Africa is growing weary of “the change” promised by Obama yet to be realized. Here is one reason.
This is really more a story about America than Africa, but one of the reasons I think everyone should develop a passion of things foreign is to learn what the world thinks about us. These perspectives on the other side of the mirror usually reveal a lot about ourselves.
Obama’s election was greeted in Africa with as much euphoria as in the United States. There was a real hope that he would change America’s manhandling foreign policy, be more respectful of the smaller and weaker. Time is running out, and actions are now speaking louder than hopes.
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representative overwhelmingly slapped the face of the rest of the world. It was nothing more than an insult, and ever the more stinging because it went so unnoticed in the U.S. But in Africa it was literally on the front page of nearly every major newspaper.
By a vote of 344-36, the House condemned the United Nation’s Goldstone Report and specifically asked Obama to vigorously oppose it.
To much of the rest of the world, and to Kenya in particular, this was an important report from a powerful UN body. The report was commissioned by the Security Council after the war last year between Israel and Hamas.
The commission was chaired by Judge Richard Goldstone of South Africa, one of the most respected jurists in Africa. Goldstone was instrumental in South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and integral in the development of the UN Tribunal set up to investigate the war crimes in Rwanda.
The report condemned both Israel and Hamas for human rights violations during the war. It could not have been more neutral. It also seems to be completely true and factual.
The House vote came on the same day that Jose Antonio Ocampo, a UN Under-Secretary, announced in Nairobi flanked by Prime Minister Odinga and President Kibaki, that the World Court was going to take matters into its own hands and investigate Kenyans who were accused of crimes against humanity in the 2007 election violence.
According to Fred Abrahams of Human Rights Watch, ”The 344 [House] supporters have apparently not read the report. The 574-page document records violations of the laws of war by Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, and concludes that all sides committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.”
This unnecessary and effectively pointless action by the House contributes to a feeling around the world – and especially in Africa – that Obama is too weak to change the behemoth of America.
The language of the resolution was offensive, terming the report as “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.”
The bill, introduced by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Howard Berman (D-CA), the ranking member and chairman, respectively, of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, calls on President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the report.”
Ros-Lehtinen and Berman were in Jerusalem a day earlier attending a conference on reinforcing U.S.-Israeli ties.
Of the 36 votes against Wednesday’s resolution, only three came from Republicans.
Speaking with rationality, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), spoke out against the resolution. “This is a mistake. The stance of this Congress will erode U.S. credibility in the post-Obama world, and it will tarnish our commitment to the principle that all nations must be held to the same standards,” he said.
“We stand for the values of democracy, truth and justice. There is no reason for Congress, Israel or any other party to fear an honest judge,” he added. “Richard Goldstone is such a judge, and his report should be studied, not dismissed.”
Those who voted in favor of the resolution were:
Aderholt, Adler (NJ), Akin, Alexander, Altmire, Andrews, Arcuri, Austria, Baca, Bachus, Barrow, Bartlett, Barton (TX), Bean, Berkley, Berman, Berry, Biggert, Bilbray, Bilirakis, Bishop (GA), Bishop (NY), Bishop (UT), Blackburn, Blunt, Boccieri, Boehner, Bonner, Bono Mack, Boozman, Boren, Boswell, Boyd, Brady (TX), Braley (IA), Bright, Broun (GA), Brown (SC), Brown, Corrine, Brown-Waite, Ginny, Buchanan, Burgess, Burton (IN), Butterfield, Buyer, Calvert, Camp, Campbell, Cantor, Cao, Capito, Cardoza, Carnahan, Carney, Carter, Cassidy, Castle, Castor (FL), Chaffetz, Chandler, Childers, Chu, Cleaver, Clyburn, Coble, Coffman (CO), Cohen, Cole, Conaway, Connolly (VA), Costa, Costello, Courtney, Crenshaw, Crowley, Cuellar, Culberson, Cummings, Davis (CA), Davis (IL), DeGette, DeLauro, Dent, Diaz-Balart, L., Diaz-Balart, M., Dicks, Donnelly (IN), Doyle, Dreier, Driehaus, Edwards (TX), Ehlers, Ellsworth, Emerson, Engel, Etheridge, Fallin, Fattah, Flake, Fleming, Forbes, Fortenberry, Foster, Foxx, Frank (MA), Franks (AZ), Frelinghuysen, Fudge, Gallegly, Garrett (NJ), Gerlach, Giffords, Gingrey (GA), Gohmert, Gonzalez, Goodlatte, Granger, Graves, Grayson, Green, Al, Green, Gene, Griffith, Guthrie, Hall (TX), Halvorson, Hare, Harman, Harper, Hastings (FL), Hastings (WA), Heller, Hensarling, Herger, Herseth Sandlin, Higgins, Hill, Himes, Hinojosa, Hodes, Hoekstra, Holden, Hoyer, Hunter, Inglis, Inslee, Israel, Issa, Jackson (IL), Jackson-Lee (TX), Jenkins, Johnson (IL), Johnson, Sam, Jordan (OH), Kagen, Kanjorski, Kennedy, Kildee, Kilroy, Kind, King (IA), King (NY), Kingston, Kirk, Kirkpatrick (AZ), Kissell, Klein (FL), Kline (MN), Kosmas, Kratovil, Lamborn, Lance, Langevin, Larsen (WA), Larson (CT), Latham, LaTourette, Latta, Lee (NY), Levin, Lewis (CA), Lewis (GA), Linder, Lipinski, LoBiondo, Lowey, Lucas, Luetkemeyer, Lummis, Lungren, Daniel E., Mack, Maffei, Maloney, Manzullo, Marchant, Markey (CO), Markey (MA), Marshall, Massa, Matheson, Matsui, McCarthy (CA), McCarthy (NY), McCaul, McClintock, McCotter, McHenry, McIntyre, McKeon, McMahon, McMorris Rodgers, McNerney, Meek (FL), Melancon, Mica, Michaud, Miller (FL), Miller (MI), Miller (NC), Miller, Gary, Minnick, Mitchell, Mollohan, Moore (KS), Moore (WI), Moran (KS), Murphy (CT), Murphy (NY), Murphy, Tim, Murtha, Myrick, Nadler (NY), Napolitano, Neal (MA), Neugebauer, Nye, Oberstar, Olson, Ortiz, Paulsen, Pence, Perlmutter, Perriello, Peters, Peterson, Petri, Pitts, Platts, Poe (TX), Polis (CO), Pomeroy, Posey, Putnam, Quigley, Radanovich, Rangel, Rehberg, Reichert, Reyes, Richardson, Rodriguez, Roe (TN), Rogers (AL), Rogers (KY), Rogers (MI), Rohrabacher, Rooney, Ros-Lehtinen, Roskam, Ross, Rothman (NJ), Roybal-Allard, Royce, Ruppersberger, Rush, Ryan (OH), Ryan (WI), Salazar, Sanchez, Loretta, Sarbanes, Scalise, Schakowsky, Schauer, Schiff, Schmidt, Schock, Schrader, Schwartz, Scott (GA), Scott (VA), Sensenbrenner, Serrano, Sessions, Sestak, Shadegg, Shea-Porter, Sherman, Shimkus, Shuler, Shuster, Simpson, Skelton, Slaughter, Smith (NE), Smith (NJ), Smith (TX), Smith (WA), Space, Spratt, Stearns, Sullivan, Sutton, Tanner, Taylor, Teague, Terry, Thompson (CA), Thompson (MS), Thompson (PA), Thornberry, Tiahrt, Tiberi, Titus, Tonko, Tsongas, Turner, Upton, Van Hollen, Visclosky, Walden, Walz, Wasserman Schultz, Watson, Waxman, Weiner, Westmoreland, Wexler, Whitfield, Wilson (OH), Wilson (SC), Wittman, Wolf, Yarmuth, Young (AK), Young (FL),
Those who voted against the resolution were:
Baird, Baldwin, Blumenauer, Boustany, Capps, Carson (IN), Clarke, Clay, Davis (KY), Dingell, Doggett, Edwards (MD), Ellison, Filner, Grijalva, Hinchey, Johnson, E. B., Kilpatrick (MI), Kucinich, Lee (CA), Lynch, McCollum, McDermott, McGovern, Miller, George, Moran (VA), Olver, Pastor (AZ), Paul, Price (NC), Rahall, Snyder, Stark, Waters, Watt, Woolsey,
Abercrombie, Ackerman, Bachmann, Barrett (SC), Boucher, Brady (PA), Capuano, Conyers, Davis (AL), Davis (TN), Deal (GA), Gordon (TN), Gutierrez, Hall (NY), Holt, Meeks (NY), Murphy, Patrick, Nunes, Pallone, Pascrell, Payne, Pingree (ME), Price (GA), Sánchez, Linda T., Sires, Souder, Stupak, Towns, Velazquez, Wamp,