Monday, January 12, 2009
I interviewed with Oromo-language service of the Voice of America today by phone. In the interview, which will be translated into Oromo and run in English and Oromo on February 14, I discussed the Obama administration and African expectations of his policy. I made the following points among others: Africans may have expectations that are two high concerning the new administration. The new president must focus on the economic crisis facing the United States and even more pressing foreign policy issues in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel-Palestine, Iran, North Korea, etc. It is unrealistic to expect the president to engage personally on most African issues during his first year in office. He will, of course, delegate this responsibility to others and eventually he will almost certainly engage on the continent. It is also important to remember that the Bush administration trebled the amount of financial resources going to Africa. In view of America's economic problems, it will be difficult to maintain this level, not to mention increase it. The Obama administration will probably give more support to those leaders who are serious about democratization, improving the human rights situation, reducing corruption, and improving governance. I believe there will also be increased attention to the environment whether it be combating global warming or reducing deforestation and soil erosion. When asked to compare Barack Obama and Martin Luther King, I suggested that they both had extraordinary oratorical skills. More important, they both had a vision on how to make the United States a better country. A majority of American voters from different racial and socio-economic backgrounds decided to try this new vision.