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Friday, December 18, 2009

Transcript: Obama’s Speech In Copenhagen

Remarks of President Barack Obama—As Prepared for Delivery

December 18, 2009

Good morning. It’s an honor to for me to join this distinguished group of leaders from nations around the world. We come together here in Copenhagen because climate change poses a grave and growing danger to our people. You would not be here unless you – like me – were convinced that this danger is real. This is not fiction, this is science. Unchecked, climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies, and our planet. That much we know.

So the question before us is no longer the nature of the challenge – the question is our capacity to meet it. For while the reality of climate change is not in doubt, our ability to take collective action hangs in the balance.

I believe that we can act boldly, and decisively, in the face of this common threat. And that is why I have come here today.

As the world’s largest economy and the world’s second largest emitter, America bears our share of responsibility in addressing climate change, and we intend to meet that responsibility. That is why we have renewed our leadership within international climate negotiations, and worked with other nations to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. And that is why we have taken bold action at home – by making historic investments in renewable energy; by putting our people to work increasing efficiency in our homes and buildings; and by pursuing comprehensive legislation to transform to a clean energy economy.

These actions are ambitious, and we are taking them not simply to meet our global responsibilities. We are convinced that changing the way that we produce and use energy is essential to America’s economic future – that it will create millions of new jobs, power new industry, keep us competitive, and spark new innovation. And we are convinced that changing the way we use energy is essential to America’s national security, because it will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and help us deal with some of the dangers posed by climate change.

So America is going to continue on this course of action no matter what happens in Copenhagen. But we will all be stronger and safer and more secure if we act together. That is why it is in our mutual interest to achieve a global accord in which we agree to take certain steps, and to hold each other accountable for our commitments.

After months of talk, and two weeks of negotiations, I believe that the pieces of that accord are now clear.

First, all major economies must put forward decisive national actions that will reduce their emissions, and begin to turn the corner on climate change. I’m pleased that many of us have already done so, and I’m confident that America will fulfill the commitments that we have made: cutting our emissions in the range of 17 percent by 2020, and by more than 80 percent by 2050 in line with final legislation.

Second, we must have a mechanism to review whether we are keeping our commitments, and to exchange this information in a transparent manner. These measures need not be intrusive, or infringe upon sovereignty. They must, however, ensure that an accord is credible, and that we are living up to our obligations. For without such accountability, any agreement would be empty words on a page.

Third, we must have financing that helps developing countries adapt, particularly the least-developed and most vulnerable to climate change. America will be a part of fast-start funding that will ramp up to $10 billion in 2012. And, yesterday, Secretary Clinton made it clear that we will engage in a global effort to mobilize $100 billion in financing by 2020, if – and only if – it is part of the broader accord that I have just described.

Mitigation. Transparency. And financing. It is a clear formula – one that embraces the principle of common but differentiated responses and respective capabilities. And it adds up to a significant accord – one that takes us farther than we have ever gone before as an international community.

The question is whether we will move forward together, or split apart. This is not a perfect agreement, and no country would get everything that it wants. There are those developing countries that want aid with no strings attached, and who think that the most advanced nations should pay a higher price. And there are those advanced nations who think that developing countries cannot absorb this assistance, or that the world’s fastest-growing emitters should bear a greater share of the burden.

We know the fault lines because we’ve been imprisoned by them for years. But here is the bottom line: we can embrace this accord, take a substantial step forward, and continue to refine it and build upon its foundation. We can do that, and everyone who is in this room will be a part of an historic endeavor – one that makes life better for our children and grandchildren.

Or we can again choose delay, falling back into the same divisions that have stood in the way of action for years. And we will be back having the same stale arguments month after month, year after year – all while the danger of climate change grows until it is irreversible.

There is no time to waste. America has made our choice. We have charted our course, we have made our commitments, and we will do what we say. Now, I believe that it’s time for the nations and people of the world to come together behind a common purpose.

We must choose action over inaction; the future over the past – with courage and faith, let us meet our responsibility to our people, and to the future of our planet. Thank you.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Obama's Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo, Norway - Full Transcript

Obama's Nobel Peace Prize speech - Full Transcript delivered Thursday in Oslo, Norway.

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:

I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations - that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.

And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize - Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela - my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened of cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women - some known, some obscure to all but those they help - to be far more deserving of this honor than I.

But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of a nation in the midst of two wars. One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by 43 other countries - including Norway - in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.

Still, we are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict - filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.

These questions are not new. War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease - the manner in which tribes and then civilizations sought power and settled their differences.

Over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so did philosophers, clerics and statesmen seek to regulate the destructive power of war. The concept of a "just war" emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when it meets certain preconditions: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the forced used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.

For most of history, this concept of just war was rarely observed. The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible, as did our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different God. Wars between armies gave way to wars between nations - total wars in which the distinction between combatant and civilian became blurred. In the span of 30 years, such carnage would twice engulf this continent. And while it is hard to conceive of a cause more just than the defeat of the Third Reich and the Axis powers, World War II was a conflict in which the total number of civilians who died exceeded the number of soldiers who perished.

In the wake of such destruction, and with the advent of the nuclear age, it became clear to victor and vanquished alike that the world needed institutions to prevent another World War. And so, a quarter century after the United States Senate rejected the League of Nations - an idea for which Woodrow Wilson received this Prize - America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide and restrict the most dangerous weapons.

In many ways, these efforts succeeded. Yes, terrible wars have been fought, and atrocities committed. But there has been no Third World War. The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Commerce has stitched much of the world together. Billions have been lifted from poverty. The ideals of liberty, self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.

A decade into a new century, this old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats. The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.

Moreover, wars between nations have increasingly given way to wars within nations. The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts, the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies and failed states have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In todays wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sown, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed and children scarred.

I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations - acting individually or in concert - will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago: "Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: It merely creates new and more complicated ones." As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. Kings lifes work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak, nothing passive, nothing naive in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitlers armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaidas leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism - it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

I raise this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter the cause. At times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the worlds sole military superpower.

Yet the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions - not just treaties and declarations - that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest - because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other people's children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another - that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldiers courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause and to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.

So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly irreconcilable truths - that war is sometimes necessary, and war is at some level an expression of human feelings. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. "Let us focus," he said, "on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions."

What might this evolution look like? What might these practical steps be?

To begin with, I believe that all nations - strong and weak alike - must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I - like any head of state - reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards strengthens those who do, and isolates - and weakens - those who dont.

The world rallied around America after the 9/11 attacks, and continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan, because of the horror of those senseless attacks and the recognized principle of self-defense. Likewise, the world recognized the need to confront Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait - a consensus that sent a clear message to all about the cost of aggression.

Furthermore, America cannot insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. For when we dont, our action can appear arbitrary, and undercut the legitimacy of future intervention - no matter how justified.

This becomes particularly important when the purpose of military action extends beyond self-defense or the defense of one nation against an aggressor. More and more, we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government, or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region.

I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That is why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.

Americas commitment to global security will never waver. But in a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone. This is true in Afghanistan. This is true in failed states like Somalia, where terrorism and piracy is joined by famine and human suffering. And sadly, it will continue to be true in unstable regions for years to come.

The leaders and soldiers of NATO countries - and other friends and allies - demonstrate this truth through the capacity and courage they have shown in Afghanistan. But in many countries, there is a disconnect between the efforts of those who serve and the ambivalence of the broader public. I understand why war is not popular. But I also know this: The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice. That is why NATO continues to be indispensable. That is why we must strengthen U.N. and regional peacekeeping, and not leave the task to a few countries. That is why we honor those who return home from peacekeeping and training abroad to Oslo and Rome; to Ottawa and Sydney; to Dhaka and Kigali - we honor them not as makers of war, but as wagers of peace.

Let me make one final point about the use of force. Even as we make difficult decisions about going to war, we must also think clearly about how we fight it. The Nobel Committee recognized this truth in awarding its first prize for peace to Henry Dunant - the founder of the Red Cross, and a driving force behind the Geneva Conventions.

Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe that the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed Americas commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not just when it is easy, but when it is hard.

I have spoken to the questions that must weigh on our minds and our hearts as we choose to wage war. But let me turn now to our effort to avoid such tragic choices, and speak of three ways that we can build a just and lasting peace.

First, in dealing with those nations that break rules and laws, I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to change behavior - for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something. Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure - and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one.

One urgent example is the effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and to seek a world without them. In the middle of the last century, nations agreed to be bound by a treaty whose bargain is clear: All will have access to peaceful nuclear power; those without nuclear weapons will forsake them; and those with nuclear weapons will work toward disarmament. I am committed to upholding this treaty. It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy. And I am working with President Medvedev to reduce America and Russias nuclear stockpiles.

But it is also incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system. Those who claim to respect international law cannot avert their eyes when those laws are flouted. Those who care for their own security cannot ignore the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia. Those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.

The same principle applies to those who violate international law by brutalizing their own people. When there is genocide in Darfur, systematic rape in Congo or repression in Burma - there must be consequences. And the closer we stand together, the less likely we will be faced with the choice between armed intervention and complicity in oppression.

This brings me to a second point - the nature of the peace that we seek. For peace is not merely the absence of visible conflict. Only a just peace based upon the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting.

It was this insight that drove drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the Second World War. In the wake of devastation, they recognized that if human rights are not protected, peace is a hollow promise.

And yet all too often, these words are ignored. In some countries, the failure to uphold human rights is excused by the false suggestion that these are Western principles, foreign to local cultures or stages of a nations development. And within America, there has long been a tension between those who describe themselves as realists or idealists - a tension that suggests a stark choice between the narrow pursuit of interests or an endless campaign to impose our values.

I reject this choice. I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please, choose their own leaders or assemble without fear. Pent up grievances fester, and the suppression of tribal and religious identity can lead to violence. We also know that the opposite is true. Only when Europe became free did it finally find peace. America has never fought a war against a democracy, and our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens. No matter how callously defined, neither Americas interests - nor the worlds - are served by the denial of human aspirations.

So even as we respect the unique culture and traditions of different countries, America will always be a voice for those aspirations that are universal. We will bear witness to the quiet dignity of reformers like Aung Sang Suu Kyi; to the bravery of Zimbabweans who cast their ballots in the face of beatings; to the hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran. It is telling that the leaders of these governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation. And it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make clear to these movements that hope and history are on their side.

Let me also say this: The promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach - and condemnation without discussion - can carry forward a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.

In light of the Cultural Revolutions horrors, Nixons meeting with Mao appeared inexcusable - and yet it surely helped set China on a path where millions of its citizens have been lifted from poverty, and connected to open societies. Pope John Pauls engagement with Poland created space not just for the Catholic Church, but for labor leaders like Lech Walesa. Ronald Reagans efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroika not only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe. There is no simple formula here. But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement, pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.

Third, a just peace includes not only civil and political rights - it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.

It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine they need to survive. It does not exist where children cannot aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.

And that is why helping farmers feed their own people - or nations educate their children and care for the sick - is not mere charity. It is also why the world must come together to confront climate change. There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, famine and mass displacement that will fuel more conflict for decades. For this reason, it is not merely scientists and activists who call for swift and forceful action - it is military leaders in my country and others who understand that our common security hangs in the balance.

Agreements among nations. Strong institutions. Support for human rights. Investments in development. All of these are vital ingredients in bringing about the evolution that President Kennedy spoke about. And yet, I do not believe that we will have the will, or the staying power, to complete this work without something more - and that is the continued expansion of our moral imagination, an insistence that there is something irreducible that we all share.

As the world grows smaller, you might think it would be easier for human beings to recognize how similar we are, to understand that we all basically want the same things, that we all hope for the chance to live out our lives with some measure of happiness and fulfillment for ourselves and our families.

And yet, given the dizzying pace of globalization, and the cultural leveling of modernity, it should come as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish about their particular identities - their race, their tribe and, perhaps most powerfully, their religion. In some places, this fear has led to conflict. At times, it even feels like we are moving backwards. We see it in the Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden. We see it in nations that are torn asunder by tribal lines.

Most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan. These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded. But they remind us that no Holy War can ever be a just war. For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint - no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or even a person of ones own faith. Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but the purpose of faith - for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature. We are fallible. We make mistakes, and fall victim to the temptations of pride, and power, and sometimes evil. Even those of us with the best intentions will at times fail to right the wrongs before us.

But we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The nonviolence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached - their faith in human progress - must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.

For if we lose that faith - if we dismiss it as silly or naive, if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace - then we lose what is best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.

Like generations have before us, we must reject that future. As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago: "I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the 'isness' of mans present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts him."

So let us reach for the world that ought to be - that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. Somewhere today, in the here and now, a soldier sees hes outgunned but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, who believes that a cruel world still has a place for his dreams.

Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of deprivation, and still strive for dignity. We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that - for that is the story of human progress; that is the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

from the New York Times

In a stunning surprise, the Nobel Committee announced Friday that it had awarded its annual peace prize to President Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” less than nine months after he took office.

“He has created a new international climate,” the committee said in its announcement. With American forces deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama’s name had not figured in speculation about the winner until minutes before the prize was announced here.

Likely candidates had been seen here as including human rights activists in China and Afghanistan and political figures in Africa.

But the committee said it wanted to enhance Mr. Obama’s diplomatic efforts so far rather than reward him for events in the future.

Thorbjorn Jagland, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee and a former prime minister of Norway, told reporters that Mr. Obama had already contributed enough to world diplomacy and understanding to deserve the prize.

Asked whether the prize was given too early in Mr. Obama’s presidency, he said: “We are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future but for what he has done in the previous year. We would hope this will enhance what he is trying to do.”

The prize was announced as the Obama administration wrestles with global crises from the Middle East to Iran to southwest Asia while American military forces are still deployed in large numbers in Iraq and the White House is considering whether to increase troop levels in Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama has appealed for reductions in nuclear arsenals and is seeking to restart peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

But he also confronts challenges from Iran amid fears that Tehran is seeking a nuclear weapon — charges Iran denies.

Mr. Jagland said the conflict in Afghanistan “concerns us all. We do hope an improvement in the international climate could help resolve that.” Mr. Jagland had been asked by a reporter whether Mr. Obama’s selection for the award was intended to influence the American debate on troops levels in Afghanistan.

Looking back on the Obama presidency so far, Mr. Jagland said: “One of the first things he did was to go to Cairo to try to reach out to the Muslim world, then to restart the Mideast negotiations and then he reached out to the rest of the world through international institutions. “

He mentioned in particular the recent United Nations Security Council meeting on nuclear disarmament and the announcement of the prize noted the special importance the Nobel committee attached to President Obama’s vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

“Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play,” the committee said.

President Obama was the third leading American Democrat to win the prize in 10 years, following former Vice President Al Gore in 2007 along with the United Nations climate panel and former President Jimmy Carter in 2002.

The last sitting American president to win the prize was Woodrow Wilson in 1919. Theodore Roosevelt was selected in 1906 while in the White House and Mr. Carter more than 20 years after he left office.

The prize was won last year by the former president of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari for peace efforts in Africa and the Balkans.

The prize is worth the equivalent of $1.4 million and is to be awarded in Oslo on Dec. 10.

The full citation read: “The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.”

“Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the United States is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.”

“Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population,” the citation said.

“For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that ‘now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.’”

There was no immediate reaction from the White House about the announcement, which drew a mixed reception in some parts of the world.

The chief Palestinian peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, welcomed the award to Obama, Reuters reported.

In Gaza, however, a leader of the militant Islamic Jihad, Khaled Al-Batsh, condemned it, saying the award “shows these prizes are political, not governed by the principles of credibility, values and morals,” Reuters said.

“Why should Obama be given a peace prize while his country owns the largest nuclear arsenal on earth and his soldiers continue to shed innocent blood in Iraq and Afghanistan?”

Obama awarded 2009 Nobel Peace Prize

from -- President Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

The first African-American to win the White House, Obama was praised by the Norwegian Nobel Committee for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," the committee said. "His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."

The committee also said Obama has "created a new climate in international politics."

The announcement came as a surprise -- Obama's name had not been mentioned among front-runners -- and the roomful of reporters in Oslo, Norway, gasped when he was named.

In his short time in office, Obama has acted on a wide range of issues from the economy to terrorism and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Obama also lobbied unsuccessfully to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago, Illinois. After returning from Denmark, Obama expressed no regret about his trip, saying it is "always a worthwhile endeavor to promote and boost the United States."

Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, last year's Peace Prize laureate, said it was clear the Nobel committee wanted to encourage Obama on the issues he has been discussing on the world stage.
"I see this as an important encouragement," Ahtisaari said.

The committee wanted to be "far more daring" than in recent times and make an impact on global politics, said Kristian Berg Harpviken, director of the International Peace Research Institute.

Wangari Muta Maathai, the Kenyan who won the 2004 Peace Prize, said Obama's win will help Africa move forward.

"I think it is extraordinary," she said. "It will be even greater inspiration for the world. He has shown how we can probably come together, work together in a cooperative way."

The award comes at a crucial time for Obama, who has administration officials dispatched on global peace missions.

Obama's envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, has returned to the region to advocate for peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Mitchell met Thursday with Israeli President Shimon Peres. He plans to meet Friday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before talking with Palestinian leaders in the West Bank.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton starts a six-day trip to Europe and Russia on Friday. On the trip, the secretary will discuss the next steps on Iran and North Korea, and international efforts to have the two countries end their nuclear programs.

The centerpiece of the trip will be her visit to Moscow, where she will work toward an agreement to take the place of the Start II arms control pact, which expires December 5. She will also address the new bilateral presidential commission that is working on a broad range of issues, from arms control to health.

Obama became the third sitting U.S. president to win the prestigious prize. Jimmy Carter was the fourth American leader to win, but he was long out of office when he was recognized in 2002.

This year's peace prize nominees included 172 people and 33 organizations, the highest number of nominations ever. The committee does not release the names of the nominees.

The Nobel recipient receives a prize of about $1.4 million.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Equity Bank's Membership drive attracts unlikely members -- Nigerian Fraudsters!

“Hata wao ni members – (they too are members),” says Daniel Ndeti, a member of Skunkworks, an online forum through which tech experts discuss ICT related topics. Ndeti is taking cue from Equity Bank’s latest ad campaign that seeks to drive the bank’s membership.

In one of the ads the bank has been running over the past few months, a pastoralist, a very unlikely potential member of any bank, is seen wearing traditional regalia pointing to his cattle with a stick before saying “I am a Masai and I am a member.”

What makes this particular advertisement interesting is the fact that pastoralists base their wealth in terms of cattle owned. To them currency bills are just that, but here is one pastoralist endorsing a banking product. But it seems the ad served its purpose and also managed to attract a few fraudsters into the list of members.

Apparently, fraudsters have created a clone of Equity Bank’s website – complete with all the functionality such as checking account details – to take advantage of the bank’s growing success. The bank has won lots of coveted awards internationally including, Best Micro-finance bank in Africa, Euro money award among others.

Unfortunately for Equity Bank, the clone website ( may appear real to unsuspecting ‘members’ because it looks exactly like the real Equity Bank website ( although the graphics on the clone appear odd. Only a keen eye can tell the difference or at least someone who already knows what the real website looks like. The information on the phishing site is also inaccurate.

“Seems weird to me, have you seen the board members section?” asks Phillip Musyoki another member of Skunkworks in a discussion thread on the forum. "They have just done a poor job copying from the Kenyan Equity Bank site. Look at the graphics. Jesus? What is this?”

Musyoki’s observations are right. The fake website erroneously [it seems] names Mr. Julius Kipng’etich, as the CEO of Nigeria Wildlife Service. The site also wrongly states that the current CEO of Equity Bank Dr. James Mwangi, holds a Doctor of Entrepreneurship degree from Jomo Nigeriatta University of Agriculture!

What a laugh. There is nothing like Jomo Nigeriatta University of Agriculture on this earth. Julius Kipng’etich is the CEO of the Kenya Wildlife Society (KWS) while Dr. James Mwangi attended Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and not what the phishing site purports.

“It is so obvious [this is a] phishing attack. I can say [whoever did the cloning job] is not an experienced dude, by the fact that you can see all these [the] mistakes,” says Okechukwu from skunkworks.”

“That’s what happens. It is called phishing…when you fill in your details [in the fake website], for example passwords, they never reach the real bank; they end up in the fraudster servers. The fraudsters will then use the same information to log into the real account and steal your money or other valuables,” says Motobaridi also from skunkworks.

According to Murigi Muraya, another member of skunkworks, the fake site, created in March this year, is registered to Equity Bank Plc, Powell Maria, 3525 S. Nantucket Dr Arizona, United States US-85249. But the real Equity Bank website is registered through Kenic a local registrant for domains and is hosted by Access Kenya, a tech firm based in Nairobi.

It seems quite easy for Murigi, Phillip, Motobaridi and Okechukwu to spot the difference between a phishing site and a real site. But what about the pastoralist that Equity Bank is trying to target through the “mimi ni member” ad campaign? Can they tell the difference?


According to, phishing scams are now a part of everyday life. It’s important that you know how to spot one and avoid becoming a victim.
It is easy to uncover a crude phishing scam. For example, if you get an email from a bank you’ve never opened an account at, then don’t follow the link and enter your personal information. Now, if you actually have an account at the institution it gets more interesting.

You’ll want to look at the message carefully to see if it is a phishing scam. Are words misspelled? Sometimes scammers operate in a second language and they give themselves away by using poor grammar.

You should also examine the link provided. Does it really go where it appears to go? The best way to prevent this is to copy and paste the link (don’t click it) to your address bar. However, you can still get tricked by URL’s that look legitimate but have one or two letters switched.

The best way to avoid becoming a phishing scam victim is to use your best judgment. No financial institution with any sense will email you and ask you to input all of your sensitive information. In fact, most institutions are informing customers that “We will never ask you for your personal information via phone or email”. Source:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hillary Clinton's Speech Full Transcript at The 8th Forum of AGOA Kenya 2009

Below is Hillary Clinton's Full Speech Transcript delivered at The 8th Forum of AGOA in Nairobi, Kenya 2009

Nairobi, Kenya. Good morning. Let me thank the trade minister for those welcoming words, and tell you what a privilege it is for me to join you here today. I am very grateful to the people and Government of Kenya for hosting this AGOA Forum, and particularly to the president, the prime minister, and the entire Kenyan Government.

The presence of so many distinguished leaders from across Africa reflects our shared aspirations for greater economic growth and prosperity on this continent. This was a very important trip for me to make in order to underscore the significance that President Obama and I place on enhancing the trade and commerce both between Africa and the United States, but also within Africa......continues below

Related Posts:
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2. CHANGE or we will act – Obama administration tells Kenya
3. Hillary Clinton receives ‘cold’ welcome in Kenya’s AGOA Summit
4. Hillary Clinton delivers speech to AGOA forum in Kenya

And I am delighted to have two other representatives of the Obama Administration with me: Secretary Tom Vilsack, who, for eight years, was one of the most successful governors in our country, and responsible for the state of Iowa, a very important agricultural state, but also recognizing the connection between agriculture and energy production; and Ambassador Ron Kirk, our U.S. Trade Representative, a mayor of one of our large cities in Texas - Dallas, Texas - someone who understands the significance of economic development for the well-being of people.

We're also pleased to have three representatives of Congress with us: Congressman Donald Payne, Congressman Jim McDermott, and Congresswoman Nita Lowey. Each of them has a particular interest in Africa, and the development of the people of this continent.

So, let me begin with greetings and good wishes from President Obama to the people of his ancestral homeland - (applause) - and with a message from the President and from his Administration: We believe in Africa's promise. We are committed to Africa's future. And we will be partners with Africa's people. (Applause.) I hope all of you have had a chance to either see or read President Obama's speech last month in Ghana. He said there what we believe: Progress in Africa requires partnerships built on shared responsibility.

The flip side of responsibility is opportunity - shared opportunity. And that is what I wish to speak about this morning, how we can work together to help realize the God-given potential of 800 million people who make their homes and find their livelihoods in the valleys of the Great Rift, across the plains of the Serengeti, in vibrant urban centers from Nairobi to Johannesburg to Dakar, and why seizing the opportunities of Africa's future matters not only to Africans, but to all of us.

You know that too often, the story of Africa is told in stereotypes and clich├ęs about poverty, disease, and conflict. We can't seem to get past the idea that the continent has enormous potential for progress. Too often, the media's portrayal is so much less than that. But such notions are not only stale and outdated; they are wrong. Africa is capable, and is making economic progress. In fact, one doesn't have to look far to see that Africa is ripe with opportunities, some already realized, and others waiting to be seized together if we determine to do so.

Now to be sure, progress is not apparent everywhere on the continent. Even with the accelerated growth of recent years, the economies of many countries have slowed or stagnated under the weight of the global recession. Others face looming crises when their young people who constitute half the population in some countries reach adulthood and need jobs. And we cannot ignore the fact that there are still African nations where some workers earn less than a dollar a day, where mothers and fathers die of preventable diseases, where children are too often schooled with guns instead of books, and where women and girls are mistreated, even raped as a tactic of war, and greed and graft are the dominant currency.

But the story we also need to tell, and tell it over and over again, is that many parts of Africa are rising to 21st century challenges and following a road map that will turn Africa into a regional and global hub for progress and prosperity. We have seen the changes, and we know what is happening right now.

I will visit six other countries on this trip, and I will see the results of the research of African scientists who are modernizing agricultural tools, and I will meet those who are devising new models for development assistance. I'll meet the young entrepreneurs and professionals who are helping to build open markets, and the civil servants who are working hand-in-hand with them. There is so much that is going on that needs to be lifted up and spotlighted.

Today, we look to nearby Rwanda. Progress sometimes comes so slowly. But in a country that had been ravaged by genocidal conflict, the progress is amazing. It has one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, even in the midst of the global recession. Health indicators are improving. The Rwandan people believed in themselves. And their leaders, led by President Kagame, believed in policies based on evidence and measurable results, including a nationwide emphasis on family planning, cross-cutting partnerships with donors and NGOs, a greater premium on professionalism in the government and the health sector.

You all know the story of Dr. Mo Ibrahim, a visionary and a pioneer willing to invest in the untapped potential of Africa when others were not. Why? Because he understood that new technologies could unleash local entrepreneurship, create jobs, expand prosperity, and build economies. But in return for his investments, he demanded good governance, adherence to the rule of law. And his achievement in African leadership prize celebrates exemplars of his philosophy.

There are so many that already have invested and stand ready to do so, and who see the potential for leapfrogging the technologies of the past. With wireless technology, Africa doesn't need to lay all of the wires or build the infrastructure. It could take advantage of what technology offers. New innovations are already transforming lives and fueling economic growth. Farmers in both East and West Africa can click a button on their cell phone to check prices on dozens of crops. Pineapple farmers in Ghana are using PDAs and bar coding technology to facilitate transport and increase crop yields. The new underwater fiber optic cable along Africa's east coast will enable hundreds of millions of people to have access to the internet.

Although Africa missed the first green revolution, it now has the opportunity to create its own. Technology and innovation make it possible for nations to bypass the dirty stages of development and become more quickly integrated. Right now, Africa suffers from a severe shortage of electric power, and too many countries rely on oil as virtually their only source of revenue. But the capacity for producing renewable and clean energy is far and wide. From the geothermal resources of the Great Rift Valley, to the potential hydropower of the Congo River, to wind and solar options, new projects are beginning to come online.

So there are so many concrete examples of the opportunities to be seized. And with that in mind, I'd like to focus on four areas that warrant special attention: trade, development, good governance, and women.

Some of you may have seen the op-ed that Ambassador Ron Kirk wrote and was placed in newspapers here in Kenya and across the continent. He laid out some of the potential opportunities to work with in order to maximize the promise of AGOA. As Africa's largest trading partners, we are committed to trade policies that support prosperity and stability. To echo President Obama's words, we want to be your partner, not your patron.

Because trade is a critical platform for Africa's economic growth, we're exploring ways to lower global trade barriers to ease the burdens on African farmers and producers. Today, Africa accounts for two percent of global trade. If Sub-Saharan Africa were to increase that share by only one percent, it would generate additional export revenues each year greater than the total amount of annual assistance that Africa currently receives. We will strive to meet the G-20 leaders pledge in London to complete the Doha Round and make it a success. And we're committed to working with our African partners to maximize the opportunities created by our trade preference programs. That is why we're here today.

AGOA is a bipartisan commitment. As you know, it began under my husband when he was President, but it continued under President Bush. It has achieved demonstrable results, but not yet enough. We know it has not met its full potential. And we intend to roll up our sleeves and work with you to try to make that potential real.

Market access alone is not sufficient. In too many cases, African countries do not yet have the capacity to meet the needs of the U.S. market. They cannot compete for the kind of exporting of thousands of products that can be sent duty-free to the United States under AGOA. There are 6,999 items that can be sent from Africa to the United States duty-free.

Now, a number of AGOA countries are in the early stages of supplying the American market with products they had not supplied in the past. And although the global crisis has slowed products, there are new products being exported, from footwear in Ethiopia, to cut flowers in Tanzania, to eyewear in Mauritius, to processed fruits and jams in Swaziland. We're seeing real potential. We're also seeing some countries take advantage of the fact that they can produce industrial products in partnership with international firms, and then export them duty-free to the United States.

We need more product diversification. This is an area that Ambassador Kirk - Ambassador Ron Kirk will focus on with you to enhance competitiveness, to improve the utilization of AGOA, and to look for more ways that you can take advantage of this market access. You can make trade a greater priority in development strategies, and to leverage the economic power that comes from trade.

But the single biggest opportunity that you have right now is to open up trade with each other. The market of the United States is 300 million people. The market of Africa is 700 million-plus. The nations of Africa trade the least with each other than any region of the world. That makes it very difficult to compete effectively. Of course, keep focused on markets like the United States and Europe, but simultaneously work to tear down trade barriers among yourselves.

Regional trade organizations offer signs of hope, but more must be done. And of course, progress depends on good governance and adherence to the rule of law. That is critical to creating positive, predictable investment climates and inclusive economic growth. I know there are problems sometimes between countries and borders that are difficult to traverse. But focusing on this coming out of the 8th AGOA Forum would be a tremendous commitment.

Now, the United States has responsibilities, too. We will enhance ongoing efforts to build trade capacity across Africa. We want to provide assistance to help new industries take advantage of access to our markets. We will pursue public-private partnerships, leveraging the efforts of our export-import bank and OPEC and organizations like the Corporate Council on Africa that identify and invest in young entrepreneurs with innovative ideas. We will work to expand the number of bilateral investment treaties with African nations, one of which Ambassador Kirk and I will be signing this afternoon. Above all, we will create stronger and more sensible links between our trade policies and our development strategies.

In the past three decades, African agricultural exports have declined, even as the vast majority of employment on the continent still depends on income from the agricultural sector. This is due, in part, to inadequate infrastructure. Lack of roads, lack of irrigation, poor storage facilities jeopardize the hard work of farmers in the field, undermine the discoveries of researchers in the lab and depressed markets eagerly waiting for products to buy.

So the United States will pursue strategies to improve infrastructure so that farmers have better access to information, capital, and training. We intend to develop the kind of partnerships that will integrate assistance as a core pillar of our foreign policy, because we believe that helping to improve the material conditions of people's lives is not only an expression of American values, but a foundation for greater security and stability on the continent.

The Obama Administration is on a path to double foreign assistance by 2014, but we will spend the money differently. While our past assistance has yielded gains, we have spent too many dollars and too many decades on efforts that have not delivered the desired long-term results. Too much money, for example, has stayed in America, paid salaries to Americans, furnished overhead to the contractors that were used. Too little has reached the intended target or contributed to lasting progress.

So at the State Department and USAID, we are actively exploring how we can fund, design, implement development and foreign assistance that produces measurable, lasting results, while also helping people in the short run. Development assistance linked to trade policy will, we believe, fuel dynamic market-led growth rather than perpetuating dependency.

In Africa and elsewhere, we seek more agile, effective, and creative partnerships. We will focus on country-driven solutions that give responsible governments more information, capacity, and control as they tailor strategies to meet their needs. This will require greater coordination within our own government and with the donor community. And it will also require a broader use of measurements to assess whether we are achieving results. Agricultural development is a case in point. President Obama asked me to head a government-wide and comprehensive effort to advance agricultural-led growth, and to reduce hunger, where the opportunity exists to provide more food, raise incomes, and create new jobs.

Now of course, we have no control over the weather. And the devastating drought that has afflicted Kenya and other countries for four years is a deeply troubling challenge. But we can begin to try to even deal with nature's difficulties. With most of the world's remaining arable land spread across the African continent, Africa has a responsibility and an opportunity to maximize agricultural promise and provide food for your own people and the world as well. Building on the G-8 discussions in Italy last month, I am pleased to announce that I will convene a meeting next month on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly to advance the global partnership for agriculture and food security.

True economic progress - (applause) - depends not only on the hard work of millions of people who get up every day and do the best they can, often under overwhelming circumstances; it also depends on responsible governments that reject corruption, enforce the rule of law, and deliver results for their people. This is not just about good governance; this is about good business. Investors will be attracted to states that do this, and they will not be attracted to states with failed or weak leadership, or crime and civil unrest or corruption that taints every transaction and decision.

The private sector and civil society are playing an increasingly important role across Africa in holding governments accountable and demanding fairer, more open, more just economies and societies. Leaders have to lead. They have to demonstrate to their people that democracy does deliver. Sustainable progress is not possible in countries that fail to be good stewards of their natural resources, where the profits from oil and minerals line the pockets of oligarchs who are corporations a world away, but do little to promote long-term growth and prosperity.

The solution starts with transparency. A famous judge in my country once said that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and there's a lot of sunlight in Africa. African countries are starting to embrace this view through participation in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Creating a favorable investment climate requires countries to translate politics into governing. A famous American politician, Mario Cuomo, once said you campaign in politics, in poetry, but you have to govern in prose - the hard work of explaining what you're doing and getting the results that you promise.

It is important that we recognize that progress has been made when elections are held. And many people believe that democracy is alive and well because an election has taken place. But as important as elections are, democracy is not just about the ballot box. Citizens and governments need to work together to build and sustain strong democratic institutions. From an independent and confident judiciary, to a professional and dedicated civil service, to a free press and vibrant civil society, we've learned this in my own country. We are still working to improve our democracy after 230 years, and we want to give you some of the benefit of the mistakes that we've made and the lessons we've learned along the way. And we stand ready to serve as partners to citizens and leaders looking to improve governance and transparency.

Let me conclude with an issue of economic and strategic importance to Africa, to the United States, and I believe to the world, and it is of great personal importance to me - the future of Africa's women. The social, political - (applause) - the social, political, and economic marginalization of women across Africa has left a void in this continent that undermines progress and prosperity every day. Yet we know across Africa women are doing the work of a whole continent - gathering firewood, hauling water, washing clothes, preparing meals, raising children, in the fields planting and harvesting, and when given the opportunity of economic empowerment, transforming communities and local economies.

There are many African women who have made a great and lasting imprint on the world. Kenya's own Wangari Maathai has spawned an international movement on behalf of environmental stewardship. (Applause.) Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has taken the reins of a nation once gripped by civil war, ensuring that the rights of women are respected and protected, and that women have the opportunity to help drive social and economic progress, as they are now doing in many parts of the world. It is not only a moral imperative; it is an economic one as well. Everywhere I go, I see the hard work and the progress that women can make if unleashed, if given just a chance.

In a few days, I will be in Cape Town and I will visit, for the third time, the Victoria Mxenge cooperative. I first visited there in 1997. It was a location where women who had been displaced for many reasons - husbands had died, economic problems - had come together in a small group and they were squatting. They didn't own this desolate piece of land that was off one of the highways. But they had nowhere else to go with their children. And they began building a community. And they pooled small microloans, which I still believe is one of the greatest ways of lifting individuals out of poverty. And they began to build their homes.

Today, a whole village stands on what was once a dusty and empty patch of land. Like those women, women and men across this continent are taking responsibility. They want partners. They want partners with their governments, they want partners with the private sector, they want partners with countries like my own. There is no reason to wait. The ingredients are all here for an extraordinary explosion of growth, prosperity, and progress. This is a storyline of opportunity that I want to tell, because I know how important it is to translate legislation like AGOA, the efforts of governments like Kenya's into daily changes that people can look to.

This morning, I had the chance to meet two women living here in Nairobi because I had to get my hair done. The women in this audience know that. (Laughter.) I think they did a good job too. My hairdos are like the subject of Ph.D. theses, so - (laughter) - I want everybody to know I got a good one in Nairobi. And I was talking to these two women who came to see me, and I said, "Well, what's it like living in Nairobi," and they said, "It's a wonderful place, and it's a great place to raise children."

I want to hear that everywhere, from every family, from every mother and father who can say, truthfully, it's a great place to raise children from the east, to the west, from the north, to the south. Because after all, what we do should only be about the next generation. In public or private life, there is no greater obligation to see what we are doing to further the lives of those children who are close to us, but to all the children.

So as we go forward at this 8th AGOA Forum, I hope we will all keep in mind that we are called upon to act to make it possible for the children of this great continent to have the kind of future that all children deserve. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

End of Hillary Clinton's Full Speech Transcript at The 8th Forum of AGOA Kenya 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hillary Clinton speech to AGOA forum in Kenya - Cleverly ignores politics

From the New York Times

NAIROBI, Kenya - If Kenyans were hoping that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would blast their government for recent abuses, they have been disappointed, at least so far...continues below

NEW: Hillary Clinton's Speech FULL TRANSCRIPT at The 8th Forum of AGOA Kenya 2009

Speaking at the opening of a United States-Africa trade conference (AGOA summit 2009) Wednesday at the start an African tour, Mrs. Clinton shied away from the subject of Kenya’s volatile politics and spoke instead about tariffs, alternative energy, pineapples and even her hairdo.

“This morning I had the chance to meet two women in Nairobi, to get my hair done,” she said. “My hairdos are the subject of Ph.D. theses. I’ll let everyone know I got a good one in Nairobi.”.....continues below

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The audience — mostly diplomats, business leaders and African ministers — chuckled politely. Less jokingly, Mrs. Clinton went on to address a theme broached by President Obama when he visited Ghana last month, cautioning African leaders that “true economic progress in Africa will depend on responsible governments that reject corruption, enforce the rule of law, and deliver results for their people.”

“This is not just about good governance — it’s also about good business,” she said.

Mrs. Clinton is visiting Kenya as part of a seven-nation Africa tour to promote the broad themes of governance, trade, food security and women’s rights.

On Wednesday, her message was that the new American policy for Africa would be trade not aid.

“We want to be your partner, not your patron,” she said.

She laid out plans to channel development dollars to agriculture and infrastructure, to increase support for African entrepreneurs and, at the same time, to cut back on all the overhead that often goes to American contractors.

Kenya has one of the biggest economies in Africa, driven by its safari business and exports of tea and coffee. But the country has been ailing politically since a deeply flawed election in 2007 and faces problems on a number of fronts.

Some of the headlines that greeted Mrs. Clinton on her first morning in Kenya trumpeted: ”It’s official: Power blackouts are back,” “Clinton lands as U.S. breathes fire,” “500,000 face starvation in Rift Valley as rains fail again.”

One headline declared: “Quit lecturing Africa on politics, says Raila,” referring to Raila Odinga, the Kenyan prime minister who narrowly lost the disputed election in 2007.

Mr. Odinga, who gave Mrs. Clinton a warm welcome at the conference, even made a crack at his misfortune. “In Africa, in many countries, elections are never won, they are rigged,” he said.

He then cracked a grin, paused for a moment or two and then introduced the man widely believed to have cheated him out of the election, President Mwai Kibaki.

Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga, who was then the leading opposition figure, signed an agreement in February 2008 that created a powerful prime minister position for Mr. Odinga and split cabinet positions between the government and the opposition.

Hillary Clinton delivers speech to AGOA forum in Kenya

From Reuters

NAIROBI, Aug 5, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday investors will shun African states with weak leaders and economies riddled with corruption and crime.

U.S. President Barack Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, said in a speech in Ghana last month that Western aid must be matched by good governance and African leaders had to do more to end war, disease and stamp out graft....continues below

NEW: Hillary Clinton's Speech FULL TRANSCRIPT at The 8th Forum of AGOA Kenya 2009

"True economic progress in Africa ... also depends on responsible governments that reject corruption, enforce the rule of law and deliver results for their people. This is not just about good governance, this is about good business," Clinton said.

"Investors will be attracted to states that do this. And they will not be attracted to states with failed or weak leadership, or crime and civil unrest, or corruption that taints every transaction and decision," she told a U.S.-African annual trade meeting in Kenya.

Kenya, east Africa's biggest economy, was ranked by Transparency International last month as the region's most graft-prone nation with a bribe expected or solicited in nearly half of all transactions.

A U.S. trade programme established in 2000 allows countries in sub-Saharan Africa to export more than 6,400 product lines to the United States without paying duties.

Washington is looking at ways to boost trade with the 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for little more than 1 percent of U.S. exports and only 3 percent of imports.

"Leaders have to lead. They have to demonstrate to their people that democracy does deliver."

The U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act is due to expire in 2015, and some African countries would like that extended as the deadline causes uncertainty among potential investors.

The United States is reviewing whether to suspend trade benefits for Madagascar following President Andry Rajoelina's March power grab. But U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who is accompanying Clinton to Nairobi, said a decision had not yet been taken.

Later on Wednesday, Kirk is set to launch negotiations with Mauritius on a bilateral investment treaty.

Clinton said Africa had an opportunity to create its own "Green Revolution" thanks to new technology and innovation that would let countries bypass the "dirty" stages of development.

"Right now, Africa suffers from a severe shortage of electric power and too many countries rely on oil as virtually their only source of revenue. But the capacity for producing renewable and clean energy is far and wide," she said.

Washington's top diplomat stressed that empowering women in Africa would be a valuable step to boosting development, and respecting their rights was a moral and economic imperative.

"The social, political and economic marginalisation of women across Africa has left a void in this continent that undermines progress and prosperity every day," she said.

"When given the opportunity of economic empowerment, (they are) transforming communities and local economies."

Clinton's stop in Kenya is the first of a seven-nation trip to Africa that includes South Africa, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde. She returns to Washington on Aug. 14.


You can keep the "CHANGE." We don’t need another lecture... Kenya tells Obama admin.

From the Daily Nation

Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga Tuesday opened a new war front with developed countries asking them to stop “lecturing” African nations on governance issues. He, instead, urged the West to focus on how to further open up more trade avenues in the continent to enable African countries to prosper economically....continues below

NEW: Hillary Clinton's Speech FULL TRANSCRIPT at The 8th Forum of AGOA Kenya 2009

While addressing delegates attending the ongoing Africa Growth and Opportunity Act forum in Nairobi, Mr Odinga said the continent had made great strides by “toppling dictators” who had given Africa a bad name....continues below
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4. Hillary Clinton delivers speech to AGOA forum in Kenya

“Lecturing us on issues that deal with governance and transparency is in bad taste,” said the PM. Added Mr Odinga: “The continent is still recovering from an era of dictatorship and tyrannical leadership that many African countries struggled hard to dislodge. “We therefore don’t need lectures on how to govern ourselves... we only require lectures on how to trade not only with ourselves but with the rest of the world to enable us prosper.”

The PM's sentiments appeared to be in response to comments by US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, who had earlier on insisted that the government must implement, in full, all the reform agenda it promised Kenyans.

Top of what the US government wants addressed include constitutional review, electoral review, land reforms and reconciliation. He spoke ahead of the arrival of US Secretary of State Mrs Hillary Clinton, who is expected to grace the official opening of the forum on Wednesday. President Kibaki is also scheduled to attend.

Similar sentiments have also been raised by various countries that make up the European Union. The US Ambassador said full implementation was indeed very critical to the prosperity of Kenyans. “Failure to do this will interfere with the realisation of the country’s economic agenda,” said Mr Ranneberger while addressing the delegates.

The US Government has for long been piling pressure on Kenya to implement the reforms it promised under Agenda Four of the National Accord that was negotiated under the guidance of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

It has previously warned of unspecified action against Kenyan leaders should it fail to implement the reform agenda and end the intermittent wrangles that have threatened to derail the grand coalition.

The two principals – President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga – have often been criticised for failing to guide the country out of danger ahead of the 2012 elections. However, the two have in the recent past moved to assure the country that the coalition would last to the end and would deliver on the reforms envisaged in the National Accord.

CHANGE! OR we will act – Obama administration tells Kenya

From the Standard

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in style as Washington and London warned Kenya’s Cabinet they would hold accountable those who frustrate reform agenda and punishment of post-election violence suspects....continues below

NEW: Hillary Clinton's Speech FULL TRANSCRIPT at The 8th Forum of AGOA Kenya 2009

US ambassador Michael Ranneberger set the stage for Mrs Clinton’s arrival, shadowed by the many calls by President Barack Obama to Kenya to hurry up reform agenda and end to impunity, by releasing a statement coached in hard language and with limited options for Kenya....continues below

Related posts:
1. You can keep the "CHANGE." We don’t need another lecture... Kenya tells Obama admin.
2. Hillary Clinton receives ‘cold’ welcome in Kenya’s AGOA Summit


The British High Commissioner Rob Macaire in addition revealed the combined number of ministers, top civil servants, and entrepreneurs banned from stepping on British soil because of their conduct and dealings now stands at 20.

Also training his gun on Kenya was Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnie Carson who said Mrs Clinton would speak on Kenya’s governance problems, corruption, human rights and impunity.

Carson said: "Under the watchful eye of Kenya’s long serving Attorney General (Amos Wako) — a man who has served loyally under President Kibaki and President Moi — not one government official or serving politician has been successfully prosecuted for corruption in two decades."

Traditionally, the rest of the 27 European Union states reciprocates visa bans on foreigners by one of their members, which raises the prospect some Kenyan ministers, despite their official assignment, would never be allowed to step in EU states, and in all probability, the US, too.

US and UK’s anger stemmed from last week decision by the Cabinet to kill local tribunal option as a means of punishing post-election offenders, leaving but a small window for The Hague option, and going for Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission’s way.

"The US will stand firmly behind Kenyans as they insist on full implementation of the reform agenda. We will take necessary steps to hold accountable those who do not support reform agenda or who support violence,’’ said Ranneberger.

He added: "Merely expanding the role of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission and establishing a mechanism in the Judiciary is not a credible approach in eyes of Kenyans and international community."

"Ensuring an independent local special tribunal, with independent investigating powers, would clearly demonstrate seriousness that has not been evident," the envoy went on.

International pressure swelled against Kenya as Prime Minister Raila Odinga, in response, said Kenya could do with ‘less’ lectures on governance. President Kibaki has called for a special Cabinet meeting on Friday, to review the backlash from last week’s decision, and perhaps make a fresh bid to establish a special tribunal.

Macaire demanded an explanation on why the Government abandoned the quest for a special tribunal. He spoke when he met Kenya’s Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang’ to discuss UK’s request for co-operation in regard to movement of persons between the two countries.

The Ranneberger statement ran: "The US is deeply concerned by the Coalition Government’s decision that appears to indicate it will not establish a special tribunal to hold accountable perpetrators of violence…Failure by Kenya to take ownership of the process of accountability at all levels will call into serious question whether the political will exists to carry out fundamental reforms."

Carson stepped in with a statement of America’s official position: "It is better to have a local tribunal to try people who committed crimes in the community."

Carson made it clear Mrs Clinton will root for strong institutions, particularly police, electoral, judicial reforms, and a new constitution as recommended under the National Accord. His speech entitled, Kenya on the Brink: Democratic Renewal or Deepening Crisis, was delivered a week before Mrs Clinton’s visit.

But yesterday Raila, while addressing Agoa conference, which will be opened by President Kibaki today, said: "Africa does not need too much lecturing on governance issues."
Carson’s statement on the Clinton visit comes against the backdrop of President Kibaki’s summon of a special Cabinet meeting on Friday to discuss the implications of its resolution last Thursday to abandon creation of a special tribunal to try post-election violence suspects.

"Although this is largely a trade and commercial event, she will use the occasion to reinforce the message that we view Kenya as an important and longstanding regional partner. We value Kenya’s friendship and that we stand ready to help Kenya strengthen its democratic institutions, fight corruption, counter the rise in extrajudicial killings and to deal with some of its mounting socio-economic problems," Carson said in his speech, posted in the National Endowment for Democracy website.

Macaire said: "UK is seeking an explanation from the Government on its move to block a special tribunal and opt for the local courts to try post-election violence suspects."

He added: "We want to know what the Government decision means in practice," and announced those who incited or perpetrated violence after the disputed presidential election risked visa bans from the EU.

"Having identified the leading suspects, (former UN Secretary General) Kofi Annan gave the Kenyan Government two clear options: The Government could establish an independent court to try the suspects or he would turn the names over to the ICC for investigations and prosecutions. Annan has now turned over the names of post-election violence perpetrators to the ICC."

"We believe that police reform, from the top down, is crucial to restoring public confidence," he said.
The former US ambassador in Kenya did not spare the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission: "Kenya’s six-year-old Anti-Corruption Commission has demonstrated a record similar (to Wako’s) success rate."

"Kenya’s court system has also shown a willingness to play along with the AG’s style of politics. On the rare occasions when corruption cases are presented to the courts, they are thrown out on procedural grounds or are allowed to die in a sea of judicial bureaucracy. In Kenya, there is a saying that sums up the public attitude towards the nation’s courts: "Why hire a lawyer when you can buy a judge?" said Carson.

The new move to back the TJRC has been greeted with resentment. Key development partners and politicians have said the Cabinet erred. "The current situation in Kenya highlights the country’s ongoing challenges to deepen its democracy and to make it meaningful," Carson said.

Hillary Clinton arrives for Kenya’s AGOA Summit...But is she really needed?

From the New York Times

NAIROBI, Kenya — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Kenya on Tuesday night at the beginning of an 11-day Africa tour and at a time when the American government is getting increasingly fed up with Kenya’s leaders....continues below

NEW: Hillary Clinton's Speech FULL TRANSCRIPT at The 8th Forum of AGOA Kenya 2009

Mrs. Clinton was whisked from the airport to her hotel in downtown Nairobi, which was under intense security by soldiers wearing bulletproof vests and enormous men wearing earpieces...continues below

Related Posts:
1. You can keep the "CHANGE." We don’t need another lecture... Kenya tells Obama admin.
2. CHANGE or we will act – Obama administration tells Kenya
3. Hillary Clinton receives ‘cold’ welcome in Kenya’s AGOA Summit
4. Hillary Clinton delivers speech to AGOA forum in Kenya
Her trip takes her through seven African nations, from Kenya to Cape Verde, and focuses on good government, trade and the bolstering of food security, all priorities that President Obama forcefully laid out during his quick visit to Ghana last month. She will meet with important commercial allies, including Angola and Nigeria, which export billions of dollars worth of oil to the United States. She will also wade into conflict zones like Congo, which continues to suffer and smolder from a decade-long civil war.

But the first stop will not be easy. Mrs. Clinton is ostensibly in Kenya to address the eighth annual forum on the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a piece of trade legislation that her husband, Bill Clinton, passed when he was president.

But she will inevitably be drawn into Kenya’s latest political crisis: what to do about the perpetrators of last year’s election-driven bloodshed. And more trouble may be brewing. Kenya faces a punishing drought, a food crisis, power cuts and ethnic militias mobilizing in the countryside, getting ready for a possible Round 2.

Last week, Kenya’s leaders decided to scuttle efforts to set up a special tribunal for the organizers and financiers of the election violence, which killed more than 1,000 people, putting forward a vague pledge to try perpetrators within existing institutions instead.

Some of the top suspects are high-ranking ministers, who are reluctant to set in motion any process that might put them behind bars. Many Kenyans are now calling their government of national unity the “government of national impunity.” Western nations, especially the United States, are losing patience, but at the same time, Kenya’s leaders seem to be getting annoyed by all the outside advice.
“The United States is deeply concerned by the coalition government’s decision that appears to indicate it will not pursue establishment of an independent special tribunal to hold accountable perpetrators of postelection violence,” the American Embassy said Tuesday. “Failure by Kenya to take ownership of the process of accountability at all levels will call into serious question whether the political will exists to carry out fundamental reforms.”

Last year, it was Mrs. Clinton’s predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, who applied the 11th-hour pressure on Kenya’s warring politicians and got them to sign a power-sharing agreement.

But on Tuesday, Kenya’s prime minister, Raila Odinga, blasted back and said at the trade conference, “We don’t need another lecture.”

He also blamed Western countries for creating Africa’s problems in the first place, saying many of the modern-day ills stemmed directly from colonialism.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Kenya, a failed state, now headed to the dogs

Unfortunately for Kenya, all that holds the coalition together now is mutual greed and pressure from abroad.

From The Economist

AFTER the horrendous violence that followed Kenya’s flawed general election in 2007, the mediation of Kofi Annan, a former secretary-general of the United Nations, was acclaimed for pushing the two main political parties into a coalition government. This at least stopped the bloodshed. Now, however, the deal is unraveling—fast. At a recent summit feuding government ministers could not even agree on what to discuss in order to find common ground. The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) of the prime minister, Raila Odinga, stomped out before the meeting had even begun, accusing President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) of blocking the agenda.

Among the foreign diplomats looking on, optimists refer to the squabbling coalition as an “unconsummated marriage”. The less charitable say Kenya does not have a functioning executive at all, just an unholy alliance of fierce rivals. A schedule of constitutional, electoral, judicial, security, land and economic reforms was laid out in the original agreement between the two parties. A domestic tribunal to judge those responsible for the post-election mayhem was supposed to be set up and a truth commission established. Yet more than a year later the ODM and PNU have failed to agree on any of these issues.

New corruption scandals, confined to no party, are regularly revealed by Kenya’s papers. With so many senior figures from the main parties co-opted into the government—which has 94 ministers and deputies, each earning over $15,000 a month—Kenya has become almost a one-party state. Ministers constantly squabble over pay, protocol, seniority and even who gets the best rooms at government get-togethers. The churches, NGOs and foreign diplomats are left to play the role of opposition, cajoling and threatening from the sidelines.

The infighting and bickering have also confounded hopes for measures to tackle the causes of the post-election violence, or even the country’s increasing gang violence. For example, Mr Odinga backed calls for the resignation of the soldier turned chief of the police, Major-General Hussein Ali, after he had been heavily criticised by human-rights groups and the UN over the activities of police death-squads. But Mr Kibaki, who appointed Mr Ali, has refused to let him go, despite an agreement to have a civilian head of the police. This week clashes in central Kenya between villagers and gang members of a criminal sect known as the Mungiki, who belong to the Kikuyu group, Kenya’s biggest, left another 40 or so people dead.

Parliament reconvened this week. The next elections are not due until 2012, but so grave is the impasse that politicians are already attending to their political futures rather than present troubles. Martha Karua, who resigned as justice minister on April 6th in protest at Mr Kibaki’s decision to appoint judges without consulting her, has said she will run for president. She gives press interviews, addresses crowds and lambasts the government she so recently abandoned as if a national poll were due for next week. Ms Karua is popular because she gives voice to the disgust felt by ordinary Kenyans towards their politicians. Her resignation is seen as a rare display of principle.

Unfortunately for Kenya, all that holds the coalition together now is mutual greed and pressure from abroad. Despite everything, foreign donor governments are nonetheless determined that the coalition should not collapse entirely. They believe any government is better than none, fearing yet more violence.

Mr Annan may intervene again. Within a few months, unless the domestic courts deal with the matter properly, he promises to hand over to the International Criminal Court the names of ten people considered by a special Kenyan commission to be responsible for the post-election violence. The removal of these figures from Kenya’s politics, and even from the cabinet itself, might give a useful jolt to the country’s dysfunctional political system.