The Atlantic Council of the United States
United States Policy Towards Africa: Lessons Learned
J. Peter Pham
Director, Michael S. Ansari Africa Center
The Atlantic Council
Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1981-1989)
Herman J. Cohen
Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1989-1993)
Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1993-1997)
Constance Berry Newman
Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (2004-2005)
Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (2005-2009)
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Federal News Service
J. PETER PHAM: Good morning. I’m Peter Pham, the director of the Michael S. Ansari Africa Center here at the Atlantic Council. On behalf of our chairman, Senator Chuck Hagel, and our president, Fred Kempe, and our board and members of the Atlantic Council, I’d like to welcome all of you here, and thank you for joining us on this morning for this conversation on United States Policy Towards Africa: Lessons Learned.
We’re very happy and pleased this morning to be sponsoring this program in partnership with the Constituency for Africa, whose president, Mel Foote’ll have a few words to say in a second.
But since 1990, the Constituency for Africa has worked to build a base of support for Africa within the U.S., build a constituency that’s based on education, well-informed members and equipped with strategies. And the Ronald Brown series, which this is a part of, aims to educate stakeholders about the critical issues affecting Africa.
And, in many respects, that dovetails very nicely with our mission at the Ansari Center, which was established to transform U.S. and European policy approaches toward Africa by emphasizing strong geopolitical partnerships, strengthening economic growth and prosperity rather than traditional views of Africa, stereotyped as aid recipient and humanitarian basket cases, although certainly the humanitarian element of our foreign policy is important as well as we recall these days, especially with the famine in the Horn.
The Ansari Center seeks to engage and inform public opinion, especially policy holders, about the strategic importance of Africa. And the mandate from our founder, Michael Ansari, were to be a do thank – a “do tank” rather than merely a think tank, emphasizing practical solutions.
And I think an important part of that is – what we’re doing this morning – is, in order to have practical solutions for the future, we need to also be well-grounded in the realities of the present as well as know the history, the past, the steps that brought us here and on which relations continue to be built and(/or ?) perils that are caused by previous actions or omissions.
So I’m very privileged to be here with this panel. But before I get to the panel, let me turn to Mel Foote, the presidency – the president of the Constituency for Africa. Mel?
MELVIN P. FOOTE: Thank you, Peter.
On behalf of the Constituency for Africa, let me say it’s great to be here. We’re excited about the conversation that we’re about to have.
We’re indeed pleased and honored to be partnering with Dr. Pham and the Atlantic Council. I’ve come to really admire his work and I’ve come to admire the work of the Council. And so this gives us an area that – it – really, a whole other level of discussion. And so we’re really excited that this is part of the 2011 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series.
Our hope in organizing this important forum is nothing short of strengthening U.S. policy and commitment toward Africa. When I look around, I see issues like China and India and terrorism and the youth bulge and HIV/AIDS, as well as democracy and good governance and trade. And all of these issues are on the table.
And I look at the panel of distinguished former assistant secretaries for Africa; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a panel like this before in Washington. And there are Republican, there are Democrat – there might be some other things on this panel, I don’t know – (laughter) – but I can say that, for sure, that they all care very deeply about Africa. They’re all very committed to it.
Africa is on the move, you know. And I think, in order to get a good grounding as to where we ought to go, we ought to hear from where we been and what these people are thinking about a lot of these issues.
So again, Peter, thank you very much for having us as a partner, and we look forward to a very exciting and dynamic conversation. Thank you.
J. PETER PHAM: Thank you, Mel. And it’s really our privilege to work with the Constituency for Africa.
The panel we have this morning, as Mel said, is not only distinguished, but I think almost – I can’t think of an occasion where we’ve had this much experience at – certainly, the number of assistant secretaries, and we’re very grateful and honored for your presence here this morning.
In many respects, the panelists don’t need any introductions. They’re well-known to the policy community. But we’re honored to have Chester Crocker, the assistant – who was assistant secretary from ’81 to ’89, currently the James P. Schlesinger professor of strategic studies at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown;
Ambassador Herman Cohen, assistant secretary from ’89 to ’93 and president of Cohen and Woods International;
Ambassador George Moose, from ’93 to ’97, head of the Africa Bureau and currently vice chairman of the Board of Directors the U.S. Institute for Peace, and one of our own directors here at the Atlantic Council;
Constance Berry Newman, assistant secretary from 2004 to 2005 and currently a special counselor for African affairs at the Carmen Group and still very much engaged in Africa – I know Carmen was just in East Africa working on a number of projects this summer;
And then Jendayi – Dr. Jendayi Fraser. Ambassador Fraser was assistant secretary from 2005 to 2009 and currently is the director of the Carnegie Mellon Center for International Politics (sic) and Innovation.
So without further ado– we’ll move right into the discussion.
And I thought the way we would work this is more or less as a conversation, especially between the panelists, and addressing a number of questions, and then, at the end, opening up to questions from the audience.
And I’d like to start, if I can, with a question, kind of a reflection backwards asking each of our distinguished panelists to reflect on, what was the most significant strategic issue which they had to contend with during their tenure at the head of the Africa Bureau? And that’ll help us, perhaps, moving in chronological order, develop a context for where we are today. So I’ll start with you, Dr. Crocker.
CHESTER CROCKER: Thank you very much Peter. I’m very glad to be here. Somebody in the audience came up before we started and said, well, this is going to be the wisdom of the ages. (Laughter.) And I think that was –
MS. : Yeah. We were offended.
CHESTER CROCKER: – he meant “aged,” but anyway – (laughter).
The challenges that we faced coming into office as the new Reagan administration in 1981 – I’ll mention three, but one I’ll focus on primarily.
One was the cross-border activity and subversion and infiltration of Gadhafi over perhaps 18 or 20 different African countries, a very major, substantial strategic threat to Africa and to Western interests in Africa. And I think we could all be raising a glass to what has just taken place from that standpoint because this has been a very, very negative factor in African politics. We didn’t fix it in the ’80s, but we did some things to stem it and to check it.
The second challenge – I’ll on touch on very briefly – was the economic crisis Africa was facing at the time and the need to try and encourage the process of deregulation and market reform and conditionality, if you like, which affected many of our bilateral relations in the 1980s.
The biggest strategic challenge, I think, that we faced – this is my final entry into the contest – was the combination of South African cross-border destabilization and Soviet adventurism, filling or trying to fill vacuums or cockpits of rivalry in neighboring countries. And this included Zimbabwe, it included Mozambique, it included Namibia. And our goal was to seek – to demonstrate that there was a negotiated alternative to Soviet military adventurism. And there was an alternative to South African cross-border total onslaught type of behavior vis-à-vis neighboring countries.
So that was the backdrop. We had to fix that problem. And, as I will say later, we did something about it.
J. PETER PHAM: Thank you. Ambassador Cohen?
HERMAN J. COHEN: Well, I want to thank you for this – organizing this. I think it’s a very, very useful exercise.
Well, when I came – let me preface my remark by saying that when – my first conversation with Secretary Baker, he said, well, what are your priorities? And I said, well, I want to build on what Chet Crocker did on his agreement to get the Cubans out of Angola and set the stage for the independence of Namibia, so I thought the best thing we could do would be conflict resolution because it was such an impediment – conflict was such an impediment to economic development, and the World Bank and the USAID were already doing an excellent on the economic reform side, so maybe we could do conflict resolution.
So Baker said, well, where do you want to do that? And I said, well, I thought Angola, Ethiopia and Mozambique. And he said, he said, I’m not crazy about that idea. He said, when Senator Helms sees you going to talk to Mengistu in Ethiopia and dos Santos in – he’s going to have a conniption fit. He says, and President Bush does not want to have any trouble with Helms. He said, this is a high priority for him.
So anyway, he says, think about it, and then we’ll come to a conclusion. And so I was really – very discouraged because that was my – you know, my vision.
But anyway, there were two strategic issues facing us. And when I say strategic, it means anything that interests the White House or the secretary of state. That’s strategic, right? (Laughter.) If it – if it doesn’t interest them, it’s not strategic.
OK. So there were two transitions taking place. One was the transition in the Soviet Union, where Gorbachev was in and trying to change things. And the second one was the beginning of the end of apartheid – beginning the transition. And this impact – both of these impacted heavily on what I was trying to do.
We – President Bush issued a fatwa in June of 1989 – (laughter) – and he said, we must all help Gorbachev look good. So we got to help him any way we can. And he sent a message to Gorbachev saying, you know, anything we can do for you in foreign policy.
So within days, I got a call from my counterpart in Moscow saying, Comrade Gorbachev wants to get out of our commitment in Angola in Ethiopia. Can you help us? Of course, I had to say yes, because that – you know, we had the order. And then he said – I said, well, let’s meet right away. And then I said, I’ve never been to Moscow, I’d like to go to Moscow. He said, no we meet in Rome. (Laughter.) You don’t want to come to Moscow.
OK, so that began the process of conflict resolution in Angola and Ethiopia. So I said to Baker, Gorbachev wants conflict resolution in Angola and Ethiopia. He says, great, great, do it. A couple of weeks earlier, he was discouraging me. So it shows where the strategic trumps the policy planning at the sixth-floor level.
The second thing was the transition in South Africa. Everybody was predicting that the new crop of Afrikaner leaders coming in was different and that they would try to change things. We didn’t know what.
So I had my first one-on-one conversation with F.W. de Klerk in Durban in August of ’89. And he laid it all out. He really knocked my socks off. He says, we’re going to release Mandela, we’re going to legalize the Communist Party and the ANC and all that as soon as I get elected. This will be February 1990.
I just couldn’t believe what I was telling me (sic), just one on one. So I said, well, what can I do to help? And he says, please persuade the Congress not to have more sanctions – because they’re full of it now, the sanctions were biting and the –
So I went back. I informed, of course, Secretary Baker and the president. They were delighted to hear all of that. And then the hearing in October on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I persuaded them to hold off on more sanctions. I said, let’s wait ‘till February. Things might change and – (inaudible).
So – and then – but that was just the beginning of the story. After that, we had a midwife, the changeover from apartheid to majority rule. And that took four years.
Baker and Bush were salivating at the idea of being the mediator between the ANC and de Klerk. And they put on a full-court press. We want to be the mediator. But de Klerk and Mandela said, no. We, South Africans, will do it on our own.
But then, something happened. They started negotiating in this CODESA process, and every time they had a breakdown, they were stalled and they couldn’t get any further, where did they go? They went to see Bill Swing, our ambassador. Hey, break the ties, fix it up. And I kept going down to South Africa. Bill Swing kept calling me because in effect, we had become the silent mediator in this process. They didn’t want to give us credit for it and make it open, but we really became – and this was continued with George Moose and Ambassador Princeton Lyman later after I left.
So those were the two big strategic issues that really impacted heavily on what we were doing.
J. PETER PHAM: Thank you, Ambassador. Professor Moose?
GEORGE MOOSE: Thank you, Peter. It’s a – this is a terrific opportunity. I’m not sure about the wisdom of ages, but nevertheless –
What’s remarkable, of course, having heard what Chet had to say and then – and then Hank, is the remarkable – the remarkable threads – continuous threads throughout this period because I think I wound up working on the very same issues that I worked on when I worked with Chet and that I worked on when I worked for Hank. (Chuckles.) But they were at different stages of development or evolution, as it – as it were.
I’m glad that Chet mentioned Libya because frankly, I don’t think Libya got the attention or the blame that it deserved for the havoc it wreaked throughout West Africa, and we are still living with the consequences of the destabilization that Libya caused. And frankly, as a consequence of that, I never did really understand the effort to rehabilitate Libya, even after they allegedly surrendered their nuclear program.
But be that as it may, we are – the reality that I inherited was very much the legacy of the – or much of what happened during the Cold War. The good news, of course, was that Gorbachev did indeed say that the Russians were now willing to abandon some of their old commitments and allies in Africa.
The bad news is, once that lid came off, there were – there – there was no longer, if you will, a, quote, stabilizing force keeping nascent conflicts, mainly internal conflicts under control. And so – and this is a simplification, of course, but I think it’s one that applies not only in Africa but in other parts of the world. But the top, literally, came off.
And a lot of regimes, some of which we had helped to prop over years and some of which the Soviets had propped over the years and which were rotten to the core, began to fall apart under the pressure of their mismanagement, their misgovernment, the lack of democracy, the lack of human rights.
And that manifested itself in conflicts across the continent, exacerbated by the activities of the likes of Gadhafi.
And so when I took over from Hank in April of 1993, we were looking at conflicts in Angola, Mozambique and the remnants of the efforts to try to move them to independence; Rwanda; Burundi; Somalia; Liberia; and potentially South Africa because that process that had gotten under way, starting in 1999 (sic), had not come to fruition, and there was still risk that the whole enterprise of South African peaceful transition to majority rule could come – could come unglued.
And so, there were days when, quite literally, we felt like firefighters rushing from one conflict rushing to another.
The other part of this – and we can come back to this in the conversation – but the other thing you have to appreciate is the backdrop against which all this was taking place because at the end of the Cold War, there were a lot of us who felt that this was a moment. This was a moment, particularly for Africanists, to redirect our energies the – if you will, the unfinished agenda of African political-economic development. Again, because so much had been left undone, we had – the agenda of governance and democracy-building in Africa was very much an unfinished one, and it was unfinished in part because we – many of – many of our colleagues didn’t – and our political leadership – was hesitant about promoting too much change in Africa at a time when we were still in a contest with the Soviet Union and concerned about what the risks were to be if we destabilized some of our friends on the continent.
Well, no – since we no longer had that motivation of the Cold War to constrain us, the opportunity then existed to begin to work on the democratic underpinnings of some of those societies of Africa. But unfortunately, the end of the Cold War here in the United States was marked by a sense that, gosh, we’ve shouldered that burden for, lo, these 50 years, and it’s time for a peace dividend. And by the way, the motivation for us to be so heavily involved in far distant places in the world and particularly in Africa is no longer there.
And so the battle that we fought constantly during this period was a battle for resources; a battle to even maintain the presence that the United States has built up across the continent, to keep embassies open, to prevent the CIA from withdrawing its resources from Africa at a time when we felt those resources were important, to keep aid programs going at a time when we felt it was vitally important, now, to engage on the institution building and the development agenda.
And so that’s the trap that we fell into. And it was and also for that very reason that I found myself working – spending an awful lot of time in Europe. And that was because recognizing that we, as the United States, simply didn’t have the resources to take on those challenges on our own. We needed to try to muster all of the – all of the assistance and cooperation that we could from elsewhere in the world in that, including our European partners and also from the United Nations.
I think at the end of the day we sort of managed. We sort of muddled through. We contained some conflicts, we actually managed to resolve some – Mozambique, I think, is a perfect example of that. They – certainly the crowning achievement during that period was indeed to sustain the effort that Chet and Hank had moved forward to get South Africa across the line to a peaceful transition to majority rule.
So I’ll stop there and I’m sure there are lots of things we can come back to in our conversation.
CONSTANCE NEWMAN: When I was thinking about this question I went through a series of analyses of where did I spend most of my time? Maybe – you can – say you need to look at what the White House asks you to do; where do you go to the meetings – there are number of ways to ask what is the most strategic issue. And it is driven, frankly, by where your time is spent. So I thought, well, I could talk about Côte d’Ivoire, I could talk about Zimbabwe. We did spend time on the DRC. But really during that period Darfur took almost everybody’s time every day.
Now, why was that? I think the first reason was that no one wanted to be on the wrong side of genocide. It’s just pure and simple. People were racing to discuss the issue of genocide. Congress passed a resolution that there was genocide. We had hundreds of meetings, fights, meetings, fights, within the State Department as to whether or not the secretary ought to use the word – even use the word genocide. And he did make the decision to use it. He testified before the Senate that he in fact found that there was genocide there.
So one of the reasons why Darfur, in my view, was high on the list of those policymakers during that time is that no one wanted another Rwanda. And the way in which – they used the term ethnic cleansing; there are different ways that people tried to describe what was going on. But as a matter of fact there were the looting and the killing of people who were different from the Janjaweed – the Arab groups there. So that that issue became one that caused consternation even after the decision was made to identify it as genocide because then the groups came back to the department and said, so what are you going to do about it?
Well, part of what we were going to do about it was to try to get the Europeans and others in the international community in the U.N. environment to also declare it genocide, and then, of course, the actions that would follow. Well, that in fact did not happen. And in fact there was a U.N. commission that found in fact that it should not be labeled as genocide. But, frankly, by that time it got the department past the U.S. political requirement where there was pressure from Congress that has already passed a resolution for the administration to take a similar viewpoint.
The second reason why this was a high priority – a strategic issue was that there had been so much investment in the North-South accord and the – there was a great fear in the U.S. and the U.K. and other parts of the international community that Darfur would derail the progress that had been made on the North-South agreement. It was just about that time that there was – they were sitting down for the final efforts on the agreement. And there was – there was – there were a lot of back-room conversations I, frankly, sat in on where people said, don’t make too much noise about Darfur because one of two things might happen.
One, we might really give comfort to the government saying – giving the government comfort that there would be impunity where human rights violations took place – that concern on one end. On the other end there were representatives of the South who had indicated that if Darfur was not addressed they would not take part in a coalition government – so that there was the balancing of the concern about North-South accord and not wanting to give comfort to the government that there’s impunity with human rights violations on the other hand not wanting to run either side off of the North-South accord.
Finally, it’s – it was an extremely important issue because of the great emphasis on terrorists and concern that in the Horn of Africa there was the potential of the harboring of more terrorists and that if Darfur was not properly addressed, that this could result in the U.S. losing the battle in the Horn of Africa against terrorism. So did we – and we can talk about this a little bit later – did the United States act properly on Darfur? If you read the International Crisis Group and Human Right – some of the watch groups, they would say, no. The U.S. didn’t perform properly.
I contend that it was because of the U.S. – the U.S. pressuring at the – at the G-8, and the fact that the U.S. was the first responder in lifting the African Union forces into Darfur that the U.S. did take a proper lead. It wasn’t enough; it never is enough if there’s a continuation of the strife. But I think that it was a key issue during that period and I think that the United States did perform well. Could it have done more? It could have.
And when we talk later about what do we think we’re the proudest of, I’m going to bring up Darfur again.
JENDAYI FRAZER: Well, thank you and let me congratulate you, Peter and Mel, for putting on this panel. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, and you beat me to the punch and I’m delighted that you’ve done it. So thank you very much. And it’s a real honor to be here.
Just to step back, my perspective as assistant secretary, of course, was informed by having been at the White House at the National Security Council as President Bush’s special assistant for Africa and then having the privilege of serving as ambassador in South Africa. And so I look at my – I look at my job at – as assistant secretary with the perspective of the entire administration and what the policy was trying to do.
My own view was that it was critically important to do institution building. At the White House – at the very beginning of the administration I watched how, not because of any hostility towards the Clinton administration’s Africa policy but rather a different perspective about the role of the different agencies – during the Clinton administration there was an effort to sprinkle Africa through all of the agencies, is the way I would put it.
You know, there was – when you had an interagency meeting there would be 15 or 16 – if that’s how many agencies we have – you know, department representatives – not State Department but from Energy, from Trade, from Education from Commerce from, you know – you know, all of the agencies – from Labor and others.
And that was an important effort of the Africa-ness within the Clinton administration to try to institutionalize an interest because every assistant secretary has to answer the question, well, what are your interests in Africa? Why are we putting any resources or attention towards Africa? So they tried to integrate all of the different departments into an Africa agenda.
When the Bush administration came in – now, this is George W. Bush – there was a sense that maybe some of these agencies should not be working internationally. And, you know, there are certain agencies – State, Defense, Commerce, US – the U.S. Trade Rep, Treasury – that – and USAID of course – that have an international mandate. Others have more of a domestic mandate. Obviously, this is what happens at the beginning of an administration when you’re a little bit naïve and the world has changed. And in fact, many other agencies have an international role to play.
But we sort of rolled back that out of a bigger agenda. So I felt it was critically important to try to institutionalize an Africa interest. And we did it by building institutions – the Millennium Challenge Corporation would be an institution; the Office of Global AIDS Coordination is an institution; frankly, AFRICOM is a new institution – and so that there would be some legacy, you know, we hope that that will last with funding. But that was one approach. And that same sense of institution building I brought with me to the Africa Bureau as well to try to strengthen the Africa Bureau. So that was one of my strategic priorities as assistant secretary.
Like my colleagues, you hear a lot about conflict resolution. And I do believe that the assistant secretary for Africa spends a lot of time on conflict resolution partly because there are other offices within State Department that will carry forth the agenda, for instance, on the PEPFAR or on the economics. Our bureau clearly oversees and watches out for our interests in those functional areas. But what we solely do, which others don’t except for maybe international organization because of the U.N peacekeeping aspect of it, is we work on conflict resolution.
So when I came in as assistant secretary, like Connie says, I had Sudan. Sudan was a priority of the Bush administration from day two, way back in 2001, and it was there at day – the end – the last day of the administration – and we’re still dealing with Sudan. And luckily because of the great work that Connie did with Secretary Powell and others on – in the Africa Bureau, when I first came in in August of 2005, I guess it was, there really wasn’t a genocide going on in Darfur anymore.
The African Union peacekeepers really had deployed. We, the U.S. government, airlifted them in, helped organize them, equipped them. And the level of violence in Darfur had significantly decreased. Nevertheless, just like Connie had to deal with – and more legitimately, I think, early on when, you know, the violence was very high, I had to deal with the whole issue, is it genocide, is it not a genocide. And you can’t really, because of domestic pressure and constituency – both the activist groups, advocacy groups and the Congress – you weren’t allowed to walk back from the point of view that actually there’s no genocide happening anymore in Darfur.
I watched the Obama administration do that same dance, right, where they debated internally can we – is it a continuing genocide, genocide has happened? How exactly do you phrase this? And of course the journalists are pouncing – waiting to pounce on you if you show any signs of having reversed the policy of saying that there’s no genocide. Well, I’m not in the administration so there wasn’t any genocide happening at the end of the 2005 – I can say it unequivocally at this point.
Nevertheless, Sudan did escalate its violence in Darfur in – by 2006, later on. But at the end of the 2005 no genocide was taking place. They went on another military offensive. We see the same thing now in South Kordofan. They’re on another military offensive. And so Sudan was a high priority of strategic importance.
We – I framed our strategic interests in Africa in terms of regional stability and so it wasn’t just country-specific. So Sudan, obviously, had an impact on what was going on in Chad, all the way over to Eritrea, certainly up to Libya, even into Egypt. I mean, it was – it was – the impact that Sudan had both internally in terms of its human rights and humanitarian crisis that it was creating and crisis of governance, but also for the impact it was having on its neighbors.
The other one that I – that I inherited, a lot of good work had been done, and it gives me a different – a little bit of a different perspective about Gadhafi, is West Africa and particularly Liberia and trying to bring that country towards its election, consolidation of peace, and move towards democratic governance with the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. That process continues to be unconsolidated. We know that it takes a very long time.
But at that time I – the Bush administration at the – when I was still with the NSC and Gadhafi – we caught him red-handed with his weapons of – his material for proliferation when we interdicted his ship. One of the criteria for him getting out of the penalty box, as you would put it, is – was that he stopped his destabilization in Africa.
That was an explicit criteria. And most importantly we were looking at Sierra Leone as well as in Liberia. And I watched the intelligence when Charles Taylor sent people to Libya to pick up cash and Gadhafi turned them away. He actually honored that. He created a mess in West Africa and he helped end that mess in West Africa.
And so I think that – you know, I’m very proud and I think it was a strategic importance to deal with the regional crisis, the Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia – Guinea, even – crisis, and, you know, I call it the policy of A to Z – stopping the war, moving toward democratic election and putting our – the – you know, the war criminal in jail – essentially the Sierra Leone special court where he went to The Hague.
And so that was a – that was a heavy amount of time spent on that. The third – the third and fourth area would be Congo – the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By the time I became assistant secretary, for the most part Rwanda and Uganda were out, officially. And we were working on a rapprochement between those three countries through the tripartite-plus mechanism that the U.S. government put in place to try to – plus was Burundi – to try to bring these countries together so that they can work on the common approach of stability in eastern Congo, which of course was undermining stability across the Great Lakes region.
And then the fourth and last and most unfortunate, from my perspective, was of course the Horn of Africa. I went in as assistant secretary determined not to do Somalia. I absolutely had no desire to deal with Somalia at all. I didn’t see that there was any solution there. I did not think it was right for any type of, you know, conflict-resolution approach, nation-building, state-building – whatever you want to call it, I didn’t think Somalia was right for it.
Because of another agency that will go unnamed and their activities, we ended up being right in the middle of Somalia, and the decision was made that we needed to internationalize our engagement in Somalia. Essentially that other agency was narrowly focused on counterterrorism and got in the middle of the unwieldy dynamics of clan, ascendancy, and warlordism, et cetera. And so we wanted to internationalize.
So we established a Somali contact group. I think the idea there was to internationalize it and then pull out, right? And leave it to others, the Nordics and others, the Italians and now the British and others. But we were – they were smart enough to not allow us to get out – (laughter) – and so we stayed stuck. And unfortunately, you know, not to say anything disparaging about the, you know, the importance of the lives of the Somali people, because we had a very robust humanitarian response to Somalia, but from a conflict resolution perspective, then as is, you know, now, we really had to work hard to try to bring some type of, you know, peace process to the fore and obviously it’s not a success, even to this day. And so those were, I think the four: institution building, Sudan, Somalia, Great Lakes and West Africa.
J. PETER PHAM: Well, thank you – (off mic) – Frazer.
I think the one interesting thing out of this conversation so far is the continuity of issues and the – that some of the issues that began with Dr. Crocker are still with us, (even now ?) beyond Dr. Frazer’s tenure.
I’d like to return (a little bit ?). We ask – I asked you to identify your strategic, significant issues that you had to deal with and often those of us who work on Africa issues become very passionate or very, you know, even to the point some of us occasionally get even obsessed on certain areas or topics and see in its importance and then everyone looks at us outside of the Africa stovepipe and wondering if we’ve lost touch with – (set ?) reality or maybe we need some help from people in white suits.
How difficult was it for each of you to get the high-level attention to deal with the priorities that you laid out ? And how did you overcome that resistance or maybe didn’t overcome it? I’d like to throw that open to discuss, you know, that whole policy-making aspect. How do we get attention on Africa?
CHESTER CROCKER: Do you want to start with me?
J. PETER PHAM: (Inaudible) – anyone (who’d want to ?) jump in.
CHESTER CROCKER: I think the way you get attention on Africa is by not overdoing it. It – most secretaries of state and most presidents want to have a limited dose of difficult issues brought to their attention, and so you need to prioritize, and I think all of my colleagues here have discussed precisely that issue of prioritizing.
We had no trouble whatsoever prioritizing the anti-Gadhafi front that we helped to sustain and to support throughout the 1980s. We took pride in the fact that it was not us, but it was the Chadians, with a lot of French support, plus a lot of own discreet support, if I can use that terminology, that destroyed the Libyan armored forces in the northern Chadian desert. But, you know, we got attention for that, and it wasn’t difficult attention for that.
During the final phase of the Cold War, it was not difficult to get attention on things that were seen as part, in some respect, of the global bipolar contest that we were in. And so what we were doing in southern Africa particularly was both regional conflict resolution, and it was East-West problem-solving. That wasn’t hard to get attention and good air cover for that. I think if you look back at that time period, those were some issues that were not hard to get attention for.
When it came time to deal with some of the issues that my colleagues have referenced, about difficult friends – and, boy, did we have some difficult friends – we had Liberia and we had Somalia and we – and we had Zaire and we had Nimeiri in Sudan. So we had our – we had our hands full, and every time some genius in the African bureau– and we had a very good African bureau; I think Jendayi mentioned the institution building; we spent a lot of time building a strong African bureau, recruiting the best people we could find – whenever one of these geniuses came to me and said, you know, we’ve got fix Liberia. We’ve got to do something about Mobutu, you know, I would take that and look at it carefully and, how do we take this upstairs?
How do we take this to the – so I went up to Eagleburger, who was the undersecretary of political affairs and said, you know, Mobutu’s becoming a major problem. And Larry looked at me and said, and so are you! (Laughter.) And then Larry Eagleburger –
J. PETER PHAM: (Inaudible) – a way with words!
CHESTER CROCKER: Yeah, that’s right. And then Larry, who was always was very quick to get to the point said, you know something, Crocker, you can’t replace something with nothing; what is your plan for post-Mobutu? And the same could be said for post-Siad Barré and post-Samuel Doe and so forth.
Because we were in the Cold War era, you don’t simply create an empty chair and wait to see what happens, which way the wind blows and what will – what nature will take its course. You just don’t do that in a competitive global environment. I’m not saying we don’t have a competitive global environment today. We do, but it’s a very different kind of competitive global environment.
You asked in your initial questions about things we’re proudest of and things that we are most disappointed by in our tenure. A just quick word on that: The peace agreements of December of 1988 changed the fortunes of half a continent and set the stage for domestic transformation in Mozambique, in Angola, in Namibia of course, and then –
MR. : South Africa.
CHESTER CROCKER: – and then South Africa. I remember a conversation that I had in my first year as assistant secretary with Julius Nyerere who was counseling me. He was then chairman of the Frontline States. He was counseling me on how I should do my job, and he said, Mr. Crocker, I’m not sure about this linkage idea with Angola and so forth; if you can do it, great, but don’t mess up the Namibian peace process; Namibia comes first; after Namibia, we will do South Africa. And I listened to that because the sequence was exactly right.
MR. : Yeah.
CHESTER CROCKER: And his prediction was exactly right. Once we got those agreements done, for the first time since the Napoleonic Wars, we got foreign troops out of places they had no business being in southern Africa. So that’s – that was an accomplishment that I felt and I feel to this day was pretty fundamental.
Disappointments? Well, if you’re going to do a high-risk, high-reward foreign policy, don’t give it a name. (Laughter.) I would have said “Lesson learned” after – (inaudible, laughter) – but never mind the name, the fact is we got it done, all right? So we didn’t – we didn’t find a way to replace that empty chair in Monrovia. That was a disappointment. It would have been nice to be able to do more about leading towards better governance in some of those – in some of those places.
One final lesson – and I think all my colleagues will speak to it in their own way – is the fact that if you’re going to conflict management/conflict resolution, you need air cover, you need support, you need a mandate, you need to be ready, you need resources, and you need air cover and top-down loyalty. The kind of loyalty we tend to get in our government is bottom-up. You need top-down loyalty. I couldn’t have done what I did without air cover, and I had the best. So –
HERMAN COHEN: Well, Jendayi was talking about all these agencies at the – your embassy and working overseas and how do you cope with that. I remember when I was ambassador in Senegal, I found there was 10 agencies there besides State Department. And my first country team meeting, I said to them, you know, there’s no reason to have turf battles here: CIA versus DIA or Commerce versus Agriculture. I said, we got to unite against the common enemy: Washington. (Laughter.)
MR. : Washington, right!
HERMAN COHEN: So – but anybody – anyway, how did I deal with upstairs? Basically by telling them as little as possible. (Laughter.)
MR. : (Is this on the record ?).
HERMAN COHEN: And sometimes I got into trouble, for example, we reached a final stage of peace agreement in Ethiopia where the – Mengistu had already pulled out, and we had the TPLF and EPLF ready to take power. So the question was how do we bring it to a soft landing without destroying Addis Ababa and that sort of thing?
And I – so Meles Zenawi and Isaias said to me, you should announce the agreement because that’ll have credibility. So this was in London and was – must have been a slow news day because every television camera in the world was there. And so I announced what the agreement was and then the question period, they – which was that Eritrea would have an referendum within three years and – to decide whether they wanted to be independent. And so I announced that, and then in the question period, they said, well, Mr. Secretary, your policy has always been very consistent: Do not allow African countries to split up – is consistent with the OAU policy, and here you are now condoning the splitting up of Ethiopia. So I said, well, you know, this is a special case. Eritrea never had – the people of Eritrea never had the right of self-determination, back – going back to the Second World War and previous. They were always forced into things. So now we approve of this. Well, OK, fine; I gave the answer.
I go back to the embassy, and five hours later Washington wakes up. (Laughter.) And they said, Secretary Cohen, the secretary of state wants to talk to you. I said, oh, my God. So I – so he calls me and he said, I see in the press this morning that you made this statement of we approve of Eritrea self-determination; did you really say that? I said, yes, Mr. Secretary. He says, well, we’re in trouble now. So, you know, I made statements without clearing it first. (Laughter.) And he – and I said, what’s the matter? He said, well, we’re fighting the Germans now about self-determination for Slovenia and Croatia –
MR. : Right.
HERMAN COHEN: And if we say – and we’re against it! We want them to stay in Yugoslavia, and here you are splitting up Ethiopia; the press is going on us like crazy. So then he said, next time you do that, check with me first. (Makes slamming noise.) I said, my career is finished. But a week went by and nothing happened; the press didn’t get onto it, you see.
HERMAN. COHEN: So I met him in Lisbon to sign the Angola peace treaty. He was all smiles and everything was fine. But anyway the question – I still believe you telling them as little as possible is important. (Laughter.) And another incident –
MR. : The Cohen Doctrine here.
HERMAN COHEN: – where I got – where I got into trouble was the Liberia civil war. Monrovia was really in deep trouble. There was no food, there was no water, Charles Taylor had surrounded it, disease was breaking out, it was crazy. So I said, we got to get Charles Taylor in there and get Doe out. We got to end this.
So what – we made a deal with Eyadéma of Togo to take Doe in exile in Togo, and I had a – I was very – I was on – practically on my way to pick up a plane in Frankfurt to fly down to Monrovia and take Doe out of there with his family and his 54 cases of Coca-Cola that he was – (laughter) – desperately wanted to keep, and I was about to leave Washington, and I get this call from Scowcroft, he says – he says, what are you doing? What is this that’s going on here? I said, well, I explained why I was doing it. He says, the president does not want you to get involved in Liberia; stay out of it! You are hereby forbidden from going to Liberia. So the whole thing collapsed.
The whole thing collapsed and, of course, Charles Taylor eventually took over, but it was horrendous and all that sort of thing. So it was my big regret that I was not allowed to do that, but again-again, I guess I should have checked with the higher authority – (laughter) – before going out and taking this initiative. This –
J. PETER PHAM: Connie, you were going to say something.
CONSTANCE NEWMAN: (Inaudible) – yeah, I was just going to say that if you’re representing Africa, you need to have some good news because normally, when people see you coming – (laughter) –
J. PETER PHAM: They turn around and go the other way?
CONSTANCE NEWMAN: They are going the other direction. So I would start out, hi, there. Listen, you won’t believe the wonderful things that just happened on the continent today. And people would look at me and, “no, no, actually I wouldn’t.” (Laughter.)
And that is in part because of the media. Now I always want to blame the media for what’s wrong on the continent, but I do – I do think that several things work in getting the hierarchy involved in Africa. In addition to trying to come up with a good story every day, good news, I’d talk about how great the African Union was and how great NEPAD was.
Find some good – why are we laughing? (Chuckles.) (Inaudible) – (laughter) – find some very wonderful African leaders and introduce them to you leaders. Jendayi was responsible really for bringing into Washington many of the most impressive leaders.
President Bush was interesting in that he really dealt on personal terms. You could talk to him about – and Jendayi can correct me when she speaks – but you could talk to him about Congo or Côte d’Ivoire or what was happening in Liberia, and it maybe didn’t register. But if you brought to him – sit down – I was in the room with him many times – with President Mbasogo – and that’s another story – and a few of the other leaders and have them talk to him about what is going on in their country and what they needed, that that was much more impressive than any briefing documents we could put together.
So what do you do if you’re representing Africa? You, first of all, keep a smile on your face. You show up with good stories. You have low-hanging fruit in your back pocket that you know you can say what you’re going to do that’s great the next day. You bring forward good leaders, and then you beat up on the press. That usually works with politicians and – (laughter) – so what though basically is you need, behind all of that, to understand what is in the United States’ best interests, what fits the values of the United States, and what is the agenda of the leaders that you’re working with and, in that context, you need to present the Africa story.
The other thing I will say, just before saying what my biggest mistake was is you can’t be in a constant battle with Congress. That is not helpful if you’re in the executive branch. You need to have friends both in the interest groups and on the Hill; so that every time the president or the secretary of state sees you, it isn’t to solve a problem that you created on the Hill or with the interest groups.
What was my biggest mistake? Jendayi’s going to be surprised about this. The biggest error: You know, I think – and I think it was the whole administration pretty much so – we didn’t – we weren’t smart about dealing with Mbeki because we were so turned off about his irresponsible position on HIV/AIDS and his irresponsible position on Zimbabwe, and those both were irresponsible positions in my view. We discounted him and, as a matter of fact, Mbeki turned out to be a negotiator, a mediator in so many places in Africa. In the Côte d’Ivoire, in the Congo, Burundi –
MR. : Sudan.
CONSTANCE NEWMAN: – in Sudan, and he was taken seriously by the people that he was working with. And I’m saying it was a mistake because I think – and Jendayi tried to – worked with him when she was ambassador to South Africa – but I think that we lost opportunities to partner with him, to solve some of the problems better than they were solved.
Should Côte d’Ivoire have gone as wrong as long? I’m not sure. I do remember being in conversations about the process that Mbeki as using and that he was being unrealistic about whether or not Gbagbo (ph) was an honest player. I think had we had better conversations and the trust of Mbeki, we could maybe have moved the resolution there sooner. I don’t know that we – and I’ll stop here – I just want to say – I don’t know that we would ever straightened him out on Zimbabwe. I just think he had it in his head that quiet diplomacy – I said to him at one time – I wasn’t – I’m not on his high list – I said to him that his diplomacy was so quiet that Mugabe didn’t know about. (Laughter.) But I do think that it was an error that he was not taken as seriously by the West as he was by Africans and that we would have benefited much more by joining hand(s) with him on resolution of some of the disputes that go on even today.
JENDAYI FRAZER: (Maybe I ?) – maybe I’ll just pick up and then, George, you can finish out.
On that point, I think Connie’s right, but the way I would put it is that we did take Mbeki seriously at the beginning of the administration. We fully backed him on Congo; we fully backed their mediation process. We fully backed him on Burundi; in fact, they put the peacekeepers there first, right? Under the AU hat and we financed that.
But we – towards the end of our – in our second term, even, because Zimbabwe had become such more – so much more prominent an issue for us we started to fall out. And we fell out fairly significantly. And so I agree with you that, you know, maybe one of the lessons learned is that you need to be careful about letting one country issue affect that broader relationship because it did undermine our ability then to leverage in other areas.
I would say that my – in terms of how do you get issues up, you know, to the higher levels – we were really quite fortunate, frankly, in the Bush administration. You know, Secretary Powell came in saying he was an African, right? And he went to Africa in May of 2001, five months into the administration. Condi Rice had campaigned – and Chet knows this – during when Governor Bush was running saying that Africa’s going to be a strategic priority. We’re going to deal with Africa not just as a humanitarian but as a strategic priority.
So we – the environment was very favorable, I think, for people on – working Africa in the Bush administration. That said, particularly at State Department, but across the interagency, you’re always fighting, right? There’s – you always have to fight for resources, for – and one resource is the attention of the senior decision-makers because other people want their attention.
And so you fight. (Chuckles.) You know, I mean – so one thing you have to do – yeah, you have to have sharp elbows, right? (Laughter.) I mean, you have to – sometimes you do have to take a – you have to hit, right? You got to – you got to actually go in there and throw a hit – (laughter) – to – you know, to get what you want, You know, I mean, you can’t just be the nice guy all the time because people will take advantage of you.
They will take all your resources and smile at you every day and say, oh, we love you. (Laughter.) You know, as they give all your ambassadorships to other bureaus. (Laughter.) I mean, so that’s one thing is you do have to actually get in there and be willing to take a hit, put yourself out there. You know, as Hank was saying, you know, not tell anybody – that’s taking a risk. But you need to – you need to be able to be – to play, you know, and, you know, it’s a bit of a contact sport sometimes at State Department.
The other thing that I would say is – (laughter) – you know – you know, there’s small things, you know, that – you know, like, be nice to the secretary’s secretary. (Laughter.) I mean, you know, make that secretary an ally of yours.
MR. : This is a true strategic – (inaudible).
JENDAYI FRAZER: This is 101.
CONSTANCE NEWMAN: Absolutely it is. (Laughter.) I mean –
MR. : Fundamental strategic 101.
JENDAYI FRAZER: You have to – you have to – right?
MR. PHAM (?): I’m going to write this down, right?
JENDAYI FRAZER: You know, you never ever bark at the secretary’s secretary, you know? And their executive assistant is also critical as well for watching your back, you know, and telling you, oh, this guy is throwing an email or a memo in there that’s on your issue, and you better know that this is happening.
We were fortunate with Secretary Rice that she allowed assistant secretaries for regional affairs, right – Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe – to sort of go around the system insofar as I think – you know, I’m not a State Department person but I think that the policy and planning could always send a memo to the secretary without other people’s clearances.
Assistant secretaries could also send notes – everybody could send notes. But the assistant secretaries, especially the regional, she would have a separate meeting with is. We could send memos on our area and we did not need to get clearance from others. So there was never that sort of lowest common denominator to the clearance process, so she could have an unvarnished perspective of what our views were.
She would then, again, go and ask others what they thought. But at least we had that mechanism which also helped us to sort of go around the system from, you know, the undersecretaries – and the deputy secretary should be an ally too. If you can get the deputy secretary to be an ally it’s extremely important. My regret – and it’s a regret – is actually Kony, the Lord’s Resistance Army.
I – you know, we tracked and followed and, you know, tried to do policy all along, from the very beginning right through to the end. And I wish we would have – we adopted a position which we were going to back a regional approach to try to get him. And I think we could have been a lot more forward-leaning. And I wish I had fought harder as assistant secretary for us to have been a lot more forward-leaning.
It’s not to say that it wouldn’t – it would have worked, we don’t know. And the approach that we adopted, which was to back the regions working together, was robust and important and according to our own philosophy. But I wish we would have taken a more direct approach to dealing with Kony. And it was very difficult from this point of view of priorities. He had never killed an American.
He was not – you couldn’t really say he was a threat to regional stability. But he was creating havoc, right? He was creating havoc in the lives of the populations – the vulnerable populations from Sudan to Central Africa to Congo – you know, now in Central Africa Republic. And I think that we should have neutralized him. And I wish that we would have done so.
GEORGE MOOSE: Well, Peter, I know you have other questions but I do think I’d like to weigh in on this one because I think the question you raise is a very important one, which is how do you get attention for Africa and African issues and African concerns. And it’s an irony; in a way, I think I’m the only one on the panel who was – who served under a Democratic administration.
One would have – one would think that a Democratic administration would be more sympathetic to, open to, concerned about issues of development Africa, all those good, soft issues. And in point of fact, if you look back at the Clinton administration and you look at the people who were sprinkled across the NSC, the State Department, other places, White House – a lot of – a lot of foreign policy expertise and people who were indeed genuinely concerned –Tony Lakes (ph) sitting over at the embassy and others.
The irony, of course, was that the context was totally different. As I alluded to before, there was no interest in Washington in wanting to get the United States more actively engaged on the international scene. That was true of Democrats as well as Republicans. One of our strongest critics was Senator Byrd from West Virginia. There was this sense that, you know, we’ve won the Cold War. There’s a peace dividend. And by God, we want it. And we don’t want to spend it anywhere else.
It was the economy, stupid. We couldn’t get anybody who was foreign into the White House in the first year of the Clinton administration. The only exception was Nelson Mandela and de Klerk. I think they were the only two foreigners – (chuckles) – who darkened the door to the White House during the first year of the administration, which brings me to your point, Connie, which is if you’ve got a good news story, if there’s something to celebrate here, that gets the attention of people.
CONSTANCE NEWMAN: Right. That’s what they want.
GEORGE MOOSE: And so we milked that one for all it was worth. (Laughter.) We used it every way, shape and form we could. And, Jendayi, you referred to the fact, you know, we sort of tried to integrate all these other agencies into this process. And I see Laurie Fits (ph) back there in the back. And we did that. We did it quite deliberately – actually the White House was the architect of that.
But it was also a recognition that the State Department acting on its own did not have the resources or the influence to sustain these efforts. You really did need to engage all these other departments which were much better – certainly Commerce Department was much better connected to the White House and to resources and to the Congress than the State Department was. And so we were trying to figure out, how do we leverage the limited resources that we have in order to push this agenda?
So South Africa was the good news story, created the commission between Mbeki and Gore to sustain that, involved a whole bunch of Cabinet members, had meetings twice a year – that was great. That was the good news story. The bad news stories – there were too many – the first was Somalia, which we inherited from Hank, by the way. (Laughter.)
I have to remind people – I have to remind people that it wasn’t the Clinton administration that got us into Somalia. (Laughter.) It was the – an internationalist Republican administration and in the person of President George H.W. Bush who said, you know, we should take advantage of this opportunity to do good in the world and save starving people in Somalia. Well –
HERMAN COHEN: It’s my fault. (Laughter.)
GEORGE MOOSE: Which was a – impulse was good; execution maybe left a little bit to be desired. But Somalia was the first, which only reinforced that sense in the White House, by God, you know, we’re not going to go there. These are too hard, they’re too complicated, they’re getting in the way of our domestic agenda. So don’t come to us – (chuckles) – with any more problems.
Well, guess what? We got another big problem for you. It’s called Rwanda. And it’s not as though we – of course we weren’t involved in Rwanda – we were. There was a whole peace negotiation that had been going on for months trying to work out a deal between Kagame and the Patriotic Front and the government to try to avoid an invasion by the RPF of Rwanda which would have touched off a genocide. So that’s where we were focused. We weren’t focused on – enough on what was actually happening inside the country and the virulence of the Interahamwe and the Hutu Movement. And that’s what caught us by surprise.
And of course, so when that happened, what was the reaction here in Washington was, oh, you know, we’ve seen Somalia – that movie before. We don’t want to go there. And it was only after people began to realize the magnitude of the disaster and, frankly, the impact on our reputation – the reputational risk for the United States and people say, whoops, we need to do something. And eventually we did. We turned that around, we got – went back the United Nations, got approval for another U.N. force, by which time, of course, it was too late.
But it was also the bad news story that I think made people throughout the administration realize that you couldn’t ignore these things. You really did need to do – to figure out what your strategy was going to be. And much of that strategy, frankly, given the fact that we had a Congress that was unwilling to vote money for – provide the resources for the kinds of things we thought we needed to do involved, again, how do you leverage? Who else is out there that you can engage in this process that would help you solve that problem? And a lot of it, again, turned back to the United Nations and turned to the other elements of the international community.
My one regret, all right, is that, you know, if you’re sitting down there in the trenches and you’re aware of this mood and this atmosphere, you’re aware of the fact that folks in the White House really aren’t anxious for you to come to them with your problem and you know that the Congress is not keen to be eagerly supportive of whatever initiative you want to post. And if you’re mindful of that, what it does is also makes you – it – you actually pull back yourself. You constrain yourself and your – what you seek, what you demand, what you expect. And as Jendayi says, you sometimes – you really just have to have sharp elbows.
So the one regret I have is that we didn’t push harder on Rwanda in breaking through some of the bureaucratic nonsense that was going on within the government across Defense and others, and that we didn’t knock more loudly on the door of the White House and the Oval Office in saying: We can’t stand by and allow this to happen. We have to do something even if, at the end of the day, what we might have done might not have made a whole lot of difference.
CONSTANCE NEWMAN: (Inaudible) – Oh, go ahead. No, because mine is frivolous.
HERMAN COHEN: I was – (inaudible) – Well, I just wanted to – (inaudible) – talking about regrets, I have a big one: is the failure to seize the significance of illegitimate, surrogate wars. Now, what do I mean by an illegitimate, surrogate war? I mean, it’s totally done on the outside and there’s no receptivity on the part of the population. Yeah, we want you to come in and liberate us. They’re not even – and the two examples were of course Charles Taylor coming into Liberia.
It was totally fabricated by Houphouët-Boigny and his surrogate Blaise Compaoré getting money from Libya. There was nothing in Liberia that wanted this. So what should we have done? We should have gotten tough with Houphouët, yeah, because he was a great friend, was a wonderful statesman and all that. We should have gotten tough with him and said, you got to stop this and stop supporting Chuck. But we didn’t. We didn’t. We immediately went into a conflict-resolution mode. We sort of were obsessed with conflict resolution.
The second one was the invasion of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (ph) from Uganda. Nobody in Rwanda wanted that. In fact, when they came over the line, Tutsis went up to Kagame and said, get out of here! If you keep this thing up we’re going to have a genocide. And I was in the same room with Museveni and Habyarimana in New York when this – they came across the line. And I got them together. And afterward I said to Habyarimana, what did Museveni tell you?
He said, he doesn’t know anything about it, which was of course a total lie. And she should have gotten tough with Museveni because the RPF thing would never have gotten anywhere unless they had this support from the Ugandan army, safe haven, medical and all that. It should have been nipped in the bud because nobody in Rwanda wanted this.
So – but we just went into – OK, the Rwandan Patriotic Front is there. Let’s do conflict resolution, you know, which was the stupidest decision. (Chuckles.) We should have had – and I think we still haven’t seized this – surrogate wars are still not on anyone’s agenda. And it – way past my time was the surrogate war against the successors to Houphouët in Côte d’Ivoire.
Blaise Compaoré was determined to make Ouattara the president. So he organized the coup against Bédié, he was double crossed by General Guéï who promised to make Outattara president. When Gbagbo became president he started the munity against Gbagbo. He supplied everybody in Bouaké. It was 10-year odyssey for Compaoré to make Ouattara president. And he succeeded. But Côte d’Ivoire suffered as a result. And nobody wanted that surrogate war in Côte d’Ivoire.
So anyway, Côte – surrogate war is still with us and we’re not coping with it correctly in my view.
CONSTANCE NEWMAN: Yeah, I have a funny story that I probably shouldn’t tell and it’s at the expense of the Clinton administration. But my friend Jim Woolsey was head of the CIA. And when there was the car that was trying to break into the gate to get into the White House, Jim says – actually, that was Jim trying to get in to see the president to talk about an international conspiracy. (Laughter.)
MR. : I believe it. (Laughter.)
J. PETER PHAM: Before we leave this round, just a quick follow-up. We’ve talked – we’ve been discussing the challenges and how to go about raising Africa as a priority. Throughout the period of all your tenures – I remember when I was in college in the early ’80s, we had shanty towns up on campuses demanding divestment from South Africa and, you know, we were fasting to, you know, help the Ethiopian famine; you can see how I well I did at that – (laughter) – all the way to the present day where we’re coming full circle, when I was teaching, students were wearing green bracelets over Darfur.
So we’ve had this history of popular movements getting mass movements even before the advent of social media, getting involved in pushing African agendas. I invite anyone who would care to comment on that as, you know, pro-con comments on that phenomena of mass movement, social media driving popular opinion and domestic opinion; driving African issues perhaps out of sync with a strategic prioritization, whatever. Anyone who wants to weigh in on that –
CHESTER CROCKER: I have a quick answer – or a quick response on that; it’s not an answer. But we have done remarkable, successful, strategic things about dealing with the largest country in African and it’s now in two pieces – Sudan. And other colleagues have commented at length about that history. During the Reagan years we looked at Sudan as sort of like a large super tanker that was very hard to turn and change direction. And we tried different things. But it didn’t happen.
But eventually the United States became very focused on Sudan. And it’s a good-news story in some respects anyway. I certainly agree with my colleagues who’ve said that perhaps Darfur almost ran away with the game at the expense of the North- South agreement, which was much more important. But there’s been a cost. And the cost, above all, has been in the DRC because the DRC, arguably, warrants at least as much attention as Sudan. The DRC is arguably the most important strategic country in sub-Saharan Africa. And I would say that even bearing in mind the importance of Nigeria, the importance of South Africa.
And so DRC is a big important place. And nobody wants to own it. (Chuckles.) How do you get attention to the DRC and especially how do you do it if all the air is sucked out of the room for Sudan or for (Somalia ?)?
MS. : Yeah.
CHESTER CROCKER: So that’s been – so that’s been kind of a – kind of a problem. And it relates to your question, Peter, because we know why we did Sudan – it’s because of mass mobilization of interests across the political spectrum. Nothing like that has ever happened on DRC.
MS. : Mm-hmm. (Affirmative.)
HERMAN COHEN: Well, I was only one week in office and I got a call – my point is that you ignore domestic politics –
GEORGE MOOSE: (Chuckles) – at your peril, right.
HERMAN COHEN: – at your peril. And I was only one week in office, and I got a call from Larry Eagleburger. He says, go to Sudan immediately. I said, why do you want to go to Sudan? It’s not on my priority list. He said, well, people are starving, and you got this committee – joint committee of Congress on hunger; they’re calling me up five times a day. You got all these NGOs screaming and yelling.
And so I went to Sudan, and I immediately found that you – the only way to solve the hunger problem is to solve the political problem.
MR. : (Chuckles.) Right.
HERMAN COHEN: So we immediately got involved with trying – we go the government in Sudan to allow food to pass through from the north, which they were prohibiting. But then we immediately went into trying to do something about the north-south problem. We didn’t get very far; we got – we moved the chess pieces a little bit, but then subsequent administrations, especially the Bush administration – the second Bush administration did a remarkably great job on getting that north-south agreement.
And of course, the whole thing with South Africa was generally driven by domestic consideration – the demonstrations; people chaining themselves to the South African embassy, and that sort of thing. The sanctions voted over President Reagan’s – President Reagan’s veto were extremely important. So I find that you got to keep your ear attuned to the domestic side of things.
JENDAYI FRAZER: And I would – I would say that I thought that the national summit on Africa and its raising constituency awareness in the ONE campaign have been extremely positive efforts. I think that on specific issues like Liberia, the coalition that came around to push for greater action was extremely positive.
I felt that the Sudan advocacy group was extremely well-meaning but not very positive, and I, in fact, think it(‘s) move towards the leadership in many ways was political. And I think Africa policy has been very bipartisan in nature. And I think that they were more political and anti-administration. And I think it was extremely unfortunate; I think lots of money was spent unnecessarily. I think it was very positive insofar as raising awareness of young people, and particularly, you know, at college campuses. But I think it was – I think it was cynical, and in a lot of ways – and I know that as a person who now is out of government, and I look at some of the shortcomings of policies that I consider today, I have been very aware to learn the lesson of not repeating what I saw, frankly, from what I would call the Darfur leadership – and I think was a highly politicized way to mobilize constituents.
HERMAN COHEN: I might say that – George’s comment about Somalia – I think it was a turning point, the Somalia tragedy, because when we – President Bush decided to send troops to Somalia, there was a tremendous groundswell of opinion – you know, the CNN effect; people starving, especially mothers and babies starving – and President Bush was reacting to a great extent with that.
We recommended that there not be any U.S. troops in Somalia, and that should be a U.N. operation. But the Joint Chiefs of Staff was asked by Bush, is this viable? And he said, no, it takes six months for the U.N. to gear up. And people are starving about a thousand a week. So President Bush decided to send U.S. troops.
So then, when we had the tragedy under Clinton, I think that was a turning point because Rwanda, there was no groundswell of opinion to go and do something on Rwanda.
MR. : Yeah.
HERMAN COHEN: Because the disgust with what happened in Somalia, I think, made a big impact. It’s still with us today, I –
MR. : Yep.
CONSTANCE NEWMAN: I wanted to get in on the discussion of Somalia, though. One thing that has happened is that there’s a large diaspora of Somalis in the U.S., and they are very strong and they go to the elected officials and insist on certain recognition and policies affecting Somalia. And I think that we may not be recognizing how strong the people in Somalia are because they have had no government. And I know we all think it’s great to have a democracy – and it is – but what has happened in Somalia is that the people in the nongovernmental organizations have been running the education system and their hospitals, and they are some of the strongest, most effective organizations that I have seen on the – on the continent.
And so when we – when we talk about Somalia and have certain regrets about what our policies have been, I think we are missing another point, which is that in parts of Somalia the people are running themselves in very effective ways. And what happens is the diaspora is trained here and the U.K. and Italy, and they go back and they are running large parts of the organizations that make lives much easier for people than I think we understand. Yeah.
J. PETER PHAM: OK – let me shift the discussion over. We’ve been looking at the past and the lessons learned – maybe shifting now to looking at the president (ph), more importantly maybe looking ahead. I invite everyone on the panel to reflect on, you know, what you deem the biggest challenge or challenges which the United States currently faces or will face in the years ahead in Africa, and how – and thinking prescriptively how you might advise your future successors to look at those questions or to deal with that. So –
CHESTER CROCKER In the 1980s, we did a lot of what I’d call leverage borrowing. We didn’t have all the horses. We built very strong relationships with a finite number of partners who had strong interests in the same region that we were operating in, and so we reached out. We need to do that for the rest of time because we don’t want to own African problems –
MR. : Yeah.
MS. : Right.
CHESTER CROCKER: – by ourselves. We can’t lead on all of them. I thought the way President Obama handled Côte d’Ivoire recently was textbook because he was backstopping the lead of the French and the U.N. in enforcing a legitimate election and respecting its rightful outcome. And it was – it was very – I thought it was very well done. He did intervene selectively; he used certain techniques of communication and whatnot, and he didn’t – he definitely spoke to the key decision-makers who were on the ground. And I thought that was – that was pretty good.
What I mean is that we need to reach out and build bridges and have consultative relationships with all the major players, and that includes all the emerging players. I know that our successor, Johnnie Carson, does this, but I’m talking about Russia, I’m talking about Brazil, I’m talking about India. Turkey was mentioned – I mean, there’s (just ?) lots of – lots of key countries – obviously China. We have real experts on China and Africa in this room, so I’m a little hesitant to go down this road – (laughter) – too far.
But I would – I would say this: that we’ve got to – we’ve got to decide on Africa whether China is a leader, a follower, a pain in the butt, a cross-dresser – (laughter) – an irresponsible stakeholder, or what. And we’ve used all these different terms, and it seems to me that there is a possibility here of mobilizing consistent dialogue with the Chinese and the others that I’ve mentioned. So that’s – that’s a great opportunity; it’s a challenge but it’s an opportunity if we do it right – because we don’t have all the leverage. And we’ve got to find out where we can borrow the best leverage.
The second challenge that I want to touch on briefly – and it’s also an opportunity – is twofold: It’s to unify two new tools in the toolkit. And one of them is transparency and information. Recently, the World Bank’s leadership declassified all of the World Bank’s databases about governance, about development, about empowerment at local and community levels. This World Bank database is a powerful tool in transparency for promoting good governance, and it should be used, it should be mobilized, and we should make every effort to be sure that our African friends are aware of that database, especially in the civil society sector so that they can make use of it. It’s a powerful tool for reform, for change, and so forth.
Related to that are all the tools that we’ve developed, and we’re pretty good at it in terms of our counterterrorism efforts. And we’ve read in the front page of the Post this morning about how we’re going into the drone business in some new areas of the world – new, maybe, to some of the readers of the Post. (Laughter.)
So we have those kinds of tools, we have the Financial Action Task Force tools for counterterrorism finance. We’re getting pretty good at finding and isolating and cutting off resources and, if necessary, killing people, OK? We’re getting pretty good at it, but only in a narrow – in a narrow field, which is counterterrorism.
Hank has touched on a very important issue, which is the issue of what I would call unrecognized wars or – was what the term you used?
HERMAN COHEN: Non-legitimate surrogate wars.
CHESTER CROCKER: Non-legitimate surrogate wars. I mean, we’ve got to do better than this. I think, at a certain moment, Museveni asked if we would help find a way to deal with Joseph Kony that might have been quick and terminal. We’ve got to figure out different ways that these tools can be used to fight criminality, to wind down surrogate wars and not just confine in a narrow sense to dealing with the franchises of al-Qaida.
Anyway, it’s a big agenda, but let me stop there and give others a chance, yeah.
HERMAN COHEN: Well, that reminds me about Museveni two days after the Rwandan Patriotic Front invaded. I had a private meeting with Museveni in Washington and I said, well, what’s going on? And he said – and these guys were in the Ugandan army when they came across – and I said, what’s going on? And he says, they’re AWOL; (we’ll punish them ?). (Laughter.) He was a great actor.
Anyway, the – I think – well, last year, 2010, was kind of celebrated as the 50th anniversary of the African independence movement. And Dr. Pham, when he was wearing a different hat at the time, persuaded me to write an article and sort of a 50-year review of U.S. policy since I was the oldest guy on the block – I joined the foreign service even before there was a Bureau of African Affairs – when I joined up, I say, can I talk to someone doing Africa, and they said, you know, there are two guys in the Middle East bureau. You know, check them out – Jerry Levalle (ph) and Fritz Picard (ph), you know. They’re our Africa bureau.
But anyway – so I did some research, and I decided – my bottom line was that U.S. highest priority in Africa, for 50 years, even before independence, under Eisenhower, was economic development. It’s always been our highest priority. We’ve had distractions, you know, like Darfur and apartheid, but it’s always been economic development. And I think it’s still the same today.
OK, so what – how does Africa look under that? And I think our policy has to be to persuade African governments to deal with predators. The place is running with predators – China, India, a few others, some multinational corporations who I won’t mention – and they’re not protecting themselves. You know, China is coming in and bleeding them dry. Saudi Arabia is coming in and buying all that land, shipping food out to Saudi Arabia. Ethiopia is amok – running amok with all these guys. While they’re starving, food is going – reminds me of the Irish potato famine; you know, the British were pulling out all their food while the Irish were starving.
So somehow, the Africans have to get their act together and protect themselves. They’re not doing it. They’re just accepting all of this stuff raining in on them. Oh, sure, we’ll get there – Chinese are building roads, Indians are building some power plants.
But that’s not the way to organize how you’re dealing with the commodity boom and all the money’s that’s coming in. I don’t see any management there. What I tell my Nigerian friends, I say, corruption’s not the issue, guys, it’s management. You need some MBAs in there to really organize how you’re dealing with all of these predators and commodities and that sort of thing. And I think we ought to concentrate on diplomacy on that side.
GEORGE MOOSE: Well, in a sense, I find that there are elements in the current situation that remind of the end – the very end of the Cold War. That is to say, we’ve got no shortage of crises all over the world that are demanding attention. President’s up in New York today trying to, once again, walk through the minefield of the Middle East peace process, global financial meltdown, unfinished wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan –
On that agenda, it is once again extremely hard to put Africa on the list of priorities, all the more so given the battles we’re having here about our own deficits and budgets and the like. And I think that the major challenge that we’re going to continue to have over the foreseeable future is finding ways to make that agenda, that African agenda relevant and sufficiently important for people in the White House and the Congress that they stick with it.
The other part of it is balance. You know, there was a time – Jendayi will correct me if I’m wrong – but right after 9/11, there was a real shift in the way we approached the challenges in Africa with an understandable focus on counterterrorism. And Kip Ward’s predecessor – (chuckles) – up at EUCOM – he was actually at EUCOM at the time – you know, there was a sense that we had to have – that the emphasis was on the intelligence and the military response to what was happening in Africa.
And I think that created an imbalance because it didn’t allow us to get back to the focus on – you know, at the end of the day, you need to promote that development and build those institutions because if you don’t have that, then you really haven’t solved your problem; you just sort of kicked it down the road a bit.
And I think there’s a risk in the current situation, again, that – you know, there’s a continuing risk that we will have a set of policies that lacks coherence; that is to say, we will focus on AIDS and we will do development in those countries that qualify for the MCC and we will have a terrorism and antiterrorism program, but added – taken together, it doesn’t add up to a coherent policy and it doesn’t add up to one that moves the – moves the continent or helps to move the continent in the direction that we would like to see it go. So I think those are the big challenges.
And I have to go back to what Chet said. Again, we are in an era where – I don’t care what the problem is – we alone are not going to be able to address it. We’re going to have to continue to look for ways to leverage the contributions of other folks.
And whether it’s done inside of a multilateral framework like the U.N. or the World Bank or whether it’s done in other kinds of coalitions or bilaterally with other partners who have something to bring to bear and all folks those that Hank talked about, the question, for me, is – I start with China – David Chin (ph) is sitting here in the front row – the question for me is that, oh, at the end of the day, China’s ambitions in Africa, even if it’s the minimal ambitions of getting resources out, also depends on a stable environment. They’re putting a lot of money in there.
And so the question is, how do you convince them that their investment can only be ensured if they are also paying attention to the kinds of things that are a concern to us – governance, institution building, stability, et cetera? So the question, for me, is, how do you – how do you make them part of that team, bring them into this partnership to make them responsible partners in dealing with (these kinds of problems ?)?
CONSTANCE NEWMAN: Africa is the best and the last frontier for resources. I think we all – we all know that – and so maybe China today, of concern, and India tomorrow or Brazil. So the question is, how do – how do you help sub-Saharan Africa deal with third-party interests in their resources?
And I think first – I think one thing that we should do that we don’t do very well is to analyze what it is that we do and offer and do not and do not offer.
As a matter of fact, many of the Africa leaders will say that one of the reasons they deal with China – and we know this is an excuse – but one of the reasons they deal with China is that China doesn’t have all the strings attached to everything that they do. And China doesn’t take forever. They walk in the door, they have the money. You want the road, you’ve got the road.
All right. That’s not acceptable if there are no questions asked about human rights and if there are no questions asked about the role that people play in their countries’ governance on the one hand.
On the other hand, if we are honest with ourselves, we are a pain in the neck to deal with in many instances in order to get resources. Some of the things that we ask for, we don’t need. We don’t use. We don’t – we don’t know why we’re asking for it. It’s because we used to ask for it, so we’re still asking for it.
So I think, in part of our analysis of China, we ought to, first of all, say, well, why is it that Nigeria or the president of Senegal is going to China to ask for X, Y and Z or is willing to accept it without looking at the fine print of what China’s getting in return? And maybe that’s kind of what we’re talking about; that’s very dangerous. And some of them are just now looking at the fine print.
But I think it’d be very – it’s a very useful thing for us to ask, why is it that the African leaders are going to China? What is it that China is offering that we’re not offering? And what is it that we’re doing that we need to analyze and maybe do in a – in a different way?
Because, you know, we’re not right about everything that we do. I know this is going to come as a shock to many of you – (laughter) – but we really are not. And we’re going to – we’re going to lose if aren’t – if we don’t analyze ourselves and become prepared to alter somewhat the way we do business.
The last thing I’ll say is, democracy is a good thing. I spend a lot of time observing elections around the world and participating in many democracy-building activity. But what I think we have to do is not necessarily expect that everybody’s democratic process ought to look like ours, that we ought to be much more open to hearing from others about ways in which people can best participate in their government.
And I’m saying that in connection with this China discussion because it – also, I think, some self-evaluation of what our expectations are, and are they realistic, are they necessary, and is it really going to serve us well in the future, insisting that those that we help help – we help only in our own way? We need to look at that.
J. PETER PHAM: Before going to Dr. Frazer, your comment remind(s) me of a toast to Ambassador Carson that – an African president we had the privilege of hosting for a luncheon and I, earlier this year said – he said the difference – in his toast, he said, the difference between the Chinese approach and ours is that China offers an all-you-can-eat buffet, but there’s only one item in the buffet, and we offer a lengthy menu, but there are conditions before we even get the amuse-bouche – (laughter) – served. And I think it’s a point very well taken.
JENDAYI FRAZER: If I’m thinking about, what do we have to look out the future, I would say – and where we should emphasize a priority – is institution-building, to support African institution-building. And I’m thinking in terms of the subregional organizations, the African Union in this capacity, as well as nationally, you know, supporting parliaments, the judiciary system. And I think that those institutions are what will sustain Africa over the long term, and we should be supportive and attentive to that aspect of our work and our policy.
I would also say that I think that – you know, to pick up a point that Chet was making, is engagement, significant engagement. You can’t get friends when you need them in the U.N. Security Council if you’ve never talked to them before, right? You never know when you’re going to need your – you know, someone to be your friend for your interest. And I think that being in the conversation in Africa – you know, I think of it like a village. You need to be in the conversation. You have to be in the loop. You need to know what the thinking of the leaders are to be most effective. And so I think that type of significant continuous engagement is critically important for effective policy.
I also think very seriously that presidential leadership is essential. I watched every cabinet secretary in the Bush administration become, all of a sudden, interested in Africa because President Bush was interested in Africa. And so when they did their, you know, pre-briefings on whatever topic, and President Bush said, oh, have you met this leader, or, oh, did you know we did this or did you know – they wanted to be able to respond to the president, right? And they wanted to say, oh, Mr. President, guess where I went, you know, and guess what I did and guess who I met, you know.
So presidential leadership actually matters. And it doesn’t cost anything, frankly, to engage. So I think that that’s a very important point.
And then, finally, I would say that this type of forum and learning from the past, learning from others – I know that when I was a student working on Africa policy, I read Chet’s book, I read Hank’s book, I say, you guys write books, right? So that we can, you know, contribute, give back. Claudia wrote a very excellent book that is – you know, that reflects on 50 years of Africa policy and picks up the voices of the former assistant secretaries and senior diplomats. You can get it on Amazon. You know, you can get it digitally on Amazon. I do. I have it.
And so, you know, an understanding of the history, learning Africa’s history, learning what we’ve done in the past, I think can help you to try to navigate the challenges – I won’t say avoid the mistakes because everybody has to have their own set – but certainly navigate the challenges that are there. A deep appreciation and understanding of African history and learning, I think, is really important. So I think this forum contributes to that and I thank you again.
J. PETER PHAM: Well, thank you very – very much.
We’re going to open it now for a few questions from the audience. There are microphones? OK.
Please identify yourself before asking a question, and please limit to a question. I know a few of our panelists are tight on time, so please, limit at that.
In the back?
Q: Paul Miller, Catholic Relief Services.
Excellent panel. Kudos to the Constituency for Africa and Atlantic Council. There was a similar one in New York. This one goes deeper, flies higher, much funnier – (laughter) – so thank you, thank you very much –
Q: – Mel Foote.
Some of the discussion was intriguing on several levels. I’m thinking, given the news or the non-news about drone bases in Africa, the Gadhafi column that went into Niger, and thinking about the competing objectives for our Africa policy and incoherence or the risk of incoherence that Ambassador Moose mentioned so well – and Ambassador Crocker talking about difficult friends or Ambassador Moose talking about the top coming off of rotten regimes – well, we have some of those difficulties today and this risk – this risk of short-term security objective sometimes trumping longer-term stability in places that you have mentioned.
This is – these are difficult challenges. And certainly, for those of us who have been working or thinking about Democratic Republic of Congo, some of the choices that the American policymakers made at that time had horrific consequences for the people of Congo. Again, we didn’t cause the hundreds of thousands who died there, but perhaps the neglect, the seconding of the global war in Africa or the “world war of Africa” to the neighbors, you know, contributed to that.
So in the present context, I’m wondering, is it possible – or how do you think policymakers today should look at these competing interests such as security versus democracy and democratic governance in Africa? And is it possible to have those discussions and those decisions made in the more – in the more closed shop of the previous years? Or will, in fact, the new constituency for Africa, including diaspora Africans, play more of a role? And again, I’m thinking about places like Ethiopia, other places where sometimes our interests seem to compete against each other and there doesn’t seem to be a clear way forward.
J. PETER PHAM: Anyone?
MR. : Anybody want to go first?
MR. : No.
MR. : (Chuckles.)
MR. : It’s a good question.
JENDAYI FRAZER: I will. I don’t mind. And I have to leave, you know, so I will –
I think – first of all, I think, you know, the way you frame it is accurate, is correct. There can be competing interests. I think of it as phased interests. And I don’t think that anyone puts one above the other. You deal with what you’re – you know, the situation, you know, that you’re faced with right then.
My – my own philosophy – particularly on the democracy side – is democracy comes from within a country. And you know, the United States certainly can bring pressure to bear, and we often do, and we often do that silently – I mean, not so silent that they can’t hear – (chuckles) – but I mean not publicly. Right? You know, you know, you can have very clear, explicit and firm conversations with leaders that you also need on other issues without telling the world what you’ve said to them.
And so I think that – you know, I’m sure that every single one of my colleagues up here have had to do just that, you know? And so – I mean, there has been a consistency in our policy across all of these administrations. And you know, I hope I’m – I guess I’m hesitating, but I hope I’m saying – for instance, I’ve been – I was very clear with President Museveni about what I thought about ending term limits, but I didn’t necessarily have to come out in public and say what I said to him – (chuckles) – you know, at the same time that we are dealing with him in putting peacekeepers in Somalia.
And that’s his interest. I mean, I think the old-school thinking is that he’s doing something for the United States – by putting peacekeepers in Somalia, therefore you can’t say anything, when in fact he’s putting peacekeepers in Somalia for his own national interest. Right? And so you still (can’t ?) engage on the democracy side.
And so I think that, you know, case-specific – very rarely do you, at least, you know, in my experience, do you trade off one for the other in that sort of very – you know, where you care more about security or stability in the short term, so we’re going to ignore democracy. And what happened, you know, during the Mobutu era, et cetera, is a different time – it was an entirely different geostrategic context. And so I think we don’t – we’re not faced with that type of harsh choice in today’s world.
J. PETER PHAM: Thank you. Anyone else want to weigh in?
CHESTER CROCKER: I might just say a word on DRC. We’ve got to create a kind of coherence around the DRC. We’ve got to figure out since between 1965 and 2006 there wasn’t a legitimate election – there was one in 2006, which was at least quasi-legitimate, and now we’re on the cusp of another one – it would be nice if we could see some unanimity in the Security Council and beyond about what kind of an electoral landscape is going to be there when it – come November. So it’s just two months away; and there’s a lot of things that aren’t fixed yet about that election timetable and getting papers in the hands of people and getting voter education materials prepared, and all the rest.
There still isn’t really a functioning government in much of the DRC. And the risk of the wheels flying off and regionalism going rampant and wars starting up again is very real in the DRC. So it needs to be looked at as a serious undertaking, even recognizing that there’s not much upside for an assistant secretary to take this upstairs – (chuckles). Yeah.
J. PETER PHAM: Maybe – maybe that being the good news – they’ve got it so well-honed they’re going to hold the election and count the ballots and inaugurate all in a weeks’ time – remarkable efficiency.
Q: Hank, has it been so many years that – Tony Carroll at Manchester Trade, and I teach at Johns Hopkins, I hope, the next generation of diplomats – Hank, can you still get a taxi in Washington, or are they still angry at you – (laughter) – about Ethiopia? (Chuckles.)
GEORGE MOOSE: It’s where they take him after they let him in the – (inaudible). (Laughter.)
MS. : That’s right.
Q: They either try to run him down or ignore him. I remember –
HERMAN COHEN: If it’s an – if it’s an Ethiopian, I get a lecture; if it’s an Eritrean, I ride free – (laughter).
JENDAYI FRAZER: That’s good.
Q: Perhaps to Connie – because Connie has the advantage of having worn two hats both with the development community as well as within the department – and I’m struck by the anniversary that we celebrate 50 years of the Africa Bureau – Mel Foote’s in the front of the room; today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Peace Corps, which Mel and I and many others in this room share our common beginnings in Africa.
But one of the reasons that the Chinese get so much attention is because they offer what the Africans want – they offer investment into infrastructure; they offer a strengthening of, you know, banking; they bring cash into the economy. They’re much more responsive to what many of the Africans in terms of the economic scenario or dialogue, notwithstanding many of the shortcomings that have – addressed before about their mercantilistic intent and so forth. And as Moeletsi Mbeki recently said, they better get it done by 2023 because then they’ll all be fully industrialized, and they won’t need Africa as much as they want.
But we’ve seen over the years, as we now launch a new foreign assistance act, a legacy that has been built up that is – become so mired in its own mess of inadministrative (ph) incompetence and inability to be flexible to meet the needs of the Africans. Do you think that we’re really – need to rethink entirely, not even just within the context of what’s being discussed in the foreign assistance act, to take a whole different look at how we use foreign assistance and whether it can be a more effective tool in our larger objectives?
CONSTANCE NEWMAN: I think that we ought to be true to what it is we say foreign assistance is about. And this is what I mean: Foreign assistance ought to be designed to address the need of the people as they see them, not as we see them. And part of the problem that we have, is the whole process of getting money for foreign assistance forces the design of programs around what the U.S. administration and Congress want rather than what we’re getting from Africa, for example.
Now, I don’t know – and I see Pearl (sp) in here – there’s a few other people – (chuckles) – I don’t know how you fix that part of it. I’m a little tired, frankly, of all of the review and review of the review of the review – (soft laughter) – of foreign assistance because I think the concept is fairly basic that we’re either helping other countries in our interests or we’re helping these countries in their interests. OK, there’s a little different way that you would do it depending on what your agenda is. Now, there might be a way to do both. But I don’t know that we’ve really figured that out.
I think that we probably ought to have two pots of money. One is really to help develop the rest of the world in the way that they define their need. And then we have the money that we are using – really it’s for our own security that we’re calling development – and then we just spend that but don’t put that in the same pot.
I just think that it’s unfair to say that development money has been wasted. I think that that – I really get very unhappy with those conversations. Some of it’s been wasted but not all of it’s been wasted. And many of the strong nations in the world are strong because the donor community has responded to their needs and has helped them with infrastructure, with building the educational systems, with the other needs that they define.
So just to sum it up, I don’t think that we ought to encourage taking apart foreign assistance. And the other thing I want to tie to that is it’s a terrible mistake to give to the assistant secretary of state the development money. And the reason I say that is the assistant secretaries of state have immediate problems that they have to answer to. And they are going to be disinclined to use that money for something that will only happen in the next 10 years when they’ve got a problem today.
So I think these ideas about restructuring foreign assistance and moving all the money in with the policymakers is a very bad idea. And I don’t think it will result in real development taking place. And it’s in all of our interests that the countries in the world be developed so that people are not hungry and not angry. If you’re only interested in security, having angry and hungry people is a bad idea.
HERMAN COHEN: I have a different point of view of foreign aid. Look at all the budgets out there. Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda – between 25 and 50 percent of their budgets is foreign aid, whether it’s World Bank, IMF, European Union, you name it. That’s a lot. And it shows in my view that foreign aid is becoming a crutch. It has become a crutch. And they’re relying on it to meet their needs. And I think I’m on the side of Debisa Moyo (ph). I think it should be phased out. We should announce a phasing out of bilateral development aid. Of course, we keep up humanitarian for disasters and that sort of thing.
And the only way to go in my view is to build up the indigenous African private sector. There is $800 billion to a trillion of African money sitting outside of Africa today. The World Bank tells me that. It’s not my – I haven’t made that up. That money has to come back and it only can come back if the African governments create the environment to make it safe. And that’s where we should be putting our attention – making it safe for the private sector. Net, it will take off.
But as long as we keep feeding into African budgets with foreign aid, that’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen. So I have a radical view of things and I think it should be out there for debate.
CONSTANCE NEWMAN: It should be out there for debate. (Laughter.)
J. PETER PHAM: I think we have time for two more questions. Mel?
Q: I just can’t miss this opportunity. I have a couple questions. One of them has to do with the fact that the populations in Africa are getting younger. And in some of the countries – (inaudible) – percent of the population that are like under 35 years of age, such as Liberia, Guinea, and some of these other countries. As a security concern, a lot of these young people, because the economies of Africa are not growing as they should, they’re turning to terrorism; they’re turning to drug addicts; they’re turning to child soldiering, prostitution, all the bad things because there’s not a job for you. So what are you going to do? I mean, to me it’s a risk of security. I would like to get your view on that.
Then the second part of the question has to do with climate change. We all are talking about climate change, jobs and these sorts of things. How much of an impact do you see Africa facing on climate change going forward? And what should the United States do to address this, help empower Africans respond to it?
J. PETER PHAM: Thank you. Anyone?
CHESTER CROCKER: I’ll say a word or two about the youth side of it. I mean, we’ve just seen what the Arab spring was based upon – it was based upon a failed – several generations of failed political modernization in the Arab world. But what triggered everything is the growth of a huge unemployed – and unemployable in many cases – youth bulge in Arab cities. This could be a lesson in many ways. And I’m sure many, many African leaders are watching this carefully and they’re even watching their fellow citizens as they watch it on television – and in some cases, beating up on their fellow citizens if they watch it on television because they’re worried.
So I think what you’re putting your finger on is, Mel, is the source of significant potential, social challenge and political challenge to incumbent African leaders. And I’m not sure there’s a simple answer to it, but one looks down the road and one can anticipate an African spring or springs. There was an early African spring in the 1990s, which Hank and George may want to talk about, because there was a wave of democratization then. But this is different. You’re seeing it in the streets of Dakar in Senegal. And you’re going to see it again in Nairobi –I guarantee it – if there’s more of this hanky-panky that goes on between the different so-called contending elites in the Kenyan political system.
So it is a major issue. Young populations, urban populations increasingly and lack of opportunity. But I wouldn’t want to generalize. Some African countries are the fastest growers in the world. And they’re creating massive numbers of jobs. I just came back from rural Mozambique. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never seen so many 18-wheelers cruising down the roads of central Mozambique. It’s extraordinary. So there are growth stories in Africa. They’re not all Niger. They’re not all Burkina or whatever.
GEORGE MOOSE: On the climate thing, I mean, I’m not a climate expert by any stretch of the imagination but I – you know, frankly, we’ve been seeing the impacts on climate change on Africa for the last 20, 30 years. And I would argue that a lot of the conflicts we’ve seen if they haven’t been driven by climatic factors – climatic factors, they certainly have been exacerbated by climate change – starting with Somalia.
The famine that took place in the late 1980s, early 1990s in Somalia was at least in part driven by climate change, water shortages, competition for scarce resources exacerbating clan differences and therefore contributing to the inter-clan fighting that we saw in Somalia. The conflict that we saw when I was in Senegal between Mauritania and Senegal was competition for diminishing pasturage and water between nomadic peoples coming down from the north and the pastoralists in the south.
You look across the Sahel, certainly, and you are already seeing the impacts there, which is why, of course, the conversation that we have in the United States about climate is such – so exasperating because, you know, you don’t have to look very hard or very far to understand that this is already having dramatic impacts. And when we got our military commanders who sit down and, you know, the Center for Naval Analysis produces a report that says, yeah, you know, we see already how these changes are impacting our security interests all around the world.
And so now is the time to be trying to figure out how we translate that knowledge into policies that are at least going to help us manage or mitigate the impacts. And so when we are having conversations, for example, in the U.N. context about how – what the U.S. is going to do as part of a large collectivity consortium to deal – to help developing countries in particular, adapt to the changes that are already taking place – it we can’t – you know, if we are hamstrung by our inability to even acknowledge that these things are going on, it kind of takes us out of the game – takes us out of the conversation. And we need to figure out how to get back into that conversation.
CONSTANCE NEWMAN: Your observation about the youth borne out in – I’ve been working in Somalia for the last eight months. And in Somaliland, but broadly speaking, over 70 percent of the population is between 18 and 38.
And the indication is that the source of the people working with the pirates and the people being recruited by al-Shabab of that age group. And so the African Development Foundation is funding a series of projects there where employers are participating in job training and making a commitment to hire a certain percentage, not out of the goodness of their heart but recognizing that the instability in Somalia is due in large part to the large numbers of young people who are not only unemployed but they’re unequipped to be employed.
And so, you know, when we talk about foreign assistance, I mean, I don’t totally disagree with – I mainly disagree with my friend here – but I don’t totally disagree. But I do think there needs to be a source of funding to address the need of the youth who in large parts of Africa represent the majority population or they’re not going to grow and have the businesses that ought to be there to make them a part of the international business community. So I think you’re putting your finger on something that’s very important. And we have to figure out how to do it without wasting foreign assistance money, without – and by encouraging the governments themselves to invest.
It used to be that the governments in Africa, some of them like South Africa, spent a very high percentage of their money on education. But that’s going down. And so, this generation coming up is not even being prepared to be prepared to work. And that’s a serious problem for the continent.
MR. : You’ve got some questioners out there.
J. PETER PHAM: One more – I think one last one and then we have to –
Q: Good morning. My name is Akiya Uzomowadada (ph). I come from Trinidad and Tobago. And the question I wanted to ask – and I came in a little late so I’m not sure if it was addressed earlier. It’s that the African countries have demonstrated through the establishment of the African Union and talk of the United State of Africa to much more than to words a more unified approach to the continent’s development. And I wanted to ask what is the U.S. policy towards that – towards Africa moving in that direction and perhaps what do you recommend for future policy? Thank you.
JENDAYI FRAZER: Can I jump in, especially since I’m going to leave as soon as I speak. So I have to dash to the airport. But I think that it’s quite positive and I think there’s been real results in terms of greater integration, particularly moving towards more economic integration but nevertheless also developing institutions for down the line, perhaps more political integration – some form of political integration. So I think that there has been a definite trend in the right direction towards that integration.
And U.S. policy certainly has been supportive of that. I think it’s been supportive of that certainly rhetorically for quite some time, even though when you go into the – you know, interagency or within the U.S. government, there are some people who are doubters, right? And they have enough to point to of doubting. But I think that our policy in general is quite supportive of that effort.
We also, during the Bush administration – and I also would say during the Clinton administration – the Clinton administration developed a presidential determination, which would allow the U.S. government to engage ECOWAS as a region, a regional institution rather than as nationally. At the very end of the Bush administration, one of the last presidential determinations that President Bush signed was to do the same in SADC with the SADC countries and, I also believe, with the East Africa community. We also tried to get to do the Central Africa community, but we couldn’t define which one of the institutions – (laughter) – should be done. You know, but that gives us the ability to fund the regionals, the sub-regionals.
We’ve appointed ambassadors. For instance, the ambassador to Botswana is our representative to SADC. We established an ambassador, a new ambassador to the Africa Union. We were the first country to do so. I think the EU now has followed suit. And so, our policy has definitely been very supportive of this trend.
Where we fall down on that is when we get sometimes in the UN Security Council. And we compete sometimes – for instance, South Africa may mobilize, try to mobilize Africans for a vote that we don’t agree with on some other issue. Whether it’s, you know, Iraq or it’s Iran or whatever you know the case may be. And so, then, we are in a game where we are trying to break that unity and get African countries or, for instance, Libya. Right, where South Africa took one position and we’re trying to get Nigeria and Rwanda and Uganda and whomever else we can to go against that position. So in Security Council votes, we break unity. But our declared policy and our approach has been to try to support institutional integration.
HERMAN COHEN: I think Jendayi has put it perfectly. And I would only add one point, which is that the market is encouraging African economic integration, because African markets – too many of them are teapot markets. I mean, the GDP of Chad is smaller than the GDP of Rockville. And as long as that’s the case, it’s very, very difficult to get major corporations to look at the one country. So you need to regionalize Africa’s economy. And I think the market forces of the world are encouraging that regionalization and Africans are stepping up to it and creating their regional mechanisms, as Jendayi said.
J. PETER PHAM: Well, before thanking the panel, I’d like to thank all of you for joining us today. We’re honored by your presence. It was a privilege to work with the constituency for Africa, some of the distinguished guests we have with us. General Ward, thank you for being here, General Fulford and there are ambassadors present. And I see Claudia is there with little postcards for her book, which has been recommended on– so contributions and the wisdom of the ages but not aged wisdom. (Laughter.) So thank you very much. Let’s give a thank you to our panel really.