By Michael Rubin*
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the October jobs report, Friday, November 5, 2021, in the State Dining Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House
Across Africa, there has been a broad erosion of democracy. Over the last year, there have been successful coups in Burkina Faso, Sudan, Mali, Guinea, self-coups in Somalia and Tunisia, and an attempt in Guinea-Bissau. That tops the number of coups the continent experienced over the previous decade. The two most populous countries on the continent—Nigeria and Ethiopia—are simultaneously encouraging ethnic and sectarian cleansing if not genocide.
Too often, successive U.S. administrations have remained blind to the causes of such instability. Rwandan President Paul Kagame is right when he observed that the spate of coups are the result of bad governance. While many in the West and human rights community criticize Kagame on issues relating to democracy—sometimes with reason but often unfairly given the conscious effort post-genocide to effect a generational change in mindset to prevent the pre-genocide political dynamics from repeating—Kagame deserves acclaim for being the only world leader to defeat dysfunctional corruption.
U.S. diplomats often ignore corruption against the backdrop of violence and crises. Benign neglect or dismissing corruption as cultural, however, condescends and condemns future generations to misery and poor governance. While terrorism affects thousands, corruption impacts hundreds of millions.
It is against this backdrop of frequent neglect that the recent Presidential delegation to Liberia to mark the bicentennial of the founding of a colony by freed American slaves is a breath of fresh air. Dana Banks, special assistant to President Biden, did not treat her mission as a junket or simply constrain herself to diplomatic pageantry. In her statement delivered during the ceremony, she minced no words on crisis of corruption and democratic decline Liberia faces, largely because of President George Weah.