August 21, 2008

HARRISONBURG—Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, was featured today on a Voice of America (VOA) news segment on the party platforms to be unveiled at the upcoming Democratic and Republican national conventions.

Washington-based VOA correspondent William Eagle reports:

J. Peter Pham is the director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University outside Washington, DC. He's also an adviser to the Republican Party on African issues.

“ In the platform of 2000,” says Pham,”AGOA was supported, though it was an initiative that had been begun under Clinton. The Republican Congress subsequently renewed and extended it. The platform also called for new aid mechanisms that reward [a country’s] progress on objective indicators [such as good governance and economic reform]. [That effort led to the creation of] the Millennium Challenge Corporation, [which makes development] funds available to countries that show significant progress.”…

Professor Peter Pham says the Republican platform will also renew the party's commitment to free trade and open markets, including a show of support for the Doha Round of global trade talks. They have stalled partly because the developing world has not removed trade barriers that protect their agricultural markets from cheaper imports. Also, Western countries have not removed subsides to their farmers.

“Senator McCain has not hidden that he opposes farm subsidies. He was one of 22 senators to vote against the current agriculture bill. His position is quite clear. Republicans [at the convention] from agricultural states will beg to differ, and they will have to work out language that states the party position in a way that is acceptable to suit both the candidate and the majority of the party.”

Also interviewed in the segment were Dr. Witney W. Schneidman, former deputy assistant secretary of state for African Affairs in the Clinton administration and the unofficial advisor on Africa to the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama, and Ambassador Herman J. Cohen, assistant secretary of state for Africa under President George H.W. Bush.

To read a transcript of or to listen to an audio stream from the entire VOA segment, click here.