About me.

Andrew M. Mwenda is the founding Managing Editor of The Independent, Uganda’s premier current affairs newsmagazine. One of Foreign Policy magazine 's top 100 Global Thinkers, TED Speaker and Foreign aid Critic

Monday, January 23, 2017

End of a global nightmare

Why Trump may be a breath of fresh air into the global atmosphere that had been polluted by Obama’s megalomania

Finally the nightmare called the presidency of Barack Obama that the world (but most especially America) has endured over the last eight years comes to an end. This self-inflated and self-styled “black man” imagined himself to straddle the globe like a colossus. He deluded himself into the belief that he was a man of boundless importance. He convinced himself that he alone understood the problems of the world and was singularly qualified to solve them.

Thus, when Nigerians were going into their last election, Obama recorded a video. “Hello. Today, I want to speak directly to you—the people of Nigeria (as who?)… For elections to be credible, they must be free, fair and peaceful. All Nigerians must be able to cast their votes without intimidation or fear. So I call on all leaders and candidates to make it clear to their supporters that violence has no place in democratic elections—and that they will not incite, support or engage in any kind of violence—before, during, or after the votes are counted. I call on all Nigerians to peacefully express your views and to reject the voices of those who call for violence…”

The message goes on and on telling Nigerians the obvious about how to manage their country as if they are little children. He behaved like colonialists. “The African,” Albert Switzer of Gabon fame once said, “is like a child and with children, nothing can be done without authority.” Obama epitomised this racist attitude. Yet many African elites cheered Obama. What, if it is not megalomania, possesses a man to believe that he is God-sent to advise everyone? When Burundi got into political trouble, again Obama recorded a video providing the answer to their political impasse. Even developed countries did not escape him. When the British held a referendum on exit from the European Union (EU), Obama volunteered to advise them on how to vote.

Thank God ordinary people of the world, but most especially the great people of America, rejected Obama’s self-appointed role of God’s apostle. In every election people voted as they wished and not as he preached. Finally in one of the greatest triumphs of human destiny, the American people turned to Donald Trump to deliver them from Obama’s megalomania.

It would be unfair to accuse Obama of inventing this tendency to preach to other nations on how they should govern themselves. It is a common characteristic of the Western nations and most pronounced in America among the liberal elite. But Obama took it too far. He would come to Africa to lecture us on how we should govern ourselves. And sadly assembled African elites would cheer him in loud admiration.

To paraphrase the words of Akena Adoko: of all the hundreds of human bubbles known to exist, none has ever been so skilfully puffed into existence, or ever soared so high or glittered so radiantly and none has ever bust with such an explosion. Yet this self-inflated sense of importance masked a deep-seated insecurity. Obama knew he had promised air to the American people and the world. But he hid this consciousness of underachievement behind the mask of self-importance.

He promised bipartisanship at home and yet presided over the most polarised period in American political history. Why? He disdained the kinds of bargaining that Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton did: calling individual Republican congressmen and women to the White House and talking to them at a personal level; listening to their points of view, striking compromising and integrating their views in the national political agenda. His sense of self-importance led him to believe that all he needed to win over his opponents was to preach to them through public exhortations. Republicans in Congress rejected this narcissistic attitude.

His promise of universal healthcare got bogged down in unprincipled compromises with pharmaceuticals and insurance companies, which watered it down. And the Republican Congress has promised to repeal it. He has presided over the slowest recovery from a recession. He has also presided over increased violence and mass incarceration of black people. It is under him that a movement called “black lives matter” was born.

How about on the international scene where his admirers presented him as a messiah coming to save the world? He scored minor victories with the Iran agreement and opening relations with Cuba. He promised to close Guantanamo Bay and failed. He promised to end American interventions abroad and instead created anarchy in Libya. He promised to talk to North Korea and did nothing. He promised to re-set relations with Russia and ended up worsening them. He put a red line on use of chemical weapons in Syria and failed to honour his word.

Having failed in almost every big and small initiative he started, Obama has been working hard around the clock to make life difficult for his successor. Trump has said he wants to improve relations with Russia. Yet Obama is imposing new sanctions on Russia, arguing that Russia is a threat to America and the West. Yet even an amateur geo-strategist would tell you that Russia is not and cannot be a big threat to America and the West.

Russia’s spending on the military is only about 10% of what NATO countries spend. Its GDP is only about 5% of the combined GDP of America and the EU. How can anyone so outmatched be a threat? It is obvious that all the actions of Russia, which Obama and his acolytes blame on President Vladimir Putin personally, are driven by fear – a sense that their country is being encircled. But looking at the fundamentals, the West needs to ask itself: who is the next competitor to Western global hegemony? Certainly it is not Russia but China whose economy is already larger than that of the USA in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).

It is possible that China will lead Asia into rivalry with the West – for if it can win over India (the third largest economy in the world by PPP) and adds Japan, South Korea, Philippines and Indonesia, it will be in a position to shape the last half of the 21st century. Then the strategic question for the West is: on whose side should Russia be in this coming rivalry with Asia led by China? Obama’s policies are pushing Russia into China’s hands. Trump’s pro-Russia policy and hostility towards China seems more strategic. Congratulations Donald.


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