Ioannis Gatsiounis

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

New Africa or New Hype? *

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2012 at 6:23 am

May 14, 2012

KAMPALA – The global media have rightly been criticized over the years for paying too little attention to Africa ‘s strengths and successes. War, poverty, disease, that’s all they mention, grumble the critics.

But of late coverage has begun to even out, with greater attention paid to the continent’s world-beating growth rates, greater stability and investment, and a global-minded business class choosing to stay or resettle in Africa instead of flee. Read the rest of this entry »


Love and War – the video version

In Uncategorized on April 18, 2012 at 10:42 pm

April 19, 2012

Two short interview clips – one on love, one on fighting.

Baseball Manager Flailed for Cheering Castro (and a word on Günter Grass)

In Uncategorized on April 10, 2012 at 12:19 am

April 10, 2012

A manager for a Florida baseball team has come under fire for allegedly saying he loves Fidel Castro.

I empathize with the nearly one million Cuban exiles who have escaped Castro’s ruthless reign of deprivation for the pastel sunsets of south Florida. But I can’t support the witchhunt calling for Ozzie Guillen’s suspension and resignation. It’s one man, one opinion. In America. Get over it.

No one – no one in the free world – has the right not to be offended. One has the right to choose to get offended. And that’s where it should end. But don’t expect the law to punish others for your choice. Read the rest of this entry »

Blast from the Past: Interview with Uganda Mayoral Candidate

In Uncategorized on April 9, 2012 at 3:59 am

April 9, 2012

It’s been brought to my attention that a video clip I did nearly a year ago has been attracting a swarm of vitriolic comments online. That happens in the world of media (especially when you challenge deep-seated convictions) and so I have rarely if ever felt compelled to respond. This case is different.

Apparently in Uganda it’s improper for a foreigner to grill a local politician, even if the said politician is accused of vote-rigging, goes on to defend the practice, and for good measure chooses to attack the rights of sexual minorities. What’s more it’s okay for the aspiring mayor – being a Ugandan – to turn questions about the stunted state of Ugandan politics into a paranoid rant about the United States, because well, that’s where the interviewer was from. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview on American Foreign Policy

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm

April 8, 2012

Happy Easter to All!

Here is a recent interview I did for Sanyu FM in Kampala.

Attracting US Investment in Africa*

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2012 at 6:19 am

April 4, 2012

KAMPALA – The US-China rivalry in Africa has basically boiled down to aid versus trade.

The US has won unmatched influence through its cash donations, on which African governments depend to fight everything from malaria to terrorism.

China has dramatically countered through trade, surpassing the US to become the continent’s largest trading partner two years ago.

But a string of moves capped by the introduction of a new trade bill in the House and Senate last week indicate that Washington is now playing to win the trade war too. Read the rest of this entry »

A4C’s Failings Need Not Feed Disillusionment

In Uncategorized on March 5, 2012 at 4:08 am

March 5, 2012

KAMPALA – A flutter of umbrage seems to surface each time I opine to opposition supporters that Activists for Change lacks the discipline, resourcefulness and alternative narrative to force regime change here.

The panicky pessimism is understandable. A4C is the only (semi-) organized, over-arching vehicle for social protest – in a country where official abuses are growing at an alarming rate.

The silver lining is this trend may soon render the rebel-rousing coterie unnecessary. Read the rest of this entry »

China Outduelling the West in Africa?

In Uncategorized on February 28, 2012 at 1:46 am

February 28, 2012

One hears often that China is superseding the West as the dominant force in Africa. I read it implied most recently this morning in an article by Mwangi Kimenyi of the Brookings Institution. “…U.S. foreign direct investment to Africa remains low and declining relative to other countries – especially China.”

Over the weekend, curled up on a lawn chair along the rippling Nile, I read a back story in Harvard Business Review reporting that America’s KFC plans to open 15,000 outlets in China alone by 2015.

Side by side, these two articles capture why the West isn’t more invested in Africa, a point too often omitted from coverage of China vs. the West in Africa. China isn’t so much beating the West in Africa. Rather, the West goes where it sees opportunity. It doesn’t see much opportunity in Africa. Let China take the gamble, its actions are saying, let it, literally, pave the way with its high-risk, low margin infrastructure projects. If investment conditions improve, we’ll come in. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Walk to Work Reloaded Won’t Make a Bang

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2012 at 7:42 am

January 26, 2011

KAMPALA – The recent announcement that Activists for Change is “reloading” the Walk to Work campaign, in which Ugandans are to walk from their residents to their place of employment in a peaceful expression of discontent with the direction of the country, is welcome news to the reform-minded here.

It was Walk to Work I, last April, that challenged the nothing-we-can-do mindset with a yes-we-can refrain, and the timing of Reload is auspicious: bribery scandals are rocking the ruling party, national debt and inflation are soaring. Bank interest rates have edged toward 30%. Electricity subsidies are set to end. Youth unemployment is at 83%. There’s a lot for ordinary Ugandans to be angry about.

And yet Walk to Work Reload has all the makings of a bad Hollywood sequel. Read the rest of this entry »

US Recalibrates its Hard Power

In Uncategorized on December 15, 2011 at 2:52 am

December 14, 2011

At the close of the Bush era, amid the wreckage of Afghanistan, Iraq – set for US withdrawal later this month – and the “unwinnable” asymmetrical war on terror, the world grew dismissive of American military might. Even State Department officials I spoke with were lamenting the thought of another overseas operation.

But amazing how quick reality can change in the world of warcraft. Read the rest of this entry »

Yesterday’s Republican Debate

In Uncategorized on November 23, 2011 at 1:59 pm

November 23, 2011

Yesterday’s Republican debate covered foreign policy and national security. Obama’s success overseas* has made it hard for Republicans to gain points by directly attacking his record, and most candidates last night chose wisely instead to differentiate themselves from each other. (Indeed the eventual Republican nominee will need to focus more on the President’s domestic record, namely the economy and job creation, to emerge victorious.)

Full of empty promises that glossed over the complexities of governing the world, the occasion did offer a taste of what kind of world the candidates would usher in.

Here’s a round up: Read the rest of this entry »

Gaddafi Video Interview Clip Up

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2011 at 9:26 pm

November 9, 2011

Here is the video clip of my interview with a Ugandan Muslim spokesman following Gaddafi’s death. Those of you more interested in the subject of faith as it pertains to the former Libyan leader’s life (and death) may skip forward to about the 9:27 mark. ~ IG

America Goes Barefoot

In Uncategorized on November 6, 2011 at 6:09 pm

November 6, 2011

Around the turn of the millennium, fresh out of j-school and a little pompous and naive you might say, I predicted that the best chance the world could hope for to close the competitive gap with the US is if humanity entered a future that valued technology less. The likelihood of that seemed real because wouldn’t there inevitably be a limit to the utility and satisfaction derived from technology? Wouldn’t, for instance, the speed of computing reach a point whereby any improvement would be indiscernible and thus undesirable? By extension wouldn’t technology’s gift of easier and cheaper in ever greater quantity reach a tipping point to make life feel complicated and expensive? Wouldn’t this lead more than just Luddites to revolt? Read the rest of this entry »

Occupy Movement: Slave to its own Vibe

In Uncategorized on November 4, 2011 at 8:48 am

November 4, 2011

In Africa, I’ve been out of the loop on this Occupiers and their 99 percent thing, and so a couple days after returning to the States this week I was delighted to turn a corner in downtown LA and come face-to-face with them – lots of baggie-jeaned, hoodied youth sitting on the trampled grass beneath the towering Mausoleum-of-Mausolus-inspired phallus of City Hall, a raspy-throated woman complementing a passer-by on his “rad” shirt, a super-tan, whispy-haired elder handing out leaflets on GMOs, a bearded dude in a beret stroking a cat and, for sure, the sweet pungency of kind bud keeping it all real.

I don’t want to suggest that the hippie vibe is all there was. But it certainly leapt out at you – predominated. Read the rest of this entry »

US Media’s Double Standard on Suspected Terrorists

In Uncategorized on November 3, 2011 at 9:27 am

November 3, 2011

WASHINGTON – Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, page A5, news brief: Four Georgia men accused of trying to manufacture a deadly toxin and attack government officials charged. Wednesday’s New York Times, the story was nowhere in the A section and relegated to A18 on Thursday. The Washington Post gave the story the whole of A2 Thursday, but with a new snow policy for federal workers beating it to page 1. From to Fox News, it has already fallen off the radar at the time of writing. My mother, who reads a newspaper a day and gets more news in the car to work and on PBS in the evening, said she hadn’t heard of the four men from Georgia.

Remember the last time a Muslim terrorist plot hit the news? Read the rest of this entry »

Uganda’s Abiding Love for Gaddafi

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2011 at 4:15 am

October 24, 2011

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni once said Africa’s main problem is leaders who stick around too long, and with Museveni now in his 25th year of rule, most Ugandans agree.

They can count the ways self-styled rule has diminished them and throw around words like justice, accountability and fair elections.

Yet Ugandans, from religious leaders to royalty to unemployed youth, openly mourned Muammar Gaddafi’s death, weeping and vowing revenge during Friday prayer, donning T-shirts with his pinch-lipped likeness through the weekend. Read the rest of this entry »

Uganda’s Detached Citizenry Poses National Danger

In Uncategorized on September 9, 2011 at 2:31 am

September 9, 2011

“Hell, there are no rules here — we’re trying to accomplish something.” — Thomas Edison

The ruling NRM, which came to power 26 years ago through the barrel of a gun, are fond of claiming they brought peace and stability to Uganda after taking over a quarter century ago. Whatever the case may be, in 2011, with the economy in shambles, delivery service nearly non-existent, and youth unemployment and inflation among the highest in Africa, it’s no longer true.

Credit instead belongs to everyday Ugandans. Read the rest of this entry »

Taking Tripoli

In Uncategorized on August 25, 2011 at 5:40 am

August 24, 2011

Since the West’s botched invasion of Iraq, general consensus has had it that Western military intervention doesn’t work. Afghanistan, Somalia, Palestine and the war on terror all but turned the simplistic conclusion into incontrovertible fact.

But around that time an ignored body of counter examples began to emerge. Far from being lost or unwinnable, the war on terror was making significant gains. Cells were being dismantled through sophisticated intelligence, or literally being torn apart by drones. Vows to avenge the death of Osama bin Laden and other top al-Qaeda leaders had amounted to little. In Somalia, amid the specter of Black Hawk Down, al-Shabaab was losing ground to western-backed African troops.

The campaign to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi thus emerged as an intriguing test case. Read the rest of this entry »

Denying Gains in Counterterrorism

In Uncategorized on June 6, 2011 at 6:45 am

June 6, 2011

Over the last decade it has been widely predicted that two political forces will hasten the demise of the West: China and/or Islamic terrorism. In my last column I discussed China, so let us turn now to terrorism.

The general assumption, repeatedly delivered by the media, policy makers, and the general public, was that former US President George W. Bush’s war on terror would breed more terrorists and put America at greater risk. Read the rest of this entry »

A Shift in China News Coverage

In Uncategorized on May 29, 2011 at 4:33 am

May 28, 2011

This entry was slotted to run the week of Monday May 16th and it started like this:

A scroll down The New York’s world page on Saturday (May 14) produced one China story, and it was about a bank being firebombed by a former employee. Al Jazeera’s Asia Pacific page contained two China stories: one on the bombing, the other on the US lecturing China on its human rights record. The latter came at a meeting between the two nations themed “Strategic and Economic Dialogue.” That the dialogue itself received scant coverage is noteworthy, considering that until recently nearly any high-level Chinese meeting with major global entities, from the US to Africa, made headlines. Read the rest of this entry »