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United States Policy Towards Africa: Lessons Learned

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Have they really learned anything though? It's really an interesting program...


Jendayi Frazer on Somalia:


"And then the fourth and last and most unfortunate, from my perspective, was of course the Horn of Africa. I went in as assistant secretary determined not to do Somalia. I absolutely had no desire to deal with Somalia at all. I didn’t see that there was any solution there. I did not think it was right for any type of, you know, conflict-resolution approach, nation-building, state-building – whatever you want to call it, I didn’t think Somalia was right for it.


Because of another agency that will go unnamed and their activities, we ended up being right in the middle of Somalia, and the decision was made that we needed to internationalize our engagement in Somalia. Essentially that other agency was narrowly focused on counterterrorism and got in the middle of the unwieldy dynamics of clan, ascendancy, and warlordism, et cetera. And so we wanted to internationalize.


So we established a Somali contact group. I think the idea there was to internationalize it and then pull out, right? And leave it to others, the Nordics and others, the Italians and now the British and others. But we were – they were smart enough to not allow us to get out – (laughter) – and so we stayed stuck. And unfortunately, you know, not to say anything disparaging about the, you know, the importance of the lives of the Somali people, because we had a very robust humanitarian response to Somalia, but from a conflict resolution perspective, then as is, you know, now, we really had to work hard to try to bring some type of, you know, peace process to the fore and obviously it’s not a success, even to this day. And so those were, I think the four: institution building, Sudan, Somalia, Great Lakes and West Africa."




"I wanted to get in on the discussion of Somalia, though. One thing that has happened is that there’s a large diaspora of Somalis in the U.S., and they are very strong and they go to the elected officials and insist on certain recognition and policies affecting Somalia. And I think that we may not be recognizing how strong the people in Somalia are because they have had no government. And I know we all think it’s great to have a democracy – and it is – but what has happened in Somalia is that the people in the nongovernmental organizations have been running the education system and their hospitals, and they are some of the strongest, most effective organizations that I have seen on the – on the continent.


And so when we – when we talk about Somalia and have certain regrets about what our policies have been, I think we are missing another point, which is that in parts of Somalia the people are running themselves in very effective ways. And what happens is the diaspora is trained here and the U.K. and Italy, and they go back and they are running large parts of the organizations that make lives much easier for people than I think we understand. Yeah."


On Western Aid to Africa:


..I have a different point of view of foreign aid. Look at all the budgets out there. Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda – between 25 and 50 percent of their budgets is foreign aid, whether it’s World Bank, IMF, European Union, you name it. That’s a lot. And it shows in my view that foreign aid is becoming a crutch. It has become a crutch. And they’re relying on it to meet their needs. And I think I’m on the side of Debisa Moyo (ph). I think it should be phased out. We should announce a phasing out of bilateral development aid. Of course, we keep up humanitarian for disasters and that sort of thing. And the only way to go in my view is to build up the indigenous African private sector. There is $800 billion to a trillion of African money sitting outside of Africa today. The World Bank tells me that. It’s not my – I haven’t made that up. That money has to come back and it only can come back if the African governments create the environment to make it safe. And that’s where we should be putting our attention – making it safe for the private sector. Net, it will take off. But as long as we keep feeding into African budgets with foreign aid, that’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen. So I have a radical view of things and I think it should be out there for debate."" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Video Transcript

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Interesting read.


When I read comments like Ms. Frazers I really think that if Somalia survives and comes out of this tragedy as she will one day, I think she will have to thank Alshabaab, Piracy and Famine. Those three forces unlike other factors made bold statement about the Somali conflict, the subtitle of which is and remain to be: that Somali tragedy is NOT going away quietly, it refuses to go away, it is here to stay, and it is such a prime location that the world can not pretend it does not notice.

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