Remarks at The American Legion National ConventionClaudia E. Anyaso, Director, Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Africa Bureau
Salt Lake City, Utah
August 26, 2006
Organizers of the 88th Convention Members of the Legion's National Security and Foreign Relations Commissions, Distinguished Ladies and Gentleman:
I was delighted to accept your invitation to speak to The National Security and Foreign Relations Commissions on the important subject U.S. Africa policy. And like most Americans, I have grown up hearing about The American Legion. Indeed, I have the highest regard for The American Legion; for your patriotism and for the service you have rendered to our country and continue to render. I am humbled to be in the presence of this prestigious group of military veterans. My own military accomplishments are much more modest. I am the proud mother of a U.S. Marine and of an Army National Guardsman. As a member of the Senior Diplomatic Corps, I completed a year of study at The Industrial College of The Armed Forces and spent 2 years as the east Africa analyst on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. My experience on The Joint Staff gave me a better understanding of how diplomats and soldiers work together to promote the national security interests in the United States. Nowhere is the intersection of diplomacy and defense more apparent than Africa.
In the next 10-15 minutes I will discuss Africa's importance to the U.S. and describe how our government and our citizens are partnering with Africans to increase Africa's political, social, and economic development.
As President Bush has stated, the goal of U.S. foreign policy is to make the world safer, freer, and better. In the case of Africans, this has meant working with Africans partners to end wars, spur economic growth, strengthen the institutions of democracy, and eliminate preventable diseases.
The Assistant Secretary of African Affairs, Ambassador Jendayi Frazer, leads a capable, dedicated and optimistic staff of which I am a member. Why are we optimistic? We are optimistic because we and our African partners are making progress in the areas described above, and we expect that progress to continue.
Let me elaborate on each of the four foreign policy goals for Africa.
Goal 1: Supporting The Spread of Political Freedom and Democracy
In the past decade more than two-thirds of Africa's 48 counties have held free elections. Several weeks ago, the Democratic Republic of the Congo held its first elections in 45 years. Twenty-four million Congolese, out of 26 million eligible African voters, registered to vote. In coming months there will be elections in Zambia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, where 2 served for the last 3 ½ years.
An effective economic tool for Africa is the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). AGOA creates jobs in African countries by providing duty-free access to the U.S. market by African traders. Since the implementation of AGOA, The U.S. has lowered tariffs on 6,000 products. In 2005, U.S. imports from AGOA countries, totaled $38.1 billion, which represents a 44 percent, increase over 2004. Economic strength is growing in Africa as nations across the continent are implementing economic reforms and governing more transparently. According to the latest World Development indicators, 17 African nations experienced more than 5% growth in 2004, U.S. aid to Africa has risen from $700 million in 2001 to the current level of $4.1 billion.
Goal 3: Ending Wars and Combating Terror and Violence
As U.S. strategic partners, Nigeria and South Africa have used their diplomatic, economic, and military power to shape the continent for the better. In the last 5 years, we have seen belligerence give way to peaceful negotiations in 6 contentious settings: Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Sudan. For example the U.S. worked with Kenya and regional east African countries to mediate a peace settlement between the Sudanese government and the SPLM rebels and helped implement Sudan's current government of national unity. We also brokered the Dafur peace agreement. In fact Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer was to leave yesterday to go to Khartoum. The purpose of her trip is to consult the Sudanese government on our shared objective for ending the violence in Darfur and supporting the Darfur Peace Agreement. In addition, The U.S.will train 40,000 African peacekeepers through the Global Peace Operations Initiative and the African Contingency Operations and Training Assistance (ACOTA) at a cost of $600 million over 5 years.
The U.S. government is committed to combating HIV/AIDS in Africa. In 2005, the U.S. committed approximately $2.8 billion for President Bush's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR). This was up from $2.4 billion in 2004, the first year of implement of the emergency plan. President Bush has requested and Congress has approved approximately $3.2 billions for 2006, keeping the Emergency Plan on track to meet the president's 5 years, $15 billion commitment. In 2005, PEPFAR activities in 15 countries (12 of which are in Africa) reached 42 million women who received PEPFAR-supported prevention of mothers to child transmission (PMTCT) and reached over 248,000 women who received prophylaxis thereby preventing 47,100 infants HIV infections to date.
We are also proud of the Women's Justice and Empowerment Initiative (WJEI)designed to protect those women who have been the most victimized. This program complements PEPFAR and is tied to the justice system in seeking help for these women.
In closing, I'd like to say a few words about "public diplomacy". Under Secretary Karen Hughes has stated that, "In today's world of instant communication, public diplomacy is essential to successful foreign policy and national security". What we refer to as public diplomacy are people-to-people exchanges and programs that tap into citizen knowledge and expertise to support U.S. foreign policy goals. I'm talking about Fulbright scholarly exchanges of professors and students. I'm talking about U.S. Speaker programs that emphasize the American values of tolerance, freedom, and equality. I'm talking about music and sports programs that are effective means of reaching youth audiences. I'm talking about Sister City programs that bring entire American and foreign communities together to increase mutual understanding. These programs provide a human face to U.S. foreign policy. As director of public diplomacy for Africa, it is my pleasure to work with U.S. citizens and Africans in 45 countries in addressing problems of common interest.
Released on December 8, 2006