In June of 2013 Obama tried to lecture Senegalese President, Macky Sall in front of his own people on accepting homosexuality in his country. Before his trip to Africa, Obama was sternly warned by many, “do not talk about homosexuality in Africa.”
But as is his habit, Obama never misses an opportunity to lecture and talk down to Blacks in the U.S. and Africans abroad. To his credit, President Sall quickly chastised Obama with these words, “We are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality…This doesn’t not mean we are homophobic.”
In 2014, during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Obama again lectured Africa on the need to accept homosexuality and under his administration they even took it a step further.
For the first time in the history of the U.S., Hillary Clinton made a country’s promotion of homosexuality a criteria in whether the U.S. would continue to extend foreign aid. This was a tectonic shift in our foreign policy and should have no place in our relations with other sovereign countries.
I am very proud that almost without exception African leaders have told America and the rest of the Western world to “keep your money and foreign aid, we will not sacrifice our culture and values for your help.”
So, with this as a backdrop, I was more than stunned at the blatant disrespect Obama and his administration continues to show towards Africa; specifically in the case of South Sudan.
Two weeks ago I was invited by the Embassy of South Sudan to join them in their celebration of their 4th birthday as an independent nation. The creation of South Sudan was one of former president George W. Bush’s lasting foreign policy achievements.
The event was a nice, festive affair with diplomats from throughout the continent of Africa in attendance. There was a very short program with one of the speakers being Lucy Tamlyn, U.S. State Department, Office of Special Envoy for Sudan & South Sudan. Her remarks offended everyone in the room. She said in part, “The four year anniversary of the founding of the Republic of South Sudan should indeed be a day of celebration but when we think of the difficult situation that the people of South Sudan are experiencing on the ground it’s hard to be in a celebratory mood. Over the last few weeks, we have heard reports of abuses against civilians, including against innocent women and children. Numerous reports have confirmed that all parties to the conflict have committed offensive military actions in violations of international humanitarian law. With more than 2.2 million displaced and 4.6 million at risk of life threatening hunger. It is clear that the hopes and the aspirations of the South Sudanese people are not being met. As the government begins its extended mandate today, we call on all parties to the conflict to forge a lasting peace and work to put in place a government of national unity.”
A government of national unity? Are you kidding me? The last time I checked, Salva Kiir Mayardit was and is the duly elected president of South Sudan. If and when the people of South Sudan want to change their nation’s leadership, they will do so during the next election. It’s called democracy!
There are many legitimate areas for the U.S. to criticize the government of South Sudan. But the celebration of their independence was not the time nor the place for such a discussion.
As an American with extensive relations and travels in Africa, including South Sudan, I was deeply embarrassed by my country. We Blacks in the U.S. have come to expect this type of condescension from the Obama administration when speaking to Blacks; but to display this level of arrogance to a sovereign nation is beyond the pale.
Obama would have never sent a representative to an event hosted by the government of Saudi Arabia and had them criticize the government for their treatment of women and their aggressive support for terrorism. Obama doesn’t have the guts to do that.
But because he has so little regard for South Sudan, he doesn’t hesitate to call for the weakening of a democratically elected head of state by mandating he put a political foe in his government (Riek Machar).
How does Obama reconcile his claim to want to promote democracy around the world, with the interfering in the internal affairs of a nation?
I wish Obama would show the same amount of bravado when it came to getting our hostages out of Iran; or when it comes to challenging Putin’s aggression in Crimea; or when it comes to China manipulating their currency and hacking into our computer networks.
He doesn’t have the stomach to do this. So, he decided to make himself feel like a man by attacking and embarrassing a developing nation that he knows can’t really fight back diplomatically.
This is not just about South Sudan; but rather the entire continent of Africa. Africa has many friends and supporters in the U.S., but unfortunately they are rarely sought out for help in situations like these.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the Black List Pub.