Barack Obama visited Kenya, where he rightfully criticized corruption in the Kenyan government, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, and encouraged AIDS testing. All was going well until a reporter asked Obama about his support for protectionist policies in Washington:
Obama’s response? He talked about the soybean farmers in Illinois, and said, “It’s important to me to be sure I’m looking out for their interests. It’s part of my job.” Absolutely incredible.
For, in July, the European Union and five nations, including the United States and Japan, met in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the elimination of farm subsidies and agricultural tariffs. After all, in 2002, the World Bank estimated that African exports would increase by almost $2.5 billion if the U.S., Europe, Japan and Canada eliminated their agricultural tariffs. This is especially true as to peanuts and tobacco. African farmers run up against farmers in wealthy nations whose laws ensure their success at the expense of Third World farmers.
What should Obama have said? “You’re right. America is a rich nation. You are a poor one. Poor nations generally turn into rich ones by starting out with agriculture. So when I get back to Washington, I’m going to tell my colleagues about the devastating real-world effect American protectionism has on poor nations.”