When we last spoke at the Corporate Council on Africa you were kind enough to invite me to pay a call on you when in DC. As it turns out, I will be in Washington for most of next week, arriving the afternoon of the 16th and returning to Santa Fe the evening of the 20th ( the return is flexible if you were available to see me over the weekend.) I realize that you are traveling this week and possibly into next, but I wanted to reach out to you. As I wrote to you earlier, I am a director for Symbion Power and may soon assume more direct responsibility for all of Africa as Symbion expands there from its current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Symbion’s competitive advantage is its reliance on local partnering and human capacity development in the execution of its projects. Its success in the most difficult and dangerous environments has been very impressive, as the four minute video that Sid gave to you on my behalf demonstrates. We now want to bring that business model and philosophy to Africa where the social entrepreneurship and the development of skilled labor is imperative for Africa’s long term economic prospects, as you have so forcefully articulated in past comments.
The Clinton Foundation story is a little bit disappointing. Of course all kinds of good-and-bad actors were funneling money to the Clintons in hopes that they would get something in return.
The more interesting stories aren’t about what powerful interests did for the Clintons in the hope of favors down the line, but what the Clintons did for not-so-powerful people whom they owed favors.
In 2004, the Millennium Challenge Corporation was set up as a spinoff of USAID to distribute foreign aid in a more transparent and accountable manner and to use the carrot of aid to encourage good government reforms and reduced corruption in recipient countries. For example, from the MCC website:
Which makes it kind of ironic that one of the only real stories to emerge from Hillary Clinton’s FOIA’d emails relate to her likely influencing MCC contracts to benefit veterans of the 1990s Clinton Administration.
Most of us remember Joseph Wilson, the former Ambassador and Clinton national security adviser who went to Africa and wrote a subsequent New York Times op-ed in 2002 denying the Bush Administration’s claims that Saddam Hussein had tried to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger. This was answered by the outing of Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame as a CIA agent, leading ultimately to Scooter Libby (Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff) going to jail. Overall, even if this was immaterial in preventing war, it was politically one of the more successful challenges to the Bush Administration in its first term. Aside from endorsing Clinton in the 2008 Primary and campaigning for her (see photo above from early 2008), Joe Wilson was someone who had done the Democratic Party in general a solid.
In 2008, in the waning days of the Bush Administration, Tanzania won MCC’s largest grant to date, a roughly $700 million award that would be focused in large part on electricity generation and transmission projects. In 2009, Joe Wilson writes to Hillary soliciting help in Symbion’s bid to be the implementing contractor for the project.
In 2010 and on, Symbion wins $100 million in contracts from MCC (overseen by State) for Tanzanian electrification. Hillary visits a Symbion plant in 2011, even as Symbion realize they are in over their head in Tanzania, and need help.