News

Analyst Says Bush's Africa Trip Avoids Controversial Countries

President Bush is scheduled to leave Friday on a visit to Africa that will take him to five countries, including Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia. The President had said Thursday that he might delay his departure if it would help the U.S. Congress pass new rules for a domestic spying program that is expected to expire this Saturday.

Robert Rotberg is Adjunct Professor of Public Policy and director of the program on intra-state conflict at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He told VOA President Bush’s trip to Africa is an easy one and somewhat disappointing because the president is going to less controversial countries.

“He picked some countries where there is no controversy and where he avoids all the critical issues of Africa. The countries that he needs to talk about are not the ones he’s visiting. He needs to talk about Kenya, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Chad and Congo, but he’s not visiting any of those countries. He can even talk about Nigeria. But he’s going to Benin possibly because it would provide him an opportunity to talk about some of the democratic progress that Benin has made,” he said.

Rotberg said although Tanzania chairs the African Union, President Bush should have gone to troubled neighboring Kenya.

“That’s right which is a good reason to go to Tanzania. But its neighbor is the one in big trouble. And President Bush needs to find some way to help Kofi Annan mediate that conflict,” Rotberg said.

The United States has been pushing for more countries to commit peacekeeping troops to Sudan’s Darfur region. Rotberg said while this issue might come up during President Bush’s meeting with Tanzanian President Kikwete, Mr. Bush would have gotten more mileage on the isisue had he visited some of the countries with more clout when it comes to troop contribution.

“To that he needs to visit South Africa and Nigeria, not to visit Tanzania which doesn’t have any troops to commit. So if he really wanted to bolster the African force he would need to go to some of the tougher countries who have troops like Uganda which has troops and South Africa which has the most formidable contingent,” he said.

When President Bush first took office many Africans and Africanists had subdued expectations about what he could do for Africa. Now some say the President has improved U.S. relations with Africa, especially through his Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Rotberg agreed but said like the Millennium Challenge Corporation, little PEPFAR funding has actually reached the people of Africa.

“PEPFAR is a very good program. But in fact only a small percentage of the promised funds has actually reached Africa. Similarly the Millennium Challenge Corporation has only managed to begin spending its funds at a very low level. So the signature elements of Bush’s plan for Africa hadn’t been delivered to any extent,” Rotberg said.

President Bush is also expected to discuss the U.S. plan to have an Africa Military Command (AFRICOM), especially during his meeting with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who, despite public rebuke of the program by some African leaders, has offered her country as host of AFRICOM. 

Rotberg said it would not be a wise decision for the United States to continue to push a military institution like AFRICOM, especially when some Africans say they do not want it.

“I think it’s really foolish to pursue the AFRICOM location in Africa when most Africans don’t want it. But he’s going to Liberia because Liberians say they would be happy to have AFRICOM based there. And he may announce something about locating it there. But since most of the rest of Africa doesn’t want it in Africa, there’s no point putting it there,” Rotberg said.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs