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Five Best Monday Columns

Kofi Annan on Africa, David Himbra on Rwanda, Edward Luce on foreign policy, Albert R. Hunt on Obama, and Travis McKnight on vegetarianism. 

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Kofi Annan in The Washington Post on how the U.S. should continue to support Africa moving forward. Ahead of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit this week, the former head of the United Nations writes that Africa will have an important, positive impact on the world moving forward. "... a peaceful and economically strong Africa can be a major part of the solution to many of the world’s great challenges. It can help drive global growth, reduce poverty and inequality, improve health and counter the threats of terrorism and climate change." Annan lays out 6 things the United State's can do to help Africa succeed including supporting governments that will promote democracy and human rights. He also maintains the importance of continuing American aid to Africa. "While investment and trade may be the most important drivers of growth, development assistance still has a significant role to play, even if that role must evolve. The impact of U.S. assistance to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa shows what can be achieved. The recently launched Power Africa initiative, sponsored by USAID, can show how public-private partnerships can make a difference in providing energy. We need a similarly imaginative effort to improve the continent’s poor transportation links."

David Himbra in Politico on why the U.S. should no longer back Rwanda's President Paul Kagame. Himbra, a former economic advisor to Kagame, writes that the two-term Rwandan president has become increasingly dictatorial and repressive. "Growing numbers of Kagame’s critics are dying, even in exile, in suspicious circumstances... The death toll includes: Former intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya, strangled in a hotel room in Johannesburg, South Africa, early this year. Andre Kagawa Rwisereka, deputy president of the opposition Democratic Green Party, decapitated and dumped in a river in Rwanda in 2010... And Theogene Turatsinze, former director of the Rwandan Development Bank, whose body was found floating in a lake in Mozambique in 2012." According to Himbra, America overlooks these violations because Kagame has stabilized Rwanda and increased economic growth. "The closer Kagame got to the election in 2010, the worse he became—the more he would overstate, the more he wanted to exaggerate. He was determined to turn Rwanda into the Singapore of Africa.... It’s an alluring model in many respects, but no country can remain an attractive place to live, work or do business when its inhabitants fear being arrested or assassinated simply for speaking their minds."

Edward Luce in The Financial Times on why Republicans must return to the foreign policy of restraint. Luce praises the traditional, intelligent, and cautious foreign policy of statesmen such as Eisenhower, Kissinger, Nixon, and George H.W. Bush. 
"To paraphrase Daniel Drezner, a foreign affairs scholar, how did the party of clever foxes turn into a stupid hedgehog? The easy answer is al-Qaeda. As the joke goes, the only foreign policy stance an ambitious Republican needs is a noun, a verb and 9/11. But that quip has lost its context.... There is little appetite to risk showdowns in Ukraine, the South China Sea or the Middle East." Luce praises Rand Paul and points to his potential candidacy in the 2016 presidential election as a moment where traditional Republican foreign policy could reassert itself once again. "Republican realism is not dead. It is sleeping. And it is showing signs of stirring. This is why Mr Paul – a “non-interventionist” – attracts so much fire from his rivals. Mr Paul is no more an isolationist than Bush senior, or Bill Clinton. By urging restraint, he is taking a leaf from Ronald Reagan’s book. Mr Paul’s opponents claim Reagan for themselves. They forget that Mr Reagan only once ordered US boots on to foreign ground... Reagan was stern, but he wasn’t stupid,' wrote Mr Paul in Politico. 'Unlike his more hawkish critics, Reagan was always thoughtful and cautious.'"

Albert R. Hunt in Bloomberg View on what Congressional Democrats want to say to President Obama. Based on conversations with top Congressional Democrats, Hunt writes a hypothetical and instructional letter to the President. "First, erase the F-word -- fatalism -- from your rhetoric and mind-set. Too often, what you convey is that we're gripped by political paralysis at home and at the mercy of irrational acts overseas. We share your frustration. But fatalism isn't an option for the leader of the free world." Hunt continues that, while the country faces many challenges, Obama should trumpet his successes, especially the recent improving economic numbers. Meanwhile, "On foreign policy, it seems there are crises everywhere that don’t have a lot to do with U.S. policies. We understand why you're intervention-shy: Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya offer sobering lessons on the limits of American power. But don't just react to Russian President Vladimir Putin, take the offensive against him more.... Mr. President, you still have the biggest megaphone in the world and 900 days left to use it. Seize every one. Good luck. We hope we're there with you."

Travis McKnight in The Guardian on why becoming a vegetarian is the best way for millennials to help the environment. "It’s time to start a dietary revolution," says McKnight. "Millennials represent $200bn in economic worth, and if a statistical majority of our generation become vegetarians or vegans, or at least eat significantly less meat than previous generations, we have a chance to have a real economic – and thus environmental – impact." McKnight contends that while much of the focus of grassroots environmental activism is on reducing the automobile industry's reliance on gas, eliminating meat in your diet would have an even larger impact. "Raising animals to eat produces more greenhouse gasses (via methane and nitrous oxide) than all of the carbon dioxide excreted by automobiles, boats, planes and trains in the world combined. Over a 20-year period, methane has 86 times more climate change potential than carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide has 268 times more climate change potential, according to the 2006 UN report. Radically reducing the amount of methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere can produce discernable changes in the greenhouse gas effect within decades, while the same reductions in carbon dioxide take nearly a century. Yes, quitting meat can reduce your carbon footprint significantly more than quitting driving."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.