Hyperbole Versus Fact: The Real Implications of HR 2015 (2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act)

 

David Elias

06/03/09

 

 

If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

 

 

 

According to Mr. Alemayehu Mariam in his article, Endgame!, dated June 1, 2009, there has been “an extraordinary transformation in U.S. foreign policy” under the Obama administration with the signing of the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act.  Mr. Alemayehu is either grossly misrepresenting the implications of the 2009 appropriations bill to reflect his own failed political agenda or he is hopelessly naïve. Either way, he is wrong.

 

The language of the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act (HR 2015) under the heading International Military Education and Training states that “…funds made available under the heading for assistance for Haiti, Guatemala, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Libya and Angola may only be provided through the regular notification procedures (my italics) of the Committee on Appropriations and any such notification shall include a detailed description of proposed activities:…” 

 

This same language was drafted in the September 30, 2008 version of the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill (HR 2764) with the exception of Nepal.  It states, under the section on International Military Education and Training, that “funds made available under this heading in the second proviso and for assistance for Haiti, Guatemal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Libya, Angola and Nigeria and may only be provided through the regular notification procedures of the Committee on Appropriations and any such notification shall include a detailed description of proposed activities:…” 

 

Under the heading Foreign Military Financing Program, the current appropriations bill states that “none of the funds appropriated under this heading may be made available for assistance for Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Phillipines, Indonesia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haiti, Guatemala, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo except pursuant to the regular notification procedures of the Committee on Appropriations.  HR 2764, drafted in September 2008, reads the same. 

 

The language of the 2009 appropriations act was drafted a full two months before the November election.  How does this bill translate into the “extraordinary transformation in U.S. foreign policy” under the Obama administration, as claimed by Mr. Alemayehu?

 

In fact, what is truly striking here is that the current appropriations act deleted the statement made in the September draft bill that prohibited foreign military funds for Sudan.  Has the Government of Sudan suddenly changed its course regarding Darfur?  Does this signal a change in U.S.-Sudan relations under the Obama administration? 

 

It is easy to leap to a number of conclusions concerning this omission in the legislation.  Getting at the truth, however, takes more research and thinking than Mr. Alemayehu was ready to do before writing his clearly polemical analysis of a rather insignificant section of the 2009 appropriations bill.

 

The opposition’s hyperbole about the significance of this legislation is simply that—hyperbole.  The legislation was drafted before the November 2008 election.  Moreover, in comparing the language and appropriations of the September 2008 draft legislation, the new bill signed by President Obama did not include much of the human rights language in the previous version.  Sudan, Morocco and Equatorial Guinea—three Africa oil producing countries—were essentially given a free pass in the legislation signed by President Obama.

 

Although I used to enjoy reading Mr. Alemayehu’s commentaries, lately it seems he is more interested in showing off his rather extensive knowledge of U.S. popular culture than providing his readers with real substance.  Unfortunately, this is what we have come to expect from the opposition—self aggrandizement at the expense of truth.  The people deserve better.