Who’s going to advocate for Africa: Romney or Obama?

Foreign policy debate leaves little room for Africa  

Latitude News staff By Latitude News staff

Mitt Romney takes on Barack Obama in the third and final presidential debate. (Reuters)

As the U.S election season comes to a close and New York and New Jersey clean up the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, the global press is keeping a close eye on the U.S. Here’s a round-up of the most interesting perspectives.

  • Whoever wins the election on Tuesday, it’s likely that American policy on Africa is not going to change. J. Brooks Spector at South Africa’s Daily Maverick points out that both candidates have equally ignored the continent during the election. Given Governor Romney’s pivot from a hawkish foreign policy stance to his moderate, third-debate, I-agree-with-President-Obama persona, Spector sees a Romney administration mirroring Obama’s tone on Africa over the last four years: namely, African tends to come up in U.S. politics as part of a conversation on “global, trans-border concerns like terrorism, global environmental and climate issues, international crime networks, or pandemics.” But Spector wants African nations to encourage the next president to renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a U.S. law passed in 2000 which encourages trade with Africa and economic growth within African nations. “From an African perspective,” he says, “even with its imperfections, renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act – a measure due to expire in 2015 – should be a top priority for the African nations.”


  • The devastating power of Sandy continues to cast a long shadow over the world’s media. From Pakistan’s The News (part of the country’s largest newspaper group) comes a personal op-ed from freelance journalist Anjum Niaz who also happens to be a resident of New Jersey. She used to complain, she writes, about the quality of life in Pakistan but now: “Well, the quality of life in America gets worse than Pakistan when natural disasters hit the sole superpower. Blizzards, tsunamis, tornadoes, forest fires and hurricanes have become a common occurrence in America.” And her conclusion is blunt: “America needs to put its rambling old creaky house in order.”


  • Meanwhile, at the Trinidad Express the talk is of whether Sandy was “freakish and accidental” or whether the storm is simply just another of the “dramatic global ill-effects said to be connected to the over-warming of the planet.” If climate change is at fault, the newspaper argues, it’s essential to recognize that we are all – whatever country we live in – in this together. The newspaper isn’t optimistic that human solidarity will prevail but it concludes philosophically: “God may or may not be a Trini, but He is known everywhere as being willing to help those who help themselves.”


  • More than 3,000 South Sudanese are in jail in the U.S., according to South Sudan’s Vice President Riek Machar, who recently traveled to America. During his trip, Machar was given the key to the city of Omaha, Nebraska, where many South Sudanese live. The Sudan Tribune reports that South Sudanese have been immigrating to the U.S. in large numbers since the early 1990’s. Some have excelled economically and enrolled in America’s top universities. But many others, refugees from Sudan’s brutal civil war, have wound up addicted to drugs and alcohol or in jail; these are the “lost” boys and girls of Dave Eggers’ novel What is the What.