it's them selling both to Spain and Algeria even if they also pay rent for the desert land;

Now, project finance and economic and political integration isn't the only battlefield in this particular revolution. But it's an important one, and one that we should not abdicate entirely simply because the rules are tilted against us.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 8th, 2010 at 02:05:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had wondered where you had gone for part of the final third of August. Part of the answer was found when I read the last 20 or so comments on JaP's diary. Sadly, I also found what had happened to Cat, though trouble seemed to be simmering the last time I looked.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Sep 8th, 2010 at 02:31:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, that part of the final third of August would probably be the part where I had no internet ;-P

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 8th, 2010 at 10:46:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
???
by vladimir on Mon Aug 30th, 2010 at 03:00:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So North African countries are being used in neo-colonialism to extract their resources. And that is happening right now. Then what would be wrong with the North African countries joining the EU? What is wrong with getting the vote?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 04:44:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The natural barrier between North Africa and Europe is smaller than the barrier between North Africa, therefore Europe, and "Black Africa" is insurmountable. Regardless of whatever.

Very few geographic features are truly insurmountable in the face of the full engineering capacity of a determined modern industrial state. That does not, however, mean that surmounting them would be the wisest use of that engineering capacity.

So where we will disagree apparently is in acceptance of a foregone conclusion: the necessity of "integrating" Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Lybia, and Egypt with Europe

There are very few foregone conclusions in international politics. As I said, the states of Northern Africa remain more or less sovereign, and are free to align themselves with whomever they please. If you see anybody offering a better deal than Europe is, please let me know.

for all practical, technical, and economic intents and purposes of a plan devised by the Club of Rome and the Union for the Mediterranean, programmed by M. Sarkozy (UMP). <insert concern troll>

Eh, no. Club Med predates Sarko by a decade or so.

The only purpose I've read at ET, until  Melanchthon alluded to consummating "centuries of shared history, economy and culture," is to expropriate energy resources in the Sahara

Expropriation is one possible scenario, though not one that is likely to involve full integration.

But hey, why not ask Portugal whether they think that integrating with the European community has resulted in an expropriation of their natural resources, or whether Spain believes that they have been treated to a poor deal with their EU membership? Last time I checked, no European country except England had anything resembling the shadow of a majority of its population that was in favour of leaving the EU.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 03:59:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fine. Credit to Chirac. What difference would it make to your ability to acknowlege the historical, geopolitical significance of its institution and its instrumentality for implementing Desertec? Which is literally the framework, infrastructure, of a Greater Europe.

"As I said, the states of Northern Africa remain more or less sovereign"

I read that. You do not question the necessity of imperialism, although you also remarked earlier,

quite a lot of places still remember what it was like to have Europe at the centre of the world, and most of them would probably really rather prefer it to not happen again...

and

Overcoming that hurdle would require Europe to overcome a substantial internal hurdle as well: To realise how other people feel about last time Europe had empires.

My impression is that most Europeans remain in flat denial of most of the two or three centuries preceding the last world war. Europe cannot reassure former colonies of our benign intentions if we don't display some measure of awareness of historical reality.

Are you joking or do you mean to adopt a patronizing attitude toward the self-determination of nations "invited" to join the EU?


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 11:49:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's take a hypothetical example of economic integration:

Algeria, wanting to reduce its dependence on imported coal, decides to install solar panels to provide electricity. Algeria does not possess the capacity to manufacture solar panels domestically, or the capability to build that capacity. So in order to obtain that capacity, they borrow a suitcase full of either US$ or € and hire a bunch of American, SE Asian or German engineers to build them their factories and train their workforce to use them. Why not engineers from Sub-Saharan Africa? Because they don't precisely have a surplus to lend out.

In order to repay the loan, they need hard currency. For sufficiently long amortisation times, they might be able to pay out of the ForEx savings from not having to import coal. But let's say that they want to get out from under the debt relatively quickly so as to not present a target to ForEx piranhas. So they want to sell some of the electricity that they produce. Who are they going to sell it to? The Americas? Russia? Good luck making that economical. The Middle East? The rest of North Africa? They have equivalent solar resources within shorter transmission range. Sub-Saharan Africa? They have superior resources within shorter transmission range. So they make a thirty-year take-or-pay contract with a Spanish utility that rolls out some HVDC cables across the Med.

Net results: Algeria gets electricity paid for by Spanish electricity consumers (and Australian coal miners). After amortisation is complete, Algeria also gets ForEx revenues that can be used to make other infrastructure projects happen that are beyond the technical capabilities of indigenous industry. Algeria gets indigenous solar panel production capacity. Spain gets solar power cheaper than than they would if they had to install the panels at their own latitude. Everybody gets to benefit from the displacement of coal power with solar power.

What, precisely, is wrong with this picture? (Except from the perspective of the Australian coal miners...)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 12:45:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
re: "What, precisely, is wrong with this picture?"

It's delusional.

The scenario is predicated entirely by the assumption that the only value of power generation to Algerians, for example, is the market value of surplus capacity, stock, and distribution ("Who are they going to sell it to? The Americas? Russia?"); and energy export is a prerequisite of "economic integration" signified by some amount of EUR reserves accumulated entirely as revenue share of exclusive marketing to EU customers.

That's your inner, patronizing imperialist speaking obliquely about the intractable problem of increasing energy consumption in Europe. This golem cannot conceive of an African nation obtaining project financing to acquire a discrete productive means and extinguish debt. It cannot conceive of any competitive supplier of plant and equipment other than the tools in its chest. Precious hates BRIC brac.

Do you know much wind capacity is actually installed in Algeria? Could you estimate much more renewable energy will Algeria require to (1) replace fossil fuel marked-to-OPEC (2) service its public and private sector population over 80 years or so? This last goal is the most important measure of civilization, by the way, beside industrial capabilities and excess manufacturing capacity, exemplified by Algeria's partners in "economic integration."

Some information is in the Desertec prospectus, for example,

In 2050, we envisage that the EU-NA power system will have a total electricity consumption of at least 5000 TWh/a, with approximately 25% of this demand in [ALL OF] North Africa and the remainer in Europe. In total, only 60% (3000 TWh/a) of the system-wide electricity supply is produced in Europe, whereas 40% (2000 TWh/a) is produced in [ALL OF] North Africa.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 02:37:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not quite clear on what you think is wrong with a 75/25 split in electricity usage between the present EU and North Africa. North Africa has pretty precisely 25 % of the population of the combined EU+NA system. So, ceteris paribus, we should expect it to have 25 % of the electricity usage. Maybe differences in demographics would tilt the population ratio to 70/30 in 2050, but that's still close enough for corporate work.

The fact that North Africa will have a greater share of electricity production relative to population in an EU+NA system than the EU is not so different from the fact that Italy, France and Spain have a larger share of EU wine production relative to population than Finland, Sweden and Norway. I'm sure that Finland could make fine wine, if they threw sufficient resources at the problem. But that would hardly be the smartest or the most elegant way to provide Europe with wine...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 03:22:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"project finance"?

Project finance is exactly what Jake described, and you actually could not get project finance in Algeria for a big investment project like he describes but based on local demand, because project financiers want to see high probability cash flows to be in a position to lend, and for some reason (European oppression, probably, they don't trust the locals to pay them back, and require export contracts backed by creditable parties to provide these.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 06:08:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That and the fact that they usually demand €-denominated loans, which means that the project had damn well better have a €-denominated cash flow sufficient to retire those loans on schedule. Otherwise, you're setting yourself up for a currency crisis and the accompanying IMF euthanasia of your economy and political sovereignty structural adjustment program.

Unless, of course, one thinks that it's a brilliant idea to deliver developing countries into the waiting arms of an economic hit man.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 06:15:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I may raise some more sceptical aspects: this picture would be nice, if it is realised like that. However,

  1. that needs Algeria to consciously follow its interests (and its leaders to resist bribes): for, another scenario would be that Siemens et al build multi-billion-dollar facilities but keep complete control of it, without tech transfer or ownership, and thus it's them selling both to Spain and Algeria even if they also pay rent for the desert land;

  2. I do think that Spain has enough solar resource (and a good one at that) to supply itself;

  3. I am not convinced that the Desertec plans are much more than greenwashing for the companies involved, that is: if realised, it may not grow beyond the scale of a few GW;

  4. Algeria is a bad example, because the government doesn't like Desertec.

Then again, I don't see how Desertec would bring EU integration any closer...

Finally, a nitpick:

Sub-Saharan Africa? They have superior resources

Actually, no: they may have a higher angle of the Sun in the sky, but clouds, too.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 03:14:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
another scenario would be that Siemens et al build multi-billion-dollar facilities but keep complete control of it, without tech transfer or ownership, and thus it's them selling both to Spain and Algeria even if they also pay rent for the desert land;

Yes, that is another possible scenario. Our job as lefties is to make sure that's not the way it turns out.

I do think that Spain has enough solar resource (and a good one at that) to supply itself;

OK, point. I originally used Libya and Italy, but the fact that Libya has oil means that they have access to hard currency to fund the project without building new export infrastructure (ditto for Egypt and the Suez canal), which complicates the argument a little without adding anything substantial to the conclusion.

I am not convinced that the Desertec plans are much more than greenwashing for the companies involved, that is: if realised, it may not grow beyond the scale of a few GW;

I wasn't talking about Desertec specifically - rather, I was thinking a Gazprom-style sovereign utility on the African side and a Ruhrgas-style quasi-sovereign utility on the European side. That seems to have worked out well enough for Russia, and anything that could survive the Yeltsin years is surely a solid design. And solar power - particularly solar power for export via HVDC lines - is an infrastructure business in the same way that natural gas is: You can only sell the power in the places that you have power lines to, and the infrastructure represents a substantial up-front cost.

Unlike gas, however, it does not run out, so if you take good care of your infrastructure, you can keep using it essentially forever. Which in turn means that as soon as it is fully amortised, it makes free electricity in perpetuity (or until Sahara gets a cloud cover or the Earth's axial tilt changes - but in both those cases you'd have to reevaluate your business model for other reasons...).

Sub-Saharan Africa? They have superior resources

Actually, no: they may have a higher angle of the Sun in the sky, but clouds, too.

I was thinking about the Sahara here as well: From a pure production perspective, the smart way to power sub-Saharan Africa would be to start from the south end of Sahara and work your way North. And you'll run out of solar panels long before you reach the border.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 03:42:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nitpicking your nitpick:

According to your map, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan, which are not usually seen as North African countries, are located in the maximum solar potential zone...

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 03:43:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nitpicking the nitpicked nitpick: I countered "superior", not "up to just as good" :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 04:28:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would really like to nitpick your nitpicking of my nitpicking of your nitpick, but the scale of you map doesn't allow it... ;-)

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 05:16:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Use this!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 05:23:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks! Then Chad and Sudan are the winners... ;-)

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 05:41:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is not a creation of Chirac, it's EU policy. Sarkozy tried to hijack the EU process for his personal glory (so what else is new) but the EU-Mediteranean cooperation process is not particularly a French-led one. If anything Spain has probably shown more consistent interest.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 06:10:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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