“Let me be clear,” says Obama, and, as with George Bush’s rapid eye movements when he was telling a lie, you know the forty-fourth president is on the brink of some absurdity.
“Now let me be clear,” he told the Russians on his recent trip. “America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other country, nor would we presume to choose which party or individual should run a country…. America will never impose a security arrangement on another country.”
And they sneer at Sarah Palin for her rhetorical absurdities? More from Obama in Moscow, as he presses forward with the Clinton/Bush policy of NATO expansion, ringing Russia with missile bases: “And let me be clear: NATO seeks collaboration with Russia, not confrontation.” The last guy in the White House to be that clear was Nixon, who tossed in “perfectly” as a bonus.
It was even worse in Ghana, where Obama used his podium to lecture the whole of Africa on the correct moral and political path to a better future. Of course, this was really aimed at those same folks back home who thrilled to Obama’s strictures on the campaign trail, using Father’s Day a year ago to tell black dads–only black dads–to shape up.
“Africa’s future is up to Africans,” he said in Accra. For an educated man in the twenty-first century, not to mention one with some knowledge of Africa’s history, that’s easily as ludicrous as Palin’s supposed ignorance of Africa’s status as a continent. (I say “supposed” because that Palin blooper turned out to be a hoax.) Africa’s future is to a pervasive extent up to the World Bank, the IMF, international mining and oil companies, the US Congress (which, for example, gives cotton subsidies to domestic corporate farmers, duly savaging the cotton economies of Burkina Faso, Benin, Mali and Chad).
Was it Africans who forced privatizations in Zambia beginning in the late 1990s, in which 257 of 280 businesses left the public sector? A fine piece in Le Monde diplomatique by Jean-Christophe Servant (available at counterpunch.org) describes how nearly 100,000 lost their jobs. Servant cites a report on the privatization by John Lungu and Alastair Frazer, which establishes that the sale “was orchestrated by the International Financial Institutions (IFIs)–including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund…. ZCCM’s privatization was carried out with a complete lack of transparency, no debate in parliament, and with one-sided contracts which few of us have ever seen…. It has never profited the inhabitants of the Copperbelt. Nor its environment.” Servant also cites Edith Nawakwi, Zambia’s former finance minister, who oversaw the privatizations. She recalls, “We were told by advisers, who included the IMF and the World Bank, that…if we privatized, we would be able to access debt relief, and this was a huge carrot in front of us–like waving medicine in front of a dying woman. We had no option.” The “reforms” devastated Zambia.