Hillary Clinton has reverted to a favorite meme for her party, voter suppression.
What makes her rhetoric fall flatter than a sheet of paper involves Clinton’s failure as secretary of state on the matter of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. If voting rights really matter to her, why did Mrs. Clinton neglect them when she was secretary of state?
Mvemba Phezo Dizolele wrote an analysis, Hope but no Change, for Foreign Policy Magazine in 2012:
“[T]he Congolese spoke out against corruption and violence through a contentious election marred with allegations of fraud, logistical deficiencies, and violence. Yet, throughout the electoral debacle, the State Department showed little commitment to the fairness or transparency of the process. When the pro-Kabila majority in parliament passed a constitutional revision that scrapped the two-round presidential election for a one-round process more favorable to the incumbent, the U.S. Ambassador James Entwistle called it an internal affair.”
What could the US secretary of state have done and, to channel Mrs. Clinton, What difference does it make?
As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton could have implemented her own law, one she and President Barack Obama pushed as senators. That law, the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006, was passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush. It gave specific powers to the secretary of state:
“(b) Termination of Assistance- It is the sense of Congress that the Secretary of State should withhold assistance otherwise available under this Act if the Secretary determines that the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is not making sufficient progress towards accomplishing the policy objectives described in section 102.”
In 2012 the United States, on Mrs. Clinton’s watch, sent billions of dollars in aid and assistance to the DRC.
One cause of concern among human rights activists involves ‘conflict minerals’, resources accessed via deals with warlords. Congress added text to the Dodd-Frank bill in 2010 to address that, placing the burden of figuring out the composition of materials on US businesses. Even a trace amount of something like tin can cause serious problems for manufacturers. Just as with the ambiguous Lacey Act (and its amendments), the burden of proof is on the user, not the supplier. By most accounts, the Dodd-Frank bill has done nothing to quell the violence in DRC.
Here’s what makes Mrs. Clinton’s rhetoric even more pretentious. In his book Clinton Cash, Peter Schweizer relates the Clinton Foundation’s donations from a “reclusive Swedish mining investor” who “cut deals with African warlords and dictators to gain access to valuable minerals and oil.” This investor was investigated for years for “complicity in ‘war crimes’” but in 2012 the charges were dropped. Not one media worker has asked Mrs. Clinton why the Clinton Foundation would take money from this donor who, said Schweizer, was making “staggering profits” in the Congo. [164-170]
Mrs. Clinton, said Schweizer, saw to it the “status quo was preserved” in DRC despite her ability to make changes via the act she and Obama sponsored. The status quo benefited the investor who pledged $100 million to the Clinton Foundation.
Hillary Clinton may hope to whip up US election turnout by making people imagine their voting rights are being suppressed. It stands to reason that US media should ask her why, if voting rights matter as a principle, voting rights didn’t matter at all to her in a country where so many have died, no one can even agree on a figure for the number of victims of murder or rape. Most agree there are millions of victims.
Freedom of expression remains taboo in DRC.
A State Dept. official traveled to DRC last week. He “raised the importance of credible, timely elections that respect existing constitutional provisions, including provisions on term limits.”
Mrs. Clinton, President Obama, and current secretary of state John Kerry are mum. No one knows why none of them implemented a law that, unlike the foolishness in Dodd-Frank, might actually make a difference. Rights appear to be important to these political figures only on the US stump, not in the sense of a holistic philosophy borne of real love for liberty, or honesty, or for that matter, voting rights and the integrity of the election process in general.
With Mrs. Clinton, it would be far easier for media to quiz her about what she didn’t do as secretary of state. Thus far, no one seems able to say what she did do.
(Analysis by Kay B. Day/June 8, 2015)
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