THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY PROFESSOR RICHARD ANTHONY JOSEPH, MARINA SEASSARO OTTAWAY, AND TERRENCE LYONS, AFRICA SCHOLARS
The Briefing Room
11:38 A.M. EST
MS. LUZZATTO: You have the bio of our three Africa scholars, so I won't go through all that. But I will give their names for the record: Richard Anthony Joseph from Emory University; Marina Ottaway, who is at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a lecturer at Johns Hopkins; and Terrence Lyons, a Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at Brookings are going to brief you on Africa.
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Thank you very much. We're very pleased to have this opportunity. We just were given a few minutes to say some words of introduction. I'm going to say a little about U.S. relations with Africa and the importance of this visit, and I'm also going to say a little about the whole issue of economic development.
With regard to U.S. relations with Africa, this will be an extremely important visit. It's only the second state visit of a U.S. President to Africa. The first took place in 1978 under President Carter, and the second, of course, will take place in a matter of weeks. I happen to have been in Nigeria when President Carter visited, so I was able to see it from the other side.
I think there is an opportunity for a new partnership with Africa. There was a White House conference in 1994 here at the White House, and we are very glad to see, because one of our major recommendations was that President Clinton needed to go to Africa and that the United States needed to take Africa seriously.
I think this trip, from my standpoint, is really going to be a great learning experience both for the President and also for many of the journalists who will be visiting. Our hope is that you will be able to get beyond the simplicities that is usually presented about Africa and into some of the complexities.
Let me just move on and say a few words about economic development. You would have heard that many African countries recently have been experiencing renewed economic growth. But I think you need to get beyond the figures where they give you four percent, five percent, seven percent, even eight percent in the case of countries like Uganda and ask what does it really mean.
In the case of Africa, you cannot talk about economic development without talking about what is happening to the state in Africa in terms of state-building in Africa, or to talk about what is happening with regard to society in Africa.
A lot of the growth that has taken place have taken place in economies that had contracted severely. Ghana will be the first country on his trip, which has made tremendous progress in recent years over the past decade; so, also, has Uganda. But these are economies that have greatly contracted through the crises of before. Secondly, they are showing growth as a result of economic liberalization policies promoted by the World Bank, the IMF and other institutions, generally known as structural adjustment policies. But those programs have also had a severe effect on African societies in terms of issues of social spending, areas of unemployment, education and health and so on.
We all know that you can't have economic development without actually developing societies. So in many cases now, we really have countries that are growing in terms of economic statistics, but -- frankly, societies, themselves, under-developing in terms of resources.
Now, Ghana, for example, recently you had Ghanians returning to Ghana -- professional Ghanians returning to Ghana. And this, 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 of introduction is that for a long time, African countries were told that look at those Asian countries; why aren't you all developing like those Asian countries in terms of their high growth rates. And they are developing because they are putting development before democracy, linkages between the state bureaucracy and corporations and so on.
Today is a different story. Those same countries are being criticized because of the lack of transparency, the lack of accountability, the lack of the rule of law. And so in Africa, fortunately, that message didn't sink too deeply. I mean, a lot of the emphasis has been on issues of good governance, of returning to constitutional government, of transparency and accountability and the importance of linking economic developing with what is happening both in the political realm and the economic realm.
So I will stop there. Those are my introductory comments.
MS. OTTAWAY: I'll pick up from Richard. I'm supposed to talk about democracy and human rights. Just by way of background for the last 20, 25 years, most -- until the early '90s, most African countries had either single-party systems or military regimes. There were 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 to maintain at least a moderate amount of democracy. They had multiparty systems that had regular elections. They also had dominant parties. In other words, they had competitive elections, but the same party always won the election, so that they had never any turnover.
But it seems to have happened without any real cheating on the part of the government; that's the way the power was distributed in those countries.
Now, this picture of few semi-democracy and essentially a large number of military regimes starts changing in the 1990s. And since then, we have, I think, a very much more complex picture. And there are -- I think you could divide the countries in three major groups. One is countries that are making progress, moving at least formally towards multiparty democracy. Among the countries that we are visiting, Ghana and South Africa belong in that category. These are countries that have amended their constitutions to allow multiparty elections. South Africa, of course, had multiparty elections before, except all the black parties were banned, and therefore, the real competition did not take place.
But, essentially, countries that have amended their constitutions, that have held multiparty elections, more or less successfully, in some cases with greater degree of freedom and fairness than in other cases.
There has also been some progress made in these countries towards reforming institutions. Parliaments are beginning to function in some cases. The judiciary is beginning to be freer. The press is beginning to be freer than it was before. You cannot say that these countries have now become democratic. I think what is important to keep in mind, though, is where they are coming from. If you are thinking of a glass that's half full or half empty, it's a glass in which water is coming in and not going out, if I can put it that 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 regime that starts out as a military regime. It goes through two sides of elections, one very poorly conducted, the second one much better conducted in 1996. But there is always a lingering doubt: Well, is the power of this president merely the result of election or the results that he controlled the military in the first place.
So you have -- I think one has to be careful about not going too far in terms of how much change there has been in these countries. But it is certainly very much a step in the right direct.
The second group of countries is the most controversial one. And these are the countries that are led by what has been called "the second generation of African leaders." Among the countries you are going to, Uganda is the one that is really the most representative of this group. Other countries in these groups are: Ethiopia and Eritrea and the presidents of both countries are coming down to Uganda, I think, while you are going to be there, and to some extent, Rwanda belongs to that group. And these are countries that were countries that went for a long period of civil war. They were then taken in hand by leaders, very strong leaders, essentially, all of them coming out of the military. And these leaders have done an incredible job in terms of pulling those countries back together. I mean, 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 have some positive rates of economical growth and so on. In the case of Uganda, the rates of economic growth have been extremely high. They have for a sustained period of time, so that there is real change there.
What makes them very controversial is that these are not democratic leaders. In fact, they all have taken a very firm position and very outspoken position. Yes, we do believe in democracy at some point in the future, but for the time being, we cannot have multiparty elections in these countries because the parties are still the same old parties that -- ethnic conflict in the past, essentially they're the parties that destroyed the countries to begin with. And if we hold elections now, we go back to square one.
How credible is that argument? There are question marks, of course. There are serious question marks for the future. But if you take the case of Uganda for example, they're an interesting situation, because the country -- the parties are not allowed to compete in the elections, but they are not banned. They still exist; they are there. Some of them have their own newspapers. The press is quite free in Uganda, by and large. The human rights record is not bad; everything considered. It's must better than in a lot 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 and you are not going to any of them for reasons that are not too difficult to understand, that are the ones in which where very little change has taken place. Countries that, in a sense, are really pre-transition countries. And you have Nigeria there as the major example, and then you have a number of countries that are still bogged down in conflict.
And I stop here and let Terry come on and talk about the conflicts that are taking place now.
MR. LYONS: Thank you. I am Terrence Lyons from the Brookings Institution. I want to start off with a very broad picture of Africa with relation to conflict management and the developments towards resolving some conflicts, giving you kind of a balance sheet and then speaking specifically to some of the countries that are on the President's agenda.
As with the record on democracy and also on economic development, there is a very mixed picture in Africa. But what we, I think, have missed is some of the stories of very small, less dramatic incremental progress. Those stories have become lost in the very dramatic stories of some of the horrible violence that we've also seen.
The President's trip will, obviously, in general, go to countries that are not currently experiencing conflict, with one very important exception that I will speak to in a minute, and that's the series of conflicts that are linked together in Central Africa, in the Great Lakes region, particularly Rwanda and Uganda.
Let me just say a word about how Africa has fared with relation to conflict resolution and conflict management in the 1990s. A number of the most brutal and vicious conflicts have ended in the 1990s. Uganda, one of the stops on the trip, went through a terrible period of conflict in the early '80s and actually has been relatively stable since 1986.
Ethiopia-Eritrea ended a long period of conflict in the early '90s. Namibia ended its war. Mozambique, South Africa. Liberia, although much more tenuously and much more recently has ended its conflict. And we hope recent positive developments in Sierra Leon, West Africa and Angola in southern Africa, provide the opportunity for reenforcing and building up the peace processes there.
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. I just want to -- because it's places that you're going -- to make you aware of that there continues to be a rather low-level, but longstanding insurgency within Senegal -- which is in the very southern part of Senegal. That has been difficult for the Senegalese government to manage. But please don't misunderstand me. I'm not talking about large-scale civil war, like Uganda; rather like Rwanda or Sudan, but continued low-level violence in that region.
And second of all, there continues to be politically motivated, communally driven violence in South Africa. And in addition, that South Africa is suffering from a very, very serious organized violent crime problem, crime with people with automatic guns holding up, car-jackings and so on.
So these problems remain within Africa to varying degrees, but to take Dr. Ottaway's point, the glass in my view is clearly filling up, that there is more good news than bad on the conflict resolution front.
Let me give you a couple of thoughts about the interlinked set of conflicts in what is called the Great Lakes region, or Central Africa. These are conflicts that in many ways are linked to or result from the spillover effects from the horrors of the 1994 genocide within Rwanda. And the region continues to beset by problems of new regimes struggling to build new institutions and resolve the lingering aftermath of conflicts.
In Rwanda, its neighbor Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo -- the ex-Zaire -- continue to suffer from dangerous violence. There's regular conflicts. And interlinked, spillover conflicts from this central set of conflicts spill over into other countries of the region. These enormously complex conflicts in the Great Lakes to me illustrate the importance of taking a long-term view of conflict management. These are not conflicts that are instantly going to be solved that a single peace agreement or a single election will manage. And I believe there is a role for the international community in general and the United States in particular to demonstrate its commitment, its willingness to be in for the long-term to help manage these problems.
Let me conclude with one final point that relates to U.S. policy with relation to conflict management. You will undoubtedly hear, perhaps in your final stop in Senegal, about the Africa crisis response initiative. This is the idea that started during Secretary Christopher's trip to Africa and after going through what was a difficult gestation period is now beginning to be operational.
In particular, six Africa countries -- is it six -- yes, six Africa countries have either undergone training or are scheduled to undergo training in the next year. Three that are on the President's itinerary -- Senegal, Uganda, and Ghana. And in addition, there have been agreements signed with Ethiopia, Mali and Malawai. This program is to provide training and some communications equipment so that African militaries are better equipped to perform peacekeeping operations. And it is the most serious, most fully developed effort by the United States to address Africa's security problems and to deal with Africa's militaries in particular.
There remains a significant problem with the African Crisis Response Initiative in my view in that what is missing is the overarching structures, the overarching principles, the overarching institutions that will help guide when intervention is appropriate, is legitimate -- when, how, under whose authority -- those sets of issues that Africa continues to wrestle with, trying to build those institutions 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 just ask, in each one of these countries what do you think the central objective is that the President either would like to or you think he should try to accomplish. Frankly, the broad overview is great, but we're going to have to report country by country.
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Let me take Ghana and Senegal and you take South Africa.
First of all, I don't know how my colleagues feel, but I'm very delighted with the choice of countries. There's a good regional balance. There was a little criticism of Secretary Albright's trip at the end of last year in terms of the choice of countries. Most of these countries fall within the democratizing column.
With regard to Ghana, that was the first black Africa nation to become independent, in 1957. Ghana has come a very long way, not only economically, but also politically. At the beginning of this decade, Rawlings, who is the head of state, was very much opposed to the very kind of multiparty pluralist system that we now have. And Ghana now is moving in that positive direction.
With regard to Senegal, Senegal is a country that, of course, has had elections in terms of certain sections of Senegal called communes, going back to the 19th century. And Senegal I think is the only Francophone country that's part of his visit. I think it's very important the United States
Q What is the term? I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with it.
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Francophone -- French-speaking country. I think -- I'm speaking personally -- I think the United States has been a little too hands off in terms of the area under French influence in Africa, and I think we need to be even more assertive than we have been recently. So I'm very glad to see that there is a Francophone country, a French-speaking country. And Senegal, like I said, is a country that has been democratizing. There are problems with its democracy, but in terms of civil society it is very strong. So I think that's very positive.
Q If I could hold you there, what does the President achieve, aside from the symbolism of him going to the first black African nation, and in Senegal a developing African nation? Is it only symbolic? What does his visit do by going to those countries?
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Just quickly here, I think it's absolutely important that we go beyond the symbolism. It's very important that Africa doesn't serve as a kind of backdrop to a lot of wonderful photo opportunities, which it will do. I think it's very important that when he goes to those countries the messages that have been delivered, the struggles that are still going on there, that the United States lend its way to it. All right, and we're talking about building genuine market economies, building genuine democracies and supporting conflict resolution efforts. So I think people are going to 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 a Francophone country for the --
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: The only one on this trip, yes.
Q -- is significant, and it is, in fact, significant because historically, the U.S. has kept out of the region of interest in French-speaking Africa.
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Right.
Q What has changed in the last couple of years to put the U.S. more assertively into the French-speaking section, and what do the French think about that?
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: All right, two quick things on this. First of all, because those countries have been experiencing this democratic wave, Benin, a French-speaking country, was the one, in fact, that had the first national conference and, in fact, which had the first election that led to the defeat of a long-term head of state. And so throughout those countries, you've had it, but you've had that part of Africa is where, in fact, I would not say that the water is filling up; I would say the water is kind of going in the other direction.
So in many of those countries, if you take Cameroon, you take Togo, they're not on this trip -- those are countries which now have elections and which have parties, but is all really for appearance. It's all for presentability. So I think in Senegal is where 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 lot of the French press was really about the Americans penetrating this French zone. And, of course, with what happened in Zaire and with Rwanda, it was really presented by the French as France is losing out and the Americans are taking over.
Well, there is a certain sense of which American principles have to take over, because French principles haven't done the job.
MS. OTTAWAY: First, one more point. You have another Francophone country, although very briefly, on your itinerary, and that's Rwanda. The whole issue -- it was not a French colony, it was a Belgian colony, but it is still a Francophone country. You might also want to take into consideration that President Museveni of Uganda keeps on saying we should stop talking about country as being Francophone or Anglophone, that African countries are Baltophone. In other words, it's time to start leaving behind the colonial heritage.
Now, in terms of South Africa and to some extent also in terms of all the other countries, I think if you are not -- you are not looking, I think, if you are trying to think of the success of the trip and what he is trying to achieve, you are not looking at very 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 has with African countries, and that's not where our interest in Africa is.
Our interest in Africa at this point, besides the general interest in promoting the sort of development in these countries, is really to help support the kind of transformation which would cause fewer crises in the future. I think the relation between the United States and Africa has been crisis-driven in the past. It was a fear of communism, then it was the famine crisis, then it was genocide in Rwanda and those have been the events that have forced the 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 beginning to stabilize. There are countries with which it is beginning to be possible to establish more normal diplomatic relations, not the United States always being chasing fires in these countries, but having a much more normal relations. And I think it is other countries that are on the itinerary.
If you take South Africa, I think South Africa, more than anything else the trip is a celebration of the change that has taken place there. I don't think there are any more concrete objectives that the President is trying to achieve. This is a country that has managed to put an end to apartheid. It is probably the most successful model of reconciliation in Africa. Nobody believed -- I'm not trying to imply that there are no problems left in terms of race relations in those countries, but given the conditions that existed until a few years ago, nobody believed that the change could have gone as smoothly as, in fact, it has gone.
So I would think that more than anything else, it's really a celebration of that event, the trip to South Africa. And the trip to Botswana, to some extent as well, because Botswana is a country that, again, although it's far from perfect, it's a country that has been stable, that has been developing economically, has enjoyed a very high rate of economical growth over the years. It helps a lot that it's a country that has a tiny population and a lot of diamonds, which never hurts in trying to bring about some change, but there are countries in Africa that also have tiny populations and a lot of oil, for example, that have not been able to get anywhere.
MR. LYONS: I'll just say one word because I know you have other questions, and that is most of the countries that the President is traveling to, he will have an opportunity to emphasize the positive side of Africa that is very real; he's not making up this positive side in democracy, in economic development and so forth.
The tricky part of the trip, the part where the most difficult policies, choices, will have to be made is the Uganda/Rwanda stops where some of the U.S. values of human rights, democracy, stability and so forth, if not, they are either -- the sequencing among those values or what are the balance among those values need to be sorted out.
So it's not easy simply to go and congratulate the leaders, but a much more nuanced engagement. So the rest of the trip I think the motivation is easier, is self-evident, but that the real tricky part is the Uganda-Rwanda piece.
Q Isn't it also a tricky part of the trip when he's asked about why the U.S. hasn't come up with a Nigeria policy, and isn't that controversial in the region?
PROFESSOR LYONS: No, I think that is also true. It is not a coincidence that he is not going to Nigeria. We have very strange relations with Nigeria at the moment, in part because of their transition or their non-transition to democracy.
Do you want to say something on Nigeria?
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: I can't help -- I've been involved with Nigeria for a long time. In fact, as I mentioned, I was teaching in Nigeria when former President Carter visited Nigeria. Nigeria, the number one problem that the United States faces today in Africa, it's a country of over 100 million people, it's a country that, in fact, should be really leading the way in a whole number of areas, and that has not been happening.
The United States is, in fact, the major buyer of Nigerian oil, about somewhere between close to 50 percent of Nigerian -- between 40 percent and 50 percent of Nigerian oil comes to the United States. And two American firms, Mobil and Chevron are, themselves, responsible for well over 40 percent of the production of Nigeria. And, of course, 95 percent of government revenues in Nigeria comes from that.
So we can't say, well, this is something hands off. We are very much involved both in the producing end and at the buying end. And I think that people -- we've been waiting for a long time for the U.S. -- let me just say something that applies to Nigeria and applies more generally, and also applies to this trip. The United States is extremely important to Africans. I mean, that's something that people must be aware of, and that when we do not speak or we speak with muffled tones, it really has an important difference.
I'm very glad that the President is going to Rwanda because -- I mean, you all well know, in '94 we did not get decisive action. The same thing for many years in terms of Zaire. But I think what we would like to see is something on the front end, not afterwards when you've gotten into a catastrophe to say, well, we apologize for what happened. The question is, what we're you doing all of that time. And many of us are looking for something a little more decisive.
Q I also want to go back to an earlier point you made. You said French principles have failed in Africa. Could you define what you mean by French principles?
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Could we just hold on for just a second, because this person was trying to get --
Q -- the crisis response team, notably absent from the list that have signed on is South Africa, with most resources, militarily and economic. How big of a problem is that? What sort of a statement does that make that South Africa won't step up and take that on?
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: I would not read too much into it in the sense that this is an initiative that is just beginning to get off the ground. I think it is something that is very much in the preliminary stage. There are -- so far there have been essentially a small amount of training, but there are really no strong rules that everybody has agreed to on how this force is going to be used, and so on. So that I would look at this -- I would not read any particular significance into that, very frankly, at this point. I think it's more of saying wait and see how this develops in the next few --
PROFESSOR LYONS: If I could essentially agree with that and add one other point. When Secretary Christopher first announced the African Crisis Response forces, as it was then known, South Africa was initially critical. My understanding -- and you can talk to the people who will be briefing you from the State Department in greater detail -- is that that -- the U.S. and South Africa have gone quite a bit towards coming up to a common understanding of what the African Crisis Response Initiative can offer to southern Africa. So I think some of the tensions of a year ago have been managed.
Q I realize that each country has its own set of dynamics, but in general, what do you think these nations will be expecting to hear from the President? What message do you think they'll be most attuned to? What will they be listening for?
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: What they expect I think, more than anything else, is an acknowledgement that Africa exists and that Africa is important. In the early '90s, I mean, after the end of the Cold War, there was an enormous amount of concern in Africa that the world was going to forget about Africa. They thought the only reason why the United States paid any attention was because of the fear of communism, and that once that was over, then nobody would pay any attention to Africa. So in that sense, from the African point of view, 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 to Africa. She kept on talking about partnership. And that really resonated extremely well in African countries in saying, essentially, you are beginning to take us seriously; that we are not just countries where intervention is necessary, but we are part of the solution to our own problems and you are willing to talk to us. And that for Africa is a big change.
PROFESSOR LYONS: I agree.
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: I want to combine just a couple of things on this point. For decades, the United States and France have said one thing and done another in Africa. Throughout the Cold War period, the same principles we talked about, but what we did was really use Africa basically for our proxy battles. And we really didn't come through.
I think what they will be looking for from the President is not just an enunciation of these ideas that they hear over and over again, but really trying to understand is, is the United States really meant to put something behind that. And I think it's very important for many of the countries. For example, countries, when they started democratizing, opening up -- I mean, assume that they had the United States there behind them, with them, that they were responding to this call -- when they started to move forward and started running into difficulties with fraudulent elections or with political violence, and then they looked around and there was no follow-up in terms of that.
And then the other thing I think people will be looking for is going to be what come out of this trip. If President Clinton goes there and has a wonderful experience in Africa -- which we expect 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 after it; to what extent Africa will really matter to the United States in concrete terms.
And in that sense, since I'm up here, and I've come all the way, let me mention some suggestions. For example, the Africans started out this whole transition with national conference. Why can't we have a national conference on the United States and Africa, a conference like the President did on economic issues? Why can't we have a national presidential conference, a one-day conference on Africa to talk about, well, where do we go now in terms of this partnership.
You're looking at three of us here; the number of us involved in African studies represent a certain resource for this country. But they don't invest very much because a lot of these area studies programs were connected with Cold War. I mean, this was the history of them. The United States needed to learn more about those countries so we can deal with the communist threat. Now there is no longer a communist threat; why do we need these studies.
So I am saying that, yes, we do need those studies because these issues are so complex and we need to think of how can we contribute and in what kinds of ways we can do so. So here are some concrete suggestions I would make in terms of positive outcomes from this.
Q You began by mentioning the suggestions to avoid simplicities, and you gave one example. Could you give a couple more examples of where you think --
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: I'll do one -- and I think, be careful when you write about ethnic conflict. There are two things: One, keep in mind that the word tribal conflict is extremely insulting 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 write about century-old tribal conflicts in African countries because the conflicts that we talk about today usually go back 60, 70 years. That, in fact, the very definition of the ethnic groups that we know today are ethnic groups that were defined as such during the colonial period; that in fact, that the Organization of African States systems -- and I don't want to give you a lecture on anthropology -- but we're really on a much smaller scale, by and large, than what they are considered tribes. And I hope that this to some extent answers your questions of whether it is true.
Q It hasn't because I know very little about it. But in looking at Rwanda, I, as a casual reader, thought that there were two tribes that were, in effect, killing each other. And that's wrong -- or is it right?
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: There are certainly two ethnic groups that are killing each other. The concept of what is a tribe and what is an ethnic -- that is one thing. But also, don't say that there's conflict between Hutu and Tutsis goes back for centuries, because it does not, because the formal definition of who is a Hutu is who is a Tutsi did not come until the Belgians made Rwanda and Burundi into colonies.
Q So your point is that it's not a centuries-old situation?
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: Yes. It's real, but it's not something that goes back for millennia.
PROFESSOR LYONS: I want to actually, maybe first on that point and then one broader point about simplicities -- the other thing that I think the reason why people in Africa and people who follow Africa professionally have such a sharp reaction to the simplicity of it's a century-old tribal conflict is that it suggests that Group A and Group B simply hate each other and it's incomprehensible and there's nothing that we can do. In fact, Group A and Group B are usually fighting over very serious specific things -- political power, access to resources, who gets land. It's not simply that the As hate the Bs because it's in their blood or in their mother's milk or something like that, but there is a political context that is driving these conflicts which is not only to get it -- to be more accurate, but also because it is a contemporary political 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; but it's not.
Q It's not like the Serbs and the Muslims in the former Yugoslavia, you're saying.
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: Let's not get -- I think they are equally complicated. But let's take the case of Rwanda and the Hutus and the Tutsis. There were specific organizations that were behind the genocide. In other words, it's not -- too often, people write as if one day somebody woke up and said "I hate all the Tutsis," or "I hate all the Hutus and let's go and exterminate them." What you have is specific organization. What you have is specific organization with political agendas that are the ones that have driven the genocide in Rwanda, that are driving the conflict in Burundi at this point. And these organizations have names, these organizations have leaders. So that in a sense, in terms of what can be done about these things, there is, in fact, a lot that can be done, in many cases.
Q There are sub-groups within these ethnic groups that 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 very complicated area here. But this is an expert on it, and you really need to sit down with her. Can I just get one thing, because with regard to the specificities, I wanted to say with regard to the economics and what Africans are expecting. As you know, African countries, for the large part are poor countries. The President will be visiting countries like Botswana, which has had sustained growth over quite a long period; like Uganda and Ghana which has seen -- all these countries have seen positive growth in recent years. But for the large part, these are poor countries. They have been at the bottom of the social development index of the UNDP for a number of years.
Most of them are not going to get back to where they were in 1970. Somewhere in the new century, in the millennia, in terms of getting back to per capita, you're dealing with. So although -- and one of the things that is constant, the one thing that is common right across Africa is that all the countries now are trying to build market economies. There are no alternatives. And in trying 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 so important in terms of trying to make opportunities available in Africa in terms of the flow of capital, because Africa has been so marginalized, and giving African countries access to our markets.
The second thing I want to say about the economy in terms of specificities, is that -- again, getting back to Asia and in terms of what the Asian countries -- now, with the crisis of the Asian countries, African countries are looking at it and seeing talk of $40 billion, $50 billion, and seeing trips by leading members of this government and the IMF back and forth to deal with leaders. Well, most African countries now have had over a decade of structural adjustment programs. We've had a kind of a drop-by-drop approach. Countries like Tanzania and Mozambique spend more to service their debts than they do on education, in terms of Tanzania; or more than they do on education and health, as the case of Mozambique. So these countries are really dealing some very concrete concerns in that area. And it's really a drip-by-drip kind of approach instead of the kind of major approach to deal with it.
And I think President Clinton is going to find himself saying, why aren't we being treated as these Asian countries, when in fact 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 about structure adjustment program, colonialism, imperialism, Cold War -- Africans are looking for debt forgiveness and nobody has said anything about that.
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: I just said so. Basically, Africa is being bled; it's bleeding from debt relief. You have to staunch that bleeding. You can't, on the one hand, say that this is a continent that's capital poor, and that you need to get capital inflows when, in fact, the countries are being squeezed of whatever capital emerges in order to replenish debts, to finance debts. I mean, we know that those debts were the result of problems in the past -- poor economic strategies 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're talking about in terms of Africa.
Q I'd just like to go back to my question. You mentioned French principles and French policies. Can you say what it was about the French role in Africa that failed, specifically?
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: All right. France's principles of equality and fraternity and liberty for most of Africa has been a myth. France's relations -- you want to understand France's relations with much of Africa is to think of the United States relations with much of Latin and Central America for a very long time.
In terms of our involvement there, in terms of support for dictatorial regimes, a lot of those regimes -- you take Togo with the Eyadema; he's been in power now, for what, 1967, so that's over 30 years and so on. So you have a structure that is built up over many years. In 1990, in June of 1990, Francois Mitterrand, in a speech that resonated all across -- and, by the way, I want to come back to this issue of France, for France it is important that this is French-speaking Africa and it is important that Rwanda seems to be slipping into the American zone and that the person who really leads that government spent all his years in Uganda and talks more in English, rather than in French. This is important for France.
But for France, for a very long period of time they have built a -- I mentioned that Mitterrand made a statement in which he came out saying that France will provide assistance to governments according to the vigor with which they promote a democratizing and opening of their governments. And many people in those countries feel finally France is now going to be on the support, on the side of the democratic movement. Well, when it came to the crunch and those very same regimes came under challenge -- for example, I mentioned the case of Cameroon and I mentioned the case of Togo -- we found, in fact, France moving to bail those countries out, to help them out when they came under pressure. And so there's a great deal of frustration 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 not sure that from the French point of view their policy failed in the past, because their policy was not to promote democracy in Africa, their policy was to maintain the Franco-foreign countries in the French's sphere of influence. What is beginning to change is that the French are no longer willing to pay the price for maintaining those countries in their sphere of influence. And I think that's where the change comes at this point -- that they're beginning to step back. They're not willing to make the investment that they made over the years to maintain those countries in their sphere of influence, including supporting their currencies and a lot of other things.
And at this point, they don't quite know where to go because they know that if they don't continue making that investment they are losing ground. They see the United States playing a more important role, which they don't like seeing. But I don't think they are willing -- the political situation at home, the economic situation at home, a lot of things, are such as to allow them to continue making that same investment that they were making before.
Q This country has a certain collective amnesia about what happened in Somalia. The President is obviously not going anywhere near there. But can you give us a quick update on the situation there and is there anything the President can say or do to try and get a settlement to the conflict?
PROFESSOR LYONS: Yes. Somalia remains without a government, with a long and frustrating series of attempts to have meetings to bring the various warring factions and other constituent parts of the nation together. But there's been very little progress on that front.
My sense is that part of the problem in the mid-'90s, or the earlier '90s, when we were involved in Somalia, was that the various groups within Somalia playing towards the international community -- taking positions, making agreements in order to get resources out of the international community -- was part of the problem. And so I'm not sure that there is much constructive that can be done at this moment without reenergizing that dynamic of groups saying things and doing things in order to position themselves vis a vis the United States, the United Nations and other actors in the international community -- that Somalia remains a very difficult place in which this very difficult life for the Somalis who did not manage -- did not get out of their conflict. But there's no obvious policy answers from what the United States could do to promote that at this point.
Q I wonder if you all aren't being a little bit too polite in terms of what this means for France. This trip is coming after the fall of Rwanda to English-speaking guerrillas, backed by Uganda, and it's coming after the fall of Zaire to guerrillas backed by Rwanda, Uganda and other countries. It seems to me -- how would you respond to the assertion that the Clinton administration, by making this trip, is unabashedly embracing Africa's new generation of leaders, like you said, Dr. Ottaway, there are -- Ethiopia, Uganda, and Rwanda, number one. And number two, by deciding at the last minute to visit Rwanda, a country which, though it's still French as an official language, is now clearly out of France's orbit, isn't the Clinton administration waving the flag that, yes, U.S. influence in Africa is rising, and doesn't this signal that really the Francophone period is somewhat over?
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: He is not going -- he's only going to a Francophone country -- I mean, he's going to two, but in terms of 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 I understand, because of a decision that the issue of the genocide in Rwanda really needs to be acknowledged. So that I don't think their relations 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 that French-U.S. relations played a very important role in the planning of the trip as it was.
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Let me just -- there's obviously a difference of opinion up here. I have worked on the issue of France for 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, I do believe -- I'm trying to be as diplomatic as I can up here because this is not our academic symposium. Every time there is a visit of a high-level American to Africa, you will not believe the reporting in the French press. They really see this as such a great threat. The visit from President Clinton is going to cause tremendous nervousness.
That when, in fact, you had the overthrow of the government in Zaire -- and I can send my dear colleague a lot of the materials that were sent to me -- in fact, this was described as one of France's greatest foreign policy setbacks of this century. All right? France was very deeply involved with Javier Romana (sp) who was the leader of that government in Rwanda when he was overthrown. As we speak, there is currently an investigation going on in France having to do with France's role in that.
In terms of Mobutu, France worked very hard to try to protect Mobutu in a whole number of ways. Most recently, France was involved in the Congo Republic, where we had somebody who was defeated in one of these first waves of elections and who came back and overthrew a government. And these things -- for example, the role of ELF-Aquitaine, which is a partly-owned French company, is now under investigation judicially in France because of all the payoffs and so on that are involved. And I don't think we should minimize that situation and what the involvement in America means for it.
Q I'd like if one of you would give us a big picture view here of what is the promise for sub-Saharan Africa writ large moving into the next century, and in that context, what sort of moment do you see President Clinton's visit being.
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: Promise more than anything else is joining the international markets. I think that is what in the end is going to make or break Africa in the future. I think the economic reforms that are underway in a lot of African countries are beginning to make it possible. Investment is still very slow, but it is beginning -- the flow of investment in Africa is increasing, although it certainly is a very small percentage of the total foreign investment. And I think that's the most important thing in the long run in terms of the continent.
Q Beyond the fact that they're potential customers in Africa, and the natural humanitarian feelings, is there any strategic importance of Africa to the United States?
PROFESSOR OTTAWAY: The Sudan is a country on the international terrorist list. There is an interest of the United States in containing the Sudan and it's not accidental that some of the countries with which we have the best relations now, that are among 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 the case.
I would not put that interest, that strategic interest, if you want, very high up in terms of -- if you look at the big picture. But that is the most important area.
PROFESSOR LYONS. To answer that with a different example is that another thing that I hope comes out in this trip, and I expect it will because of the visit to Senegal, is that a number of African countries have been willing to stand up and to support international peacekeeping, in particular, U.N. peacekeeping. As you know, the Secretary General of the United Nations, from Ghana, used to be the head of the Department of Peacekeeping. There have been a number of African leaders of U.N. operations, not only in Africa, but in places like the Sinai. And Africans have contributed troops to Haiti and Cambodia. Senegal contributed troops to the Gulf War. And when the world and the United States has turned and said, we need help, African troops and African peacekeepers have been willing to do that. And that is a role that we would like to continue to see them play. That's part of the African Crisis Response Initiative.
But I also think it behooves us as a great power, the United States, to recognize that Africans have made a contribution to international peacekeeping and it is only reasonable for them to expect the United States and the broader international community to respond to their request for assistance.
PROFESSOR JOSEPH: Can I just say my final word on the big picture? And just on two subjects. Those of us who read work on Africa, when we read about what's happening in other areas of the world we think also about Africa. And recently, reading about what's going on in Kosovo, and reading Secretary Albright's very, very strong statement -- and in that, she talked about America's moral responsibility -- and I think, as the only superpower, in addition to strategic, we now have a certain moral responsibility that is expected of the U.S. with regard to some of these issues in Nigeria.
The second point I want to mention is that with regard to dealing with Africa, that most of the involvement with Africa so far has been of our corporations which go in and deal with mineral extraction -- oil and minerals and so on. And if you look at the countries that have been involved in this -- Zaire, and in terms of Nigeria -- those countries have gotten poorer while, in fact, more and more of that mineral wealth has been taken out.
So now that they're talking about corporations involved once again in Africa, I think the whole issue of corporate responsibilities get involved. Are they going to get involved in Africa and become cloaks for corruption and supports for cronyism and that sort of thing, or is there going to be a kind of new corporate responsibility in terms of how they actually do business in the continent. I think those are the kinds of things that at least we'll be 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, the President's principal outside advisor on this trip will be the Reverend Jesse Jackson, rather than one of you. I wonder why. Well, well.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 12:35 P.M. EST