The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Obama, Africa and Priorities


Obama is scheduled to go to Ghana on Friday evening after spending several days at the G-8 meeting in Rome. The G-8 are scheduled to include African and other representatives in some of their meetings.

Woods is co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies, specializing in Africa and the developing world. Her pieces include "Obama and Africa: Much Room For Improvement" and "A Memo to the Next President: Think Globally," which states: "In the U.S. 13.3 million children live below the poverty line. Throughout the world, 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day. The statistics, already staggering, will only worsen with the current economic crisis. Wall Street executives and their surrogates have accumulated wealth in unregulated markets at the expense of the poor and middle class. Bold action is needed to reinvigorate economies, invest in people, and build the infrastructure of the 21st century."

LeMelle, executive director of Africa Action, just wrote the piece "Straight Talk: Revealing the Real U.S. Africa-Policy," which states: "It's time for some straight talk on U.S. foreign policy as it relates to Africa. While Obama administration officials and the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) representatives insist that U.S. foreign policy towards Africa isn't being militarized, the evidence seems to suggest otherwise. While Africans condemned U.S. military policy in Africa under the Bush administration, the Obama administration has not only mirrored Bush's approach, but has in fact enhanced it. President George W. Bush established Africa as a foreign policy priority in 2003, when he announced that 25 percent of oil imported to the United States should come from Africa. Like the Cold War, the Global War on Terror establishes a rationale for bolstering U.S. military presence and support in Africa. Yet official pronouncement of U.S. policy is routinely presented as if neither of these two developments occurred. Unfortunately, the more evasive we are about our intentions on the continent, the more we invite not only skepticism, but even resistance."

The Institute for Policy Studies is organizing two events Wednesday:

* At 9:30 a.m., media can call into a phone conference. (Please dial in 5 to 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start time.) Organizations represented will include: Foreign Policy In Focus, Third World Networks, Africa Action, TransAfrica Forum, Global AIDS Alliance, Africa Faith and Justice Network, Priority Africa Network, American Friends Service Committee, Association of Concerned Africa Scholars, among others.

* At 1:00 p.m. the Institute for Policy Studies will hold a briefing at its offices at 1112 16th Street, NW, Suite 600, in Washington, D.C. Participants include: Nii Akuetteh, former director, Africa Action (Ghanaian); Matthew Kavanagh, Health GAP; Daniel Volman, Association of Concerned Africa Scholars and Bill Freese, Center for Food Safety. Many experts are available for comment about the trip throughout the week. Contact Emily Schwartz Greco at (202) 297-5412, for additional suggestions.

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.