Delaware’s junior Senator says Africa has a great potential for economic prosperity.
Chris Coons’ time in Africa during his college years became campaign fodder in his race for the Senate seat he now holds, mostly due to his comments about returning to the U.S. as a “bearded Marxist.” But Coons’ involvement and interest in African affairs has not stopped since those days. Delaware’s junior Senator now serves as the chairman Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs.
Monday morning, he visited the Jewish Community Center near Wilmington to talk about the issues facing the continent along side Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service.
Coons told the crowd about how U.S. policy has shifted, for the better in his view, when it comes to giving aid to African nations. He says the shift has moved “from the Cold War model, where frankly allegiance to the United States and the UN and refusal to partner with the Soviets was really the sole conditional requirement. To today one that says we hope you will continue on a journey towards a more progressive, more open, more democratic economy and society, and if you will, we will partner with you.” Coons says now the prerequisites for assistance include “commitment to the rule of law, to transparency, to democracy, to appropriate inclusion of women in public life, to an open media.”
Ruth Messinger encouraged the group to donate money to aid groups instead of sending supplies they may have around the house. “They don’t need your old leftover jar of olives.” She says the American Jewish World Service doesn’t send a large contingent of workers into Africa. Instead, they allow the Africans to take charge of helping their fellow countrymen. “People all over the world are in fact equally made in the image of God. They all know very much what they are about, how they want to make change, what work it is that they want to do.”