Guiding all of our foreign policy actions are our fundamental values: our values around freedom, human dignity, the way people are treated. These are our values… not our policies… Policies change… our values never change.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, “
Author’s Note: When I wrote my first
Given recent developments in the Trump Administration’s policy towards Africa, I am frantically scrambling to find out where they sell the equivalent of vegan chicken for crow.
Trump has surprised the hell out of me in his approach and perspective to U.S. policy in Africa. The
For years, I have been
For years, I have been advocating U.S. disentanglement from brutal African dictators. That too seems to be happening. When U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis went to the Middle East and Africa to
For years, I have been
For years, I have been
While I take no credit whatsoever for the impending changes in U.S. Africa policy, I am supremely gratified to know that so many issues I have been passionately
The various recommendations I have made over the years for a fundamental change in U.S. policy in Africa now seem to be on the verge of becoming a reality in the Trump Administration. Candidly, I have been perplexed by the impending changes. I believed Trump would simply follow in the footsteps of Obama in Africa and watch the American taxpayer taken to the cleaners.
In this commentary, I try to peer through Secretary Tillerson’s recent remarks to State Department employees to get a general sense of the direction of U.S. foreign policy in Africa. The old guard of Chicken Littles at the State Department are proclaiming that Trump’s “America First”-driven foreign policy will mean the
Tillerson is speaking my language on Africa and I like what I hear. Actions speak louder than words, of course. So I shall wait for the other shoe to drop on African dictators!
Last week in “
As a human rights advocate jaded on Barack Obama’s forked-tongue empty rhetoric of the “wrong side of history” and “Africa does not need strong men, it needs strong institution”, Tillerson’s message was refreshing, unambiguous and encouraging.
Tillerson emphatically asserted that the guidepost for U.S. “foreign policy and foreign affairs” will be the creed of “America first”. “Translated” in practical terms, “America first” means three things: 1) The U.S. will “enforce the protection of our freedoms with a strong military”, and America’s military allies must carry their own weight and will not get an easy ride on the backs of American taxpayers. 2) U.S. trade and economic relations with the rest of the world, particularly China, must be “brought back into balance”. This could require renegotiation of trade deals which give undue advantage to other countries. 3) U.S. foreign policy will be propelled by “our fundamental values: our values around freedom, human dignity, and the way people are treated.” Tillerson emphatically asserted, “policies change, our values never change.” Those who do not like or share our values should not come to the U.S. with cupped hands and panhandles for handouts. In a speech of 6511 words, Tillerson devoted a stunning 1,057 words to talk about American values and their role in the future of American foreign policy.
Tillerson rhetorically asked, “How do we represent our values?” He offered a realistic answer. If “we condition our national security efforts on someone adopting our values, we probably can’t achieve our national security goals or our national security interests. If we condition too heavily that others must adopt this value that we’ve come to over a long history of our own, it really creates obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests, our economic interests.” He insisted, “we should and do condition our policy engagements on people adopting certain actions as to how they treat people” and act consistent with our values.
In developing an “overarching strategic approach” for the “execution” of foreign policy, Tillerson said the salient question will be, “where are our allies?” The U.S. will determine its allies and partners on a county-by-country and region-by-region basis.
Tillerson said many governments do not like the American values-based foreign policy song he is singing. “And I hear from government leaders all over the world: You just can’t demand that of us, we can’t move that quickly, we can’t adapt that quickly, okay?” Tillerson’s answer is like it or not, a change is gonna come. It is not going to be business as usual.
I would like to sing Sam Cook’s song, “A change is gonna come” to Africa’s dictators. “It’s been a long, a long time coming/ But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will…/”
Changes in U.S. policy in Africa
Tillerson mentioned Africa 15 times in his speech. The telltale signs of policy changes to come are becoming more apparent.
U.S. policy in Africa “really boils down to” effective counterterrorism actions to defeat ISIS and depriving it a haven in Africa. The question for the Trump Administration is, “How do we develop policies and bring regional players together to address these threats of ISIS and counterterrorism?” How can the U.S. stop the cancerous terrorist networks from spreading in Africa?
Tillerson’s stated that U.S. policy will principally focus on preventing Africa from becoming a terrorist haven and to safeguard African nations by “disrupting” “terrorist networks that weave their way through Africa”. He said, “The continent of Africa is so important from a national security view [that] we cannot let Africa become the next breeding ground for a re-emergence of a caliphate for ISIS.” The U.S. will continue “looking at Africa for potential economic and trading opportunities” and pursue “health initiatives, because Africa still struggles with huge health challenges.”
The U.S. will be selective in its counterterrorism partnership and will take a hands-on approach in getting the job done. When U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis
In late March, Trump ordered airstrikes against al-Shabaab and
U.S. Aid to Africa
The self-serving African doomsayers and Chicken Littles are proclaiming the end of days in Africa if U.S. taxpayers cut back on the free money they send to African dictators. The African scaremongers are using all sorts of tactics to continue with business as usual and keep American tax dollars flowing into their pockets.
Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank
Scaring the American taxpayer to fork over more billions to African dictators is the stock in trade of prominent “experts” and “philanthropists”. Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, has
Prof. George Ayittey
As a lawyer and political scientist, my questions about the endless flow of American tax dollars to African dictators are completely different.
Should an African dictatorship that spends nearly $2 million for lobbying to wine and dine American politicians to get more aid from American taxpayers?
On January 18, 2017, the regime in Ethiopia signed a “
Should American taxpayers continue to dole out their hard-earned dollars when there is “so much corruption in Africa” and taxpayers do not know “how much of our funding is stolen?”
The U.N. Economic Commission for Africa
How long must Africa be the beggar continent of the world? When will the culture of panhandling in Africa end?
In 1967, at the 4th Summit meeting of the Organization of African Unity, Chief Obafemi Awolowo
In 2017, Africa is still a beggar continent!
If U.S. taxpayers continue to
Because of U.S. aid, African regimes shift the risk of economic mismanagement, incompetence and corruption to the U.S., which to date has imposed no penalty or disincentive for poor governance, inefficiency, corruption and repression. U.S. aid has become a fail-safe insurance to repressive African regimes buffering them from a tsunami of democratic popular uprising.
(There is a joke about the current “prime minister” of Ethiopia who was asked if he was concerned about drought and the spreading famine in his country. He replied he was not concerned about drought in Ethiopia. His only concern is drought in the wheat fields of Kansas, where his meal ticket comes from.)
Why shouldn’t the U.S. demand the highest standards of accountability and transparency in the aid it gives to Africa?
USAID in Africa is a hot mess. The USAID’s Inspector General’s
Should the U.S. give into the threat that if the U.S. stops giving money to Africa, Africans will get their aid from China giving China controlling influence?
This is the biggest lie perpetrated on American taxpayers. The
Why should American taxpayers continue to bankroll African dictators who do not have the simple decency to say, “Thank You”?
In September 2016, Taban Deng Gai, the first vice president of South Sudan “
When China built and delivered the African Union headquarters in 2012, African dictators were
Since the mid-1960s, U.S. taxpayers have bankrolled African dictators. African regimes still relentlessly demand more and more money from American taxpayers. There must come a time when Ethiopia and the rest of Africa must be forced to kick their addiction to aid and charity. The time is now!
The 2018 Department of State/USAID Budget
There will be “reorganization and consolidation of the State Department and USAID in order to enable effective diplomacy and development.”
There will be cuts to “multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, by approximately $650 million over three years”.
The African Development Foundation will see a $28.2 million cut in funding.
According to one
Is it all too good to be true?
African dictators who have been living high on the hog on American taxpayers’ dime are screaming bloody murder. The army of USAID “experts” and “professionals” (whom I affectionately call international poverty pimps) picking the pockets of the American taxpayer will now be forced to find an honest living. The old foreign policy establishment is up in arms about Trump’s “America first” foreign policy stance. They proclaim the advent of doom and gloom. They say the Great Tribulation is at hand, in Trump’s hand. The fact of the matter is that they never thought they could lose their privileged position of running American foreign policy out of their back pockets (connected to the American taxpayer’s pocket, of course) catering and pandering to African dictators.
Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice laughed uncontrollably when she said with a straight face that the regime in Ethiopia which claimed to have won 100 percent of the seats in the 2015 election was “
I laugh at the scaremongering foreign policy experts and professionals and has-been diplomats. I am glad to see an end to their fake diplomacy of coddling African dictators.
The naysayers say Trump will change his mind in a New York minute and he is completely unpredictable. He will flip-flop in his Africa policy as he has in other areas.
I do not believe Trump will flip-flop on Africa. The reason is simple. In his policy towards Africa, he started by asking the absolutely
Some have already complained to me privately that I stick out like a sore thumb writing approvingly of Trump’s Africa policy. The fact of the matter is that the Trump administration is starting and planning to do what I have been begging the Obama administration to do for years. I defended Barack Obama’s Africa policy for years and made all sorts of excuses for him. In the end, I
As I have previously said, I do not care about the motives of those in power when they do the right thing. I rarely question when the right thing is done for the wrong reason. It is never too late to do the right thing; but there is never a right time to do wrong thing.
Is Trump’s emerging policy right for Africa? Will he follow-up? Time will tell.
In the meantime, I shall be going around discreetly to find out if there is the equivalent of vegan chicken for crow.
Just in case!