Obama’s Hypocrisy and Double Standards
Long-suffering Arab masses can expect no help from Obama.
It is becoming increasingly clear that American President Barack Obama is slowly but surely sliding into that refuge of all American presidents- hypocrisy and double standards. To give the man credit, he has tried to give his presidency a certain freshness, but so far, it has been all flash and no substance.
In the things that matter, Obama remains the quintessential American president- a dyed in the wool hypocrite and purveyor of double standards.
Nothing illustrates this more than the hotchpotch of unco-ordinated interventions that have passed for his policy towards Africa, where his roots are.
Obama came to visit Ghana earlier in the year. He claimed that he was paying a visit to Ghana to demonstrate his support for countries in the continent that are showing leadership in human rights and democracy. He stated that this would form the backbone of his African policy. He then proceeded to make a speech with the usual big brother hectoring sound bites that American presidents reserve purely for the continent of Africa. You are unlikely to hear the same diatribe being hurled at, say, dictatorial China where they thinks human rights is the name of Nixon’s poddle, or India, where the largest concentration of the most impoverished people on earth live (yessir, it is not in Africa). No, Africa is where the big bullies find easy pickings to show off their power.
And yet, even here, Obama had no tangible support to offer Ghana- not financial assistance, not loans, not trade agreements, not access to American markets. Nothing but words, words and more words fromthat deep well of oratory he likes to draw from. He seems to be increasingly drawing from it to obfuscate the lack of concrete measures.
The question is, the selfsame Obama had gone to Egypt on an earlier trip. And here is the crux of the matter. Hosni Mubarak is no democrat of any shade or hue. He does not even pretend to be one. His rule will soon have stretched three decades. He does not even have a sham election, and his opponents are all in jail or dead.
Yet, Egypt continues to be the largest recipient of American aid in Africa. During his trip, Obama did not once touch on issues of human rights and democracy, preferring to confine himself to the ‘safe’ topic of American-Islam relations. He missed the opportunity to be different, to demonstrate to the long suffering masses of that African-Arab belt that stretches from Egypt all the way to Algeria that America would stand with them in their bitter fight for democratic governance.
So spare us, Obama. Clearly, its new wine in old wineskins. Nothing new. The same old hypocrisy and double standards.
Indeed, Obama has deftly steered away from the key issues that are crying for immediate and urgent attention in the continent. Somalia continues to provide a major centre of destabilization of the whole region, and currently a major threat to international shipping. Al Qaeda affiliated fighters continue to pour into Somalia and are at the brink of taking over that country. But it is to Afghanistan that more troops are being rushed. The lives there probably more precious than those in Somalia and the East African region.
Equally pressing issues are the devastated lives in Darfur, and the increasing democratic turbulence in West Africa, where democratic gains are being rolled back at an alarming rate by coups, imposition of leaders, and leaders attempting to subvert constitutions to entrench themselves in power.
But the nadir must have been reached through Obama’s perfunctory and very shabby treatment of Zimbabwe’s prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai is trying to return his country to hope for his people, and on the road to economic recovery. He came to see Obama, hoping for concrete support to revive his country’s economy.
Instead he received lectures on good governance (as if he needed any more), and was sent home with remonstrations of how America wanted to see more reforms in Zimbabwe if it was to get any aid- a real shame. The children of Zimbabwe are not going to eat mere words. But then again, maybe the lives of the children of Zimbabwe are probably worth less than those of say, Egypt, where Mubarak does not need any reforms on any scale to keep the dollars flowing in.
Is it likely, therefore, that President Obama will present a different agenda and try to change the face of America’s skewed foreign policy that treats people in countries where they have no direct strategic interests as second class citizens? If you are in one of these second-class countries in the developing world, do not hold your breath! Even if he serves two terms!!