Saturday, October 30, 2010

Obama's loss Africa's gain?

I read an opinion piece by G. Pascal Zachary yesterday titled "Midterm elections could give a boost to Africa – if the Democrats lose." The article suggests that the expected rebuke for President Obama and his party at the polls next Tuesday will force Obama to intervene more vigorously in African affairs than he would otherwise prefer.

I think this is wishful thinking. I do not expect to see a significant policy shift on Afican issues by the Obama Administration whcih will result from the outcome of the election. Obama has been pursuing essentially the same policies of his predecessor, with only minor tweaks, when it comes to US policy towards African issues. If Obama was inclined to make his mark on Africa, we would have seen him get engaged personally at least a year ago.

Now that Obama is more likely to be viewed as a lame duck president after the election, I doubt that he will be any more proactive in African affairs. Besides, his more intimate knowledge of Africa, which he acquired by virtue of his African heritage, will likely inform him that Africa is not the place where he should expend his limitted polical capital. The more likely scenario for Obama's Africa policy in the next two years is an ad hoc policy dictated by crises.

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