|For Immediate Release||March 13, 1998|
MS. LUZZATTO: You have the bio of our three Africascholars, so I won't go through all that. But I will give theirnames for the record: Richard Anthony Joseph from Emory University;Marina Ottaway, who is at the Carnegie Endowment for InternationalPeace and a lecturer at Johns Hopkins; and Terrence Lyons, a Fellowin Foreign Policy Studies at Brookings are going to brief you onAfrica.
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Thank you very much. We're verypleased to have this opportunity. We just were given a few minutesto say some words of introduction. I'm going to say a little aboutU.S. relations with Africa and the importance of this visit, and I'malso going to say a little about the whole issue of economicdevelopment.
With regard to U.S. relations with Africa, this will bean extremely important visit. It's only the second state visit of aU.S. President to Africa. The first took place in 1978 underPresident Carter, and the second, of course, will take place in amatter of weeks. I happen to have been in Nigeria when PresidentCarter visited, so I was able to see it from the other side.
I think there is an opportunity for a new partnershipwith Africa. There was a White House conference in 1994 here at theWhite House, and we are very glad to see, because one of our majorrecommendations was that President Clinton needed to go to Africa andthat the United States needed to take Africa seriously.
I think this trip, from my standpoint, is really goingto be a great learning experience both for the President and also formany of the journalists who will be visiting. Our hope is that youwill be able to get beyond the simplicities that is usually presentedabout Africa and into some of the complexities.
Let me just move on and say a few words about economicdevelopment. You would have heard that many African countriesrecently have been experiencing renewed economic growth. But I thinkyou need to get beyond the figures where they give you four percent,five percent, seven percent, even eight percent in the case ofcountries like Uganda and ask what does it really mean.
In the case of Africa, you cannot talk about economicdevelopment without talking about what is happening to the state inAfrica in terms of state-building in Africa, or to talk about what ishappening with regard to society in Africa.
A lot of the growth that has taken place have takenplace in economies that had contracted severely. Ghana will be thefirst country on his trip, which has made tremendous progress in
recent years over the past decade; so, also, has Uganda. But theseare economies that have greatly contracted through the crises ofbefore. Secondly, they are showing growth as a result of economicliberalization policies promoted by the World Bank, the IMF and otherinstitutions, generally known as structural adjustment policies. Butthose programs have also had a severe effect on African societies interms of issues of social spending, areas of unemployment, educationand health and so on.
We all know that you can't have economic developmentwithout actually developing societies. So in many cases now, wereally have countries that are growing in terms of economicstatistics, but -- frankly, societies, themselves, under-developingin terms of resources.
Now, Ghana, for example, recently you had Ghaniansreturning to Ghana -- professional Ghanians returning to Ghana. Andthis, I see, as a very positive sign because for most of Africa,you've had the opposite effect.
The final point I want to make just by way ofintroduction is that for a long time, African countries were toldthat look at those Asian countries; why aren't you all developinglike those Asian countries in terms of their high growth rates. Andthey are developing because they are putting development beforedemocracy, linkages between the state bureaucracy and corporationsand so on.
Today is a different story. Those same countries arebeing criticized because of the lack of transparency, the lack ofaccountability, the lack of the rule of law. And so in Africa,fortunately, that message didn't sink too deeply. I mean, a lot ofthe emphasis has been on issues of good governance, of returning toconstitutional government, of transparency and accountability and theimportance of linking economic developing with what is happening bothin the political realm and the economic realm.
So I will stop there. Those are my introductorycomments.
MS. OTTAWAY: I'll pick up from Richard. I'm supposedto talk about democracy and human rights. Just by way of backgroundfor the last 20, 25 years, most -- until the early '90s, most Africancountries had either single-party systems or military regimes. Therewere very few exceptions. Countries that have been called"semi-democracy" by some -- and you are going to visit two of those,both Senegal and Botswana were among those countries that managed tomaintain at least a moderate amount of democracy. They hadmultiparty systems that had regular elections. They also haddominant parties. In other words, they had competitive elections,but the same party always won the election, so that they had neverany turnover.
But it seems to have happened without any real cheatingon the part of the government; that's the way the power wasdistributed in those countries.
Now, this picture of few semi-democracy and essentiallya large number of military regimes starts changing in the 1990s. Andsince then, we have, I think, a very much more complex picture. Andthere are -- I think you could divide the countries in three majorgroups. One is countries that are making progress, moving at leastformally towards multiparty democracy. Among the countries that weare visiting, Ghana and South Africa belong in that category. Theseare countries that have amended their constitutions to allowmultiparty elections. South Africa, of course, had multipartyelections before, except all the black parties were banned, andtherefore, the real competition did not take place.
But, essentially, countries that have amended theirconstitutions, that have held multiparty elections, more or lesssuccessfully, in some cases with greater degree of freedom andfairness than in other cases.
There has also been some progress made in thesecountries towards reforming institutions. Parliaments are beginningto function in some cases. The judiciary is beginning to be freer.The press is beginning to be freer than it was before. You cannotsay that these countries have now become democratic. I think what isimportant to keep in mind, though, is where they are coming from. Ifyou are thinking of a glass that's half full or half empty, it's aglass in which water is coming in and not going out, if I can put itthat way. So there is certainly some progress being made.
There is a major problem that remains in many of them,and I think Ghana is an example, where you have essentially a regimethat starts out as a military regime. It goes through two sides ofelections, one very poorly conducted, the second one much betterconducted in 1996. But there is always a lingering doubt: Well, isthe power of this president merely the result of election or theresults that he controlled the military in the first place.
So you have -- I think one has to be careful about notgoing too far in terms of how much change there has been in thesecountries. But it is certainly very much a step in the right direct.
The second group of countries is the most controversialone. And these are the countries that are led by what has beencalled "the second generation of African leaders." Among thecountries you are going to, Uganda is the one that is really the mostrepresentative of this group. Other countries in these groups are:Ethiopia and Eritrea and the presidents of both countries are comingdown to Uganda, I think, while you are going to be there, and to someextent, Rwanda belongs to that group. And these are countries thatwere countries that went for a long period of civil war. They werethen taken in hand by leaders, very strong leaders, essentially, allof them coming out of the military. And these leaders have done anincredible job in terms of pulling those countries back together. Imean, these were countries where the government was not working,where the economy had collapsed and so on.
And all these countries have been stabilized, they havesome positive rates of economical growth and so on. In the case ofUganda, the rates of economic growth have been extremely high. Theyhave for a sustained period of time, so that there is real changethere.
What makes them very controversial is that these are notdemocratic leaders. In fact, they all have taken a very firmposition and very outspoken position. Yes, we do believe indemocracy at some point in the future, but for the time being, wecannot have multiparty elections in these countries because theparties are still the same old parties that -- ethnic conflict in thepast, essentially they're the parties that destroyed the countries tobegin with. And if we hold elections now, we go back to square one.
How credible is that argument? There are questionmarks, of course. There are serious question marks for the future.But if you take the case of Uganda for example, they're aninteresting situation, because the country -- the parties are notallowed to compete in the elections, but they are not banned. Theystill exist; they are there. Some of them have their own newspapers.The press is quite free in Uganda, by and large. The human rightsrecord is not bad; everything considered. It's must better than in alot of other countries. But the fact is that there are no elections,there is no formal democracy.
And, finally, there is a third group of countries andyou are not going to any of them for reasons that are not toodifficult to understand, that are the ones in which where very littlechange has taken place. Countries that, in a sense, are reallypre-transition countries. And you have Nigeria there as the majorexample, and then you have a number of countries that are stillbogged down in conflict.
And I stop here and let Terry come on and talk about theconflicts that are taking place now.
MR. LYONS: Thank you. I am Terrence Lyons from theBrookings Institution. I want to start off with a very broad pictureof Africa with relation to conflict management and the developmentstowards resolving some conflicts, giving you kind of a balance sheetand then speaking specifically to some of the countries that are onthe President's agenda.
As with the record on democracy and also on economicdevelopment, there is a very mixed picture in Africa. But what we, Ithink, have missed is some of the stories of very small, lessdramatic incremental progress. Those stories have become lost in thevery dramatic stories of some of the horrible violence that we'vealso seen.
The President's trip will, obviously, in general, go tocountries that are not currently experiencing conflict, with one veryimportant exception that I will speak to in a minute, and that's theseries of conflicts that are linked together in Central Africa, inthe Great Lakes region, particularly Rwanda and Uganda.
Let me just say a word about how Africa has fared withrelation to conflict resolution and conflict management in the 1990s.A number of the most brutal and vicious conflicts have ended in the1990s. Uganda, one of the stops on the trip, went through a terribleperiod of conflict in the early '80s and actually has been relativelystable since 1986.
Ethiopia-Eritrea ended a long period of conflict in theearly '90s. Namibia ended its war. Mozambique, South Africa.Liberia, although much more tenuously and much more recently hasended its conflict. And we hope recent positive developments inSierra Leon, West Africa and Angola in southern Africa, provide theopportunity for reenforcing and building up the peace processesthere.
Other conflicts, of course, tragically continue to rage,particularly in Sudan and in Somalia, but also this Great Lakes area,which again I will get into in greater detail in just a moment. Ijust want to -- because it's places that you're going -- to make youaware of that there continues to be a rather low-level, butlongstanding insurgency within Senegal -- which is in the verysouthern part of Senegal. That has been difficult for the Senegalesegovernment to manage. But please don't misunderstand me. I'm nottalking about large-scale civil war, like Uganda; rather like Rwandaor Sudan, but continued low-level violence in that region.
And second of all, there continues to be politicallymotivated, communally driven violence in South Africa. And inaddition, that South Africa is suffering from a very, very seriousorganized violent crime problem, crime with people with automaticguns holding up, car-jackings and so on.
So these problems remain within Africa to varyingdegrees, but to take Dr. Ottaway's point, the glass in my view isclearly filling up, that there is more good news than bad on theconflict resolution front.
Let me give you a couple of thoughts about theinterlinked set of conflicts in what is called the Great Lakesregion, or Central Africa. These are conflicts that in many ways arelinked to or result from the spillover effects from the horrors ofthe 1994 genocide within Rwanda. And the region continues to besetby problems of new regimes struggling to build new institutions andresolve the lingering aftermath of conflicts.
In Rwanda, its neighbor Burundi, and the DemocraticRepublic of Congo -- the ex-Zaire -- continue to suffer fromdangerous violence. There's regular conflicts. And interlinked,spillover conflicts from this central set of conflicts spill overinto other countries of the region. These enormously complexconflicts in the Great Lakes to me illustrate the importance oftaking a long-term view of conflict management. These are notconflicts that are instantly going to be solved that a single peaceagreement or a single election will manage. And I believe there is arole for the international community in general and the United Statesin particular to demonstrate its commitment, its willingness to be infor the long-term to help manage these problems.
Let me conclude with one final point that relates toU.S. policy with relation to conflict management. You willundoubtedly hear, perhaps in your final stop in Senegal, about theAfrica crisis response initiative. This is the idea that startedduring Secretary Christopher's trip to Africa and after going throughwhat was a difficult gestation period is now beginning to beoperational.
In particular, six Africa countries -- is it six -- yes,six Africa countries have either undergone training or are scheduledto undergo training in the next year. Three that are on thePresident's itinerary -- Senegal, Uganda, and Ghana. And inaddition, there have been agreements signed with Ethiopia, Mali andMalawai. This program is to provide training and some communicationsequipment so that African militaries are better equipped to performpeacekeeping operations. And it is the most serious, most fullydeveloped effort by the United States to address Africa's securityproblems and to deal with Africa's militaries in particular.
There remains a significant problem with the AfricanCrisis Response Initiative in my view in that what is missing is theoverarching structures, the overarching principles, the overarchinginstitutions that will help guide when intervention is appropriate,is legitimate -- when, how, under whose authority -- those sets ofissues that Africa continues to wrestle with, trying to build thoseinstitutions to help establish when intervention is appropriate.
I'll conclude there and we'll take questions.
Q I don't want to take all your time, but may I justask, in each one of these countries what do you think the centralobjective is that the President either would like to or you think heshould try to accomplish. Frankly, the broad overview is great, butwe're going to have to report country by country.
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Let me take Ghana and Senegal and youtake South Africa.
First of all, I don't know how my colleagues feel, butI'm very delighted with the choice of countries. There's a goodregional balance. There was a little criticism of SecretaryAlbright's trip at the end of last year in terms of the choice ofcountries. Most of these countries fall within the democratizingcolumn.
With regard to Ghana, that was the first black Africanation to become independent, in 1957. Ghana has come a very longway, not only economically, but also politically. At the beginningof this decade, Rawlings, who is the head of state, was very muchopposed to the very kind of multiparty pluralist system that we nowhave. And Ghana now is moving in that positive direction.
With regard to Senegal, Senegal is a country that, ofcourse, has had elections in terms of certain sections of Senegalcalled communes, going back to the 19th century. And Senegal I thinkis the only Francophone country that's part of his visit. I thinkit's very important the United States
Q What is the term? I'm sorry, I'm not familiar withit.
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Francophone -- French-speakingcountry. I think -- I'm speaking personally -- I think the UnitedStates has been a little too hands off in terms of the area underFrench influence in Africa, and I think we need to be even moreassertive than we have been recently. So I'm very glad to see thatthere is a Francophone country, a French-speaking country. AndSenegal, like I said, is a country that has been democratizing.There are problems with its democracy, but in terms of civil societyit is very strong. So I think that's very positive.
Q If I could hold you there, what does the Presidentachieve, aside from the symbolism of him going to the first blackAfrican nation, and in Senegal a developing African nation? Is itonly symbolic? What does his visit do by going to those countries?
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Just quickly here, I think it'sabsolutely important that we go beyond the symbolism. It's veryimportant that Africa doesn't serve as a kind of backdrop to a lot ofwonderful photo opportunities, which it will do. I think it's veryimportant that when he goes to those countries the messages that havebeen delivered, the struggles that are still going on there, that theUnited States lend its way to it. All right, and we're talking aboutbuilding genuine market economies, building genuine democracies andsupporting conflict resolution efforts. So I think people are goingto be looking for a lot of the substance, not only during the trip,but also when he comes back from the trip.
Q Also, you mentioned something about going to aFrancophone country for the --
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: The only one on this trip, yes.
Q -- is significant, and it is, in fact, significantbecause historically, the U.S. has kept out of the region of interestin French-speaking Africa.
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Right.
Q What has changed in the last couple of years to putthe U.S. more assertively into the French-speaking section, and whatdo the French think about that?
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: All right, two quick things on this.First of all, because those countries have been experiencing thisdemocratic wave, Benin, a French-speaking country, was the one, infact, that had the first national conference and, in fact, which hadthe first election that led to the defeat of a long-term head ofstate. And so throughout those countries, you've had it, but you'vehad that part of Africa is where, in fact, I would not say that thewater is filling up; I would say the water is kind of going in theother direction.
So in many of those countries, if you take Cameroon, youtake Togo, they're not on this trip -- those are countries which nowhave elections and which have parties, but is all really forappearance. It's all for presentability. So I think in Senegal iswhere we can deliver that.
Now, how do the French feel about? They don't like it.When Secretary of State Christopher visited and made that trip, a lotof the French press was really about the Americans penetrating thisFrench zone. And, of course, with what happened in Zaire and withRwanda, it was really presented by the French as France is losing outand the Americans are taking over.
Well, there is a certain sense of which Americanprinciples have to take over, because French principles haven't donethe job.
MS. OTTAWAY: First, one more point. You have anotherFrancophone country, although very briefly, on your itinerary, andthat's Rwanda. The whole issue -- it was not a French colony, it wasa Belgian colony, but it is still a Francophone country. You mightalso want to take into consideration that President Museveni ofUganda keeps on saying we should stop talking about country as beingFrancophone or Anglophone, that African countries are Baltophone. Inother words, it's time to start leaving behind the colonial heritage.
Now, in terms of South Africa and to some extent also interms of all the other countries, I think if you are not -- you arenot looking, I think, if you are trying to think of the success ofthe trip and what he is trying to achieve, you are not looking atvery specific -- you are not looking at an agreement on disarmament,you are not looking at anything very concrete emerging from this,because that is not the kind of relations that the United States haswith African countries, and that's not where our interest in Africais.
Our interest in Africa at this point, besides thegeneral interest in promoting the sort of development in thesecountries, is really to help support the kind of transformation whichwould cause fewer crises in the future. I think the relation betweenthe United States and Africa has been crisis-driven in the past. Itwas a fear of communism, then it was the famine crisis, then it wasgenocide in Rwanda and those have been the events that have forcedthe United States to pay some attention to Africa.
I think what you have now, what is driving the interest,I think, is more the fact that there are countries that are beginningto stabilize. There are countries with which it is beginning to bepossible to establish more normal diplomatic relations, not theUnited States always being chasing fires in these countries, buthaving a much more normal relations. And I think it is othercountries that are on the itinerary.
If you take South Africa, I think South Africa, morethan anything else the trip is a celebration of the change that hastaken place there. I don't think there are any more concreteobjectives that the President is trying to achieve. This is acountry that has managed to put an end to apartheid. It is probablythe most successful model of reconciliation in Africa. Nobodybelieved -- I'm not trying to imply that there are no problems leftin terms of race relations in those countries, but given theconditions that existed until a few years ago, nobody believed thatthe change could have gone as smoothly as, in fact, it has gone.
So I would think that more than anything else, it'sreally a celebration of that event, the trip to South Africa. Andthe trip to Botswana, to some extent as well, because Botswana is acountry that, again, although it's far from perfect, it's a countrythat has been stable, that has been developing economically, hasenjoyed a very high rate of economical growth over the years. Ithelps a lot that it's a country that has a tiny population and a lotof diamonds, which never hurts in trying to bring about some change,but there are countries in Africa that also have tiny populations anda lot of oil, for example, that have not been able to get anywhere.
MR. LYONS: I'll just say one word because I know youhave other questions, and that is most of the countries that thePresident is traveling to, he will have an opportunity to emphasizethe positive side of Africa that is very real; he's not making upthis positive side in democracy, in economic development and soforth.
The tricky part of the trip, the part where the mostdifficult policies, choices, will have to be made is theUganda/Rwanda stops where some of the U.S. values of human rights,democracy, stability and so forth, if not, they are either -- thesequencing among those values or what are the balance among thosevalues need to be sorted out.
So it's not easy simply to go and congratulate theleaders, but a much more nuanced engagement. So the rest of the tripI think the motivation is easier, is self-evident, but that the realtricky part is the Uganda-Rwanda piece.
Q Isn't it also a tricky part of the trip when he'sasked about why the U.S. hasn't come up with a Nigeria policy, andisn't that controversial in the region?
PROFESSOR LYONS: No, I think that is also true. It isnot a coincidence that he is not going to Nigeria. We have verystrange relations with Nigeria at the moment, in part because oftheir transition or their non-transition to democracy.
Do you want to say something on Nigeria?
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: I can't help -- I've been involvedwith Nigeria for a long time. In fact, as I mentioned, I wasteaching in Nigeria when former President Carter visited Nigeria.Nigeria, the number one problem that the United States faces today inAfrica, it's a country of over 100 million people, it's a countrythat, in fact, should be really leading the way in a whole number ofareas, and that has not been happening.
The United States is, in fact, the major buyer ofNigerian oil, about somewhere between close to 50 percent of Nigerian-- between 40 percent and 50 percent of Nigerian oil comes to theUnited States. And two American firms, Mobil and Chevron are,themselves, responsible for well over 40 percent of the production ofNigeria. And, of course, 95 percent of government revenues inNigeria comes from that.
So we can't say, well, this is something hands off. Weare very much involved both in the producing end and at the buyingend. And I think that people -- we've been waiting for a long timefor the U.S. -- let me just say something that applies to Nigeria andapplies more generally, and also applies to this trip. TheUnited States is extremely important to Africans. I mean, that'ssomething that people must be aware of, and that when we do not speakor we speak with muffled tones, it really has an importantdifference.
I'm very glad that the President is going to Rwandabecause -- I mean, you all well know, in '94 we did not get decisiveaction. The same thing for many years in terms of Zaire. But Ithink what we would like to see is something on the front end, notafterwards when you've gotten into a catastrophe to say, well, weapologize for what happened. The question is, what we're you doingall of that time. And many of us are looking for something a littlemore decisive.
Q I also want to go back to an earlier point youmade. You said French principles have failed in Africa. Could youdefine what you mean by French principles?
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Could we just hold on for just asecond, because this person was trying to get --
Q -- the crisis response team, notably absent fromthe list that have signed on is South Africa, with most resources,militarily and economic. How big of a problem is that? What sort ofa statement does that make that South Africa won't step up and takethat on?
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: I would not read too much into it inthe sense that this is an initiative that is just beginning to getoff the ground. I think it is something that is very much in thepreliminary stage. There are -- so far there have been essentially asmall amount of training, but there are really no strong rules thateverybody has agreed to on how this force is going to be used, and soon. So that I would look at this -- I would not read any particularsignificance into that, very frankly, at this point. I think it'smore of saying wait and see how this develops in the next few --
PROFESSOR LYONS: If I could essentially agree with thatand add one other point. When Secretary Christopher first announcedthe African Crisis Response forces, as it was then known, SouthAfrica was initially critical. My understanding -- and you can talkto the people who will be briefing you from the State Department ingreater detail -- is that that -- the U.S. and South Africa have gonequite a bit towards coming up to a common understanding of what theAfrican Crisis Response Initiative can offer to southern Africa. SoI think some of the tensions of a year ago have been managed.
Q I realize that each country has its own set ofdynamics, but in general, what do you think these nations will beexpecting to hear from the President? What message do you thinkthey'll be most attuned to? What will they be listening for?
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: What they expect I think, more thananything else, is an acknowledgement that Africa exists and thatAfrica is important. In the early '90s, I mean, after the end of theCold War, there was an enormous amount of concern in Africa that theworld was going to forget about Africa. They thought the only reasonwhy the United States paid any attention was because of the fear ofcommunism, and that once that was over, then nobody would pay anyattention to Africa. So in that sense, from the African point ofview, the trip is extremely important.
What is also extremely important from the African point
of view is the message that Secretary Albright had when she went toAfrica. She kept on talking about partnership. And that reallyresonated extremely well in African countries in saying, essentially,you are beginning to take us seriously; that we are not justcountries where intervention is necessary, but we are part of thesolution to our own problems and you are willing to talk to us. Andthat for Africa is a big change.
PROFESSOR LYONS: I agree.
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: I want to combine just a couple ofthings on this point. For decades, the United States and France havesaid one thing and done another in Africa. Throughout the Cold Warperiod, the same principles we talked about, but what we did wasreally use Africa basically for our proxy battles. And we reallydidn't come through.
I think what they will be looking for from the Presidentis not just an enunciation of these ideas that they hear over andover again, but really trying to understand is, is the United Statesreally meant to put something behind that. And I think it's veryimportant for many of the countries. For example, countries, whenthey started democratizing, opening up -- I mean, assume that theyhad the United States there behind them, with them, that they wereresponding to this call -- when they started to move forward andstarted running into difficulties with fraudulent elections or withpolitical violence, and then they looked around and there was nofollow-up in terms of that.
And then the other thing I think people will be lookingfor is going to be what come out of this trip. If President Clintongoes there and has a wonderful experience in Africa -- which weexpect him to have because we go to the continent, we love it --well, I think that would be fine. But I think it's what comes afterit; to what extent Africa will really matter to the United States inconcrete terms.
And in that sense, since I'm up here, and I've come allthe way, let me mention some suggestions. For example, the Africansstarted out this whole transition with national conference. Whycan't we have a national conference on the United States and Africa,a conference like the President did on economic issues? Why can't wehave a national presidential conference, a one-day conference onAfrica to talk about, well, where do we go now in terms of thispartnership.
You're looking at three of us here; the number of usinvolved in African studies represent a certain resource for thiscountry. But they don't invest very much because a lot of these areastudies programs were connected with Cold War. I mean, this was thehistory of them. The United States needed to learn more about thosecountries so we can deal with the communist threat. Now there is nolonger a communist threat; why do we need these studies.
So I am saying that, yes, we do need those studiesbecause these issues are so complex and we need to think of how canwe contribute and in what kinds of ways we can do so. So here aresome concrete suggestions I would make in terms of positive outcomesfrom this.
Q You began by mentioning the suggestions to avoidsimplicities, and you gave one example. Could you give a couple moreexamples of where you think --
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: I'll do one -- and I think, becareful when you write about ethnic conflict. There are two things:One, keep in mind that the word tribal conflict is extremelyinsulting to Africans. And two, don't write about century old --
Q But is it true?
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: What?
Q I accept what you just said --
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: Let me finish. And don't writeabout century-old tribal conflicts in African countries because theconflicts that we talk about today usually go back 60, 70 years.That, in fact, the very definition of the ethnic groups that we knowtoday are ethnic groups that were defined as such during the colonialperiod; that in fact, that the Organization of African States systems-- and I don't want to give you a lecture on anthropology -- butwe're really on a much smaller scale, by and large, than what theyare considered tribes. And I hope that this to some extent answersyour questions of whether it is true.
Q It hasn't because I know very little about it. Butin looking at Rwanda, I, as a casual reader, thought that there weretwo tribes that were, in effect, killing each other. And that'swrong -- or is it right?
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: There are certainly two ethnicgroups that are killing each other. The concept of what is a tribeand what is an ethnic -- that is one thing. But also, don't say thatthere's conflict between Hutu and Tutsis goes back for centuries,because it does not, because the formal definition of who is a Hutuis who is a Tutsi did not come until the Belgians made Rwanda andBurundi into colonies.
Q So your point is that it's not a centuries-oldsituation?
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: Yes. It's real, but it's notsomething that goes back for millennia.
PROFESSOR LYONS: I want to actually, maybe first onthat point and then one broader point about simplicities -- the otherthing that I think the reason why people in Africa and people whofollow Africa professionally have such a sharp reaction to thesimplicity of it's a century-old tribal conflict is that it suggeststhat Group A and Group B simply hate each other and it'sincomprehensible and there's nothing that we can do. In fact, GroupA and Group B are usually fighting over very serious specific things-- political power, access to resources, who gets land. It's notsimply that the As hate the Bs because it's in their blood or intheir mother's milk or something like that, but there is a politicalcontext that is driving these conflicts which is not only to get it-- to be more accurate, but also because it is a contemporarypolitical context, not a century-old type of cultural struggle.There are policies that can be put in place and that the U.S.government can help put in place to manage those conflicts.If it's century-old tribal conflict, then you better stay away; butit's not.
Q It's not like the Serbs and the Muslims in theformer Yugoslavia, you're saying.
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: Let's not get -- I think they areequally complicated. But let's take the case of Rwanda and the Hutusand the Tutsis. There were specific organizations that were behindthe genocide. In other words, it's not -- too often, people write asif one day somebody woke up and said "I hate all the Tutsis," or "Ihate all the Hutus and let's go and exterminate them." What you haveis specific organization. What you have is specific organizationwith political agendas that are the ones that have driven thegenocide in Rwanda, that are driving the conflict in Burundi at thispoint. And these organizations have names, these organizations haveleaders. So that in a sense, in terms of what can be done aboutthese things, there is, in fact, a lot that can be done, in manycases.
Q There are sub-groups within these ethnic groupsthat are driving the violence?
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: They are political organizations.
Q Specifically a result of the colonial period?
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: You're getting into a verycomplicated area here. But this is an expert on it, and you reallyneed to sit down with her. Can I just get one thing, because withregard to the specificities, I wanted to say with regard to theeconomics and what Africans are expecting. As you know, Africancountries, for the large part are poor countries. The President willbe visiting countries like Botswana, which has had sustained growthover quite a long period; like Uganda and Ghana which has seen -- allthese countries have seen positive growth in recent years. But forthe large part, these are poor countries. They have been at thebottom of the social development index of the UNDP for a number ofyears.
Most of them are not going to get back to where theywere in 1970. Somewhere in the new century, in the millennia, interms of getting back to per capita, you're dealing with. Soalthough -- and one of the things that is constant, the one thingthat is common right across Africa is that all the countries now aretrying to build market economies. There are no alternatives. And intrying to build market economies, you can't build market economies,as you all well know, without capital and without access to markets.
This is why the African Growth and Opportunity Act is soimportant in terms of trying to make opportunities available inAfrica in terms of the flow of capital, because Africa has been somarginalized, and giving African countries access to our markets.
The second thing I want to say about the economy interms of specificities, is that -- again, getting back to Asia and interms of what the Asian countries -- now, with the crisis of theAsian countries, African countries are looking at it and seeing talkof $40 billion, $50 billion, and seeing trips by leading members ofthis government and the IMF back and forth to deal with leaders.Well, most African countries now have had over a decade of structuraladjustment programs. We've had a kind of a drop-by-drop approach.Countries like Tanzania and Mozambique spend more to service theirdebts than they do on education, in terms of Tanzania; or more thanthey do on education and health, as the case of Mozambique. So thesecountries are really dealing some very concrete concerns in thatarea. And it's really a drip-by-drip kind of approach instead of thekind of major approach to deal with it.
And I think President Clinton is going to find himselfsaying, why aren't we being treated as these Asian countries, when infact we have committed ourselves to these policies.
Q I'm from Ghana, so Africans look just like this.(Laughter.) What I wanted to ask is, for all that is said aboutstructure adjustment program, colonialism, imperialism, Cold War --Africans are looking for debt forgiveness and nobody has saidanything about that.
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: I just said so. Basically, Africa isbeing bled; it's bleeding from debt relief. You have to staunch thatbleeding. You can't, on the one hand, say that this is a continentthat's capital poor, and that you need to get capital inflows when,in fact, the countries are being squeezed of whatever capital emergesin order to replenish debts, to finance debts. I mean, we know thatthose debts were the result of problems in the past -- poor economicstrategies and all the rest. But I think the U.S. has a history --we forgive debts with United Kingdom far in excess of what we'retalking about in terms of Africa.
Q I'd just like to go back to my question. Youmentioned French principles and French policies. Can you say what itwas about the French role in Africa that failed, specifically?
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: All right. France's principles ofequality and fraternity and liberty for most of Africa has been amyth. France's relations -- you want to understand France'srelations with much of Africa is to think of the United Statesrelations with much of Latin and Central America for a very longtime.
In terms of our involvement there, in terms of supportfor dictatorial regimes, a lot of those regimes -- you take Togo withthe Eyadema; he's been in power now, for what, 1967, so that's over30 years and so on. So you have a structure that is built up overmany years. In 1990, in June of 1990, Francois Mitterrand, in aspeech that resonated all across -- and, by the way, I want to comeback to this issue of France, for France it is important that this isFrench-speaking Africa and it is important that Rwanda seems to beslipping into the American zone and that the person who really leadsthat government spent all his years in Uganda and talks more inEnglish, rather than in French. This is important for France.
But for France, for a very long period of time they havebuilt a -- I mentioned that Mitterrand made a statement in which hecame out saying that France will provide assistance to governmentsaccording to the vigor with which they promote a democratizing andopening of their governments. And many people in those countriesfeel finally France is now going to be on the support, on the side ofthe democratic movement. Well, when it came to the crunch and thosevery same regimes came under challenge -- for example, I mentionedthe case of Cameroon and I mentioned the case of Togo -- we found, infact, France moving to bail those countries out, to help them outwhen they came under pressure. And so there's a great deal offrustration now in many of those countries with those policies.
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: Can I follow up a moment on that,because I think there is another way of looking at that. I'm notsure that from the French point of view their policy failed in thepast, because their policy was not to promote democracy in Africa,their policy was to maintain the Franco-foreign countries in theFrench's sphere of influence. What is beginning to change is thatthe French are no longer willing to pay the price for maintainingthose countries in their sphere of influence. And I think that'swhere the change comes at this point -- that they're beginning tostep back. They're not willing to make the investment that they madeover the years to maintain those countries in their sphere ofinfluence, including supporting their currencies and a lot of otherthings.
And at this point, they don't quite know where to gobecause they know that if they don't continue making that investmentthey are losing ground. They see the United States playing a moreimportant role, which they don't like seeing. But I don't think theyare willing -- the political situation at home, the economicsituation at home, a lot of things, are such as to allow them tocontinue making that same investment that they were making before.
Q This country has a certain collective amnesia aboutwhat happened in Somalia. The President is obviously not goinganywhere near there. But can you give us a quick update on thesituation there and is there anything the President can say or do totry and get a settlement to the conflict?
PROFESSOR LYONS: Yes. Somalia remains without agovernment, with a long and frustrating series of attempts to havemeetings to bring the various warring factions and other constituentparts of the nation together. But there's been very little progresson that front.
My sense is that part of the problem in the mid-'90s, orthe earlier '90s, when we were involved in Somalia, was that thevarious groups within Somalia playing towards the internationalcommunity -- taking positions, making agreements in order to getresources out of the international community -- was part of theproblem. And so I'm not sure that there is much constructive thatcan be done at this moment without reenergizing that dynamic ofgroups saying things and doing things in order to position themselvesvis a vis the United States, the United Nations and other actors inthe international community -- that Somalia remains a very difficultplace in which this very difficult life for the Somalis who did notmanage -- did not get out of their conflict. But there's no obviouspolicy answers from what the United States could do to promote thatat this point.
Q I wonder if you all aren't being a little bit toopolite in terms of what this means for France. This trip is comingafter the fall of Rwanda to English-speaking guerrillas, backed byUganda, and it's coming after the fall of Zaire to guerrillas backedby Rwanda, Uganda and other countries. It seems to me --how would you respond to the assertion that the Clintonadministration, by making this trip, is unabashedly embracingAfrica's new generation of leaders, like you said, Dr. Ottaway, thereare -- Ethiopia, Uganda, and Rwanda, number one. And number two, bydeciding at the last minute to visit Rwanda, a country which, thoughit's still French as an official language, is now clearly out ofFrance's orbit, isn't the Clinton administration waving the flagthat, yes, U.S. influence in Africa is rising, and doesn't thissignal that really the Francophone period is somewhat over?
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: He is not going -- he's only goingto a Francophone country -- I mean, he's going to two, but in termsof the original plan, he is only going to one Francophone country.And in the case of Rwanda, Rwanda was put on the agenda, as far as Iunderstand, because of a decision that the issue of the genocide inRwanda really needs to be acknowledged. So that I don't think theirrelations with France had very much to do with it.
Is France going to not like the trip? Probably not.But I don't think it was -- I'm not sure that, I really doubt thatFrench-U.S. relations played a very important role in the planning ofthe trip as it was.
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Let me just -- there's obviously adifference of opinion up here. I have worked on the issue of Francefor a long time and one of my first books was called Gaulist Africa.
Q Is it still in print?
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Yes, all my books are in print.(Laughter.) And let me just say, so with regard to the situation, Ido believe -- I'm trying to be as diplomatic as I can up here becausethis is not our academic symposium. Every time there is a visit of ahigh-level American to Africa, you will not believe the reporting inthe French press. They really see this as such a great threat. Thevisit from President Clinton is going to cause tremendousnervousness.
That when, in fact, you had the overthrow of thegovernment in Zaire -- and I can send my dear colleague a lot of thematerials that were sent to me -- in fact, this was described as oneof France's greatest foreign policy setbacks of this century. Allright? France was very deeply involved with Javier Romana (sp) whowas the leader of that government in Rwanda when he was overthrown.As we speak, there is currently an investigation going on in Francehaving to do with France's role in that.
In terms of Mobutu, France worked very hard to try toprotect Mobutu in a whole number of ways. Most recently, France wasinvolved in the Congo Republic, where we had somebody who wasdefeated in one of these first waves of elections and who came backand overthrew a government. And these things -- for example, therole of ELF-Aquitaine, which is a partly-owned French company, is nowunder investigation judicially in France because of all the payoffsand so on that are involved. And I don't think we should minimizethat situation and what the involvement in America means for it.
Q I'd like if one of you would give us a big pictureview here of what is the promise for sub-Saharan Africa writ largemoving into the next century, and in that context, what sort ofmoment do you see President Clinton's visit being.
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: Promise more than anything else isjoining the international markets. I think that is what in the endis going to make or break Africa in the future. I think the economicreforms that are underway in a lot of African countries are beginningto make it possible. Investment is still very slow, but it isbeginning -- the flow of investment in Africa is increasing, althoughit certainly is a very small percentage of the total foreigninvestment. And I think that's the most important thing in the longrun in terms of the continent.
Q Beyond the fact that they're potential customers inAfrica, and the natural humanitarian feelings, is there any strategicimportance of Africa to the United States?
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: The Sudan is a country on theinternational terrorist list. There is an interest of the UnitedStates in containing the Sudan and it's not accidental that some ofthe countries with which we have the best relations now, that areamong the major recipients of U.S. foreign aid are Uganda, Eritrea,and Ethiopia. Look at the map and it's quite obvious why that is thecase.
I would not put that interest, that strategic interest,if you want, very high up in terms of -- if you look at the bigpicture. But that is the most important area.
PROFESSOR LYONS. To answer that with a differentexample is that another thing that I hope comes out in this trip, andI expect it will because of the visit to Senegal, is that a number ofAfrican countries have been willing to stand up and to supportinternational peacekeeping, in particular, U.N. peacekeeping. As youknow, the Secretary General of the United Nations, from Ghana, usedto be the head of the Department of Peacekeeping. There have been anumber of African leaders of U.N. operations, not only in Africa, butin places like the Sinai. And Africans have contributed troops toHaiti and Cambodia. Senegal contributed troops to the Gulf War. Andwhen the world and the United States has turned and said, we needhelp, African troops and African peacekeepers have been willing to dothat. And that is a role that we would like to continue to see themplay. That's part of the African Crisis Response Initiative.
But I also think it behooves us as a great power, theUnited States, to recognize that Africans have made a contribution tointernational peacekeeping and it is only reasonable for them toexpect the United States and the broader international community torespond to their request for assistance.
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Can I just say my final word on thebig picture? And just on two subjects. Those of us who read work onAfrica, when we read about what's happening in other areas of theworld we think also about Africa. And recently, reading about what'sgoing on in Kosovo, and reading Secretary Albright's very, verystrong statement -- and in that, she talked about America's moralresponsibility -- and I think, as the only superpower, in addition tostrategic, we now have a certain moral responsibility that isexpected of the U.S. with regard to some of these issues in Nigeria.
The second point I want to mention is that with regardto dealing with Africa, that most of the involvement with Africa sofar has been of our corporations which go in and deal with mineralextraction -- oil and minerals and so on. And if you look at thecountries that have been involved in this -- Zaire, and in terms ofNigeria -- those countries have gotten poorer while, in fact, moreand more of that mineral wealth has been taken out.
So now that they're talking about corporations involvedonce again in Africa, I think the whole issue of corporateresponsibilities get involved. Are they going to get involved inAfrica and become cloaks for corruption and supports for cronyism andthat sort of thing, or is there going to be a kind of new corporateresponsibility in terms of how they actually do business in thecontinent. I think those are the kinds of things that at least we'llbe looking at.
Q Are any of you going with the President to Africa?
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: No, no, no, unfortunately.(Laughter.)
Q You know, except for government officials, thePresident's principal outside advisor on this trip will be theReverend Jesse Jackson, rather than one of you. I wonder why. Well,well.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
Africa Trip Briefings
Remarks on the Bilateral Meeting
African Crisis Response Initiative
Press Briefing by David Sandalow
Press Briefing by Mike McCurry
Ron Brown Commercial Center
Delegation Accompanying the President to Africa
Press Briefing by Sandy Berger
Briefing at Accra, Ghana
Safe Skies for Africa Initiatives
Briefing by Scholars on Africa
Interview of Gloriosa Uwimpuhwe
Joint Press Briefing
Press Briefing on Africa Trip
Radio Democracy for Africa
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