An AMIP News Editorial on President Trump’s January 11 Vulgar Remarks


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There Are No “Shithole Countries” Anywhere: Sorry Mr. President

Just like the United States of America, every single country on earth has its own set of overwhelming challenges, but that makes those countries no “shitholes” at all. If not, the US would be the biggest “shithole” for its painfully frustrating leadership crisis under President Trump. This reflection on President Trump’s reported vulgar comments on January 11, 2018, reaffirms each country’s dignity under conventional international relations norms. There are no “shithole” countries—period. Not Haiti, El Salvador, or a single one of the 55 in Africa.

With respect to Africa, the United States found value in Africa and Africans centuries ago, unfair howbeit. Their history goes way back to 1565, in Saint Augustine, Florida, where several colonists of African descent—both slaves and freemen­—were counted among the first settlers.

Using examples from President Trump’s own first year in office, here are a few reasons why African nations are certainly no “shitholes,” no matter how challenged some of them may be.

August 2017

Representatives of 38 sub-Saharan African countries met US representatives at the 16th AGOA Forum in Lomé, Togo. The theme of the forum was “The United States & Africa: Partnership for Prosperity Through Trade.” The United States delegation certainly did not travel to Togo for a discussion on trade partnerships and prosperity with representatives from “shithole countries.”

September 2017

President Trump met the Presidents of Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, South Africa, and President Alpha Conde, Chairperson of the African Union, in a meeting in New York. Below are excerpts from his remarks delivered at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel.

         “Africa has tremendous business potential. I have so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you. They’re spending a lot of money. But it does — it has a tremendous business potential and representing huge amounts of different markets. And for American firms it’s really become a place that they have to go — that they want to go. I see partners for promoting prosperity and peace on a range of economic, humanitarian, and security issues. Six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies are in Africa. Secretary Tillerson and the US Millennium Challenge Corporation are already considering an investment worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Côte d’Ivoire, which has made impressive economic reforms. Really, you’ve done a tremendous job.”

These were not heads of state of “shithole countries.”

November 2017

The Department of State hosted the 5th annual US-African Union High Level Dialogue, continuing a robust partnership across a broad spectrum of issues. An African Union delegation representing all 55 African nations attended this important event held at the Department of State.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with delegations from 37 countries and the African Union Commission, in addition to representatives from the US and African private sectors and civil society on November 17 and to discuss cooperation in increasing trade and investment, promoting good governance, and countering violent extremism and terrorism.

Secretary Tillerson did not schedule a meeting with delegations from 37 “shithole countries.”

President Trump’s vulgar comments have political, diplomatic, social, and economic ramifications that will play out over time; they also reveal that President Trump only values Africa and Africans when there’s a bounty.


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