“A Gallery of Rogues” -US Policy Wonk Terms U.S Africa Forum Invitees

MONROVIA – This year’s July 26 Independence Day anniversary marked a major turning point for the Weah Government. On that day, United States Ambassador to Liberia Michael McCarthy formally extended President Biden’s invitation to President Weah to attend the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit slated for December 13-15, 2022 in Washington, D.C., a move that many saw as a rekindling of a seemingly frigid relationship between Monrovia and Washington since Weah’s ascendency to power in 2018. But just when the excitement over the news of Weah’s scheduled USA visit seemed to be peaking especially among his CDC political party loyalists and supporters, a key Washington policy wonk is now chiding President Joe Biden for using the US-African Leaders Summit as an assemblage of “rogues, despots and failed leaders”, among whom President Weah is listed prominently.

According to the Washington-based policy analyst Michael Rubin, who serves as a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a contributor at the Washington Examiner, Biden’s U.S.-Africa summit should not include “the continent’s worst offenders but should rather set a standard and embrace and reward those leaders who demonstrate a commitment to democracy, economic transparency, and human flourishing”.

“At the bicentennial of capital Monrovia earlier this year, U.S. delegation head and National Security Council official Dana Banks chided Weah on corruption. He ignored her. He has since sought to weaponize Liberia’s judiciary against political challenger and squeaky-clean philanthropist Alexander Cummings, Jr. In recent weeks, the U.S. government has prepared new sanctions to compel Weah to adhere to the rule of law. Weah, meanwhile, has decamped for the World Cup in Qatar while Liberians face hunger due to a scarcity of rice. Despite this, Biden has invited the would-be Liberian despot,” Rubin stated bitingly yesterday in an article titled: “The strategic confusion of Biden’s African leaders summit”.

In that article, Rubin stated how President Weah’s tenure has been a disaster for Liberia’s recovery because “he surrounded himself with war criminals, and corruption exploded.”

Touching on other leaders that are undermining democracy in their own countries, but are invited by President Biden, Rubin cited the case of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who launched a genocide against his country’s ethnic Tigray, killing upwards of a half million people.

“Abiy remains unapologetic. The former cyber-intelligence officer still prefers to spend millions of dollars on a troll army to incite anti-American hatred than feed his besieged people.

“When President Biden sent envoys to engage Abiy at the height of the Tigray war, the Ethiopian prime minister gleefully used his rejection of them as a means to humiliate the United States before his militant constituency. Nevertheless, national security adviser Jake Sullivan has offered Abiy an invitation to Washington to attend Biden’s U.S.-Africa Leader’s Summit,” Rubin stated.

Moving down to Egypt, Rubin frowned on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who seeks to rule for life, but is on Biden’s guest list.

“So, too, is South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, under whose rule South Sudan has fallen to the bottom of Freedom House’s Global Freedom rankings, scoring worse than even North Korea and Eritrea. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, complicit in religious violence against southeastern Nigeria’s Igbo people, is also on the invite list.

“While a sustained and serious U.S. focus on Africa is long overdue, Biden, Sullivan, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken show condescending racism by failing to hold African leaders to the same standards they would expect of European, Middle Eastern, or Latin American leaders. Abiy’s crimes, for example, match if not surpass Russian President Vladimir Putin’s, and yet the White House would not host Putin. The same is true with Weah, whose record, corruption, and disdain for democracy match Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, a man for whom Biden would never roll out the red carpet.

“China and Russia often extend their influence in Africa at the expense of human rights and good governance. Perhaps Biden believes his summit meets the great power challenge, but he undercuts the American brand and ability to compete if he signals to Africans that the U.S. will cozy up to Africa’s worst abusers in the same way that Russia and China do. Biden may like to repeat the mantra that “diplomacy is back,” but sometimes ill-considered diplomacy can do more harm than good,” Rubin argued.

He lamented that the U.S.-Africa summit should not include the continent’s worst offenders but should rather set a standard and embrace and reward those leaders who demonstrate a commitment to democracy, economic transparency, and human flourishing.

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