In Africa, lit­tle en­thu­si­asm for US vote

Kuwait Times - - ANALYSIS - Obama Slow to En­gage ‘Ar­ro­gant... Racist’

The dream be­comes real­ity”, “Our son, our hope”: the head­lines in the Kenyan press in 2008 cap­tured pride and ex­cite­ment af­ter the elec­tion of Barack Obama. Eight years later, en­thu­si­asm for the out­go­ing pres­i­dent has faded on a con­ti­nent that he is ac­cused of for­sak­ing. The elec­tion of the first black pres­i­dent of the United States on Nov 4, 2008 sparked scenes of ju­bi­la­tion in Kenya, the home­land of Obama’s fa­ther. A pub­lic hol­i­day was de­clared in honor of his vic­tory.

There were wide­spread hopes that Obama would do much for Africa, but as he pre­pares to hand over to ei­ther Hil­lary Clin­ton or Don­ald Trump, he is ac­cused of ne­glect­ing the con­ti­nent. “Africa had un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions to­wards Obama given his ori­gins,” said Aly-Khan Satchu, a Kenyan eco­nomic an­a­lyst. “Es­pe­cially dur­ing his first term, Obama was less in­volved in Africa” than his pre­de­ces­sor Ge­orge W Bush.

“Peo­ple judged him very harshly dur­ing his first man­date be­cause he didn’t do much for Africa,” said Liesl Louw Vau­dran, an an­a­lyst at the Pre­to­ria-based In­sti­tute for Se­cu­rity Stud­ies think tank. Satchu at­tributes this to the US re­ces­sion and the need for Obama “to show the Amer­i­can pub­lic that he was the pres­i­dent of the USA”. “Dur­ing his sec­ond term, I think he tried to ad­dress this is­sue and he did more for Africa,” Satchu said.

Obama was slow to en­gage in Africa, a con­ti­nent far from the heart of US in­ter­ests, pre­fer­ring to make the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion the cen­tre­piece of his for­eign and eco­nomic pol­icy. Un­like Ge­orge W Bush, whose PEPFAR pro­gram has helped save the lives of mil­lions of Africans with HIV/AIDS, Obama has launched no trans­for­ma­tive ini­tia­tives on the con­ti­nent. His 2013 “Power Africa” plan has fallen well short of its prom­ise of dou­bling ac­cess to elec­tric­ity in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa, gen­er­at­ing just 400 megawatts (MW) of the 30,000 planned by 2030.

Obama’s African ap­pear­ances have also been lim­ited. There was a brief stopover in Ghana in 2009 — where he de­clared, “Africa doesn’t need strong­men, it needs strong in­sti­tu­tions” - and then a tour of Sene­gal, South Africa and Tan­za­nia in 2013, fol­lowed by a visit to Ethiopia and Kenya in 2015. On each oc­ca­sion he urged Africans to take their des­tiny into their own hands, and sought open­ings for US com­pa­nies to in­vest in the con­ti­nent.

He has moved to sub­sti­tute a tra­di­tional aid-based pol­icy with one of more equal trade-based part­ner­ship, with some suc­cess: African ex­ports to the US, ex­clud­ing oil, in­creased by nearly a half be­tween 2009 and 2015. Se­cu­rity and counter-ter­ror­ism re­mained a key pri­or­ity for US ef­forts. Obama “ex­panded con­sid­er­ably the US mil­i­tary pres­ence in Africa,” said Achille Mbe­mbe of South Africa’s Wits In­sti­tute for So­cial and Eco­nomic Re­search.

Nev­er­the­less, suc­cess in the fight against ji­hadist groups such as the Shabaab in So­ma­lia and Boko Haram in Nige­ria has been elu­sive. Sim­i­larly, ef­forts to fos­ter democ­racy have fal­tered with a string of dis­puted or de­fi­cient elec­tions and a grow­ing trend among African lead­ers of cling­ing to power in de­fi­ance of con­sti­tu­tions.

African frus­tra­tion with Obama has found res­o­nance even in his own fam­ily, with half-brother Ma­lik en­thu­si­as­ti­cally cam­paign­ing for Trump on Twit­ter, and even ac­cept­ing an in­vi­ta­tion to at­tend the fi­nal tele­vised pres­i­den­tial de­bate in Las Ve­gas last month. Ma­lik’s po­si­tion is not, how­ever the norm, and many Africans read­ily de­nounce Trump’s views.

“Hil­lary Clin­ton, she is some­one with a vi­sion but this guy - how do you call him? - he is ar­ro­gant and a racist, he can be an­gry and even start more wars,” said Ben­jamin Namkobe, a 31-year-old mo­tor­cy­cle taxi driver in Nairobi. Nei­ther can­di­date has made much men­tion of Africa in their ma­jor speeches since be­ing named their party’s can­di­date, but this is no sur­prise, said J Peter Pham, di­rec­tor of the Africa Cen­ter at the At­lantic Coun­cil think tank in Wash­ing­ton.

“Africa largely does not fig­ure into the elec­toral dy­nam­ics of the United States,” said Pham, adding that “for­eign pol­icy in gen­eral” takes a back­seat. He pointed out that US pol­icy to­wards Africa “tends to en­joy bi­par­ti­san sup­port”, mean­ing it does not rep­re­sent a point of dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion in de­bates. It also means lit­tle change is to be ex­pected, who­ever wins. — AFP

a. Lack of knowl­edge of the most im­por­tant pol­icy is­sues fac­ing the na­tion. b. Emails c. Re­peated use of bank­ruptcy laws that re­sulted in leav­ing in­vestors and dozens of small-busi­ness con­trac­tors hold­ing the bag. d. Emails e. Call­ing for a ban on Mus­lims and terming Mex­i­can im­mi­grants rapists and crim­i­nals who should be de­ported. f. Still more emails g. Dis­play­ing a per­sis­tent pat­tern of crude and de­mean­ing be­hav­ior that demon­strates no re­spect for per­sons of the op­po­site sex. a. b. c. d. a. Marco Ru­bio Jeb Bush Ted Cruz Don­ald Trump Don­ald Trump a. 1850 - 1865 - dur­ing slav­ery and the Civil War b. ?1914 - 1930? - from World War I and the post­war anti-im­mi­grant hys­te­ria through the Great De­pres­sion??

c. 1941 - 1955 - from World War II into the Cold War and the Se­na­tor McCarthy-led anti-Red hys­te­ria.

d. ?2001 - 2009? - from 9/11, through the Iraq War, up to the Great Re­ces­sion.?? a. 3 b. 5 c. 7 d. Im­pos­si­ble to tell - it’s one of the great mys­ter­ies of this cam­paign sea­son a. First Hus­band (FHOTUS) b. Mr For­mer Pres­i­dent c. “Hey you” d. Try to get his at­ten­tion, wait un­til he makes eye­con­tact, and then start speak­ing. a. Min­utes b. Hours c. Days d. They won’t bother, they’ll just hold mul­ti­ple hear­ings and in­ves­ti­ga­tions in or­der to make her life mis­er­able while in­sur­ing that noth­ing pro­duc­tive hap­pens in a. Mother Theresa b. Pope Fran­cis c. Abra­ham Lin­coln d. LeBron James e. It doesn’t mat­ter who’s pres­i­dent, noth­ing would be done by Congress. a. b. c. a. b. c. Trump win­ning Trump los­ing Ei­ther way, we’re in a mess.

10). What’s an Aleppo?

a. The Amer­i­can League of En­light­ened Pro­fes­sional Pun­dits Or­ga­ni­za­tion

b. A once beau­ti­ful city in Syria that’s been on the front pages of news­pa­pers ev­ery­day as we watch it be­ing pounded to death. Le­banon The United States of Amer­ica Zim­babwe

Re­mem­ber to send your re­sponses and/or com­ments to me via Twit­ter @jjz1600. I hope to col­lect them and use them in a fu­ture piece.

NOTE: Dr James J Zogby is the Pres­i­dent of the Arab Amer­i­can In­sti­tute

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