President Obama is visiting Kenya and Ethiopia and as is usual when an American president visits a non-European country, he uses the occasion to point out flaws in those countries’ policies and gives them advice on what they should do to improve. In Kenya he highlighted the way women are treated as second-class citizens and later called for the relaxing of curbs on free speech in Ethiopia, among other things.
This telling of other countries how they should behave used to strike me as patronizing but on second thoughts it is perhaps a good thing. Many countries are blind to their own faults and often suppress critical internal voices so it would be a good thing if the leader of every nation, when visiting other nations, took the opportunity to point out all its flaws and give suggestions for improvement.
The catch is that right now while US leaders feel free to do lecture other nations, leaders of other countries don’t do it when visiting the US. I wonder what the reaction would be if a visiting foreign leader to the US lectured it on its police brutality, its massive rate of prison incarcerations for even minor offenses, its death penalty, its treatment of minorities, its woeful social security net, its terrible treatment of whistleblowers, and its policies of bombing and invading other countries.