By Berhane Weldu,
A SUMMIT has been called by President Barack Obama, the 44th president of the USA, to be held in August 2014 for dialogue with most African leaders leaving some out of the summit Eritrea being one. China and Japan have had previously conducted such a gathering with no exclusion; inclusive of all African nation.
As this is the first of such gathering for an American president one can say it’s a historic opportunity for Obama’s legacy. However; President Obama is a lame duck president with no time to legislate or change the status quo; with a 41% approval rating and, 33% of Americans grading him as the worst president since WWII (Quinnipiac poll). Nevertheless, we will see if ‘The African Summit’ would help his legacy. As has been published at various time and now known as a common knowledge one can infer that Obama has no power to influence the American people or congress.
In February 2008 president Obama made a speech where he stated that the influence of money in politics, partisanship and bickering was ending. “Hope and Change” was coming “Value of Community” these were the promises he made and campaigned as a post-partisan. However, partisan leadership is what Obama has implemented. Furthermore; Mr. Obama’s passivity, being less personally engaged in foreign policy matters and avoiding US foreign entanglement and his retreat has put his legacy in jeopardy.
Vladimir Putin who has understood American passivity has acted decisively in Crimea and Ukraine. Chinese, have clashed with Vietnam in the South China Sea, and are increasingly provoking vis-à-vis Japan over claims to the Daioyu/Senkaku Islands. North Koreans and various terrorist offshoots have likewise factored the perceived American withdrawal from the world into their own strategies. In the Middle East the Israeli Palestinian peace agreement has not moved an inch, Gaza and Israelis cities are in disarray, the region have turned into a war zone. Iraqi is in constant turmoil divided between Sh’ia, Sunni and Kurds. Libya remains a divided country with different functions fighting each other and the American embassy evacuating from Libya. Syria’s Assad seems to be winning the war against his foes. Christians in the Middle East are in danger and being evicted from their home land. Egypt, an American partner for decades has openly announced that it is reaching out to Russia at a time when Moscow is increasingly seen in the West as a threat to international stability. India has backed away from closer cooperation with Washington, as its traditional relations with Moscow have remained warm; India was one of the few countries voicing outspoken support for Russia’s takeover of the Crimea. The BRICS nation’s inception and formation of a New Development Bank with 50 billion dollar and Contingency Reserve Arrangement of 100 billion dollar has ended the monopoly of the Western finical dominance and has shown the weakness of the US economical superiority. Finally, world leaders have become increasingly worried that American passivity will encourage Moscow and China to assert their power.
Obama’s retreat and indifference as the leader of the free world has become the awareness and observations. Decreased America international assertiveness has irreversible harm to Americas International standing as the world’s only superpower.
In the domestic arena- Obama campaigned as a post-partisan but his leadership was those of a partisan. Signature achievement like the Affordable Care Act, Obama negotiated with Republicans, making deals with congressional committees, cutting deals with interest groups like “Big Pharmacy and Insurance Companies” offering up cuts to Social Security benefits to demonstrate “seriousness” as a deficit-cutter. Obama’s dream for a presidential legacy is to strike a “grand bargain” with Republicans and the austerity lobby to slash trillions of dollars in social programs, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and pretty much acting like business as usual politician, not a post-partisan.
In his first term; Obama had two major domestic policy he had been dealing with; the final shape of the economy and the fate of the Affordable Care Act. His trillion dollar stimulus (subsidy to the rich) avoided the fall of the banking system, but it didn’t bring the economy back to speed. Obama’s economic policies have dragged Americans through a painful recovery, with high unemployment, stagnant wages, and cuts to public sector employment. Obama-care is sizeable and copious. An extraordinary political capital wasted to pass it. Obama-care is an important growth of the welfare state for which Obama will be remembered. If the Affordable Care Act expands insurance to all Americans slows costs and moves our health care system to the likes of Canada or Western Europe; then Obama will be remembered as one of the great leaders for his accomplishment like FDR with the implementation of the Social Security Act and what followed. But if it doesn’t succeed Affordable Care Act will be remembered as a bill that temporarily bailed out the Insurance Companies; a slip-up, liability and stain on his presidency. If the economy remains stagnant and a failed Affordable health care Obama domestic legacy will be known second-rate at best.
Barack Obama’s second-term agenda gun control and immigration are in the spotlight on Capitol Hill. In a feel of what is in store, Democratic gun legislation has arrived on the Senate floor facing an aggressive Republican effort to block it. Unlike his foreign policy challenges Obama can’t flee his domestic agenda. He has to deal with the countries business, debt-ceiling, gun control, liberalizing Immigration law, aid to the poor, raise taxes on the rich, the auto-budget cut and defense budget. Obama will need to win 17 more Republican seats to take over the Republican’s control of the House and control both chambers of congress and pass bills. If that is the case (which is unlikely) he will be remembered as one who converted from a lame duck to a “soaring eagle”.
Obama promises never kept “community is American Value”, “change” “economic racial equalities” “spread of Democracy” were his promise none of it transpire. As stated above during Obama’s presidency and leadership the World has turned into war zone and US economy is in appalling shape. President Obama has no mandate from the American people or the political will or capital to assist the African leaders in the sphere of economic development or to enhance good governance to think otherwise will only negate the course of history.
In summation; Russia’s decisive annexation of Crimea and involvement in Ukraine is what is to come of future Russian competitive power. The new financial institution initiative by the BRICS nations and the Chinese Yuan-dim-sum bonds has reduced the dependence on dollar and euro and certainly change the role of IMF and the World Bank in the near future.
China’s aggressive investment and trade policy in Africa is a sign of Africa’s sizeable market potential and the decline of Europe’s dominance and American political influence.
African leaders and people needs are partnership in investments and trade. International corporations and markets are the unseen arbiters of power today and not leaders like Obama. As a matter of fact it’s much more important for the African Leaders to get a hearing before corporate investors at an Economic or Investors Forum than to appear at summit with a president.