Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The American 2008 Elections: What Can Africans Do? And Why?

Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei
002315694498 /


The United States plays a dominant role in the political and economic governing systems of the world. Since the collapsed of the Soviet Union or the virtual end of the Cold War, the United States controls a unipolar world with all power, including those of continental and regional economic and political groupings, directed by the dictates of the U.S. This control of the world systems by the U.S. has created a de facto world empire with its president being the de facto world emperor. The critical question or issue this fourth edition of this series seeks to address is the role of Africans, mainly Liberians, in the ensuing elections of November 2008. Plainly this paper intends to critically know ‘what should be the role of Africans (Liberians) in determining the leadership of this de facto world empire’. It began by briefly citing cases of the United States and the activities its presidents in directing the world to their whims.

The U.S. As A World Empire

The fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold marked by the apparent success of the U.S. Doctrine of Containment saw the emergence of the United States of America as the superpower of the world since 1991. This supremacy by the U.S. is not just based on military dominance. It extends to the economy, currency, lifestyle and the product of mass culture. In the exertion of its role as a supreme power in world’s affairs, the U.S. contributes about 22 percent of the budget of the world governing body, the United Nations. As such it claims a position of unlimited power to act, and to defy any resolution that restricts it in pursuing its foreign policy objectives and goals. This status of unchallenged dominance and economic supremacy has given the U.S. a considerable edge in deciding the policies of the U.N. and the future or destinies of its members - sovereign states of the world.

The United States, in its quest to sustain its role and remain influential in all aspects of world politics and economy have established trade and military missions around the world, and at the same time striving to dismantle potential threats against its existence as a superpower. At present, it leads the world in an ‘anti-terrorist’ war and donates huge sums of money in building ‘democracies’ in other nations. The U.S in 2003 led a coalition of forces and dethroned the government of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. In 1994 the U.S. forced the military ruler of Haiti to relinquish power to the democratically elected president they had overthrown. A U.S. peacekeeping force later followed to oversee the return of democracy in Haiti. Towards its emergence as the sole superpower in 1989, U.S. troops invaded Panama and overthrew the government of Gen. Manuel Noriega, whom it had accused of aiding international cocaine trade.

In the continual effort of exerting itself as a world power, it plays major roles in developing world torn nations and disadvantaged countries. The United States Agency for International Development and other U.S funded institutions currently work on major development and peace building programs around the world. Liberia and many African countries are typical beneficiaries.

This control and direction of the world by this one nation (the United States) makes it an imperative for every other nation, sovereign or independent, to be very circumspect and concerned about political development in that one nation.

The U.S. President, A world Emperor

The president of the United States is the custodian of its sovereignty and director of its foreign policy. With such a domineering role in global politics and economy, the President assumes the role of a ‘world leader’, or a ‘world emperor’.

The major foreign policy doctrines executed by the U.S were the makings of the presidency. And these policies have forced other countries, mainly third world countries like Liberia and its African neighbors to take directions that suit the activities of the foreign policies of the U.S. It had also caused contraction, congestion or expansion of our policies, and sometimes leads to utter failures due to the incompatibility of the policies, the environment and the practical reality. But in all, successes have been reported in some instances.

However, the U.S. presidency had been concerned with pursuing foreign policy objectives that will to the best of all, secure U.S. domestic and international interests in trade, military and political diplomacy. Immediately after independence, President George Washington declared a policy of isolationism, a policy built on the principle of avoiding formal military and political alliance with other countries. But this policy was abandoned in 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The U.S. then embraced the war against the Axis Power and adopted a policy of Globalism, the idea that the United States should be prepared to use military and economic force around the globe to defend its political and economic interests.

In the pursuit of the policy of Globalism, President Harry Truman sent U.S. troops in Greece in 1947 to counter the Communist guerilla war against the people of Greece. That was directly a way of containing communist expansionism against the interests of the United States. President Truman then propounded his famous doctrine as he strived to be a world emperor: “The U.S. must support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or pressure.”

Let the 21st Century (the present) be our concern now at this point. The beginning of this century has indeed witnessed international development and the grandiloquent influence of the United States as the growth of a ‘world empire’, and the president, George W. Bush, a ‘world emperor’. His policies, both domestic and foreign, have in some particular way, affected every nation, particularly those of the third world category-Liberia and her African neighbors. His declared war against ‘terror’ had kept the world political system busy with confrontations and rough diplomacies; and the economy fluctuating among recession, collapse and stabilization, while social values erode invariably.

The Bush Presidency has introduced a tradition, and his retirement is of global focus as the race for his successor is portraying. He actually accentuated and exerted himself as a world leader in many instances by issuing ultimatums. In March 2003 he mandated that “Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours, their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing”. Saddam’s refusal led to that conflict and it is ongoing with uncountable casualties to both sides, and at the expense of the world economy. In July of the same year, after several efforts had failed to end the bloodletting in the city if Monrovia (Liberia), Bush intervened strongly by declaring: "In order for there to be peace and stability in Liberia, Charles Taylor needs to leave now." That intervention probably brought an end to the street fighting between government militias and rebel forces. With what his presidency introduced, every African has been concerned as to what happens after him, thus everyone will want to know exactly what are the qualities of his successor and what level of impact will there lives be affected with. What are his plans for Africa? More to that are questions like ‘will there be a diversion, modification, or adjustment to the Bush style of leadership’.

CONCLUSION: What Can Africa Do?

This inquiry may sound laughable. But it is important to take note of the above exposé, though abridged, of what the U.S does and what its presidents do, and in relations to the current world unipolar political order.

Africa, from all aspects of developments, is affected by decisions made in the U.S. mainly as the world becomes a global village with the U.S controlling the strongest global financial institutions – the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Using Liberia as a point here, it is important to note that Liberians use both the U.S Dollar and the Liberian Dollar as legal tenders with the U.S. Dollar valued very high and considered with preference. U.S local policies affect Liberia. There are thousands of Liberians living on incomes earned by families residing in the U.S.

The U.S. diversity Visa program makes thousands of Africans to travel and settle in the United States every year. Some who called themselves ‘the totally successful’ in the program abandoned their nationalities for U.S. citizenships. But these people maintain regular ties home. They have roles to play in the elections. These people will have to join a campaign for a president that will help, using the traditional influence of the U.S. presidency, bring relief to the peoples of Africa by advocating and implementing sound policies that will lead to progressive development in Africa. Africans home are also to call on their relatives in the U.S. to join a side, a side that is an African-focused side, because this side will be concerned about developments in Africa rather than aid. That could lead to a U.S development package for Africa as the Marshall Plan was there for Europe after World War II.

With the level of progress taken place on the African Continent, Western Media focused mostly on the worst side of Africa thereby giving the world a terrible look at the continent. This is to explain how the media works in making things look their way. African media houses will have to join the elections and give more coverage to the side that will help give Africa a good look on the International scene. Media houses must carry more advertisement and publicity to capture the people’s attention on the candidate most needed now to take the problem of the African peoples at the workings of American bureaucracies.

Than all other things, African leaders and technocrats must get themselves set for the new order that may result from the ensuing elections. The result may have the proclivity to chart a different course on the continent. Changes on the right side of the plane must be accepted, while those to left that undermine African cultures and systems must be rejected with decisiveness. Africans must also follow the electoral process with curiosity to understand how a mature system works without organized fraud that stimulates violence and casualties. It will also be good to learn from the lapses of the process and build on ours.

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