Reads 2129 times.





Though not mutually exclusive the following are said to inform US foreign policies:

1) America’s Interest – National Security, Economics, Politics and rarely Social

2) America’s Ideals/Values – Democracy, Freedom, Liberty & Self-Determination

3) International Laws/Norms/Standards – in practice is hard to tell if there are global standards but things like genocide, ethnic/religious cleansing, etc. can land you in trouble with most of the world except if you are China or Russia

4) Humanitarian concerns – Bosnia Herzegovina conflict, Civil wars of Charles Taylor/Foday Sanko in Liberia/Sierra Leone, Somali war and Rwandan conflicts are few examples with different responses/no responses from America

In the 3-pronged governing structure foreign policy is one area controlled/dictated by the executive branch. Hence the political ideology of the executive, global events and public opinion are the main determinants. Intelligent findings should form the bases of most of the decisions but is one area manipulated to suit the desired agenda – remembered the bungled up intelligence over Iraqi WMDs. The subtler is ignoring/downplaying of the significance of intelligence on Al Qaida before 9/11 attacks.

Generally speaking many/all presidents except Obama & probably Carter conducted foreign policy with good-will diplomacy plus explicit threat to use force if necessary. There were variations as to how such force is employed by different presidents. Regardless the threat of force served as incentive/deterrent – whether we agree or not is another debate. Obama and probably Carter essentially removed the threat of force as a necessary element of foreign policy tool. Again make your own judgment if that earned America any better global standing and/or fulfillment of foreign policy objectives.

Obama’s approach is pretty much purely diplomacy – talk, charm, personal charisma, ideas and reasons. He’s somewhat symmetrically opposite of his predecessor. In as many foreign policy pronouncements he ruled out the possible use of force. In the few instances he uses the military; he was visibly reluctant and would announce withdrawal date even before the commencement of such mission. Bush also uses diplomacy but not as long before he ordered drones into action.

America’s economic might, military superiority and willingness to use force earned her global leadership. That power has served as a deterrent. In recent years America sounded fatigue of a role they willing played since end of WW II with military alliance (NATO) protecting most of the Western Hemisphere, War Ships littering High Seas, Nuclear bunkers protecting the mainland, military bases at strategic nations, global spying programs and an economic goodies to induce compliance. Why such an abrupt want to change is anyone’s guess.

Explicitly eliminating the threat of use of force from the mix in the toolbox is bound to encourage bad behavior or opposing interests jumping loose. Right now we can point to many such happenings at various corners of the globe – Putin/Russia erasing international borders at will, China stepping up her claim over Islands in the China Sea, Middle East as always in more turmoil/firefighting and North Africa in more troubles than anytime over the last 30/40 years. Many pundits maintained that the bad policies of the Bush era are still manifesting out. That may or may not be true – but Obama was elected to fix the wrongs. After 6 years (about 2/3 of his tenure) is hard to keep blaming the past.

As government of, for and by the people – governing/politics is largely driven by public opinion in US. Yet public opinions are not necessarily well informed on complex foreign policy issues and objectives. Military interventions are hardly supported by public opinion unless America is attacked as in Pearl Harbor or 9/11. However the average American wanted a dominant America on the global stage yet many will back-out on use of the military or throwing out lots of dollars to distant lands. Without those 2 (military and money) is hard to imagine how America can remain the most influential nation. Leaders clarify specific foreign policy objective/goal to rally their nation.  Of course after bogus intelligence about Iraqi WMDs and over 10 years of very costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this has become a harder task for any president. One best example was Obama’s attempts to convince the nation into Syria (his Red Line Ultimatum). The nation wasn’t buying his arguments probably not only Americans are war weary but they were also not so sure if there are any national interests at stake and/or merely an enforcement of president’s words.

Some pundits also asked but what else could America/Obama do? They could also ask what America/Obama didn’t do? Honestly in many of the current trouble zones there are no good options for America as is – either stay out or pick-up lesser of the bad options. The former maybe easy but its longer-term consequences could be worst than anyone may imagine. Today’s problems are products of yesterday. That yesterday could be what was done or not done.

For instance had America remained in Iraq, ISIS/ISIL might never be a problem or they could be handled easily. Obama administration thought otherwise, resulting into withdrawing all troops from Iraq Theater. Wrong or right, regardless of political ideology America is largely responsible of unbalancing order in that country. The argument this was a wrong war has no consequences over America’s responsibilities to fix what they mess-up. The same scenario is playing out in Afghanistan. America destroyed the old orders with promises for democracy and opportunities. Before the job gets done they’re packing up. The most fanned up so-called Arab-Spring encouraged Mubarak to go but Egypt still in flames.  NATO led by US claimed humanitarian crisis to aid Libyan rebels to down Gaddafi but that nation is since without a central government. On the other hand America is still in Japan, Germany and Korea – maybe because those are no longer hostile. Some also argued Iraqis and Afghanis should take up responsibility of their country. That’s true, except when you begin to think they weren’t capable in the first place. Should we argue then it would have been better to leave Saddam (for Iraq) and the Mullahs (for Afghanistan) – that will be a difficult argument for someone who believes in democracy and freedom to make.

US resumed military operation on ISIS/L in Iraq years after Obama declared that theater closed. They’re also dropping food and water for those stranded in the mountains. While the administration maintained no-boots on the ground some estimates has over 600 military personnel in Iraq and in plus supplying Kurds (not Iraqi army) with military hardware. In addition they’re fanning flames for Prime Minister Al-Maliki to go – any pattern already developing? In retrospective wasn’t Al-Maliki their guy few yeas ago? So too Saddam during the war with Iran! So too Bin Laden during the war between USSR and Afghanistan!

This is no indictment of America’s foreign policy but an attempt to point out messy global politics that we have to go through in order to fix our domestic politics. Overall America is a force-of-good yet some/many of their foreign policy actions do not necessarily square well with the above 4 points. These actions of America and other global powers have serious consequences on our efforts to reclaim our republic from tyranny. For instance how concerning should we be that Yahya got an invite from Obama administration to US/Africa Summit? Our struggle must make every effort to understand the politics of the players, their national interests and the conflicts of interests among the bigger players with a view to building the necessary political leverage against tyranny in Banjul.

Understanding the dynamics of foreign policy politicking of US should enhance our positioning against tyranny in Banjul. Equally we will need to understand the interconnectivity of US to other big players.  A better utilization of such knowledge should enable us organize effectively, mobilize the right resources and demand our legitimate claims. We do not have an army to forcefully kick tyrants out of Banjul. Even if we do the use of force to institute democracy doesn’t usually work. Democracy works with capacitated people and not with a dictating army. We can’t remove Yahya through the ballot as is currently set in that country. But even if it does there are no mechanisms in place to deter the successors not to be another tyrant. Civil disobedient has no promising outlet as do military intervention. In fact the outcome could be so chaotic we could live to regret for decades to come. It could also be good but we just don’t know.

Democracy is people! Democracy is a lifestyle and not simply some fanciful governmental organo-gram. Democracy is about capacitated people living sovereign. Therefore any approach that doesn’t place the people in charge (at the center) will not guarantee an outcome that’s democratic. It will only produce another group of dictators which some people like (because they’re clos or beneficiaries) and others hate because their interests are not held. People can’t be in charge until they acquire certain capacities. This is a difficult combination of problems. Any solution will take time and expensive. Unfortunately we have no short cut to bringing-up our capacities of our people. Fortunately it can be done we some degree of fast track expedition. Until we settle on this…………….no democracy for Gambia.  It will always be someone’s democracy (like Jawara maybe to you) versus others tyranny (like Yahya maybe to you).

A holistic approach is what we need to debate. To that effect develop the necessary organizational/institutional structures and mobilize the right resources.

Those who perceived every event as a trigger do not either understands our problem and/or they are living in a fantasy world. The killing of Deyda Hydara didn’t trigger anything! The killing of 14 demonstrating students didn’t trigger anything! The demonstrations at Gambia Mission in Washington DC failed to trigger anything! Forcefully denying Muslims the last Koriteh prayers of their chosen date (Tuesday) also didn’t trigger anything! The recent well-publicized demonstrations at Yahya’s visit to Washington DC also failed………….There are no triggers! Goodness we do not need these supposed triggers. Our deliberate actions are what we need and we have all of it!

Let begin that debate!

To The Gambia Ever True!

Burama FL Jammeh

Founder/General Secretary

The People’s Movement for Democratic Gambia




810 844 6040

Comments are closed.