(The Atlantic) – Right now, Africa is changing with extraordinary speed and in surprising ways, but American policy there remains stale and stuck in the past: unambitious, underinvested and conceptually outdated.
This holds true at a time when the continent is growing demographically and urbanizing faster than any place before in history. Africa is booming economically as well, with an overall growth rate faster than Asia, and an emerging middle class larger than India’s.
The United States, meanwhile, remains mired in an approach whose foundation dates to the Cold War, when we cherry-picked strongmen among Africa’s leaders, autocrats we could “work with,” according to the old diplomatic cliché.
“When I first encountered Rice in Mali, during a visit there by then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher in 1996, she was a well-connected and high-achieving senior NSC staffer in her early thirties. She was possessed of a quick step and a look of complete self-confidence.
Most unusually for someone her age, she already had a career-defining crisis behind her, one in which she has played an important role: the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
According to Samantha Power, Rice’s advice to the Clinton White House in the critical early phases of the killing there was to avoid any public recognition that actual genocide was being committed, because to do so would legally require the United States to take action, and this (echoes of Benghazi?) might affect upcoming congressional elections.”
Last week, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern extensively documented Rice’s long record of cheering for US wars, including being an outspoken and aggressive advocate of the attack on Iraq, support that persisted for many years. In a New York Times Op-Ed yesterday, Eritrean-American journalist Salem Solomon condemned Rice’s fondness for tyrants in Africa, while Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford argued – with ample documentation – that her supporters “care not a whit for Africa, whose rape and depopulation has been the focus of Rice’s incredibly destructive career.” A New York Times news article from Monday separately suggests that Rice’s close ties to the ruling regime in Rwanda – that government “was her client when she worked at Intellibridge, a strategic analysis firm in Washington” – has led Washington to tacitly endorse its support for brutal rebels in the Congo.
Meanwhile, so-called “pro-Israel” groups have vocally supported her possible nomination due to her steadfast defense of Israel at the UN, hailing her as “an ardent defender of major Israeli positions in an unfriendly forum.”
Rwanda’s designs on eastern Congo were further helped by the Clinton administration’s interest in promoting a group of men it called the New African Leaders, including the heads of state of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, and Rwanda. As Clinton officials saw it, these New Leaders were sympathetic and businesslike, drawn together by such desirable goals as overthrowing Mobutu, by antagonism toward the Islamist government of Sudan, which shares a border with northeast Congo, and by talk of rethinking Africa’s hitherto sacrosanct borders, as a means of creating more viable states.