Secretary Of State Clinton? Obama Should Not Sleep With Wolves

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[Global: Africa Commentary]


The presidential election and its drama have finally come to an end. The excitement and honeymoon is over. It is time for us all to get back to reality and lead life as we have always known it to be.

Now is the time for us all to start rethinking what we expect of a President Barack Obama. Now is the time to verify if the change he promised us he would bring to American politics and foreign policy is plausible or whether it is just a bag of hot air.

Having run all his campaign on a change platform, Obama’s recent move to appoint many of former President Bill Clinton’s officers does not in any way show Obama is committed to changing the way politics works in America. By keeping and surrounding himself with the Clinton people, Obama is now confirming the fears many Americans had about whether his talks for change was real or whether it was just another empty political verbosity.

Almost all the people he is rumored to be planning to appoint into his cabinet were part of the Clinton Administration. This is slap in the face of many Americans who voted for a new chapter in American politics and had no interest in creating a third term for Bill Clinton and his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton.

Senator Clinton has emerged as the most likely candidate to become Obama’s Secretary of State. It will be very disappointing if Obama appoints Clinton because the Clintons were part of the problem that wrecked Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. For a man who ran his campaign completely on change, appointing Sen. Clinton would be a confirmation of the concerns that the Clintons have hijacked the Obama agenda. Obama’s choice for Secretary of State should be someone who has not been involved in the George Bush or Clinton Administrations.

In fact, a good choice for Obama’s Secretary of State should be someone who has expertise and experience on the Middle East. An Arab American would be the perfect candidate because the Middle East’s problems ranging from Palestine, Israel, Iraq, and Iran to Afghanistan will continue to dominate US foreign policy agenda. Getting someone with a natural connection to the region would bring a new dimension on how to address conflicts and US interests in the region.

The first casualty of the "talk change, but make no change" Obama Administration is going to be US-Africa policy. Obama has recruited and kept very closely individuals like Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico and former US Secretary for African Affairs, Susan Rice. Both Rice and Richardson oversaw the tragedies and wars that ravaged Africa, including the Rwanda genocide, but did nothing.

The Clintons just sat by and did nothing as people died in Rwanda, Liberia, Congo and Sierra Leon. Instead of stopping these deaths, they befriended some of these war criminals, armed them and motivated them to fight. In the case of Uganda and Rwanda, they trained Ugandan and Rwandan rebels who then invaded Rwanda, and thereby instigated the Rwanda genocide four years later. Again, the same Administration supported Ugandan and Rwandan troops to go and invade DR Congo leaving five million people dead and millions displaced. The residual effect of that invasion is currently unfolding in Eastern Congo.

In Clinton’s eight years in office, Africa saw some of the worse wars and atrocities in recent memories. And in many cases, the Clinton Administration either looked the other way or partnered with corrupt African leaders who used the Clinton support to suppress their citizens and instigate wars. This must come as a surprise for many who were duped by the Clinton charm to believe that Clinton had a good policy regarding Africa.

In reality, Clinton’s Africa Policy was abysmal, to say the least, and the impacts of this failed policy have led to current political, military, economic and social quagmire facing countries like Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and even Sudan.

In other words, the entire Great Lakes region of Africa has suffered. Even the International Court of Justice in 2005 found Uganda liable for mass killings and looting resources from the DR Congo and ordered Uganda to pay DR Congo $10 billion. Up to now, Uganda has not paid a dime. The US funded and supplied the Ugandan and Rwandan troops to invade DR Congo; the liability should have stretched beyond Uganda.

Clinton developed special relationships with African dictators like Yoweri K. Museveni of Uganda and leaders of Rwanda, Paula Kagame; Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi; Eritrea, Afewerki; and Kenya, then Daniel arap Moi. Clinton then coined a bogus term, referring to these men as a "new breed of African leaders."

In Uganda, Museveni, who is America’s most reliable stooge in Africa, has been in power since 1986 and has even changed the country’s constitution so he can rule for life. Uganda’s economy is bailed-out every year by the U.S. and the U.K., underwriting more than 50% of the country’s budget. Corruption is at all time high in Uganda with Museveni and his cronies pocketing grants and donor funds into their own coffers; even money sent to fight HIV/Aids. Not a word about this is found in corrupt Western corporate media.

We all know that these shady African leaders have been anti-democratic and have used the US support to abuse their citizens, cause wars and enrich their personal bank accounts. Today, some of those leaders Clinton was palling around with are listed as the richest African leaders, and yet their countries are at the bottom of the poverty ladder.

Several years ago when the US supported the overthrow of dictator Mubutu Seseko of Zaire --now Democratic Republic of Congo—Bill Clinton sent his hawkish Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, to visit Uganda and instigate the invasion of Congo leading to genocidal conflict that has yet to end.

To address African affairs, Obama needs to appoint someone who has never had any working relations with the current African presidents in office and most especially presidents like Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Joseph Kabila of DR Congo. The US needs to redesign its foreign policy in regards to Africa, especially for the Great Lakes, putting particular focus on addressing human rights, democracy, health and economic development.

The US policy on Africa during the Obama administration should be geared to punish poor leadership and behavior by oppressive and corrupt African leaders instead of rewarding them. The US should tie any economic assistance to democratic achievement and only fund programs that benefit poor people in African villages, including construction of roads, schools, hospitals; farming and environmental protection should also be promoted.

No aid should be given directly to the corrupt governments and officials. Instead, aid should be channeled through non-governmental and community organizations to implement the programs.

The cold war has ended a long time ago, but American foreign policy is still stuck in that era’s mentality. When will America and its leaders move into the 21st century regarding her approach to foreign policy?

Historic as Obama’s election might be, he should not miscalculate on foreign and domestic affairs. His success will depend on whether he will maintain his commitment to change or whether the same Washington insiders he campaigned against will be the ones running his White House.

Americans have invested heavily in Barack Obama; if he fails them will early poor choices he can later not rectify, the same voters are going to turn against him.

Obama should keep that in mind and should remember that the Clintons did not like him all along and they will not take the blame if Obama’s administration fails. Instead, they will reap from the failure and say, "I told you so" to not elect Obama. Clinton would welcome the post of Secretary of State, but the minute Obama stumbles, they will say: "I told you so."

In Luo, a heritage I share with Obama, there is a saying that goes "Angee tyene lit," meaning, "I wish I knew earlier, I would have not done it."

Obama will live to regret any early bad moves he makes in his Administration.

Black Star News contributing columnist Otika is an African Policy Advocate and a Social Entrepreneur based in North Carolina. He may be reached via email at [email protected]


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