|President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama pose |
for a photo during a reception at the Metropolitan Museum
in New York with Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo,
President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, and his wife,
First Lady Constancia Mangue de Obiang Courtesy: Wikipedia
Our message to those who would derail the democratic process is clear and unequivocal: the United States will not stand idly by when actors threaten legitimately elected governments or manipulate the fairness and integrity of democratic processes, and we will stand in steady partnership with those who are committed to the principles of equality, justice, and the rule of law.
--Barack Obama, US Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa
Oh, shoot me now.
Look, the US has the same interests in Africa as any major power: access to primary resources, cooperation in fighting terrorism and transnational crime, cooperative votes at the UN, and easy right-of-way to Africa's air- and sea-lanes.
There's nothing inherently wrong with that: States are states, just as corporations are corporations. They exist in a global structure that requires them to behave in certain ways. The rights and well-being of Africans will become a paramount interest of the United States at roughly the same time that McDonalds starts promoting healthful vegan diets. I just wish that policymakers wouldn't make a pretense that it's otherwise.
Update: Kambale Musavuli posts some excellent examples of recent US support for democracy in Central Africa:
2010 Elections: US ally Paul Kagame of Rwanda had a sham election where he declared himself a winner with 93% of the vote.
2011 Uganda elections: US ally Yoweri Museveni was declared a winner of another sham elections, being in power now since 1986. He even as far as buying up votes.
2011 Elections: New US ally Joseph Kabila of Congo was declared the winner of a sham election where in some places he won with more than 100% of the votes
Update 2: In the You-Can't-Make-this-Up department: Guess which African head of state is coming to town next week? Yup, that one. Vukasin Petrovic of Freedom House discusses why this is such a disgrace.