Hillary in Africa

Some hail her demands for accountability. But others say the continent is not the mess it once was.

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Tongues haven't stopped wagging over her husband's trip to North Korea, but Hillary Clinton may be too busy to notice. The Secretary of State is on a seven-country tour of Africa to promote trade, goodwill, and good governance on the continent. Clinton's scrutiny of Africa's leaders has received mixed reviews from commentators. Some say Clinton is speaking "useful truths" about accountability. Others argue that the West is forgiving itself for its own follies and ignoring real progress in Africa.

A Welcome Focus on Failed Governance, says The Wall Street Journal in praise of Clinton's approach. "Africa's leaders aren't used to such blunt criticism from Western liberals," they wrote. The editors said aid without accountability has proven useless:

The West has spent an estimated $2.3 trillion on foreign aid over the past five decades. Yet in a typical African country, one-third of the children under five still have stunted growth due to malnutrition.

More American Preachiness, says Glenn Greenwald. He thinks our lectures on accountability smack of hypocrisy:

A NYT search reveals that the phrase "culture of impunity" has never been applied to the United States.  Thankfully, then, Americans will probably never know what it's like to live in a country where politically powerful people are free to break the laws with impunity.

There's Been Progress, says Charles Kenny at Foreign Policy. He argues that much of the continent is far from the disaster Americans imagine it to be:

It's true that some countries in the region are as poor as England under William the Conqueror, but that doesn't mean Africa's on the verge of doomsday. How many serfs had a cellphone? More than 63 million Nigerians do.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.