Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The African Farewell Tour

What do you do when you’re the President of the most powerful nation on earth and your poll numbers hit 19%? Road trip! You run off to Africa; a continent long neglected and suffering with poverty and AIDs and act like the great white Santa Claus delivering good cheer and fat checks. In an effort to create a legacy and build some good will, it seems the Bushies decided that the best way to build large enthusiastic crowds would be to go to the place with the greatest need. Mr. Bush would have made a greater impact if he had went to some inner-city neighborhoods handing out all of that aid money. It is not that Africa is not worthy or in desperate need of the aid, but it seems odd that the same President that resisted taking action in the Darfur region of Sudan is now interested in Africa?

In a shameful display of irresponsibility, the leaders of key organizations—the U.N., NATO, the EU, and the AU—as well as of major countries like the U.S., France, and Britain have all remarked upon the horrors that have befallen Darfur, but then done nothing to stop the killing. The time for action is now.

If President Bush is serious about ending the genocide, he will have to do more than acquiesce in a role for the ICC. He will have to call these key leaders to Washington, lock them in a room, and not let them out until they have decided on a course of action. Only then will the ICC referral have real meaning.

So the same President who watched the AIDs epidemic sweep across Africa, ruthless dictators murder their own citizens, and genocide now wants to tour Africa like some liberating hero. This liberator who has laid the ground work for a new strategic initiative that could put permanent US bases in Africa to counter Chinese influence and protect our “interests”. Hum, must be some valuable raw materials in need of protection from their native populations. I guess since his legislative agenda is laying around smoldering somewhere maybe it is time to do some of the things he was too busy to do earlier in his Presidency, like try being a statesman and not a war mongering chicken-hawk. Mr. Bush has given a new meaning to the word lame-duck. Whatever happen to all that political capital from 1984?

I can hardly wait to see how the McCain campaign is planning to use a President with a 19% approval rating. Maybe they can have him campaign in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia where I think he still enjoys a high approval rating. I am sure there are small areas in the US where the President enjoys some approval. My guess is that they will need him to shore up McCain’s cred with the social conservatives, he has already gotten a big boost from the recent furor over the NY Times story. However he will need George W. for the general election, despite his low ratings Bush still enjoys surprising support among the social wing of the Party. Will he be able to transfer that support to McCain still remains to be seen.

Unfortunately for W. it is going to take a lot more than a tour of Africa handing out aid checks to rehabilitate his legacy in the world. There have been times in his Presidency when he has been viewed by the world as second only to bin Laden himself as the most dangerous man on earth. Not the list you want the so-called leader of the free world to be on, but when you promote war and wanton destruction what can you expect. Will this trip help the world to forget Iraq? I doubt it, if anything the talk of the Africom project will only go to heighten suspicions.

George Bush is trying to end his Presidency the way it began with his infamous “compassionate conservatism”. There is only one small problem the seven and a half years in between have provided us with a war with no end in sight, a weaker Constitution, and a major recession. No amount of deodorant can get rid of the stench that will be the Bush legacy. The problem with these efforts on the part of the President is that they are seven years too late, maybe if he had been more interested in fighting poverty and disease in the world more than spreading violence he wouldn’t have needed to try to buy a piece of history.

COTONOU, Benin -- President Bush began a five-country journey through Africa on Saturday saying that U.S. aid to the continent comes with "great compassion."

On his trip, Bush is trying to show that the United States has a moral imperative as well as economic, political and national security interests in fighting poverty, disease and corruption across the continent.

[1] http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2005/0405africa_daalder.aspx
[2] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/15/AR2008021501271.html

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