Sunday, July 31, 2016

From the Archives: Virginia Senate hopeful Robert Sarvis talks about U.S. policy toward Africa

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on November 1, 2014. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Virginia Senate hopeful Robert Sarvis talks about U.S. policy toward Africa

The United States should “engage more with Africa,” says U.S. Senate candidate Robert Sarvis, because “there's a lot of human potential there.”

Sarvis is the Libertarian Party of Virginia's nominee challenging incumbent Democrat Mark Warner and Republican Party nominee Ed Gillespie in the election that takes place on Tuesday, November 4.

An economist and lawyer, Sarvis is the author of various policy papers, including "Understanding Public Pension Debt: A State-by-State Comparison" (Competitive Enterprise Institute, 2014) and "The Fiscal Health of the States" (Mercatus Center at George Mason University, coauthored with Jeffrey Miron, 2012).

Wealth creation and prosperity
The LP Senate candidate spoke about U.S. policy toward Africa in an exclusive, one-on-one interview with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner.

Africa, he said, “needs to move towards a policy that is going to enable wealth creation and prospering societies. [Americans] know how to do that. We know how to have growing economies through property rights and the rule of law, contract rights and things like that.”

He added that, however, there is currently “too much corruption over there, there's too much violence.” To counterbalance those conditions, “everything we can do to help public policy there is a good thing.”

Sarvis emphasized that he does not think “propping up governments through foreign aid is the right way to do it.” Instead, “free trade is the best thing that we can do to help Africa and to help countries around the world,” where workers “just want to compete on the global marketplace through wages and through working hard. Our trade barriers,” he said, “are one of the contributors to global poverty.”

Reauthorizing AGOA
His support for free trade, Sarvis said, inclines him to support the reauthorization of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) when it comes up for a vote in Congress in 2015.

“I would certainly prefer a broader policy of just reducing or removing tariffs, period, full stop. I think that's the right thing to do,” he stated.

“All people around the world should have the ability to compete on the global marketplace, and our consumers -- the American people – benefit from reducing tariffs. That's my ideal policy,” he explained, adding that “we'll see how amenable the Senate and the House of Representatives are to that kind of proposal.”

Asked about the expanding military presence of the United States in Africa through AFRICOM and the growing threats of terrorist groups like Boko Haram and al-Shabaab, Sarvis suggested that U.S. policy should be more circumspect.

Governments in Africa “know what they're dealing with and they don't want the terrorist groups to metastasize” any more than the United States does.

“But the problem,” he pointed out, “is that we have created a security umbrella and made implicit promises that mean that [those governments] are not doing enough to maintain their own security.”

What that means, he explained, is that “we're always, generation after generation, having to go in and provide for the security for them. This is something that has to end unless we want to be paying trillions of dollars over the next generation.”

Drugs in Africa
The role of African countries as transit ports in the international illicit drug trade is something that also concerns Sarvis, and he has a solution for it.

“Our drug war has undermined the rule of law and civil society in Latin America,” he noted. “That's also happening in Africa. It's also undermined our efforts in Afghanistan over the past decade.”

Whether in Africa or elsewhere, he explained, “the problem is our war on drugs and anything that we can do to move away from our prohibitionist mentality is going to undermine the violent gangs and organized criminal enterprises that we created” through current drug policy dating back several decades.

Sarvis said that legalizing marijuana in just two states, Colorado and Washington, has already had an adverse effect on drug cartels operating in Mexico.

“We can have beneficial effects around the world by changing our policy at home on drugs,” he asserted.


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