Obama’s “US Global Development Policy”–what part of this is 60s “anti-colonial” radicalism?

Obama’s speech to UN Development Summit, announcing “US Global Development Policy” (from NBC; h/t Aid Watch)

So let’s put to rest the old myth that development is mere charity that does not serve our interests. And let’s reject the cynicism that says certain countries are condemned to perpetual poverty. For the past half century has witnessed more gains in human development than at any time in history. A disease that had ravaged the generations, smallpox, was eradicated. Health care has reached the far corners of the world, saving the lives of millions. From Latin America to Africa to Asia, developing nations have transformed into leaders in the global economy.

. . . .

As President, I have made it clear that the United States will do our part. My national security strategy recognizes development as not only a moral imperative, but a strategic and economic imperative. Secretary of State Clinton is leading a review to strengthen and better coordinate our diplomacy and development efforts. We’ve reengaged with multilateral development institutions. And we’re rebuilding the United States Agency for International Development as the world’s premier development agency. In short, we’re making sure that the United States will be a global leader in international development in the 21st century.
. . . .

We also recognize that the old ways will not suffice. That is why in Ghana last year I called for a new approach to development that unleashes transformational change and allows more people to take control of their own destiny. After all, no country wants to be dependent on another. No proud leader in this room wants to ask for aid. And no family wants to be beholden to the assistance of others.
To pursue this vision, my administration conducted a comprehensive review of America’s development programs. We listened to leaders in government, NGOs and civil society, the private sector and philanthropy, Congress and our many international partners.

Today, I am announcing our new U.S. Global Development Policy-the first of its kind by an American administration. It’s rooted in America’s enduring commitment to the dignity and potential of every human being. And it outlines our new approach and the new thinking that will guide our overall development efforts, including the plan that I promised last year and that my administration has delivered to pursue the Millennium Development Goals.

Put simply, the United States is changing the way we do business.

. . . .

First, we’re changing how we define development. For too long, we’ve measured our efforts by the dollars we spent and the food and medicines we delivered. But aid alone is not development. Development is helping nations to actually develop-moving from poverty to prosperity. And we need more than just aid to unleash that change. We need to harness all the tools at our disposal-from our diplomacy to our trade and investment policies.

Second, we’re changing how we view the ultimate goal of development. Our focus on assistance has saved lives in the short term, but it hasn’t always improved those societies over the long term. Consider the millions of people who have relied on food assistance for decades. That’s not development, that’s dependence, and it’s a cycle we need to break. Instead of just managing poverty, we have to offer nations and peoples a path out of poverty.

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Washington Post names names–and a question

The Washington Post sticks its neck out a bit to publish in its “44” blog a post entitled “Lawmakers and the ‘birther/Muslim’ myths”:

We’ve collected a list of lawmakers whose comments have helped fuel the debate. Most either said outright that the president is a Muslim, that he is not a U.S. citizen or appeared to leave open the possibility that either falsehood could be true.

One question I have on the “birther” stuff: if Obama’s father had been a white Kenyan instead of a black Kenyan, would ANYONE think that he was born in Kenya instead of Hawaii?

More on American Dreams about Kenya

On the day that Kenyans were going to the polls in great numbers to line up and vote on a new constitution, CNN ran a story about the large number of Americans that doubt that President Obama was born in the United States. So far as I know, the only theory about any place else that he was born is Kenya.

But where is there any evidence at all, whatsoever, that supports the notion that he was born in Kenya?

To my way of thinking, this becomes at some point a significant pathology within our democratic system. Where does this leave American elected officials and candidates in dealing the the real Kenya and real Kenyans? Once again in 2012 we are going to have simultaneous campaigns for president going on the U.S. and Kenya, this time with President Obama as the incumbent, presumably facing a GOP challenger. The votes of people who think that Obama was probably born in Kenya rather than the United States will be crucial–having been even more important in deciding the Republican nomination (unless these numbers change dramatically–but that won’t happen on its own).

And what about the Americans who think (or at least say) that Raila Odinga is a secret socialist or Marxist/communist Islamist (however that works) like Obama and in league with him against the rest of us?

Well, at least our Kenyan friends can be assured that we will be around to teach them all about how democracy should work!

Kenya Referendum Slugfest One Month Out and other news

“‘No’ Team Attacks U.S. Envoy Over New Kenya Law” Daily Nation, July 2

My take: the Referendum campaign continues to get messier. And we are not helping, having not learned our lesson from the last election. Ranneberger endorsed the draft constitution, then the Administration backed off, after GOP Congressmen complained, raising the tenuous issue of U.S. legal restrictions on “lobbying for abortion” overseas–muddying the waters by not addressing the matter clearly. With the Biden visit and Obama speech on KBC, the official line was that we were not trying to tell Kenyans how they should vote, but were offering inducements if they did vote yes. Now Ranneberger is again making himself an issue in the yes/no campaign in Kenya directly. At this point, I think we (the United States) need to be very concerned about a non-violent and free election and a credible and accepted result, which is the thing of foremost importance. I think the proposed constitution has important positives and am concerned that missing the opportunity to pass this now could be very unfortunate, but Kenyans have to decide this for themselves–and frankly I do not think that they are more likely to vote “yes” because the Ambassador gets mixed up in it.

If many of Kibaki’s circle of ministers are “watermelons”, green on the outside but red on the inside, are we “kiwis”, brown and fuzzy on the outside and green on the inside (and foreign)? Could we be straightforward and consistent, just to try it out and see if that works better than what happened last time?

Certainly the Administration sent another very mixed signal by extending Ranneberger’s tenure again.

Some links of interest:

“House’s Special Gift to Kenyans in Choice to Lead Anti-Graft Agency” Kwamchetsi Makokha spoofs the nomination of P.L.O. Lumumba to head the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, Daily Nation, July 2

“Fear and Loathing in Nairobi” John Githongo writes in the new Foreign Affairs (subscription).

ABC News: “Some of the Best Paid Politicians in the World are in . . . Kenya???”

“Jeffrey Gettleman: Reporting from Nairobi” on NPR’s Fresh Air

“Current Conditions and U.S. Policy in the Horn of Africa”, Congressional Testimony by Ted Dagne of CRS, June 17

Slovenia versus Truth, Justice and the American Way

That official was obviously part of “the blame America first crowd”.

Have you noticed that in every World Cup game since we elected Obama president the U.S. has tied? It’s Socialism, I say, Socialism!

*For World Cup fans let me commend to you “Africa United–How Football Explains Africa” on the blogroll (tied to the recent book of the same title) by Steve Bloomfield.

Biden arriving in Kenya–Obama does KBC interview from Washington

Biden arrives Monday in Nairobi. The Nation reports that the Kenyan gov’t wants to use the visit to make a case for greater U.S. engagement on Somalia, in particular boosting the U.N. role.

President Obama meanwhile did an interview from Washington with the KBC:

During the interview in Washington with KBC, President Obama spoke of his wish to see a more prosperous Kenya. He urged Kenyans to “seize the moment” offered by the referendum to put the post-election violence behind them.

The US President sent the strongest indication yet that he wanted to see Kenya’s constitution review process come to a successful conclusion and announced plans to visit the country before his term ends.

But he clarified that the US was not pushing for the Yes vote at the referendum, slated for August 4.

President Obama said the decision to vote Yes or No at the referendum was up to Kenyans themselves.

“Birtherism” Editorial: Obama born on Chinese warship off Peru’s coast?

Editorial: Obama born on Chinese warship off Peru’s coast?



At some point this “birtherism” becomes a significant question about American democracy.  Are we becoming better informed or less well informed in the “information age”?  What are the limits to “urban legend” and “suburban legend”, if any?  To what extent do politicians try to ride the “coattails” of these type of legends?  Will we see (or experience and not see) more active efforts by “mainstream” political players to organize or more actively exploit this sort of thing?  On the “birther” matter specifically, how will this play out with simultaneous campaigns in the US and Kenya in 2012?

I am sure that most Americans who have lived in Kenya recently have experienced strange incidents of people telling them stories or asking questions about Obama being born in Kenya.   I had a prominent lawyer from Texas tell me about how in Kenya it was common knowledge that Obama was born there and that there was a “big monument” to reflect this–and that he had been told this by “African-Americans”.  I had to explain that I had lived in Kenya for a year during the 2008 American and Kenyan presidential campaigns and managed to completely miss this while I was there.

News Links from Today: Prosecutions, Protests and Push from the President

Standard–Justice Minister urges ICC to ignore bids to derail prosecutions

Nation–Muslim clerics disown protests and Al-Faisal

Standard–Parliamentary Select Commission stalled on constituencies for new constitution, but Pres. Obama has called Pres. Kibaki and PM Odinga to push them to deliver.