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8:41AM

Enough of the Apology Tour: Obama's Stunningly Unimaginative Debut in Africa

By harping on the very "tragedy" and "charity" he claimed to move beyond, not only did our first African-American president fail to move his African approach much beyond that of George W. Bush -- he ceded more ground on the future of globalization to China and India. But one radical solution remains.

Continue reading this week's World War Room column for Esquire.com.

Reader Comments (8)

President Obama does not have a clue about Globalization and the decline of the WEST! Hoping he spends more time in ASIA. Demographics are becoming history.
July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam R. Cumming
I would argue that you are seeing the dilution effect of politics and electoral survival in Obama's bland offering in Africa as opposed to an absence of understanding or desire to effect change.

A strategist has an advantage in being able to enjoy unfettered disclosure, as do critics. They can develop a hypotheses and then view all events within the framework of that world picture, and express their opinion without it being a life and death matter. They can stand above immediate priorities to take a longer term view.

However, the politicians are so tied to not offending any group, being so darned correct in everything they say so as to not cause a blockage in the supply of campaign funds, and so beholden with favors and "debts' to the parties that helped elect them that they become almost impotent in office. They can only say so little in public of what they may really feel. I remain hopeful, maybe deluded, that what they really mean gets said in private or by the civil servants that don't view the constant opinion polls as existential threats.

The short term reelection mentality is what neuters US politicians. Obama is focused on the immediate domestic crisis and his high profile international conflicts so that his actions and words remain tactical. He actions are predicated on what he can achieve in a one or two term Presidency. The fact that in the longer term, America's global position is far more important to the health, safety and prosperity of the nation gets sacrificed to the issues that may or may not get him and his "team" reelected.

That is the systemic problem; it is not a lack of understanding of globalization, nor a absence of strategic vision. It is the hamster wheel of the electoral system, and the virtual buying and selling of office through the requirement to constantly raise campaign funds, that is blunting the policies and tools of governanceIt is akin to the motivation of a impoverished man, I cannot worry about the future while I fight to survive the next day or week.

Change the electoral system of 'prostitution' and you may get a different outcome.
July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Daily Clarity
Dr. Barnett,Working in the Agricultural field as a profession for a good number of years and growing up on Wisconsin dairy farm, I've always been perplexed why Ag. is one of the first whipping posts people want to head after when there is talk of pork to be cut. The amount of money in U.S. budget for Ag. Department is very small. It's typically 1-2% of total budget and the great majority of that goes to food stamps and WIC and not to farmers.

I agree that some of our safety nets have a negative impact globally but have to be balanced w/ food security here in U.S.

Having stated the above...In April, President Obama proposed 9 specific items to cut U.S. farm subsidies. One of the 9 steps urged by Obama was to cut crop insurance subidies by $2 billion over 5 years. Another proposal put a cap on subsidies for farms w/ "Net" Farm Income over $250,000 and another capped subsidies for farmers w/ "Non-Farm" Income over $500,000.Do you think congress would let it out of committee? Nope!These cuts are said to effect the top 2% of todays producers. So I think we know where the influence is from.As far as the majority of Ag. is concerned, (being very presumptuous here) his proposals seem reasonable on our 1% of the total Federal Budget. However...Any chance the other 99% of the Federal Budget can make these kind of cuts?
July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSteven J.
I've worked with politicians my entire career and I understand their limitations.

My column does not seek to explore those limitations, however.
July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTom Barnett
Steven: you know Tom grew up in WI, too, right? he knows the deal.

the problem is not the money spent, it's the effect on the global market.

check out some of these posts: http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=ag+agriculture+subsidies&btnG=Search&domains=http%3A%2F%2Fthomaspmbarnett.com&sitesearch=http%3A%2F%2Fthomaspmbarnett.com
July 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSean Meade
Sean's point is correct. My concern is not the federal deficit, it's what it does to agricultural in developing economies. Doing that to protect large ag businesses here in America strikes me as inherently immoral.

Obama needs to do more than just propose; he needs to lead.
July 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTom Barnett
I found these comments distracting from Tom's powerful message: Why doesn't our president approach Africa as potential future globalization partners as the Asians have instead of continuing to try to solve their problems with (expensive) charity which really doesn't help them with their greatest problem...learning how to become complete participants in globalization!
July 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElmer Humes
I get it.It is a powerful message and one worth giving.

The use of the term "Farm Subsidy" in news feature is something that raises red flags in my neck of the woods because the target usually ends up on the back of the family farmer.

I concur that the way to being a better global trading partner is changing the way large agri business monopolizes global markets via monopolizing business at home in U.S.

The hurdle in front of Obama is the long time practice of U.S. turning a blind eye to unhealthy consolidation and control by big agri business interests. Our government has forgotten that Anti Trust Laws are to repress cartels and market domination.

And while Obama shoots his reform gun at the top 2% of farm subsidy benefactors (large agri business) , his own Democratic congress will not come along w/ his proposed reforms.
July 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSteven J.

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