A month after Secretary Clinton’s much-watched trip to sub-Saharan Africa, she’s still receiving accolades for the no nonsense way she spoke about some of the continent’s most troubling and challenging problems, from extremism in Somalia to sexual violence in Congo. Her visits resulted in some lofty commitments from the U.S. government, so it is encouraging to see that policy makers in Washington are following up to see that the diplomatic engagement is backed up with resources.
In a statement for the Congressional Record Wednesday, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) commended Secretary Clinton for what he called “one of the most, if not the most, ambitious trips by a Secretary of State to sub-Saharan Africa in U.S. history.” In particular, he used the opportunity to highlight Senate legislation that would tackle some of the root causes of violence in eastern Congo and neighboring countries, and called on the Obama administration to get ready to engage:
"Secretary Clinton committed to new efforts to help prevent and respond to the high levels of gender and sexual violence, while also recognizing the need to address the root causes of Congo’s crisis, including the exploitation of natural resources by armed groups. Taking action to address those underlying causes is difficult, but essential. Senators Brownback, Durbin and I have introduced legislation that would commit the United States to do more on conflict minerals, and I look forward to working with the administration in this regard. I also look forward to working with the administration to help bring an end to the increasing violence by the Lord’s Resistance Army in northeastern Congo."
As encouraging as it was to watch Secretary Clinton in action during that unprecedented trip, this kind of sustained attention from influential legislators makes one all the more optimistic about the results the attention will yield.
Photo: Secretary Clinton meets with women at the Heal Africa clinic in Goma, eastern Congo. (AP/Roberto Schmidt)