From Quarantine To Appeasement | Foreign Policy
hen President Obama recently nominated Gayle Smith to be the next administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, many members of the country’s small Africa-related foreign policy community howled.
Though USAID isn’t an Africa-specific bureaucracy, the agency focuses disproportionately on the continent because of its development mission. After the Pentagon, which has quietly come to dominate American policy toward Africa in recent decades, no other part of the U.S. government has as big a footprint in Africa as USAID.
Smith’s critics, myself included, have objected to the fact that over the years, this former journalist has been a conspicuous backer of authoritarian regimes in places like Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Rwanda. When I first made this point publicly, a former White House staffer offered a disconcertingly ambivalent response: “I’m not sure if there were more compelling candidates out there,” he said.
He may well be right – and the reason for the lack of qualified personnel is a direct consequence of Washin