"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


a bit repetitive

Do you ever get that feeling that American politicians and diplomats say pretty much the same thing every time they go to Africa, regardless of whether they're representing Democratic or Republican administrations or whether it's 2009 or 1993? Yeah, me, too.

Apparently it's not just us:

That awesome graphic was compiled by contributors over at the Christian Science Monitor to accompanyTracey Samuelson's excellent summary of Hillary Clinton's trip around the continent. What we learn from her comparison is that yes, American politicos only have a few things to say about Africa and they feel compelled to say them over and over and over and over and over and over again.

As you can see above, popular themes in HRC's trip included security, America, and corruption. Angola almost hit the ... neufecta of themes, except for not being an example of good governance or playing a leadership role in Africa, but it's amazing how U.S. policy makers are willing to overlook those sorts of thing in particularly oil-rich states. (Never mind that the place was such a mess just a few short years ago that the American embassy had to be located on the beach so as to allow for easy evacuations.)

Also, either somebody at the State Department had a really nice vacation in Cape Verde last summer or they know something about offshore oil exploration that the rest of us don't, because, really, what was the point?

Secretary Clinton focused in on just a few issues in Congo, which I think was a good decision. Agricultural development, HIV/AIDS policy, and trade relations with the U.S. are all issues in the DRC, but they are secondary to the country's absolutely crucial security and governance sector needs. Still, I wish we'd gotten more from the trip than the same old broken record American policy makers have been playing in Africa since the end of the Cold War.


Anonymous Matt said...

Do you think African receives a "repetition bias" or it's just that American politicos are just repetitive in general?

By the way, your word verification system is awful!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 3:13:00 AM

Blogger Tauratinzwe said...

When you have nothing to say, say it loud, and say it often. It's the American way. (And, if you're a Republican or "conservative" a la Limbaugh, Beck or Palin, lie often and loudly.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 6:25:00 AM

Blogger dcat said...

TiA --
I wondered if Cape Verde wasn't simply a refueling stopover, which is how most who "experience" Cape Verde (or at least its tiny little airport) do so, that made a virtue out of necessity.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009 1:50:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Derek, I wondered the same thing. But why not go somewhere more significant like Senegal or the Azores?

Matt, yes, politicians (and the media) are repetitive because apparently repeating things makes them true. And I know, the whole Blogger platform is pretty bad.

If anybody out there in blogland wants to volunteer to move the whole thing over to another server, you'd be my favorite internet friend for life.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 6:37:00 PM

Blogger Charlie Mac said...

I suppose we should have said, make the same speech, promise a few million, leave a business card and .............

Tauratinzwe, or if you are a liberal lie loud and often like Tawanna Brawley (sp), Al Sharpton, Babs Boxer, Harry Reid, Mike Nifong, etc. It matters not the politics, what matters is the lie.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 9:53:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 10:43:00 PM

Blogger Ron Rollins said...

The embassy in Angola has never been located on the beach. It's in the Miramar section of town, which overlooks the bay, and has been since the '30's. That's because it's the diplomatic area, where most embassies are, and the ambassadors live.

The embassy does have a boat, for escapes (if needed), as do all embassies located in coastal cities.

The embassy was actually overun by UNITA forces in '92, and until the new building was finished, it was possible to see the bullet holes in the wall.

But it has never been located on the beach.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 9:41:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Ron, thanks for the heads-up. I think the friend who used the "on the beach" phrase from which I took this was referring to the bullet-ridden old building and the fact that there's easy water access. Sorry for my mistake.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 4:59:00 PM

Blogger Ron Rollins said...

No problem. I can see where the confusion might be. At one time, I would have probably thought the same way.

It just doesn't give credit to the FSN's (some of who are still there) and a few others who were there and stuck it out, and couldn't/wouldn't take the easy way out.

Friday, August 21, 2009 1:17:00 AM


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