Thursday, October 25, 2007

U.S. Republicans and Africa

With the Democrats out of the way, it’s time to understand how the Republicans plan to deal with Africa – once one of them reaches the White House. Once again, this information is being borrowed from the Council on Foreign Relations issue tracker.

Rudy Guiliani
African policy will focus on increased trade;
Carry on Bush plan for AIDS and malaria;
Darfur: Called for Bush to hold an international summit on the conflict.

Mike Huckabee
Claims foreign aid should be limited to humanitarian efforts.

Duncan Hunter
Darfur: Urged Bush to improve the Abeche airfield in Chad (near Darfur). Base has potential to stage humanitarian flights as well as NATO and UN operations.

John McCain
Supports promoting democracy abroad;
Darfur: Supports NATO-enforced no-fly zone; Claims U.S. should pressure EU and UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Khartoum government; reminded Sudanese leaders that International Criminal Court can prosecute war crimes for those who attack civilians.

Ron Paul
Did not support Bush’s plan to double foreign aid;
Darfur: Voted against sanction and disinvestment bills.

Mitt Romney
Proposes targeting Muslims in Africa for Middle East anti-poverty programs;
Praises celebrities and activists for raising concerns about poverty.

Tom Tancredo
Darfur: Co-sponsored bill placing sanctions on officials who are complicit in the killings.

Fred Thompson
Supported extending trade benefits to Africa.

A note on divestment of companies working in Sudan: House Resolution 180, the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007, was sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and has, presently, 152 co-sponsors, including Dennis Kucinich, Tom Tancredo. The bill requires two basic actions: If passed, it will require the identification of companies doing business in Sudan; and, will prohibit the U.S. government from making contracts with those companies. The bill passed the House of Representatives on August 3 and is now waiting for debate in the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

With this in mind, the candidates’ investment in companies doing business in Sudan has become something of a campaign issue. John Edwards and Rudy Guiliani were informed in May they held investments in companies working in Sudan. An Edwards spokesman told the Associated Press he would sell off the investments. Rudy Guiliani was also informed that he held investments and his campaign said he would investigate those investments and “take appropriate action.”

The LA Times reported that Mitt Romney has investments in an oil company tied to the Sudanese government. A Romney spokesman said the candidate’s attorney controls the investments and Romney had no influence on investing decisions.

Barack Obama had already sold off his investments with companies doing business with Sudan.

Ron Paul was the only representatives to vote against the bill (13 others were not present.)

On the first read of these proposals, it appeared the Republicans as a whole had beefier, more thoughtful plans for Africa. After parsing the programs out, however, I appear to be wrong. The Democrats don’t do a great job, mind you; but they are – by in large – more active on the African front than their Republican counterparts.

Of course, a whole stable of issues have been ignored. No one is saying anything about the budding relationship of the U.S. military and the continent. Agricultural subsidies are another area left off the table. How will the candidates deal with African oil politics? What place will human rights take in their administration? What about rewarding well run governments?

What happens if resolution is found in Darfur? We’d have one less massive human tragedy, of course. In the short term, the Democrats would lose a cornerstone of their plans for the continent. On the societal level, though, the U.S. would be forced to find a different frame to view Africa through. And that is what good foreign policy is about.

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