With military incursions continuing in Iraq and Afghanistan, China and Iran on the rise, Reese Witherspoon and George Clooney walking red carpets, it's easy to see why Africa can't hold the attention of overworked news editors…or presidential candidates. True, the continent hasn’t played a major role in this year's countless candidates' debates. Slowly but surely, however, the U.S. presidential hopefuls have begun to sketch out plans on how they’ll deal with Africa – once they reach the White House.
The Council on Foreign Relations has been tracking candidates’ statements regarding Africa (and policy towards India and positions on military tribunals and energy policy). What CFR has found is that Africa has emerged as something more substantial than a humanitarian issue for policy makers. (They’ve also discovered that the quasi-Hollywood/quasi-hard news rag Vanity Fair has the best information on individual candidate's thoughts on Africa.) True, most contenders still treat Africa as one giant state, but subtle policy differences are beginning to emerge.
Following the lead of the Bush administration, some presidential hopefuls have proposed to change the way the U.S. doles out foreign aid; some would like to roll-back the president's plan on fighting HIV/AIDS and most everyone has something to say about Darfur.
Here’s a take on the candidates’ African platforms from Scoutbanana at Progressiveu.org:
The responses to policy questions on African issues have no party divide and there is no clear party position on Africa. This is a positive I feel as people are taking stances on what they truly believe as opposed to what they are supposed to think because of party affiliation.
However, he points out that.
Most of the candidates can only say that they have signed or supported a piece of paper, called a bill, to do something in or for Africa. Not many can say they have actually experienced or taken real steps to assist African countries or governments.
Bear in mind, these proposals are moving targets: issues change, events intervene, polling sways. It’s best to keep in touch with CFR’s Africa page for updates.
We’ll start outlining the Democrats’ plans today and review Republican strategies tomorrow. So, in hopes of not breaking too many copyright laws, here’s a brief on how the Council on Foreign Relations calls it:
Joseph R. Biden
- Advocates sending about 2,500 U.S. troops to Darfur to stem the violence;
- Proposed bill forcing U.S. to stop funding abstinence-only sex education programs in Africa;
- Stresses education to fight poverty;
- Co-sponsored Biden’s bill regarding abstinence-only programs;
- Darfur: Advocates a no-fly zone, enforced by NATO troops.
- Supports the Millennium Development Goals;
- Insists IMF should sell some gold reserve to set up a trust fund to finance debts of poor countries;
- Co-sponsored bill directing president to develop strategy for improved health care throughout Africa;
- Darfur: Supports Biden’s plan for international peace keepers.
- Would greatly increase funding for clean water;
- Advocates creating a cabinet-level position for global development coordinator;
- Claims education is key to fighting poverty in Africa;
- Darfur: Advocates U.S. logistical support of peace keepers;NATO should assist also and provide no-fly zone; Called for sanctions for 29 companies owned or controlled by Sudan.
- Doesn’t support corporations who exploit Africans;
- Advocates significant increases to U.S. funding of humanitarian organizations;
- Called for immediate canceling of all bilateral and World Bank/IMF debt;
- Voted in favor of bill condemning Zimbabwe government in violent crackdown against opposition activists;
- Darfur: Supports U.S. government refusing to sign contracts with companies doing business in Sudan.
- Voted for condemnation of Zimbabwe government;
- Supports, with Dodd, better health care in Africa;
- Would expand PEPFAR by $1 billion;
- Darfur: Supports no-fly zone;
- Recently traveled to Africa.
- Calls for multilateral Marshall Plan for Africa: improved medical care, education and economic development;
- Backs Bush on his funding of Millennium Development Goals, especially AIDS;
- Darfur: Traveled to Sudan to convince president to allow UN troops.