Friday, March 21, 2008

Obama’s policy trajectory on Africa more pragmatic.

But we have to look at Africa not just after a crisis happens; what are we doing with respect to trade opportunities with Africa? What are we doing in terms of investment in Africa? What are we doing to pay attention to Africa consistently with respect to our foreign policy? That has been what's missing in the White House. Our long-term security is going to depend on whether we're giving children in Sudan and Zimbabwe and in Kenya the same opportunities so that they have a stake in order as opposed to violence and chaos”. Barack Obama

In case you are wondering why Obama has gained prominence on this blog, Bill Richardson who endorsed Obama today, put it best; “you are once-in-a-lifetime leader and above all a President who brings this nation together”.

Beyond, holding the best for America’s domestic troubles and ending this war that has consumed the current administration, to the detriment of Africa’s long term needs, Obama may be the best for Africa too.

The current Bush administration’s policy towards Africa, the essential thrust of which is captured by the motto: ‘Forget the rhetoric and boost the geopolitics’. Has being a measured approach that includes the strategic imperative of cultivating strong links with Africa's leading regional powers, most notably Nigeria and South Africa, harkening back to the Nixon administration's strategy of relying on such powers to ensure regional stability; limited effort building upon the Clinton administration's success in promoting US trade and investment with African countries, with a special focus on oil-producing countries; and underscoring the need for Africans to ‘do more for themselves’ in the realm of conflict resolution, suggesting a low-profile Bush administration approach to involvement in either peacekeeping or peacemaking operations.

The Clinton administration on the other hand, attempted to deal with a complex array of challenging African issues -- security, conflict resolution, democratization, human rights, trade, AIDS, and the environment. Its agenda was more broad but deficient in depth and obligation. With limited interests at stake in the post-Cold War era, he perceived no compelling reason to rally the world community for a genuine African Renaissance. The result is a tendency toward activism without follow-through. The Clinton team reacted to immediate challenges but lacked an overarching policy framework for coping effectively with the continent's long-term problems of conflict, disease, and poverty.

Barack Obama believes that strengthening weak states at risk of collapse, economic meltdown or public health crises strengthens America's security. Obama will double U.S. spending on foreign aid to $50 billion a year by 2012.
It is this trajectory of policy, that is more pragmatic, not only focusing on Africa when a crisis arises or when US interests are in danger. Obama ties US long term security goals to affording children growing up in Africa, better opportunities for life in the global world.

Traditionally republicans are less generous with people development programs that democrats but Obama has already written a law signed in 2006 that provided $52 million in US assistance to help stabilize the Congo, and he worked to approve $20 million for the African Union peacekeeping mission. Obama also worked with Sam Brownback (R-Kans.), writing an op-ed in the Washington Post criticizing the Bush administration's failure to stop genocide in Darfur.

He will help developing countries invest in sustainable democracies and demand more accountability in return. Obama will establish a $2 billion Global Education Fund to eliminate the global education deficit. He will reduce the debt of developing nations and better coordinate trade and development policies. (source Obama campaign).