Last week a couple of my colleagues left with some trepidation for Kenya to monitor the general election held this past Monday. This would be the first general election held since 2007, when violence killed 1,200 people, and it was not clear that this year’s election would be more peaceful. And yet it was. The outcome was initially too close to call, as it was last time, and the two leading candidates Uhuru Kenyatta (scheduled to stand trial at the International Criminal Court on human rights crimes) and Raila Odinga were from different tribes. But no violence ensued.
So the puzzler this week is this: Why was this election in Kenya so much more peaceful than the last?
Answer to last week’s puzzler:
Last week we looked at the bat-shit crazy behavior of Kim Jong Un regarding nuclear weapons. Anyone who has taken a class from me knows that my first instinct is to assume that any player in the international sphere is rational and, in fact, I never label any player “crazy”. I have to admit, though, that this one is tempting. For years I’ve taught a class on international security where we attempt to explain the periodic crises between North Korea and the United States over nuclear weapons. Our analysis always comes back to the same conclusion: North Korean leaders use nuclear weapons as a way to extort much-needed money from the international community, especially the United States.
But this time KJU’s more provocative threat — to possibly launch a preemptive nuclear attack against the United States — backfired badly. Not only did he not get any goodies from the United States, but America together with China and the rest of the Security Council tightened economic sanctions. I’m honestly flummoxed. KJU should have known this was a terrible strategy, and that the rest of the world would react strongly and negatively to his threat. What was he thinking? I think Brian Forst and Michael Dennis might be right when they say that this is the behavior of a naive and inexperienced kid. Let’s hope that’s true, because that’s a better outcome than having a nuclear-armed crazy person at the helm of a small country in the middle of Asia.