What would be the reaction if a politician facing international charges of crimes against humanity offered himself for president?
There would definitely be a public outcry, and neither the Republicans nor Democrats would entertain such a pariah.
Yet a similar scenario has been endorsed by a former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer. She has been agitating for a change of foreign policy by the Obama administration, encouraging its cooperation with two individuals facing crimes against humanity charges by the International Criminal Court. These charges include rape, murder and forceful eviction of civilians.
Frazer, who was George W. Bush’s top diplomat for Africa, has criticized the Obama administration for taking a hard-line stance against Kenya’s controversial elections of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto as president and deputy president, respectively. Both face serious charges from the ICC at The Hague, Netherlands.
Frazer has appeared in various TV interviews and penned opinion pieces in major newspapers asking America to respect the “verdict of the Kenyan voter.” She does not understand the political and social dynamics that influence elections in a poor country like Kenya.
Frazer recently wrote, “‘Innocent until proven guilty’ is a defining principle of all respected legal systems, including that of the United States. Presumption of innocence allows an individual to run, win and hold public office until they are found to be anything other than innocent.”
Before she wrote that, Frazer published another opinion piece in Kenya’s leading daily newspaper, the Daily Nation, in which she criticized her predecessor, Johnnie Carson, for insisting that the U.S. government’s foreign policy on Kenya would significantly shift if the two men indicted for war crimes were elected into office.
I have been unable to fathom Frazer’s wisdom, or lack of it, in her pronouncements.
I asked UMKC professor of Anthropology Shannon Jackson whether establishing university programs to study other societies might better prepare America’s future foreign policy experts to better understand the dynamics of those societies.
“For an American to effectively address global issues, he or she must first understand America,” Jackson said. “We do not teach our students to understand our own culture, economy and politics in order to prepare them to effectively relate well with the rest of the world.
“Any suggestion that a university like UMKC might introduce a center for African studies or Asian or Middle Eastern studies in order to give the students early education on these societies won’t work because of ideological and practical reasons.”
Frazer’s arguments about the political events in East Africa were embarrassing to me because almost none of them reflect the reality.
She claimed in one of her TV interviews that the 1998 terrorist bombings in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, and Tanzania’s Dar-es Salaam targeting U.S. embassies, where 258 civilians were killed and 5,000 injured, came from Somalia.
Soon after the attack, according to CNN.com, the Clinton administration launched cruise missiles targeting Sudan and Afghanistan where then Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was suspected of harboring terrorist training cells that were behind the bombings.
As for Frazer saying she did not see anything wrong with an indicted war criminal being elected president unless he was proved guilty, candidates have been driven out of the presidential race for far less grievous sins.
In last year’s Republican primaries, Herman Cain was forced to drop out after a chain of women came forward to accuse him of sexual impropriety when he was the chair of the National Restaurant Association.
If it is immoral to have a man facing sexual impropriety allegations to remain a candidate for the presidential contest in America, I do not know why the same standards should not apply to an African politician charged with crimes against humanity.