Dr. Walid Phares
Obama Must Decry African Genocide
July 17, 2009
If we accept the principle that a half truth is not the truth, we then
need to consider that the Africa policy of the U.S. Administration is
dramatically incomplete in its essence.
This is the first lesson we would draw from President Barack Obama's
speech delivered in front of the Ghana Parliament on July 11. Hence it
is necessary to dissect its policy components making the needed
distinctions between abstract principles, applicable anywhere on the
planet, and a host of dramatic African realities, so far ignored by
Washington's "new direction."
There is no doubt that American ideals continue to inspire people around
the world and in Africa in particular. Simply because these values, as
Obama has reconfirmed after Presidents Clinton and Bush had before him,
are part of the international body of democratic ideals. There are no
reasons to be shy about principles declared by an American revolution
that has inspired sister uprisings in Europe and around the world,
centuries before the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Hence, when American presidents visit Africa, they should be comfortable
in calling for more freedoms and liberties. Obama's additional
contribution to symbolism towards Africa is naturally his ancestral link
to the continent. Even though he doesn't descend directly from
African-Americans who actually were enslaved, and that he is only part
African and half European, the story of his father, a goat herder turned
student who sought education in America, is very compelling. Along with
his beautiful first family he can surely personalize the story of an
American’s support for the liberation of Africa.
That is if the president exposes all real menaces confronting the
continent and shatters the taboos.
Obama's fundamental philosophy is that the main threat to Africa is
underdevelopment, and that priority should be to develop its economies
and civil societies. He argues forcefully that "Development depends on
good governance," and thus all it would take is for "judges,
politicians, and decision-makers" to come to realize that it would be in
the interest of their countries to act better and in a transparent way.
The social science doctrine behind Obama's reasoning posits that an
intellectual epiphany would lead to good citizenship and the latter
would lead to jobs, equal opportunity, and all that moves societies to
real democracy, and ruling by consent.
In abstract, and outside historical context, the logic of social
evolution adds up. But as Obama's intellectuals and historians should
know, human history is not happening outside specific realities, sui
generic to the identity formation of each nation and region of the
world. America had to resolve its painful and cataclysmic past before
its 20th-century society completes the last steps of social justice.
From European settlements, to independence war, to wars with native
Indians, border wars, slavery, civil war, and to more land acquisition
before its democracy was able to mutate itself into its present stage.
Africa isn't as lucky. Its native population is still pushed back in
several areas of the continent, slavery is still plaguing millions, its
borders aren't solid, and terrorism is abundant. In short, while living
well is and should be the ultimate goal of all societies, living free is
the only guarantee for that wellness.
And freedom for Africans is what the U.S. Administration should focus
on, while in fact, its presidential narrative has dodged this in the
During his highly symbolic visit to Cape Coast in Ghana, Obama visited a
seaside fortress that the British used as a slave dungeon during the
17th century. He said it reminded him of "of world evil." I am glad he
used these terms, despite the fact that the dominant intelligentsia in
America rejects the utilization of the word "evil" in political science,
let alone in international politics.
Bush's "axis of evil" has been railed on campuses and in editorials for
seven years but his successor's choice of the same word in indicting
slavery ironically did not, and should not. So "evil" is a notion that
we can use in a social science but the question is how. Obama said "the
site reminded him of a recent trip to a Nazi concentration camp in
Hence the enslavement or the collective elimination of humans can be
described as "evil" under the "new direction,” in a post-Bush era. The
president should then visit the other coast of Africa, including his
father's homeland Kenya, and cross the great Sahara to condemn that
other "evil” that shipped millions of Black slaves eastbound under the
swords of the Caliphates.
Western enslavement of Africans is only one face of the coin but Arab
and Ottoman enslavement of Africans is still dodging historical justice.
The eastern dungeons of slavery were much older and never exposed by
Even in contemporary times, slaves have been taken from southern Sudan
by the northern jihadists; slaves are in existence in Mauritania. Both
governments are members of the Arab League and the Organization of the
Islamic Conference. As the president was visiting a remnant of a past
evil, African blacks are serving "masters" in Khartoum and Nouakshot.
"Evil" is not dead in Africa, it is torturing the lives of hundreds of
thousands of men, women and children. America must have the courage to
be fair to history, condemn present injustice, and declare that slavery
today will be met with direct international resolve and the regimes
involved in it or protecting it will be tried in an international court
Mentioning the highest human tragedy on the continent, the president
said: "We must bear witness to the value of every child in Darfur...all
of us must strive for the peace and security necessary for progress." As
he did in his Cairo speech, Obama mentioned Darfur, and in Accra he
called it at last "Genocide." But five years after U.S. policy had
already coined it as such the first African-American president should go
much further than "bearing witness" to Darfur's children massacred by
the jihadi Janjaweed militias.
Obama must speak with thunder and lay out a plan to end the genocide of
blacks in Sudan, with a clear strategy to put the province under
military protection by the United Nations or an international coalition.
Unlike towards Iran's revolt, where he suggested watching the "crisis
play itself out," for Darfur, there is no choice except moving in and
saving an African people from extermination with the same resolve the
Clinton administration rushed to protect the "white" Bosnians and
Kosovars in the 1990s.
Confronting the jihadi terrorist regime of Bashir, already indicted by
the International Criminal Court, is a matter of moral and legal duty
under international law, unless the latter won't be applied against
"any” member of the OIC.
The United States cannot ignore genocide in Africa as it did in southern
Sudan where one million lives have been exterminated and for Biafra
where another million were slaughtered. In his speech in Accra, the
president skipped the genocide of southern Sudan all together and
instead of reminding us of the horrors of the Biafran Holocaust, stated
that "across Africa, we see examples of people tackling these problems.
In Nigeria, an interfaith effort of Christians and Muslims has set an
example of cooperation to confront malaria."
killed millions in southeast Nigeria and in southern Sudan wasn't
malaria; it was ethnic cleansing organized under various forms of