Why George Bush’s visit to Rwanda is good gesture

President Bush’s visit to Africa and Rwanda in particular next week beats his critics that he has been unaware and uninterested in Africa’s affairs.

President Bush’s visit to Africa and Rwanda in particular next week beats his critics that he has been unaware and uninterested in Africa’s affairs.

President George W. Bush travels to Africa for an official visit. He will be visiting Rwanda, Tanzania. Benin. The US president will be in Africa to address a number of key issues. President Bush therefore gives an important gesture as opposed to other "Great Nations" that continue to fuel problems in Africa indirectly.

Trade is high on the agenda of Bush’s Africa trip. Bush’s administration promotes trade as the engine of growth; the reality is that the U.S. continues to pursue trade policies. Critics however, continue to say that US policies are antithetical to Africa’s interests. They often claim for example that; U.S. agricultural subsidies undermine Africa’s competitiveness, and cost the continent tens of billions of dollars each year in lost revenues and that the total trade between the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa fell dramatically in 2002.

However, it is evident and positive that the Bush Administration is allegedly increasing interest in Africa’s oil resources as an alternative to importing oil from the Middle East. This is mainly because of the nature of politics in the Middle East.

Much as Saudi Arabia and sub-Saharan Africa supply 18% of U.S. oil imports, Nigeria is the 5th largest supplier of oil to the U.S., accounting for more than one-tenth of total U.S. oil imports. Of course other major oil producers in Africa include Angola, Congo, Gabon, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.

The U.S. is the richest country in human history and if it decides to assist Africa, then we shall witness human development and great social and economic improvement. According to the World Bank report 2006, Only 1/100th of 1% of the U.S. budget ($1 billion) is spent on aid to sub-Saharan Africa.

The US- African Military Relations is growing in a positive direction. The US President recently announced a new $100 million initiative, to support the counter-terrorism efforts in the East African countries.

This was after the Secretary of Defense, expressed concern over the expansion of the U.S. military presence in Africa, and asking for an explanation of U.S. plans.

Rwanda like most Sub-Saharan African countries has a great burden and obstacle to development that is based on external debt and HIV/Aids pandemic.

The US – Rwanda good relationship has so far realised benefit from US $ 1 billion debt relief. It should be noted with great importance that the U.S. is the single largest shareholder at the World Bank and IMF. All this explains the "great importance" of President Bush’s visit to Rwanda in particular and to other countries in general.

The US has been very instrumental in as far as the fight of HIV/Aids in Rwanda is concerned. The AIDS pandemic is the greatest global threat to human security that exists today. It is taking its most devastating toll in sub-Saharan Africa and Rwanda in particular. President Bush has a plan to increase funding to fight AIDS in Africa.

This follows the former US president Clinton’s initiative (In 2003, Clinton HIV/Aids Initiative). Rwanda with the help of the Clinton Foundation has an HIV/Aids treatment program that is becoming a model for Africa and other developing world.

President Clinton also helped Treatment and Research AIDS Center (TRAC) with pediatric antiretroviral for a number of infected children as part of the Clinton Foundation’s Pediatric Initiative. The Clinton Foundation and the Government of Rwanda agreed to support a number of initiatives in HIV/Aids care and prevention. Speaking at the Health Centre in 2003, President Clinton said, "It is important to take the prevention and treatment efforts that are already available in Rwanda and make sure we take it to all citizens. We also recognize that we need to increase the number of people who can serve those infected and increase the availability of AIDS drugs."

resident Bush is equally sharing the same view with Clinton on the pandemic and has requested THAT $200 million is extended per year to Africa as Global Fund to fight Aids. According to USAID; President Bush has acknowledged that affordable antiretroviral drugs are necessary to fight HIV/Aids. The presence of U.S. leadership in the fight against HIV/Aids pandemic gives great hope for the poor Africans.

It is against this background that President Bush may decide to have America sell the expensive fruits of U.S. drug companies to suffering Africans. Who knows! There has been a great problem of poor nations failing to buy antiretroviral drugs because of hiking prices. The US government should continue to desist from challenging African countries’ efforts to make generic Aids drugs available to their people, so long as the countries comply with World Trade Organization policy.

African countries need not only the capacity to buy generic versions of the drugs but also acquire the technology to make their own drugs.

US apologised for being among bystanders to the 1994 Genocide

The US was not the only bystander during the 1994 Genocide; it actually has done more than any other nations in regretting its passiveness as thousands of Rwandans died.

In March 1998, on a visit to Rwanda, President Clinton spoke to the crowd assembled on the tarmac at Kanombe International Airport in an apologetic manner: "We come here today partly in recognition of the fact that we in the United States and the world community did not do as much as we could have and should have done to try to limit what occurred in Rwanda". In short, the United States failed to send troops and instead was part of group that called for the ‘reduction’ of the UN peacekeepers that were already in Rwanda.

he U.S. officials shunned the use of the term "genocide, in Rwanda" for obvious reasons like fear of being obliged to act. The US had had bad experience in the other African countries especially in the Somali republic. The US had sent its troops to Somalia as part of what had seemed a low-risk humanitarian mission, U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Special Forces in Somalia attempted to seize several top advisers to the warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed. Aideed’s faction had ambushed and killed two dozen Pakistani peacekeepers, and the United States was striking back.

But in the firefight that ensued, the Somali militia killed eighteen Americans, wounded seventy-three, and captured one Black Hawk helicopter pilot. Somali television broadcast both a video interview with the trembling, disoriented pilot and a gory procession in which the corpse of a U.S. Ranger was dragged through a Mogadishu street. This greatly scared the US and indeed made hate any other military intervention.

There is therefore no doubt that the presence of a US president on a nation like Rwanda that has been affected by social, political and economic ills is of paramount importance.

mugitoni@yahoo.com

 

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