President Donald Trump’s alleged recent comments regarding Haiti and Africa have rightfully caused much outrage, but as reprehensible as those comments were what is even more troubling is that Trump’s statements reflect the type of disregard for people of African descent that has always been an aspect of America’s domestic and foreign policy. The reaction on the part of many commentators and analysts in the media has been to condemn Trump’s statements without also examining America’s policies as it relates to the countries that Trump’s remarks were directed at. The reality is that America’s foreign policy has caused more suffering to the people of the Caribbean and Africa than inflammatory remarks have caused. This is not to say that Trump’s remarks should be ignored, but it is useless to condemn those remarks without also demanding that a better foreign policy be implemented in regards to the Caribbean and Africa.
Trump’s immediate predecessors have all pursued policies that have been very harmful for Africa. President Barack Obama admitted that his worst mistake as president was the intervention in Libya. Not only did the intervention contribute to the destabilization of Libya, but it has also contributed to the rise of slavery in Libya as well. There is also the fact that Somalia was among the countries where the Obama administration conducted drone strikes.
George W. Bush supported Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia. Aside from the causalities caused by this needless war, the invasion was extremely damaging for both nations. For Ethiopia the war was a waste of funds and resources that could have instead gone to addressing the poverty in Ethiopia. The invasion was also very destabilizing for Somalia and helped to give rise to Al Shabaa. During Bill Clinton’s presidency the United States bombed a pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan. In 2010, Clinton issued a public apology for pursuing policies that damaged Haiti’s rice farming industry. America’s policy towards Haiti has always been especially problematic. This has included an embargo on Haiti, invading and occupying Haiti for nearly twenty years, and backing the brutal Duvalier regime.
These are just a few examples from Trump’s more recent predecessors, but the United States has always implemented policies that have been detrimental for African people. Obama, Clinton, and Bush never made comments that were anywhere near as offensive as what Trump is alleged to have said, but their foreign policies have all been very harmful regardless. Yet the same level of media scrutiny is not applied to actual policies. The problem with the media’s outrage over Trump’s comments is that although the condemnation that Trump has received for his comments is deserved, there is little analysis of actual policies that stem from Trump’s views on Africa. For example, there is little coverage given to the protests in Togo that have been going on since August of last year and why this is relevant to American foreign policy in Togo is because the people of Togo are protesting against a dictatorship that is supported by this current administration and has been supported by previous administrations. There is no point in condemning Trump’s comments if there is also not a serious call for a change in America’s policies as well. Rep. Mia Love demanded an apology from President Trump, but her efforts, and the efforts of other law makers that have criticized Trump, would be better spent actually demanding better policies in regard to Haiti, Africa, and other countries where people of African descent continue to suffer from America’s foreign policy.