Analyzing the GOP convention for clues and references to Africa

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GOP Convention in Tampa

We’re hearing the rumblings about jobs, tax cuts, abortion, immigration and the like as the 2012 U.S. presidential elections enters full gear.

We’re also hearing much talk about energy policy, defense and such things, from President Barack Obama as well as from his Republican (GOP) challenger, former Governor Mitt Romney.

As democrats convene in Charlotte, North Carolina for their convention, we take a look back at what transpired during the GOP convention in Tampa, Florida.

In this analysis, our interest is, of course Africa.

Africa is an important foreign policy issue that cannot be ignored in any discussion about U.S. politics vis-à-vis its foreign policy and super power status in the twenty first century.

First, let’s look at where African-Americans fit in within the convention talk.

After the GOP convention in Tampa concluded, one thing still echoing within the media chambers is talk that the GOP event was the “least diverse,” according to Raynard Jackson, a registered republican and political consultant.

Writing in the Washington Post, August 28, Jackson cites a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll which showed zero percent of African-Americans showing support for the GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

In his article, Republican National Convention: Where are the African Americans, Jackson laments: “I am embarrassed at the lack of diversity at this convention. Have the Republicans not noticed the demographic changes that are taking place in this country?”

On another note, Alan Greenblatt of George Public Broadcasting (CPB News) thinks “The GOP’s effort to show an inclusive face in Tampa has itself triggered partisan argument.” Read more here.

In a Reuters news story published on the GOP website, Deborah Charles writes: “Black voter turnout could be the swing factor in November”

Rice missed opportunity to talk about progress in Africa Africa 

Digging deeper in to the subject of the GOP convention, there was, at best, scant mention of a subject increasingly critical for America success in the twenty first century, Africa.

Analyzing the speech made by Condoleezza Rice, the former U.S. Secretary of State made references to Uganda and Zimbabwe.

“It has been hard to muster the resources to support fledgling democracies and to intervene on behalf of the most desperate. The AIDS orphans in Uganda, the refugee fleeing Zimbabwe, the young woman who has been trafficked into the sex trade in Southeast Asia,” Rice said.

Part of Rice’ speech also touched on issues about American exceptionalism, immigration, as well as China.

Besides Rice, there were no other high profile speeches with references to the continent, not even in the speeches of Governor Romney or Representative Paul Ryan

Romney talked tough on China, Israel and Russia as follows:

“President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus, even as he has relaxed sanctions on Castro’s Cuba. He abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from our missile defense commitments, but is eager to give Russia’s President Putin the flexibility he desires, after the election. Under my administration, our friends will see more loyalty, and Mr. Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone.

We will honor America’s democratic ideals because a free world is a more peaceful world. This is the bipartisan foreign policy legacy of Truman and Reagan. And under my presidency we will return to it once again.

You might have asked yourself if these last years are really the America we want, the America won for us by the greatest generation.

Does the America we want borrow a trillion dollars from China? No.”

A speech by Ryan made mention of Europe, Greece and the debt crisis, but nothing on Africa.

Apart from the convention speeches, the official GOP convention platform had plenty to say about Africa.

On the issue of human rights, the convention platform states:

“Religious minorities across the Middle East are being driven from their ancient homelands, fanaticism leaves its bloody mark on both West and East Africa, and even among America’s Western friends and allies, pastors and families are penalized for their religious convictions. A Republican Administration will return the advocacy of religious liberty to a central place in our diplomacy.”

On the issue of foreign aid, captured under the theme, “America’s Generosity: International Assistance that Makes a Difference”, the GOP platform strives for limiting foreign aid as a way to keep taxes down, which in turn “frees more resources in the private and charitable sectors, whose giving tends to be more effective and efficient.”

“Foreign aid should serve our national interest, an essential part of which is the peaceful development of less advanced and vulnerable societies in critical parts of the world,” the platform document stated.

The GOP platform endorses the efforts of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) setup by the U.S. Congress in 2004 with a Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) and responsible for delivering “ smart U.S. foreign assistance by focusing on good policies, country ownership, and results.”

On this subject, the platform stated:

“U.S. aid should be based on the model of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, for which foreign governments must, in effect, compete for the dollars by showing respect for the rule of law, free enterprise, and measurable results. In short, aid money should follow positive outcomes, not pleas for more cash in the same corrupt official pockets.”

According to 2010 statistics from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a major contributor of U.S. assistance to foreign countries, sub-Saharan Africa received the largest share of U.S. “economic assistance.”

In 2009, Ethiopian born Daniel Yohannes was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Congress as CEO of the MCC.

The GOP platform finds fault with the effectiveness of the Obama administration’s approach on the issue of foreign aid, linking it to the administrations “cultural agenda”, which imposes on other countries, legalized abortion and homosexuality.  The platform states:

“The effectiveness of our foreign aid has been limited by the cultural agenda of the current Administration, attempting to impose on foreign countries, especially the peoples of Africa, legalized abortion and the homosexual rights agenda.”

While the man most praised for his efforts in fighting HIV and AIDS in Africa, former president George W. Bush, was visibly absent from the convention in Tampa, references to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which Bush started, is highlighted in the GOP platform.

Under the subject of “Advancing Hope and Prosperity in Africa”, the platform stated:

“ PEPFAR, President George W. Bush’s Plan for AIDS Relief, is one of the most successful global health programs in history. It has saved literally millions of lives. Along with the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, another initiative of President Bush, it represents America’s humanitarian commitment to the peoples of Africa, though these are only one aspect of our assistance to the nations of that continent. From Peace Corps volunteers teaching in one-room schools to U.S. Seabees building village projects, we will continue to strengthen the personal and commercial ties between our country and African nations. We stand in solidarity with those African countries now under assault by the forces of radical Islam and urge other governments throughout the continent to recognize this threat to them as well. We support closer cooperation in both military and economic matters with those who are under attack by forces which seek our destruction.”

Meanwhile Cologne, Germany based broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) reports that there is little enthusiasm in Africa about the 2012 U.S. presidential elections.

 

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