Take a Look in the Mirror, America
President Obama this week deployed his impressive oratorical skills to frame a false historical and current reality about Africa. “He used cheap rhetorical devices to essentially deny that his own country and other Western nations are equally, if not more, responsible for the destabilized condition in which so many African nations find themselves.” What's needed is a “real alteration in American governance,” to replace a system that thrives on exploitation and death.
“Obama spoke as if America and Europe had nothing to do with much of the 'bad' governance that Mama Africa has seen since European invaders began their rape, murder and plunder.”
Almost six months into the “Change you can believe in” Cult (I mean administration), and I am regrettably remain unpleasantly surprised at the number of people who still, despite strong facts, escape reality by thinking that President Obama is some kind of progressive messiah. He is not progressive much less a messiah. I am surprised at the unmitigated hubris President Obama shows each time he spews forth disingenuous, insulting and “coded” rhetoric. However, most regrettable, I am surprised that I am surprised.
President Obama has just concluded his first presidential visit to Sub-Saharan African (second trip to Africa, including Egypt) and, if you listen close enough, you can still hear the echoes of him chastising and scolding Africans for the destabilization of their mineral rich continent. He curiously reminded Africans, and the world, that they (Africans) could not longer blame colonization and slavery for their problems. Previously this month, Obama had said in an interview with AllAfrica.com that “excuses” about neo-colonialism had hindered progress on the world’s “poorest” continent. He sounded eerily like some white American liberal or conservative when they feel the need to lecture black Americans that they can all simply pull themselves up from their proverbial “bootstraps.” They, and Obama, deliberately fail to mention, 1) that many people have no bootstraps by which to pull themselves up, and 2) the role institutional racism played and continues to play in maintaining the equality divide between blacks and whites.
Obama’s speech in Ghana was reminiscent of the time, during his campaign, that he impressed his white “handlers” by stepping into a black church and exclusively scolding black men for being irresponsible fathers, as if this was an issue restricted to that demographic. Obama knew very well that he could not go into a white church with that rhetoric despite the fact that philandering and deadbeat fathering exists in every community. You see, to do that Obama would have to have some semblance of moxie. He is much more comfortable taking the easy “road” when it comes to social issues. Honestly addressing all of the intersectional sides of an issue, including the root causes, appears to be much too difficult for President Obama.
“He impressed his white handlers by stepping into a black church and exclusively scolding black men for being irresponsible fathers, as if this was an issue restricted to that demographic.”
When Obama embarked upon his superficial 24-hour “trip” to Ghana and lectured black Africans about corruption, bad governance, and tyranny, strongly intimating that these were the sole reasons why the vast majority of its people are immersed in a quagmire of poverty and death, he was taking the very easy road: an exercise in false and self-serving logic that his so-called liberal European-American constituents love to hear. He was taking a road that his white conservative European-American adversaries more than agree with. He used cheap rhetorical devices to essentially deny that his own country and other Western nations are equally, if not more, responsible for the destabilized condition in which so many African nations find themselves. He spoke as if America and Europe had nothing to do with much of the “bad” governance that Mama Africa has seen since European invaders began to rape, murder and plunder her soil and her people.
If my memory serves me correctly it was America, via the CIA, that funded a coup that murdered the great Congolese Leader Patrice Lumumba and installed the corrupt Mobutu Sese Seko who, with the aid of the US, cast death, plunder, and destruction upon the people of Congo for more than three decades. The US, on the direct orders of President Eisenhower, caused the assassination of Lumumba because he had the “bold” idea that the vast mineral resources of Congo should primarily benefit its people and not the West. Coincidentally, it was also a US supported coup that was responsible for the overthrow of one of Africa’s most progressive leaders, Kwame Nkrumah, in 1966.
“The US, on the direct orders of President Eisenhower, caused the assassination of Lumumba.”
President Obama knows very well about these American atrocities, and many more, yet omitted them from his speech in Ghana. It would take courage to admit the role Washington has played in the destabilization of Africa – the kind of courage this president lacks.
Instead of providing an honest context for the current conditions confronting Africa, Obama selectively focuses on “bad” African governance and corruption, all the while turning a blind eye to the role the US has played and continues to play. However, can fans of imperialism blame the guy? Obama is reading from the same page of the US imperialist playbook as his presidential predecessors. The rules of the playbook forbidsa US head of state from allowing America to accept any culpability in the violation of other nations' sovereignty. So while all of the good Obamanistas continue to drink their spiked kool-aid he and his minions, like Susan Rice, Kipp Ward, and Johnnie Carson, will continue to build the case for imperial programs such as Africom (African-Command).
Obama can be counted on to advocate for more fettered (structural adjustment-laden) aid from the likes of the World Bank, IMF and USAID. Don’t expect Obama to discuss how nefarious structural adjustment polices have prevented African nations from directing money towards education, healthcare and infrastructure. You best believe that the $20 billion in agricultural aid pledged by the rich G8 member nations comes with some very sticky strings attached. The US president also won’t tell you how these policies induce Western privatization and the hindrance of sales of African exports. He also wont tell you how politically motivated sanctions on Zimbabwe have crippled its economy and its people. Nor will he mention how US sanctions on Iraq contributed to the loss of one million lives, over half of them children. But why would he? That would take courage and a real alteration in American governance. Dare I say that would take good governance?
“You best believe that the $20 billion in agricultural aid pledged by the rich G8 member nations comes with some very sticky strings attached.”
Until America has a leader that is willing to take a long, honest and hard look in the mirror we can expect continuity in US policy at home and abroad. American “leaders” will point fingers at others while evading any recognizable mea culpa in the role they have played in the destabilization of other nations, and continue to play. Just like a well-oiled sports franchise that only acquires players who are best suited for the system, Barack Obama is perfectly suited for the US imperialist system. So when Obama closed his speech in Ghana by saying that America with be with Africa every step of the way, he very much meant it…and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, public speaker and the host of the Your World News radio program (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Your-World-News). He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.