U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will press South Sudan to resolve disputes with its former rulers in the north, on her first visit to the world’s newest country on Friday.
On an 11-nation African tour, Clinton will be the most senior U.S. since independence last year, warning that bitter divisions over territory and oil threaten to wreck the economies of two nations.
“We’re encouraging both sides, South Sudan and Sudan, to meet and negotiate the differences between them as expeditiously as possible,” a senior U.S. official said, briefing reporters travelling with Clinton, who arrived in Uganda on Thursday. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/02/us-clinton-africa-idUSBRE8711HL20120802
President Clinton’s Legacy
Whether you live in the wilds of the left or the fanatical right, Clinton’s Foreign Policy left much to be desired. Liberal critics rail upon his failures in Rwanda and its genocide and his foot-dragging in the Balkans. The right saw a complacent President willing to let China grow and a sluggish response of force in the Balkans. While it is important not to ignore the convoluted issues of Clinton’s administration re: Europe or the Middle East, it is equally important to highlight areas where the Clinton Administration clearly failed: Somalia and Rwanda.
Clinton and the UN
As news of atrocities in Rwanda flooded the media, the world began to clamor for its leaders to act. The U.N. stepped up, however, the Clinton Administration derailed efforts at peace leading to a greater humanitarian tragedy in the region. As a whole, Clinton’s foreign policy was much of the same as before. He relied on international institutions to monitor the continent when the policies suited American goals and chastised the same when they did not.
Secretary of State Clinton
So, this leaves us then with Hillary Clinton’s visit. Why is she there? What purpose does it serve? Imperialist goals? Protection of oil interests in the region? Realpolitik? To find that answer, we need to look at the man she serves.
Obama and Africa
When Barack Obama was elected, Africa cheered as though one of their own had reached the highest office on Earth; Kenya declared his inauguration a public holiday. Almost four years later, Africa sits and wonders where their leader had gone. The Obama administration made key changes to an AIDS/HIV program advanced during the Bush Administration, barely stepped foot on the continent (see table below), and, in turn, created a belief among many African officials that his administration has abandoned the continent. To say it kindly, the Obama Administration is maintaining the status quo when it comes to his African policy.
Obama’s Official Presidential Trips (2009-current)
Continent: Nation (number of visits)
- Europe: France (4), United Kingdom (2), Germany (2), Denmark (2), Czech Republic (2), Vatican City (1), Turkey (1), Ireland (1), Italy (1), Poland (1), Norway (1), Portugal (1), Russia (1)
- Asia: South Korea (3), Japan (2), Indonesia (2), India (1), China (1), Singapore (1)
- North, Central and South America: Mexico (3), Canada (2) Brazil (1), Chile (1), Colombia (1), El Salvador (1), Trinidad and Tobago (1)
- Middle East: Afghanistan (3), Egypt (1), Saudi Arabia (1)
- Oceania: Indonesia (2), Australia (1)
- Africa: Ghana (1)
Why is Hillary in Juba?
It might be argued that she is representing the Obama Administration in securing oil, maintaining a secure new nation in South Sudan, or serving as an obligatory show of face for an administration that can’t be bothered to visit the continent. As she works her way through Sudan and Uganda, she will also visit with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and thank him for his nation’s efforts in maintaining peace in Somalia. The snide cynic in me can’t see what Obama’s Administration cares about Sudan, Uganda or Africa for that matter. Clinton is there to push for peace between two nations torn by decades of war, a war her husband largely ignored. So, could she be there as a means to clear her husband’s name for posterity; a footnote, if you will, in the collective words that will be compiled on the Clinton Family Legacy. Perhaps. Only time will tell.