Monday, August 31, 2009



"Is the cooking pot calling the kettle black?"

August 31 2009

A former US Africa policy chief is accusing the Obama administration of not doing enough to advance American military, political and economic interests on the continent.

In commentaries in two major US media outlets, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer charged that Obama’s envoys took the wrong approach when they spoke recently of presenting Kenya and other African countries with a message of “tough love.”

“US policy in Africa is not about love,” Frazer wrote last week in The Wall Street Journal, faulting the signals sent by both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk. “It’s about advancing America’s core interests: promoting economic growth and development, combating terrorism and fostering well-governed, stable countries.”

The Bush administration’s senior Africa official went on to urge Obama “to translate the rhetoric of love” into hard-nosed policies.

Frazer’s most provocative suggestion is to move the headquarters of the US Africa Command from Germany to Liberia.

“The command needs to be in the region its operations are charged with shaping,” she argued, citing the Liberia’s offer to host Africom, but did not take note of other African governments’ opposition to a US military command on African soil.

Frazer added that Africom should go beyond its current assessment of conditions in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and begin training DRC troops. She further advised Obama to convene a White House summit of the leaders of Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC.

“Obama needs to spend more time meeting and engaging African leaders to address the continent’s challenges,” Frazer wrote, adding that Bush had helped end interstate wars in the region by holding individual and trilateral meetings with the leaders of the three countries.

Eritrea should be placed on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, Frazer added, saying such a move would trigger sanctions against Eritrea as a way of helping prevent a reprise of the 1998 US embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

She reasoned that since Al Qaida’s East Africa cell is based in Somalia and Eritrea is said to be aiding a Somali Islamist force linked to Al Qaida, US economic and political action against Eritrea will prove effective in combating terrorism in the Horn.

The Obama administration should also oppose a Bill in the US Senate that would extend to some Asian countries trade preferences established under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

On National Public Radio, Frazer accused Obama of “talking the talk but not actually doing the work back home”, and him and his cabinet ministers of not seeking to squelch a move in Congress to give “hyper-competitive Cambodia and Bangladesh” the same advantages that Agoa offers to Africa.

Legislation proposed by California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein would actually extend Agoa-type benefits to 15 countries in Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East. Giving only Bangladesh and Cambodia duty-free access to the US textile market would be sufficient to “wipe out Africa’s textile sector,” Frazer declared.