The Scanner-International Edition, 11/14/08 (Insight into Obama’s Background, the Luo of East Africa; The Unrecognized Foreign Policy Work by Bush that Will Help Obama; How the Occupation of Iraq May Look in the Future)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Here are a few international stories that have caught my eye over the last few days. The first one gives a detailed background on Obama’s roots, including some of the reputed personality traits of the Luo’s that are evident in Obama. If you think that Bush was in Obama’s camp before the election, the second story may give you even more things to think about. Obama will be taking credit for a lot of the groundwork laid by Bush. The final story discusses some developments that might affect the future of Iraq that the reader might be unaware of.


From The East African, Kenya:

An ‘irresistible, awful, marvellous people’: The Luo of East Africa


Obama’s name is unavoidable anywhere, but when pronounced at Mpaaro, thereis an added urgency to its sound…

It is not altogether fanciful to say that, some 628 years ago, a time barely thought of now, the seeds of Obama’s ascendancy to the world stage were sown here.

Dates and facts are hard to pin down, details are much disputed. But it was here that a Luo man, perhaps one of Obama ancestors, changed for good the world of his time.

The scale was smaller, distances were not so great, but the assumption of power, in the year 1380, over the lands that now comprise Uganda by one Rukidi Isingoma-Mpuga Labongo, son of Olum, leader of the migrating Luo who entered Uganda from Sudan towards the last decades of the 14th century, set in motion cultural-political changes whose impact echoes in many of the conflicts still taking place in northern Uganda and the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

For Andrea, as indeed for scholars and guardians of the traditions of Bunyoro-Kitara, the emergence of Obama was marked by a polish, drive and determination that had not been seen before in this part of the world.

“These were men of substance,” Andrea says of the Luo aristocracy that invaded and occupied Bunyoro. “They were very, very intelligent. They were generous. The people liked them.”

Historians speak of the “immense impact” that the Luo migration had on the societies they passed through.

Historian and Catholic priest, J.P. Crazzolara in his foundational study, The Lwoo (1950), writes hyperbolically, “They marched on and came upon people who trembled at their sudden appearance. The Lwoo were at sight the absolute arbiters of this population, who had no time left to think and try to repel such an unexpected mass of invaders.”

He describes them as an “irresistible, awful, marvellous people” that “spread (their) shadow” over the older areas of western and southern Uganda.

The displacement of former rulers and inhabitants by this “appearance” is said to be partly responsible for the ethnic pressures and traumas afflicting eastern Congo, for those who lost out in those years were never to regain their footing and continue to be landless, stateless peoples to this day.

Crazzolara’s heraldic language over-privileges Luo achievements, yet 2008, emerging as a hyperbolic year for Africans, is on a scale Obama’s Luo ancestors would never have dreamt of scaling on the plains of Sudan, Uganda and Kenya.

The year started on a bad, but well-publicised note. With the horribly botched Kenyan election, the word “Luo” started to circulate internationally.

Barrack Obama’s candidature would bring in the phrase “son of a Luo father.”

On a smaller scale, outside Kenya, President Yoweri Museveni, in the middle of a face-off with the kingdom of Buganda, sought to reduce the Kabaka’s standing by publicly stating that the latter was a Luo.

Much of the descriptions made of the Luo are stereotypes like those applied to any other ethnic group, but unlike other ethnic groups in the region, the Luo are spread across five countries, forming a continuous chain that runs 1,200km from Sudan to the southern shores of Lake Victoria.

Crozzolara’s contradictory label “awful and marvellous” points to a central Luo paradox: Their descendants’ occupation of Uganda’s thrones contrasts with the depths of their suffering in wars in northern Uganda, southern Sudan and southwestern Ethiopia. The pendulum of Luo history has swang dizzyingly from immense success to immense failure.

However, to traverse this 1,200km is to be overcome by the similarities in the physical, cultural and personal characteristics of the Dinka, Nuer, Anuak, Shilluk, Wau, Acholi, Lango, Alur, Padhola and Kenyan Luo.

The numerous elders along the trail keep track of their kith and kin.

It is an identity with real cohesive power that can break out in a visceral possessiveness on discovering each other.

It grips, whether felt at the entrance of a tomb in one country, or in victory jigs on the streets of Kisumu.

Spread across centuries and continents, similar descriptions are made of their leaders as “intelligent,” “socialist,” “generous,” “driven,” “aggressive…”

Indeed, putting aside for the moment the adjective-defying import of Obama’s achievement, the weird thing is that his oratorical skills, penchant for the extravagant and appeal to the crowd are right out of the standard caricature of a Luo politician.

Descriptions of Obama sound like a recycling of phrases used of men like the Odingas, Tom Mboya, Apollo Milton Obote, Kabalega and Labongo before him.

For East Africans, seeing Obama reduce crowds to tears is oddly reminiscent of Ugandan independence leader Obote, a man said to be devastating with a microphone.

Indeed, Obama, who rose to fame through his “mobilisation skills,” was himself literally the (accidental) product of the mobilisation skills of a man with whom he shares his ancestry, Tom Mboya. It was Mboya who sent Obama Sr to the US.

There are many barroom jokes in Nairobi now. The funnier one is that when McCain elected to deliver his nomination acceptance speech to a modest, indoor audience, and Obama went for a mammoth event, it was typical of the “outsized” egos of Luo politicians.

“When I see Obama, I see a typical Luo man,” says Kenyan anthropologist Othieno Aluoka.


From Inter Press Service News Agency, Italy

U.S.: Obama Foreign Policy May Not Require a Clean Break

Analysis by Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON, Nov 10 (IPS) – While much of the world and many of his U.S. supporters are expecting a sharp break with his predecessor’s foreign policy after President-elect Barack Obama takes office Jan. 20, they may be surprised by the degree of continuity between the two administrations.

That continuity — which would be made more concrete if, as expected, Pentagon chief Robert Gates is asked to remain at his post — has less to do with Obama’s hesitation in following through on his more sweeping campaign promises than with the fact that President George W. Bush, has quietly — if grudgingly — moved key U.S. policies in directions that are largely compatible with Obama’s own intentions.

n addition to earning Obama great goodwill overseas, all of these steps will help dramatise the contrast between his more open and inclusive approach to the world and that of his predecessor, whose unilateralism and cowboy image have brought Washington’s standing among foreign publics to an all-time low.

To be fair, however, that image — so richly earned during his first term when neo-conservatives and other hawks ruled the roost — is somewhat outdated. Chastened by the Iraq war and guided step by halting step by the foreign policy realists, notably Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Gates, and his top military commanders, who have come to dominate the last two years of his presidency, Bush has essentially — if not explicitly — laid the groundwork for Obama’s “new dawn”, especially with respect to key crisis areas that are certain to figure near the top of the new president’s agenda.

Despite loud protests and repeated efforts by hawks around Vice President Dick Cheney to deep-six the process, for example, Bush has stuck by Rice and her top Asia aide, Christopher Hill, in making the necessary concessions to keep the “Six-Party Talks” to de-nuclearise North Korea alive.

Similarly, Bush broke his own diplomatic embargo on Iran — along with Pyongyang, the last surviving member of the “Axis of Evil” — by sending a senior State Department official, Undersecretary of State William Burns, to sit down with his Iranian counterpart as part of a larger meeting including other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany last summer. Significantly, Burns will serve as the State Department’s chief liaison with Obama’s transition team.

The administration also appears close to announcing that it intends to set up an Interests Section in Tehran even before Obama takes office. Such a step will no doubt make it far less controversial for the new president to open comprehensive, high-level talks with Iran without conditions when he chooses to do so (possibly after Iran’s presidential elections in June so as to avoid boosting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chances of re-election).

And after effectively ignoring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for nearly seven years, Bush finally re-launched peace talks at Annapolis last November. While those talks have made little progress and now, with Israeli elections scheduled for February, have no hope of reaching an accord by the time Bush leaves office, he will bequeath, as Rice, the effort’s most dogged booster, noted this weekend, a process that Obama can use to fulfill his promise to make a two-state solution an urgent priority.

Even on Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush has helped lay the groundwork for Obama’s plans to accelerate the withdrawal of combat troops from the former and rapidly deploying more to the latter, which the president-elect has long argued, unlike the incumbent, constitutes the “central front in the war on terror”. By acquiescing in a still-pending accord with the Iraqi government, Bush has also accepted a 2012 deadline for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops — not just its combat forces, which Obama has pledged to withdraw by mid-2010.

As for Russia, whose intervention in Georgia last August brought bilateral ties to their lowest ebb since the end of the Cold War, Bush, like Obama, has acted with relative restraint, particularly compared to the urgings of Obama’s Republican rival, Sen. John McCain.

And while his insistence on deploying missile-defence systems in central and eastern Europe is clearly more provocative than Obama’s cautious ambiguity on the subject, Bush has also moved in recent days both to address Moscow’s concerns and lay the basis for a new accord on sharply reducing U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, something that Obama is expected to make a high priority in the early days.

In other areas, Obama’s engagement strategy is likely to build on more positive achievements by Bush that have not received nearly as much attention as his “war-on-terror” debacles: most notably in East Asia, where, to the aggravation of the hawks, good ties with China have not only been preserved, but enhanced; India, where the new nuclear deal capped a rapidly growing strategic relationship; and much of Africa, where Bush’s five-year-old, 15-billion-dollar AIDS programme, strongly endorsed by Obama, is given credit not only for saving millions of lives, but also for making the region the most Bush-friendly by far, according to recent public opinion polls.


From Inter Press Service News Agency, Italy

IRAQ: U.S. Pushes In Their Excellencies

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

CAIRO, Nov 7 (IPS) – More than five years after the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, Arab capitals are beginning to send ambassadors to Baghdad. But some Egyptian commentators question the timing of the move, which they attribute to pressure from Washington.

“Arab governments originally wanted a full withdrawal of foreign forces and a stable security environment before sending ambassadors,” Ahmed Thabet, political science professor at Cairo University, told IPS. “Yet the pending U.S.-Iraq security agreement promises to turn the current military occupation of Iraq into a constitutionally sanctioned one.”


“Many Iraqis see this new Arab diplomatic drive as against their national interests,” added Thabet. “They see it as little more than a U.S. attempt to legitimise the occupation and bolster Arab support for the unpopular government in Baghdad.”

Thabet (Ahmed Thabet, political science professor at Cairo University) went on to say that some Iraqis fear recent Arab diplomatic activity “could eventually lead to the replacement of foreign occupation troops with a pan-Arab peacekeeping force to police Iraq.”


27 Responses

  1. Thanks, IA, I will be having more nightmares after reading this post. Seriously, this is an extremely interesting post. You’ve done us all a service. The old expression ,”it’s in the blood” comes to mind.

    ””An irresistible, awful, marvellous people” the Luo of East Africa that “spread (their) shadow” over western and southern Uganda.””

    Obama is not irresistible to me, but has proven to be to an awfully lot of people that I wouldn’t think would ordinarily be affected. (Or should I say INFECTED?)
    He has certainly spread his shadow over this country.

    So Obama is seen as a typical Luo man by Kenyan anthropologist Othieno Auloka. Since the Luo have usurped the thrones and the lands of “Sudan to the southern shores of Lake Victoria”.

    Can we expect Obama’s decendants to usurp the lands and the political offices in America “from sea to shining sea?” Of course, we son’t be around to see it but will our decendants be RULED by Luo in time?

    “America The Beautiful” will be no more.

    God willing, in four years we will have a different perspective.

    Thanks again IA, as usual you’ve filled in the blanks for us. Keep up the good work.

    As far as foreigh policy is concerned, I think it will just be a continuation of GWB’s administration.

    It isn’t over in Iraq and we could be in for some really tough times there. Especially if the U.S. tries to make the country into nothing but a suburb of Saudi Arabia. Bush’s buddy up with the Saudi royal family has always been a problem with many people, (me included).

  2. Thanks, Lee…Amazing how no one else cares to comment on foreign policy!! So critical and SO under-reported here in the US!!

  3. well over at New Agenda & Allegra’s Corner the word is that Hillary is being considered for Secretary of State (gawd I hope not! we need her in the Senate) this should be interesting. If she accepts this, or any other flunky job in this new regime, then we know she sold out & drank the kool-aid. But if she sez, no thanx, I will continue to serve the people of the great State of New York, or something like that, the there’s a chance that she & Soros are playing Barky. Even if she’s not, if she has the sense God gave a flea, she’ll stay away from this trainwreck. The economy’s gonna send it down the tubes.

  4. Hi, sonrisa…yes, we’ve been hearing this…It may just be another of Obama’s “floaters” as he did with the VP slot until they revealed she hadn’t even been vetted…

    Then again…who knows what DEAL she struck with this crowd, and if she brings Bill along, they get him, too. Many retreads from the Clinton crew in this Administration either named or floated.

    My Obamabot “friend” hated the Clintons because she said it was all about “power’ and Barky was SOOOO different. Well, there’s no difference as far as I can see, except more experience where it counts…which was my only reason for switching over to Clinton during the primaries. Then the insults came and I hooked on pretty strongly because of the misogyny.

    As of now, I like Palin better than any of them, on a personal level. But, she’s smart and cagey and ambitious so I’m sure she’ll develop into even more of a professional pol if she wants to stay on the national stage.

  5. I like Sarah too, & hope she runs- & wins- in 2012. I agree she’ going to have to becom more of a pro in order to do that, but hey, she’s got 4 years.

    Over at Hillbuzz thay think Hillary would mahe the perfect Secretary of State. Me too- in somebody else’s administration. The economy’s gonna sink this one- & Hillary’s chances to run for Prez again. I mean, did anybody from the Hoover Administration become Prez? (no Grail don’t answer that!) Besides, we need Hillary fighting for us in the Senate championing her projects, not Barky’s. Let Kerry be SoS. He reached the pinnacle of his career 4 years ago, & he’s not rebounding back up anytime soon. And he wants the job. I believe Hillary indicated she’d rather stay in the Senate.

  6. now Ah-nold wants Hillary to be SoS. Jeez, the Terminator so scared of Hillarey he wants her under Barky’s thumb? DON’T DO IT HILLARY!!!!

  7. It could be just the opposite. Don’t forget that he’s originally Austrian (and a true Citizen of the World) and still has ties to Europe. He may be concerned about Obama blowing it totally on the international scene and wants a stable commodity like Hillary handling foreign relations. It’s just a bonus (for him) that she’ll likely have no political career when Obama’s done with her.

  8. well if he’s a True Citizen of the World then shouldn’t he be SoS? He’s a Kennedy-by-marriage too. Yes, I think Ah-nold should be SoS….

  9. well if he’s a True Citizen of the World then shouldn’t he be SoS? He’s a Kennedy-by-marriage too. Yay-es, I think Ah-nold should be SoS….

    seriously, he’s Austrian born so he can’t run for Prez. His only other options are the Senate (which Boxer & Feingold apear to have locked up) or a high profile cabinet position. I think Uncle Teddy should talk to Barky about this. Really.

  10. well if he’s a True Citizen of the World then shouldn’t he be SoS? He’s a Kennedy-by-marriage too. Yay-es, I think Ah-nold should be SoS….

    seriously, he’s Austrian born so he can’t run for Prez. His only other options are the Senate (which Boxer & Feingold appear to have locked up) or a high profile cabinet position. I think Uncle Teddy should talk to Barky about this. Really.

  11. once again, I didn’t mean to post 3x. I was trying to add to & then edit my 1st comment. IA can you put an edit button on here?

  12. Don’t worry about it sonrisa….I can’t put an edit button in…
    If you have an account with WordPress you might be able to edit your posts…you’d have to check it out, though. I don’t know if that’s really true or not…You don’t have to have a blog to have a WP account….

  13. thanx. I’ll look into that

  14. Sonrisa,

    It made it 3x more interesting!

  15. Sonrisa,

    If Obama is actually inaugurated, that will likely clear the way for Arnold to be POTUS. If one Naturalized Citizen is allowed, then the Constitution becomes null and void anyway.

    Check out this lawsuit – it covers everything Phil Berg didn’t:

  16. I suspect the Justices (like the jugdes before them) don’t really want to touch this one. The Obamatons don’t want to useat their Fuhrer, & repugs, along with the judges Kennedy owns, want to keep things fuzzy jic, Ah-nold should decide to run for Prez some day.

    the more I think about it, Uncle Teddy may be behind Hillary being SoS, in which case it could be a bona fide offer. He dosen’t want to offer her a subcommittee chair becuz he doesn’t think she’ll be in the Senate very much longer. And all these NY pols (all men to my knowledge) are lining up for her seat making it appear that it’s more than a rumor. Then there’s Ah-nold’s just a tad to hasty endorsement of the idea. Maybe Uncle Teddy wants Hillary out of the Senate & sidelined in State & is using Ah-nold as the family mouthpiece on the matter. As you say, he has ties both here & in Europe, so his good word would have more currency, at least publicly- I’m sure Ted has plenty of currency behind the scenes. They say Rahm Emmanuel doesn’t want the CoS job either, but he’s a good little Daley & does what his Bosses tell him to do. Hillary isn’t a cog in the Machine so other measures have to be utilized to put the heat on her, such as all this public speculation.

    imho, Hillary’s between a rock & a hard place. She can stay in the Senate, pissing off Teddy (not to mention those MEN who wanted to advance their careers by taking her seat) & probably being his whipping girl. Or she can bite the bullet & take the booby prize (which, fo her, is really what it is) & be Barky’s whipping girl. When’s your next gubenatorial election Grail? It occurs to me that if it’s in 2010, Hillary could take Barky’s pathetic bone, then resign in the spring in order to concentrate her efforts on running for the Govenorship of NY. If she wins, she’s running her own show in NY, but even if she loses she could still be a high profile member of the Democratic Party Look at Edwards- out of office for 4 years, & still made a serious bid for the Presidency, & now he appears to be making a comeback from that baby flak last summer (since when is the National Enquirer considered serious journalism anyhow?) Not being under Barky’s thumb, or having to schmooze in the Senate, Hillary could be a truly independent voice in the Party. The hard part of this is maintaining her base while out of office- she could do this by fundraising for other women Congressional/Gubenatorial candidates, & like Bill, go on the lecture circuit. Hillary’s scrappy, she’ll find away to keep herself in the public eye. But I’m hoping she keeps her Senate seat & takes on the boyz who don’t want her there. Ted has cancer. His time is um, limited. If she perseveres she will prevail.

  17. all that said I have a sinking feeling she’ll be cornered into taking SoS, like a prisoner on a ship being forced to jump the plank. I just hope she’s finds a suitable out before the ship goes down.

  18. I was just over at NQ reading the post with all the IMAGINES and How GLORIOUS IT WILL BE…if the Guardian story is true.

    Frankly, it could just be a great combo of Barky and the GOP screwing her during confirm hearings, a joint effort to get rid of the Clintons. Why would they play with bunch of creeps??

    I think she’s just a hack if she accepts…to serve as this creep’s pleasure? The guy who disrespected you (and us) for months on end? TO PROP HIM UP????

    She’s acting like an abused woman again. She took the crap from Bill and is going to take it from Obama? IS THIS REALLY A GOOD EXAMPLE for women?


  19. PS…MSNBC supposedly getting big $$$ as a reward for supporting Obama and they’re trashing Clinton like crazy on Hardball…WTF????

    Pinkerton: MSNBC Backs Obama, Gets $139 Billion Gov Guarantee

  20. Sonrisa,

    It’s a 4-year term, and Spitzer was just elected before he was forced out of office, so the next contest would be 2011.


    I’m hearing the same things this AM about the SOS deal. I have to be honest here – I’m going to watch this play out. I have already prepared myself to cut Clinton loose if she goes to Team Obama, so it’s not really a worry for me. I’ll wait and see what she’s got in mind. If something happens with one of the SCOTUS suits (which I fully believes she knows the details on), it might not be that bonehead a move. If Obama is inaugurated on 1/20/09, it really won’t matter what happens to her – I’ll have bigger fish to fry.

  21. GRL,

    Re the NBC/GE payoff: are you surprised? The first of what I’m sure will be many to come, either in cash or beneficial legislation. We are talking huge volumes to pay back Obama’s massive campaign “chits”!

  22. Hi, gang!

    Glad we’re all on the same page with this CRAPOLA!!

    61 spams today…and I have to check them all to make sure no one gets “caught” …sometimes long URLS do it, sometimes unknown things…Leslie knows about that…For some reason they’ve really spiked up over the last few days…

    Tiny URL may help, just so you know, just in case….converts long URLS to short…

    As for Edwards…he ADMITTED his affair, but after a bunch of lying and we still don’t know if that kid is his…he spoke at Indiana U. a couple of weeks back…still on the poverty riff….

    To think I originally supported him..I’m so SICK of them ALL!! I went to bed SEETHING LAST NIGHT about another issue the Dems punted on …Medicare part D…will be ranting about it one of these days….

  23. Grail, I bet that SCOTUS thing goes NOWHERE…they’re all in the tank, one way or the other…The conservatives won’t touch him because I’m convinced Wall St. still stands to make money or just fix their balance sheets with the bailout money (as explained by Trump about a week ago…does nothing to help the little guy who’s lost a bundle, like ME) in spite of the mess we’re in in and GInsburg etc. will go along because of how “collegial” they all are…besides, they can’t interrupt the army already writing out the Inaugural Ball invitations!!!!!
    Of course, I hope YOU are right, not me!!!!

  24. GRL,

    I don’t actually hold out much hope, either, but it’s all we’ve got in terms of saving the Constitution (IMO).

    I did read an interesting comment somewhere that Chief Justice Roberts might not be too comfortable swearing Obama in, since his doing so makes him a criminal and guilty of treason. Of course, that assumes that there will ever be any law in this land other than Obama’s roolz…

  25. […] Insight Analytical – the unrecognized foreign policy that will help Obama (Bush’s) WASHINGTON, Nov 10 (IPS) – While much of the world and many of his U.S. supporters are expecting a […]

  26. well I’m not surprised about the MSNBC bribe, & I’m sure there’s lot’s more of them too. Typical Daley MO- bribe, bribe, bribe! Right up there along with vote early & often, & vote for the dead since they can’t vote for themselves.

    wonder what sort of bribe they’re offering Hillary. Get ready to cut your Senator loose Grail. I already have- at least I’ve cut President Hillary loose. Someday a woman will be Prez, but unfortunately, thanx to the Daley’s & the frat boyz over at the DNC, it won’t be Hillary. They not only trashed her they’ve even managed to trash her legacy- yes schoolgirls, some day you too can run for Prez if you weant to, but you’re only good enough to be a secretary. And nothing more. F those bastards.

    as for Hillary herself, I’m not gonna pass judgement. I’m not Hillary, so I don’t know what she knows. But from what I can see she can keep her Senate seat & piss off Ted & anybody else who wants her outta there. They can retaliate by marginalizing her in the Senate, thwarting every bill she trys to introduce. She will probably piss off the NY pols for not giving up her seat so they can further some MAN’s political career. If she really is eyeballing the Governor’s mansion in Albany, this is not good. And they may retaliate by running their boy against her in a primary when she comes up for re-election. Then there’s all this public hoo-hah putting the heat on her to take State. Lord only knows what pressure the Daley’s are putting on her behind the scenes. I’d say she’s pretty much boxed in. If I were Hillary, I wouldn’t go into that viper’s nest without an exit strategy, so for her sake I hope she has one, & uses it before they can use her.
    Hillary’s scrappy. Sorta like the 1st Queen Elizabeth who told them they could turn her out in her petticoat & she’d still find a way to survive & make something of herself. I think Hillary’s the same way.

    now onto frying those bigger fish….

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