The sad thing about the 2016 U.S. Election is not that Donald Trump was elected president of the United States; it is that the new administration may be abandoning the African continent. And the damages caused by the new U.S. administration continue.
The other news is that China and other big powers have stepped in to fill the leadership void in the international system.
I wrote earlier about the Trump administration’s Africa policy, which some experts describe as “non-existent.”
As noted, the administration has proposed a stringent budget that aims to cut foreign aid drastically as it applies to the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Well—there is actually more to this than meets the eye. To state it another way, the chickens have come home to roost. The administration’s Africa policy is not just non-existent as many have stated; it is like prophesy being fulfilled before our eyes. The tactics of the administration would “deepen the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII,” according to Foreign Policy magazine.
What is the crisis being talked about? While a part of the African continent is facing drought and hunger caused by conflict, the administration is going ahead with decisions that would slash foreign aid, Foreign Policy contends. The countries already being impacted are South Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria.
Calling the proposed budget “skinny,” the magazine adds to this the impact of decisions the administration has already made on the continent, such as people who have been laid-off following the president’s travel ban.
“The president’s temporary travel ban, which caps the number of refugees entering the United States at 50,000, has brought refugee resettlement operations on the continent to a sudden halt. Church World Service, which is contracted by the State Department to run the only resettlement support center in sub-Saharan Africa, laid off more than 500 employees in the wake of Trump’s executive order. The organization had set its targets based on Obama’s pledge to resettle 110,000 refugees; overnight it found itself with virtually nothing to do.”
On another note, according to the online publication Vox, the administration has made one important exception vis-a-vis its budget proposal and that is not to cut programs for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention.
Stating that the Trump budget proposal on this subject is a surprise even while it has “been critical of anti-HIV activities” Vox notes, “Amid an 18 percent cut to the Department of Health and Human Services — including one-fifth of the National Institutes of Health’s budget — the administration has said it will prioritize funding for important anti-HIV activities.” This is some rare news.
But each day comes with a most striking observation about Trump and his administration, such as this one is from David Brooks of the New York Times who wrote on January 21, “If Barack Obama tried to lead from behind, Trump’s foreign policy involves actively running away from global engagement.”
And this one from David Rothkopf of Foreign Policy who writes: “But we need to tear our eyes away from the spectacle of this clusterfuck of a presidency and its daily dramas and periodically look up and out to our horizons, recognizing that the narcissism aside, there remains real greatness in America that needs tending, planning, and nurturing in the context of the real world — even if, at the moment, there is very little evidence of that greatness at the center of our government.”
Meanwhile, there is still not a clear consensus among policy experts about what approach the Trump people will adopt towards the continent when the bureaucracy and machinery of the administration get into full gear. Right now it’s simply a cacophony of gestures and intents which say very little or cast doubts about interest in the African continent.
Keep in mind the administration has not been in office for 100 days yet. And we’re all feeling the heat from its actions.