[permaculture] U.S. Policy in Africa

brent at gp.org brent at gp.org
Fri May 13 11:17:26 EDT 2011

Following is an article that I wrote in fall of 2009. It gives some good
background to current U.S. involvement in Africa.

U.S. Policy in Africa: A New Beginning?

Sept. 18, 2009
By Brent McMillan

The Center for American Progress recently hosted a conversation with
Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African
Affairs in Washington DC.

The Obama administration has made Africa a priority in U.S. foreign
policy. With the recent trips and speeches by both President Obama and
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, they have emphasized that progress in
Africa requires partnerships built on shared responsibility. The meeting
was an important discussion regarding Africa and yet, where was the major

Opening remarks were delivered by Rudy de Leon, Vice President for
National Security, Center for American Progress. He spoke about the 3D
approach, Diplomacy, Defense and Development. He then introduced the

Ambassador Johnnie Carson spent his entire professional life working on
and in Africa. It has been four months since he became Assistant Secretary
of State for African Affairs. With respect to the Africa Bureau in the
Department of State the Ambassador shapes and guides policy. The
Ambassador emphasized President Obama’s commitment to Africa. He
accompanied Secretary Clinton on the seven country, eleven day trip
through Africa in August of this year.

There is a UN General Assembly meeting next week. President Obama will be
hosting a meeting of the leadership of the African nations. They’re paying
attention to the uneven preservation of the earths resources in regards to
African nations. Its people are disenfranchised by poor government, poor
infrastructure and a harsh environment in which to survive. So far so

Policies will emphasis mutual responsibility. How can we build
partnerships so that we can transform and reduce the need for support over
time? There are five areas of focus:

1) Partnerships to strengthen democratic institutions.

2) Work for sustained economic development and growth over time.

In regard to agriculture, what they mean by development is a Green
Revolution, not unlike what we saw in Latin America 20 to 30 years ago.
This is a petroleum based model. Fertilizers and pesticides that are
petroleum based, big tractors, etc. As we move further into Peak Oil this
will lead to an even greater crisis. Look to what happened to Cuba during
the ‘special period’ to understand how devastating this dependence can be.
Cuba probably bought into the Green Revolution more than any other country
in Latin America.

3) Maintain a historical focus on health issues, particularly public health.

The US has little credibility on this topic. With the influence of the
health insurance industry and pharmaceutical industry we have a broken
delivery system. The for profit health-care delivery system in this
country has been a disaster. Is this the model that we will be promoting?

Ambassador Carson elaborated that this includes the commitment to carry on
HIV programs.

4) Continue to work with the International Community to resolve interstate
conflicts and disputes such as Sudan, Somalia and East Congo.

5) The Twenty-first century has brought new transnational challenges to
Africa – narco-trafficing, climate change, exploitation of resources, etc.

It is clear that the peoples that have had the least to do with causing
Climate Change are suffering the most as a result of it. Read: “The
Anatomy of a Silent Crises” a human impact report on Climate Change put
out by the Global Humanitarian Forum headed up by former UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan. Also, what’s new about the exploitation of resources
in Africa?

The seven countries that Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Carson recently
visited are Angola, Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Somalia, and South

They did not visit Zimbabwe. According to Ambassador Carson, Zimbabwe is
moving towards a new constitution. The US is committed to encouraging
progress, to restore democracy.

Nigeria is without a doubt the most important country in Africa to the US
State Department and to the Obama Administration. Nigeria, of course, is
the largest oil producer in Africa. “We’re engaged in Nigeria. We are
setting up a bi-national commission to “advance” the relationship”, said
Ambassador Carson.

In Liberia, the US is helping to provide development assistance.

In Kenya, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Carson saw an opportunity to
show strong support for the president and for getting their democracy back
on track.

The reporter from Pacifica asked about the African Diaspora and what the
State Departments relationship is to them. Ambassador Carson said that he
would be traveling to the Midwest, to Minneapolis, to meet with leaders of
the Somali community.

The administration is also focused on Sudan, with the intention of
realizing the full completion of the peace agreement, combined with an
ongoing policy review in the State Department regarding Sudan. Ambassador
Carson considers that insuring of the peace agreement in its full
implementation is the most important goal there.  He went on to say that
in regards to next weeks event in New York there is no intention to have
any contact at the White House level with the leadership of Sudan.

There was absolutely no mention of China’s role in the region. This is
revealing given the fact that when we have visits from representatives of
African nations they always talk about the presence of China.

# # # #

Brent McMillan, Steward of Woodhaven
Avilla, IN USA

More information about the permaculture mailing list