Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Emperor in his Homeland

G. Pascal Zachary writes incisively in the Guardian on Obama's upcoming visit to Ghana:

Obama's visit, while heavy on symbolism, also reveals the limits of his power. Burdened by economic problems in America and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he can't act boldly in Africa or make big promises.

Indeed, six months into his presidency, he has already undercut expectations. He has approached with great caution the task of settling the region's violent conflicts – in Darfur, eastern Congo, and Somalia. He has also kept a safe distance from Africa's political failures, notably in Zimbabwe, where he has resisted calls to assist in the removal of Robert Mugabe.

Obama's caution is reasonable. He doesn't want to be pigeon-holed, after all, as "the president of Africa". But, in choosing restraint over intervention, he has disappointed ordinary Africans and international activists alike.

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