War, Markets and the Re-Configuration of West African States—William Reno
-Article is essentially about how and why and increasing amount of African rulers are opting for
alternatives to bureaucratic, territorially bounded institutional arrangements. The author uses the term
political unit to describe these ambiguous states and non-state organizations. None of them asserts
exclusive control over internal groups, conforms to clear territorial limits or fulfills international
obligations. Nor do they fulfill the requirements of cold war third world standards of sovereignty.
-Rulers have found the cold war patron client networks based on foreign aid unsustainable, and have
been challenged by ‘strongmen’ cut off from traditional forms of patronage.
-Essentially these ‘non-state organizations’ are a response from leaders attempting to manage after the
sudden end to the cold war. Rapid internal and external change. It is not always in a rulers interests to
maintain strong bureaucracies and state agencies. Often these are destroyed simply to prevent them
from being used by rivals.
-also the emergence of a trans-continental African elite and their influence on both internal and external
forces further weakens a system which assumes strict territorially defined units.
-During the cold war, form of Marxist political organization were often used to manage ethnic
differences. State bureaucracies were put to work distributing patronage. However this paradigm has
shifted, Bretton wood lending institutions with strict conditionality attached to loans has meant the
cutting of state bureaucracies and the reduction of patronage. This has meant the emergence of
strongmen seeking access to resources outside of traditional channels.
-Often rulers who hold onto power in these political units must contract out the use of force by hiring
mercenaries form other countries, leading to the proliferation of these mercenary organizations.
-Often rulers may use insistence on privatization as a means to favour certain factions and groups by
allowing them access to the new resources available or to the loaned funds from credit institutions.