In the midst of the Democratic effort to overturn an election result–also known as impeachment hearings–you could be forgiven for missing an important Trump administration victory in Africa. It shows how the Trump administration’s approach to foreign policy can pay dividends and improve human rights around the world.
Last week, Cameroon’s parliament introduced a bill and held a special session designed to make progress toward peace. The heart of the years-old conflict in Cameroon is the divide between its English-speaking and its French-speaking population. Last week’s actions by the Parliament are significant. Not only is the government reorganizing itself to push more authority and control down to the local level, but they also made a meaningful series of changes to allow French and English-speaking people equal access to government resources. Because of this legislation, hundreds of bilingual interpreters will be hired to help people who speak either language. The bill even revised the judicial system to make sure that it could serve French and English-speaking people equally.
The Trump administration deserves credit for this diplomatic win. They’ve been applying pressure and encouraging changes in the right ways to get the Cameroonian government to take these actions, and now, the government has shown meaningful progress.
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Would this all have happened without the Trump administration’s efforts? Perhaps. But it’s worth pointing out that no similar pieces of legislation were floated or special sessions held during the Obama administration’s tenure. Their approach to Cameroon, and to foreign policy generally, was to “lead from behind.” And that left years of violence and carnage, as well as a fractured Cameroon that seemed stalled in its efforts to promote and advance human rights.
Unsurprisingly, Democrats are attempting to undermine the Trump administration’s work here. Democrat Karen Bass sent a letter to the Cameroonian President this past week, criticizing them further and trying to take the fight to an American ally. That Karen Bass is leading the effort should be no shock: this is the same Karen Bass who has said that she would be open to impeaching the President again if he gets re-elected, just because. That she would attack the President in domestic politics and then try to undermine his foreign policy is par for the course.
Still, the Trump administration’s actions here matter and deserve wider recognition. Cameroon is an American ally, and they are the home of an active US military base. The country is located in a crucial point on the map, nestled in Africa’s western coast. Piracy and terrorism can find fertile ground in this part of the world, and so it’s worth appreciating that the Trump administration was acting in a way that both advances the cause of human rights and helps to advance US geostrategic interest. They’ve proven that it’s possible, in foreign policy, to do good and do well at the same time.