Opinion / Politics

Obama’s Africa Policy Draws Concern

by Nelima

african-unionHere’s some food for thought from Africa News Journal. I am not too familiar with Paul Volcker or Lawrence Summers, but I do remember the controversy generated by Summers memo in 1991 because my mom was working for the World bank at the time. Read the memo here. Okay I got some reading to do. Then I will post a comment. Meanwhile those of you who are familiar with these folks please share your insights.

President-elect Obama’s choice for U.S. Treasury Secretary could have far reaching consequences for Africa which is why his two picks for the post are drawing critical comments from some Africa watchers.
“One of Barack Obama’s leading advisors has done more damage to Africa, its economies and its people than anyone I can think of in world history, including even Cecil John Rhodes,” observes Patrick Bond, director of the Centre for Civil Society in Durban, South Africa.
Paul Volcker, central banker from 1979-1987, said Bond… “increased the cost of African debt precipitously, “delivering the newly independent states into at least 20 years of indentured labor”.
It was after “Volcker Shock” that Brazil’s debt exploded, doubling from $50
billion to $100 billion in six years, noted journalist Naomi Klein, author of the book “Shock Doctrine.”. Many African countries… found themselves in similar straits: Nigeria’s debt in the same short time period went from $9 billion to $29 billion.” 
Former Clinton Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is also being eyed by Obama for the top job. Best known for the sexism controversy which cost him the presidency of Harvard in 2006, he gained infamy 15 years earlier when he wrote in a private World Bank memo: “I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that… I’ve always thought that underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted, their air quality is vastly inefficiently low… African’s aesthetic concerns with air pollution are not likely to be as substantive as they are for wealthy


15 thoughts on “Obama’s Africa Policy Draws Concern

  1. GET OUT!!!!!!!!!!! Are you serious? Especially Lawrence Summer! I don’t believe it! I got to do some research on him and if he is indeed on any Obama list. Nobody with such mentality should have a place in world affairs.

    “I’ve always thought that underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted, their air quality is vastly inefficiently low… African’s aesthetic concerns with air pollution are not likely to be as substantive as they are for wealthy”

    WHAT!? I still can’t believe it. Naw, I definitely got to get back to you on this one.

  2. Lol! Ibe! That’s funny. Do not forget that the guy is the “American president” after all. Their “Lebensraum” agenda will always come first before Obama’s personal humanitarianism!

  3. First off, as a feminist (ahem), I do not like Summers, he is the good fellow who doesn’t think much of women– gave a whole presentation on it!! I recently read an article where a female grad assistant at Harvard defended him for his initiatives towards women’s programs at the uni. I will have to find it.

    And then of course, I remember the World Bank controversy.

    Here’s the whole list

  4. Why is this so surprising? Obama never said he would fundamentally change U.S. foreign policy. Nobody should be surprised, the U.S. will keep on being an empire. By the way most of the guys he is picking or considering picking were part of the Clinton administration. Not very much a change of course……

  5. So America’s sweetheart is beginning to show ‘weakness’?

    @ Tuan I agree not much of a change. I am disappointed by his choice of Clinton for veep. I would have much rathered Bill Richardson who had to sever his relationship with the Clintons to get Latinos to rally behind Obama. What a stab in the back. I hear Latinos are feeling very left out and are saying that they will be wiser in 2012. Perhaps this will make it easy for Hillary to unseat Obama?

    How is this Clinton-Obama relationship going to work anyways? They have such different ideas when it comes to foreign policy.

    Tread carefully Obama, tread carefully.

  6. I must say, I’m not impressed either. I too think Richardson is more deserving than Clinton, and infact more qualified too.
    As far as his promise of change, you can use old agents to deliver new products. Change is still possible! Or perhaps as I heard someone say on NPR yesterday, what he promised was not necessarily change from past, but rather change from Bush. So recreating the Clinton administration is infact change.

    But I believe we should wait and see. He is not even in office yet.

  7. I was routing for Bill Richardson too, during the debates he seemed by far the most caring about and knowledgeable on Africa in comparison to all the candidates.

    I don’t think Clinton has the kind of negotiation skills required of the US at this time when their image is so tarnished abroad. I also don’t think Africa is that high on her agenda, though Bill Clinton’s foundation, which donates millions of dollars to Africa may influence her a bit.

    Also like Flora pointed out, her and Obama have major differences in their approach on foreign policy; she insists on meetings with pre-conditions and he doesn’t and what about that oh-so-sensitive NAFTA issue? It will be hard for Obama to reach across the aisle if he starts having issues in his own camp.

    How about all the former Clinton aides in Obama’s administration, with whom will their loyalties lie?

    How will this relationship pan out?

    Yes, what a stab in the back for Richardson.

  8. Okay just saw that Bill Richardson is a likely pick for sec of commerce ….. don’t know what to make of that.

  9. To IBe: “The problems we face today cannot be solved by the minds that created them” Albert Einstein.
    And also to Nelimak, I don’t see why it is important that the U.S. has an improved image.

  10. Tuan image for the US means a lot right now especially after the Iraqi invasion. The US will find it hard to garner support on issues if they isolate themselves. Nonetheless, Obama has emphasized economic recovery over everything else. And it is with this in mind that I think he has chosen to confirm Summers. Yes, Obama has confirmed Summers 😦

  11. But that’s where their image should be, never in history has the U.S. done anything good for the world that didn’t coincide with their interest. The U.S. should not be a world leader, and Iraq isn’t the only crime of the U.S.

  12. I’m going to hold judgement until next year (or beyond). But in the meantime, I’ll say this: though I suspect the US will be the US, I hope it turns out to be bigger than itself.

    I still have HOPE.

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