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What are the problems associated with Cameroon’s foreign policy since independence?

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What are the problems associated with Cameroon’s foreign policy since independence?


    A foreign policy is a set of political goals that seek to outline how a particular country will interact with other countries in the international scene. They are generally designed to help protect a country’s national interests, national security, ideological goals and economic prosperity. There are three key elements in foreign policy which are: setting goals for a country in the international milieu, taking actions to accomplish the goals, and assessing the level of failure or success of the actions taken.

      Cameroon gained its independence in the early 1960s and has since then been a sovereign state with its own foreign policies. There are several factors that are likely to shape Cameroon foreign policy be it positively or negatively. Some of the problems associated with Cameroon’s foreign policy shall be discussed in the subsequent paragraphs.

   First, Cameroon is faced with economic difficulties. It’s economy since independence has gone into a sharp decline. Cameroon’s Gross Domestic Product has fallen by about 50% between 1983 and 1989. Due to this, the economy has gone into stagnation and regression and have been faced with chronic Balance of Payment Deficit. By the end of the 80s, Cameroon had fallen into a terrible debt trap that kept on increasing thanks to the rising interest charges on existing loans, as well as the raising of fresh foreign loans. As a result of the above reasons, Cameroon’s foreign policy will continue to be tied to France and other foreign powers in a scarcely veiled neo-colonial arrangement. Also, Cameroon is unable to afford the cost of pursuing an anti-Western foreign policy.

   Another problem faced by Cameroon’s foreign policy is political instability. Cameroon is presided over by a president who is guilty of graft, misrule, misgovernment and oppression of his own people. Consequently, he has been alienated from his own people and due to this, incidents of coups and strikes have been recurrent in the country. The 2008 coup d’état and the ongoing anglophone crisis are evident to support this claim. This can definitely not make for political stability. Therefore to ensure his own survival in office, since he can no longer count on the loyalty of his people, he has come to be dependent on foreign military personnel. President Paul Biya, for example, is protected by Israeli security experts led by the former chief of the Entebbe raid of 1976. Due to this political instability, Cameroon can therefore not be expected to pursue any independent foreign policy. Cameroon just like many francophone African countries cannot take a position on any major international issues without first clearing it with Paris.

   Furthermore, the psychological environment of the leaders is one of the problems Cameroon’s foreign policy has been faced with since independence. The psychological environment of the leaders will be crucial to the role they play for Cameroon in the international community. This environment is shaped on one hand by societal factors such as history, ideology, societal values and on the other hand by personal idiosyncrasies such as birth, education and experience. It is through this psychological environment that they will perceive the operational environment. If their perception is accurate, then the chances of adopting successful foreign policy options are likely. But the reverse will be the case if the perception is wrong. If Cameroonian leaders are equipped with the knowledge, skills and vision to understand the forces at work both on their home front and on the international level, they will be able to cope successfully with them, and they are likely to adopt foreign policies that will promote Cameroon’s national interests rather than those of foreign powers. Unfortunately, Cameroonian leaders are not equipped with these tools and often tend to adopt foreign policy strategies that promote other states national interests instead of ours.


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