THE genocidal war being waged in South Sudan today is “Obama’s War”. Why? Because the Obama regime is paying for it.
Thanks to Wikileaks we know that the CIA began paying the salaries of what is today the South Sudanese “rebel army” led by Reik Machar in 2009. And the CIA is still paying them today. We know this because there is simply no other source of funding for these brigands that anyone anywhere has been able to establish (a question, by the way, that the western media has completely failed to raise). Continue reading ‘Obama’s War’ in South Sudan→
PRESIDENT Obama’s decision to tap top White House aide Gayle Smith to take over the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has drawn plaudits, but also serious concerns from some long-time Africa watchers about the role of American assistance in abetting repression on the continent.
The New York Times described Smith as “a longtime development and Africa specialist in the Clinton and Obama administrations.” Rock star Bono called her “a force of nature” with a lifelong service to helping the poor. If confirmed by the Senate, Smith will oversee the disbursement of millions of dollars of American assistance around the world. Her experience working as an aid worker and journalist in northern Ethiopia during the famine and war that devastated the region in the 1980s will serve her in this role.
However, many American assistance programs in Africa operate in countries devoid of the rule of law and viable institutions of accountability. This is a reflection of a long-standing Washington establishment mantra of sacrificing democracy for autocratic stability. Critics of Smith accuse her of complacency with this mantra by disregarding democracy in the development agenda and for being a major architect of policies that abetted repression.
The most outspoken critic of Smith has been Howard French, a veteran journalist and author, who reported from Africa for several years. In a series of tweets, French called Smith “a disasterbacle in Africa policy,” adding that “she’s often fought for wrong things, esp [sic] authoritarianism.” He also castigated Smith as representative of a Washington establishment that he accuses of “near complete intellectual bankruptcy” on Africa since the days of Bill Clinton. In a 2004, televised public debate with French, Smith denied coddling dictators and said the US government lacked adequate leverage to push for democracy in Africa.
Economist William Easterly said Smith’s nomination reflects the prevalent idea in Washington “that what’s good for development is good for national security, and what’s good for national security is good for development.” According to him, “giving development aid to an autocrat because he is a valuable ally on the war on terror is NOT [sic] good for development, it is the opposite of development.” Easterly also said he finds Smith’s “longstanding and excessively friendly relationship” with Ethiopia’s late US-backed autocrat, Meles Zenawi, problematic.
Echoing such concerns, Ghanaian economist George Ayittei said that her appointment would “rankle democracy activists in Ethiopia and Eritrea,” citing her close relationship with the leaders of these countries since their rebel days. “Upon assuming power, [they] turned out to be crocodile liberators and crackpot democrats – even though, former Pres. Bill Clinton praised them as the ‘new leaders of Africa.’
Controversial Aid Dollars
Coincidentally, the announcement of Smith’s nomination came on the same day the Washington Post editorial board called on the Obama administration to “stop funneling millions of aid dollars to a regime that has continued to choke off the media, hamper the participation of opposition parties and silence its critics.”
The controversy around Smith lays bare age-old tensions between America’s principles and realpolitik interests.The American government has forcefully withheld assistance from autocratic regimes it is hostile to (i.e. Zimbabwe and Sudan), but less willing to confront US-friendly authoritarians, for example in Rwanda, Uganda, The Gambia, DRC, or Equatorial Guinea. The idea of recalibrating US approach in favor of more forceful and principled support for democracy in countries such as those faces many obstacles, from political will to the pressure to compete with China’s influence in the region, to the potential chilling effect of an embarrassing scandal over USAID’s ill-fated scheme to stir up an uprising in Cuba.
One thing is clear: Smith’s nomination has offered an opportunity for reexamination of the administration’s relationship with friendly autocratic regimes in Africa since Obama declared in 2009 that “Africa does not need strong men, it needs strong institutions.”
GAYLE who? Obama’s quiet consigliere Gayle Smith is rarely in the public eye and seems to prefer it that way. At least most of the time, so when she mounted the podium to deliver a eulogy at the funeral for Ethiopia’s late, genocidal strongman Meles Zenawi in Addis Ababa in 2012 I stopped what I was doing and started paying attention.
Obama’s Special Assistant and Senior Director at the National Security Council spoke fondly of her self described 30+ years of friendship with Meles Zenawi going back to their days together in the trenches of the Ethiopian and Eritrean resistance to the Soviet backed Mengistu regime and the great droughts of the early-mid 1980’s.
This consigliere knows what getting down and dirty really means, having served her time literally,“in the trenches” of one of the more nasty independence struggles/civil wars the 20th Century was to endure. Of course in those days she was an “award winning journalist”, at least until the war ended with Eritrean independence and the overthrow of the Mengistu regime in 1991.
A dramatic career change saw her phenomenal rise to become Chief of Staff for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) three years later in 1994.
In just 3 years transforming from “award winning journalist” to Chief of Staff of what has for decades been known as USCIA. As in USAID, recently caught red handed in the scandal in Cuba using anti AIDS programs to try and destabilize Cuban society.
Then in 1998, just in time to see the launch of the next round of Ethiopian invasions of its neighbors, she turns up as the head of African affairs at the National Security Council, then headed by Anthony Lake, today the boss of UNICEF.
Then Gore lost to Bush in the 2000 Presidential election and Gayle who? seamlessly transitioned into civilian life, landing a juicy spot at a neo-liberal NGO next door to power in Washington D.C. She soon launched the “Enough Project” infamous for its fabrications about the conflict in Dafur.
She then took up with a rising star in the Democratic Party, one Barack Obama, endowed at the time with the nickname “Senator Slither” by the late Alexander Cockburn. Gayle Smith brought on board Susan Rice, the god daughter of former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, for whom Gayle who? had become a big sister/mentor to during Ms.
Rice’s rookie days as Under Secretary of State for African Affairs under Bill Clinton in the mid 1990’s. They along with Tony Lake made up the senior triumvant of the foreign policy capos in the 2008 Obama campaign for President.
Today Gayle who? occupies an office close to her Godfather, Barack Obama in the White House, avoiding the sunlight and dispensing very dubious council considering the desperate shape the USA has been finding itself in matters of world affairs. Where she will end up if Queen Hillary is restored to the Presidential throne in 2016 remains to be seen but if history is to be the judge it seems that the heady days of sitting on top of the worlds sole superpower are gone forever.
Though one must never forget that a stricken, cornered beast is at its most dangerous and who knows what new wars will be launched based in part on advice given by Obama’s quiet consigliere, Gayle Smith.
– – – – – Thomas C. Mountain is a life long revolutionary activist, educator, and cultural historian. He has been living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006 and can be reached at thomascmountain at g mail dot com.
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES AND VIDEO — South African police open fire on striking miners armed with sticks at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine, killing 34 people in the bloodiest security operation since the end of white rule.
By Thomas C Mountain,
As the legendary life of South African leader Nelson Mandela draws to a close his legacy to his people has been brutally splashed across television screens worldwide showing neo-Apartheid police firing automatic weapons into crowds of striking African miners, killing two score or more and wounding nearly a hundred.
Prime minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, told the U.S. administration that toppling the government led by Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir would be the ideal scenario for Washington, according to leaked diplomatic cable.
The January 30, 2009 note released by Wikileaks, detailed discussions that took place between Zenawi and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Phil Carter with the presence of the Director of Sudan Programs Group (SPG) at the US State Department Tim Shortley.
As the U.N. famine warning center issues urgent reports that millions of Ethiopians are once again starving in the Somali populated Ogaden, the International Committee of the Red Cross publishes a statement that the Ethiopian government has denied the Red Cross an operating permit to carry out relief work in the region.
Blocking the Red Cross from relief work somewhere is almost unheard of yet, when it comes to Ethiopia – headed by the G-20 “statesman” Meles Zenawi – this is business as usual.
For the past four years all aid agencies, including the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and U.N. relief agencies, have been blocked by the Ethiopian military from feeding starving people in Ogadenia. There are millions of starving people, maybe as many as 6 million, though no one can say for sure because no one is allowed into the region. Continue reading West Funds Full Blown Genocide in Ethiopia→