Remarks to The American Enterprise InstituteCharles Snyder, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs
The American Enterprise Institute
April 13, 2004
Released by the Bureau of African Affairs
[Introductory remarks deleted]
When President Bush was elected in November 2000, some questioned whether a Republican administration would take an active interest in Africa. Many doubted the depth of our commitment to addressing the myriad challenges facing the African continent.
I believe we actually proved the skeptics wrong. Our policy over the last three years has demonstrated that the Bush Administration is committed to an engaged and an African -- active African policy. From the highest levels of government, the President to Secretary Powell, Africa remains an important priority and we've demonstrated, both with resources and diplomatic engagement.
Nearly every day, the Secretary asks me about Africa, and nine out of ten times it's Sudan lately. But even before that, he was asking me about Liberia. It is a subject of discussion around the Secretary's morning meeting on a regular basis, and frankly, if you've been a State Department bureaucrat for a long time, that really is the measure of whether or not it's getting attention. And I can assure you on a personal basis it is receiving more than adequate attention in this Administration. He and the President care about what happens in Africa and understand the continent's importance to long-range strategic U.S. interests. In partnership with this, is the paid commercial announcement of what's our Africa policy.
In partnership with African governments, we've made significant achievements in our four focus areas, which are: encouraging trade and investment, promoting democracy and human rights, encouraging development, and protecting the environment.
But you can't do any of that, despite our passion, unless you address the cross-cutting issues, the issues that you have to treat before you can get down to development and democracy. Those include: fighting HIV/AIDS, countering terrorism, and ending regional conflict.
Obviously, the last two of those are more important to this conference than the preceding, but I think they all have to be confronted in the global war on terrorism.
As we confront these challenges, we're finding that the traditional ways of pursuing our African goals may not be the most effective in today's world. The challenges we face in Africa, as in the rest of the world, are new, thorny and constantly evolving. We must view these challenges with fresh eyes and search for novel, creative approaches to solving them.
Today, I'll focus on security interests in Africa and share our thoughts on pursuing these strategic interests in ways that address that new environment. Before I get to the security interests, per se, let me say a word about what's changed in Africa post the Cold War.
One of the things that's happened is, absent this superpower competition, the ideological competition in Africa between us and world communism, the Africans are now struggling over African issues. Many of the wars and combats we're seeing are not being fought for external reasons anymore; these are being fought for reasons that matter to the Africans. It's an evolution that needs to change the way we approach them.
They do look to us as the major superpower, the principal military power on the face of the Earth, and therefore an example of what they might be interested in ultimately in security, but they're now engaged in combat over resources, land management, other things that matter to them.
What was called "The First World War in Africa" in the Congo was fought over African interests. It was a conflict for who would rule and who would dominate the great prize of Zaire, now the Congo once again. It was fought over by several African armies coming in one after the other, on one side or another, because of their national interests, not because some superpower was pushing them into it.
The Angolans, the Namibians and the Zimbabweans came in on the side of the Congolese government of Kabila because they were not about to see external regional actors. And that's how they viewed some of the Great Lake states, dominating what was the northern edge of the southern zone of interest to them. They weren't about to see Rwanda and Uganda decide who ruled in Kinshasa. That is a very African concern. It's the kind of thing we didn't see during the Cold War days, or we saw only in a distorted fashion.
And so we need to approach African strategic interests with African eyes for the first time. We need to say why we care and I'll say that shortly. But we need to remember that the Africans are now reacting for African reasons. The Ethiopian-Eritrean War, bloody and pointless though it was, was about African issues. It was about old rivalries that go back a long way. It was about friendships that changed, partnerships that changed, but it was about African issues. It was not about what the West thought.
We didn't intervene to try and end it, as we do elsewhere, but the underlying causes are very African and we need to address those causes. It's no longer a case where we can step into these situations and merely throw money and manpower at it. We need to be more sensitive to what's driving these issues in the longer run, especially in the context of the global war on terrorism.
Back to the paid text. U.S. national security interests. As a number of speakers at this conference have made clear, the United States has real interests in Africa. We ignore the continent at our peril. Africa will provide up to 30 percent of U.S. oil in the next ten years. The petroleum is coming from traditional suppliers like Nigeria, Gabon and Angola, but from emerging producers such as Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Sao Tome and Principe, and still more, I think, that are only beginning to come online.
More and more businesses are paying attention to Africa. During President Bush's trip to Africa, he referred to Africa as "the last great emerging market of the world." It is. And my predecessor, Walter Kansteiner, is back in that business. And Walter is many things, but he is a shrewd businessman and he is making his living in Africa. There really is a large emerging market there, a serious one, maybe the last one that's open for grabs in any real sense that doesn't have preexisting patterns that can't be broken at this point.
Infectious disease knows no borders. Public health officials warn of the possibilities of emerging infectious diseases that could spread to the U.S. and Europe. The comeback of TB in many places. The failure of the global eradication program against polio goes to the difficulties we've had getting to the last couple of pools of polio. One of them is in Sudan, and one of the things we've gotten out of these peace talks, thanks to the quietude we've brought into the south, is a chance for WHO to get in there and do that.
But now we're faced with new outbreaks in Nigeria, where the global war on terrorism may have bled back a bit. One of the myths that's being spread is that somehow this polio vaccination that's begin given is some kind of Western plot to harm the population, which is largely farmers up in the north of Nigeria.
This insidious lie is causing us real problems. The outbreak has now spread into Burkina-Faso and other places in the immediate area near Nigeria. Kofi Annan and the Secretary have talked about this constantly. This is one of the pernicious side effects of this global war on terrorism, that someone would believe this kind of myth.
It is in our interest to stamp out these diseases, and it's in our interest globally. The Africans get it, the Nigerians are doing what they can, but this risk of infectious disease coming back is very real. It's not an idle comment. It's not a way to try and build the case for strategic interests in Africa. It's very real. If we can't eradicate it there, it's going to come back, whether it's polio, whether it's tuberculosis, whether it's river blindness. It is a strategic interest when you can get on a plane in Cape Town and get off that plane in Atlanta. It's just the simple fact of global life the way it is today, and it is a strategic interest.
Finally, of course, terrorists and extremist groups find sanctuaries in Africa and have conducted attacks against U.S. and allied interests there. The continent's crises and conflicts, as well as the brutal HIV/AIDS pandemic, bring instability, which opens new safe harbors for our enemies.
In short, for these reasons and others, what happens in Africa impacts the United States and our policy needs to reflect this reality.
I'm going to talk a bit about what we're doing in the global war on terrorism, why Africa matters in that context.
Following 9/11 and the subsequent military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, many asked whether Africa was the next front line in the war on terrorism. While the scale of threat from Africa is not clear, we know that terrorists who mean harm operate in Africa; indeed, al-Qaida and allied terrorists have attacked U.S. interests there long before 9/11, with the August 1998 bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.
To address these challenges President Bush announced the East African Counterterrorism Initiative, a $100 million effort to enhance our foreign partners' capability to fight terrorism. We are working to help equip and train countries like Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti and others, to include their border security capacities, enhanced law enforcement skills, and reach out to marginalized communities to improve perceptions and awareness of the U.S. and its policies.
Other areas of Africa, such as the Sahel and northern Nigeria, are also of concern. Both areas are home to disadvantaged Muslim populations, where some may be sympathetic to fundamentalist organizations. Parts of these regions also have loose ties, at best, to the central government and could be safe havens in which terrorists can operate and transit. The Pan Sahel Initiative is also an effort to engage governments in this region and build their capacity to effectively monitor their borders.
Improving African capacities to monitor their coastlines is also a critical part of our strategy. We need to revive, and we will revive, the old African Coastal Security Program, which helps African security forces protect their shores as well as their marine resources. And as I pointed out earlier, a lot of this new oil is actually offshore. There is no one to protect it unless we build up African coastal fleets, et cetera, just like the old African Coastal Security Program had a twist.
One of the things it was meant to do was jack up the price, frankly, of protein in the Soviet Union, who were one of the principal over-fishers. One of the side benefits of this African Coastal Security Program, when we revive it, is there will be some kind of competent navy, some kind of competent coast guard, to answer the mail in the event of threats to offshore drilling rigs and other kinds of operations.
Right now, the only one that can answer the mail, other than occasionally French ships passing that way, are our own. There are really no African coastal navies. Or is it a name, in the sense of having large capacities?
This, again, is an American strategic interest. It's a small program, but it can make a big difference and we do mean to revive it and push it quite heavily in the next year.
Where the East African and Pan Sahel initiatives and the Coastal Security programs are critical elements of our counterterrorism strategy, they address short-term challenges. The foundation of an effective, long-term strategy, but not security assistance by itself, but rather programs that promote justice and the rule of law, encourage agricultural production and foster lasting economic development. These programs, when they're effective, create strong, stable states that are much more effective in dealing with counterterrorism issues and in denying havens for terrorist organizations.
With that in mind, the Millennium Challenge Account, which the President announced three years ago, represents a creative, new approach to foreign assistance, will form a critical part of our long-range counterterrorism strategy. The truth in the matter is we have to answer the mail in terms of the threat that faces us now. And that's what the East African Counterterrorism Program is about, that's what the Pan Sahel Initiative is about, that's what that new capacity and forms of the CJTF-HOA is about.
But in the longer run, we have to drain the swamp, and draining the swamp in this war on terrorism means the things that the Africa policy has been about in the foundation of the African Bureau, which is development, democracy and institution-building. We have to take away the reasons that people are susceptible to the approach by the fundamentalist hardliners. We have examined this problem, and the fertile ground for this kind of recruitments follows where failed government or a government doesn't reach out.
What these people provide, in many cases, is some system of justice where there is none. It might be in the form of an Islamic court, but when there is no justice, that sometimes is an attractive thing.
They provide basic medical assistance in places where the governments don't get, as a recruitment device. They provide food in some occasions where agricultural programs have failed.
So if we don't drain the swamp, this will be an endless war. That's why the Millennium Challenge Account is, in fact, part of the global war on terrorism. It's going to change behavior if we succeed in this program. And it's large enough to make a difference. The MCA provides development assistance to those countries that rule justly, invest in their people and encourage economic freedom. Congress has provided $1 billion in initial funding for FY '04 and President Bush has pledged to increase the funding for MCA to $5 billion a year starting in '06, roughly a 50 percent increase over current U.S. core development assistance.
We've held the basic program harmless. The traditional aid program has been held harmless. This is additional money, and this is meant to reward good behavior, not because we can save one country at a time, but because we need to prove, once and for all, that big bucks will make a difference, that development may be because the West has not done enough.
But it's the combination of not doing enough and having the fertile ground to plant the seed money in, and if we can get some of these states to stand up and begin a pattern of the dominos going in the right direction in terms of development, we can make a difference.
And that's got to underpin this war on terrorism in Africa. That's not a universal solution. This war is going to take different forms in different places. But in Africa, this is one of the critical concerns that we have to follow up on.
I mentioned one of our cross-cutting problems was preventing and ending conflict. A common theme in our approach to Africa understands that Africans must take the initiative, no less so in the security arena as in others. As partners, we can support them, but change must begin on the continent.
We have worked with the Africans to increase their capacity to respond to internal problems. Modest investments in these areas provide improved U.S. access, increased U.S. leverage to press the parties to fulfill commitments, open the way for American participation in international coalitions, and more importantly, make it more likely that capable African forces will respond regionally, reducing the potential need to employ U.S. troops.
The United States is pursuing a multifaceted assistance program to promote African security and stability. The African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance, ACOTA program, trains and equips African units so the African militaries are better able to deploy and operate in peace accord operations and other complex humanitarian situations.
ACOTA also assists partner militaries in building a trainer cadre from within their own ranks. This provides training sustainment and continuity. ACOTA partner contingents are currently serving in UN peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, in the African Union's mission in Burundi, and with ECOWAS mission in Cote d'Ivoire.
An effective program has to include counterinsurgency training to confront the new realities in Africa. Africa has many weak states where defense and security institutions can be vital instruments for protecting and improving the performance of legitimately elected governments. Training and counterinsurgency tasks, including improving human rights, winning hearts and minds, and other things that help with that kind of performance, will help the Africans build societies that can weather the storms of economic and political development.
We have also learned that providing new, expensive and hard-to-maintain equipment is not the solution to the African security challenge. The Achilles heel in Africa is logistics. Providing high-tech toys that African infrastructure can't maintain, and that already overindulgent African defense budgets can't afford is a prescription for technological disarmament, not national empowerment, that a sharing of information and other low-tech kinds of force multipliers are the real answer.
We are working closely with our colleagues in DOD on developing our security policy towards Africa; hence, I'm reading a cleared text. (Laughter.)
I, for one, believe that the U.S. military, not just contractors, should play a role in these programs. We multiply the effectiveness of our training programs when we use military trainers to work with the Africans. While we have excellent contractors, the Africans feel short-shifted when they see military trainers in other places in the world. They respect U.S. military personnel greatly, and placing military trainers in key programs has an exponential impact on our training efforts.
I have long believed that Africans, through the African Union and subregional organizations, need to develop and implement a common security policy. Such a policy could set out African priorities for the regulations of arms flows. Much like the Africans are playing a key role on the African Nuclear Free Zone, an African-initiated policy on arms flows would be much more effective than any international proposal.
One of the real problems we have day to day, and one of the things we have to constantly fight, is that somehow we're spending huge amounts of time and money on military assistance and military equipment to Africa. The truth is the Africans are buying a lot of equipment that they don't need, and a lot of corrupt deals in many cases, but one of the reasons is there is no global standard in Africa. There is no OECD equivalent to rationalize African procurement.
One of the problems we face on a day-to-day basis is someone will come to us and say, the neighborhood has just got a whole shipment of brand new MiG-29s from the Ukraine. Can't you do something about it? We'll go to complain to someone and we'll discover they have an export license that was granted them by another African country.
Until Africa steps up, and I can say that you have to have an African Union license, and then I can go to the Government of Ukraine, or I can go to the government of another European power and say, we have all got to enforce this African standard. I don't care that you have a license from Togo. The African Union didn't put its stamp on this, and therefore this is an inappropriate and potentially dangerous exploitation of African military needs and maybe an escalation of defense needs beyond what's necessary.
But we need the Africans to step up and one of the things we intend to take the lead with the AU on is helping them be sure that they don't become the OAU, ineffective in the military area. We need to do more to work with this committee. It's very ambitious. It's proposing an African army, very hard to do, but they've got the right idea. And I'd rather have them aim high and fail than not aim high at all and give us no chance to push them to where they need to go.
So you're going to see us come back and ask for assistance on other things for the African Union, despite our lack of success with the OAU. But that's the one thing they seem to be wanting to step up to the plate, and we have to be there with them on that. There has to be an African standard. We can help them enforce it, but they have to set the standard.
Major organizations are a key part of this strategy. Organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States to oversee and support regional peace, to respond to requirements and to encourage African solutions for African problems on a regional basis is the key. ECOWAS has been a key player in Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire and elsewhere in West Africa, to help maintain post-war peace.
The AU, under its current leadership, with Mozambique President Chissano was active in responding to potential and actual crises; for example, Chissano has finally called for restraint and avoidance of violence in the crises in Sao Tome and in Equatorial Guinea. His voice has been valuable in resolving these tensions before they escalated to regional conflict. We are working constructively with the European Union and its member states in Africa. In cooperation with the UN, the U.K. is playing a lead role in Sierra Leone, France in Cote d'Ivoire, but we've taken on that role in Liberia ourselves.
The EU is also establishing a 250 million euro peace facility, designed to support African training of African peacekeepers and African participation in peacekeeping and other crisis activity. The U.S. will coordinate closely with the EU to ensure this synergy.
Our objectives of democratic governance, robust market economy, competent health systems, environmental awareness, cannot be achieved when conflict and instability affects African states. The U.S. must work long and hard to ensure that our African policies work towards long-term security. We cannot constantly put mandates on a crisis. We don't have the money and the Africans don't have the bodies and the capacity to suffer in the 21st century at the level that that kind of approach would demand.
Africa's importance in the world and for the United States will only increase in coming years, not only as a source of growing natural resource, but as a source of allies and friends willing to help us fight on the front lines in the war on terrorism. Their security and stability affect ours.
Through attention to security assistance, promoting economic development, democratization, good governance, we must do what we can to make sure our African friends have the resources and the will to be effective partners in the global community and we must find them new partners.
I've often thought one of the failings we've had over time is not to encourage more synergy between countries like Brazil and some of the other Latin American states, that are at the stage in their development, both military and otherwise, in which some of the lessons they've learned are much more applicable in time and stage to Africa, than some of the European and American examples. This needs to be a case where maybe we introduce them to new friends; the Indians may have an important role to play in this.
Again, the stage of economic development matches more closely where Africa is, and yet their military development is quite promising. They've stood up as a world power. They may have lessons to learn. Simply because it's a place we haven't looked for lessons to use in Africa doesn't mean we shouldn't, and I think we're going to take a hard look at moving out beyond those traditional parameters.
Now you've heard the paid advertisement and a few excursions. I'd like to save the rest of the time for questions, and anything on the continent except North Africa. General Wald.
GENERAL WALD: I don't have a question. I just want to thank you for the leadership you provide and the, I think, new cooperation between State and DOD, at least at our level on this and I appreciate it. Thanks a lot.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SNYDER: I'll have them put that in my efficiency report. I appreciate that, General. (Laughter.) Anyone else want to give me some compliments? Okay. (Laughter.)
A PARTICIPANT: There's a gentleman over here.
MODERATOR: If you're on the side, if you could please step forward for Mr. Snyder can see you.
QUESTION: Yeah, Alex Vines from Chatham House in London.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SNYDER: I don't want to see Alex. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: It's about the G-8. The G-8 is having its summit under the U.S. Presidency in Sea Island coming up. What role is Africa going to play in the kind of U.S.-led G-8 agenda? What are we going to see? Thanks.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SNYDER: I think you'll see the Africans play the same kind of important but collateral role they've played recently. We don't want to turn the G-8 into, frankly, an Africa debating society and make it the principal preoccupation of the G-8. That's not what the G-8 is about. But because of NEPAD and other kinds of activities and other kinds of African initiatives, clearly there's an ongoing dialogue with Africa on this subject and I think you'll see at Sea Island that that dialogue continues. It won't get the spotlight, but it will have some light shown on it during that period.
Again, it's about economics and global community and Africa clearly is part of that. And the NEPAD Initiative gives us all a lot to talk about and the G-8 is an appropriate enough forum to engage them in that.
So that's the dodgy answer. We haven't fleshed it out fully, but the Africans will have a role to play, Alex.
QUESTION: Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SNYDER: (Laughter.) Giving you a workout today.
QUESTION: Charlie, this morning, one of the leitmotifs of the morning discussion was the need for more engagement, more staffing, more intelligence and so forth. I asked a question earlier, but given your role, I'd like to ask it again. I don't see how we can talk with a straight face about helping Africa develop when, in the Sahel, for example, in four countries among the poorest in the world, there's one full-fledged AID mission. I think in the continent as a whole, only about half the countries have AID missions.
That's old news. Is there any effort underway, any serious effort, to ramp up our AID presence in Africa? I just don't see how we can be taken seriously in that situation.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SNYDER: I think, Dick, you put your finger on a problem, as you know, is a long running concern, because the AID budget was essentially capped between 800 million and a billion one over the last ten years. But more insidiously, their capacity to put manpower on the field was denied them for a number of reasons.
I think one of the ways we're trying to answer that challenge is, frankly, this Millennium Challenge Account. It's designed, frankly, not to pay attention necessarily to whether there's a mission presence or not, although obviously, expediting and carefully resourcing large sums of money is always enhanced by having AID experts on the ground.
But it won't be bound by that. If the country is a good performer, whether it's Niger or Mali or someone else, and they meet the standards of MCA, they'll be eligible under MCA for significant resources. One of the reasons we can do that is MCA is not meant to be an intensive hands-on U.S.-managed effort. It's meant to say that I've selected you because you are a competent government. Some of your institutions function well. You do invest in your people. And so I'm going to say to you, I want to put $20 or $25 million into your health care situation or into your educational situation.
And what I'm going to ask you is not programmatic performance of the classic kind, where I'm going to line out a bunch of projects for you to do and have people watch them very closely. I'm going to say things to you like, I want to see doubling of the number of girls and women that graduate from higher education, for instance. Or I want to see a doubling of primary school enrollment from 10 percent to 20 percent. And we'll agree that that will happen over two years and we'll agree that that's a $50 million program and then we'll come back and look in two years.
We'll provide expertise where it's needed to help keep the program on track, but the day-to-day project ties heavily dependent on outside advice is what we're trying to avoid in this MCA, partially as a solution to that. An alternate solution, and one that might happen the next time somebody takes a look at this would be to expand AID presence on the ground. That's not in the cards right now. I'm a cynic, and I'll say that since we're about to be replaced by Connie Newman, who's running the AID program, I can make the case she's about to take all the State Department personnel and reorient this in that direction. So maybe the help is coming in a different way.
But the truth of the matter is that the importance of our AID program is reflected by that fact, that this is a critical issue. And there are many places where we've fallen out for lack of manpower that we might have been able to stay in. But there is a critical management issue here. When the programs get down below $3 and $4 million, the overhead to run them becomes a major issue. And so AID rightly pulled back.
Now AID's refocused, as well as you know, and tried to intensify its focus on several areas as opposed to being all things to all people. That should, over time, also enhance the manpower. They're focusing more on education, agriculture, and obviously HIV/AIDS, but a couple of key areas like that, which should give them more manpower, more cutting edge in those areas they choose to approach. Not the answer that we bureaucrats love, but that's where we're going.
QUESTION: Charlie, how broad is the context in which you made the statement earlier that we need to look at Africa's strategic issues with African eyes? You used a particular example to talk about African strategic issues, but I wonder how broad the context is. What are some of the things that we are doing or could be doing in terms of our behavior in Africa to indicate that we are in fact doing that, looking at strategic issues through African eyes?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SNYDER: I think the mention I made of a return to looking at counterinsurgency is really one of the -- one piece of that. The problems, frankly, that we face in terrorism or of that nature in Africa, it's the areas in the periphery that are out of control. And that's not a traditional military campaign, where you're talking about maneuvering divisions and battalions. It's more the hearts and minds campaign than our own Special Forces are oriented for.
So when I'm refocusing on security, we need to step back and look at these things that we've given up over time. We're starting to get back into the police business after a long period in which we were away from it, because of a bad experience back in the Cold War days.
But the truth is, that's what Africa needs. It needs its institutions strengthened. One of the things we have to do is to make the defense departments in these countries and the parliamentary committees understand how this works in an open system, so that the corruption and other things that we're seeing in too many places in Africa start to be brought back to ground.
That's going to take a very different approach. It's an approach much like what General Fulford's institutions is about, bringing together high-level Africans, talking to them about the way these things work. How do you do budgeting? How do you do budgeting in the context of, if I get an extra 10 million for tanks, that's 10 million that doesn't go to basic education. Where are the tradeoffs? How do you argue effectively in a political sense for that, because security needs are real. It's part of the basket you need. But how do you argue effectively, politically, rather than saying, I've got the guns and I've got the manpower, and dammit, I want my 20 million, which happens all too often -- not that crudely, but in terms of how the systems work.
And so we need to get in there. And so the military programs need to be linked much more carefully to our broader development programs and our institution-building programs. We're doing a lot more work on justice, the military justice systems, which, in many cases, are fairly uniform and serve as an example for some of these systems, not in terms of the law and enforcement techniques, but in terms of the how. And so some of the military money we put in there can be multiplied when we take rule of law ideas and ministries of justice and how they apply their own laws out in the periphery.
But the military may be stationed and somehow get a synergy going. We need to build all these areas and look at it with African eyes. The answer may not be the megabucks answer that we'd come up with. Maybe the answer is in a high-tech communications system. Maybe it's something more primitive. Maybe it's a more open law system and more interpretation, less centralized. Maybe that's the answer. We have to look at it from an African perspective, which means the country teams are going to be much more important.
But they need to be fully country teams. One of the things that I've been very much in favor over the last few years is DIA and DOD, per se, have stepped up their presence in Africa. That military insight, that security insight, is an invaluable tool, just like the AID insight, to a country team. And if we're going to approach Africa in any real fashion that gets us where we want to go, both where Africa wants to go and where we would like to see Africa, these country teams need to be more fulsome than they are in many places. There needs to be the security perspective. There needs to be a development perspective. And yeah, there needs to be the political perspective.
And so when I say, looking in African eyes, our own eyes on the ground have to be improved as well.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Charlie, I'm very happy to hear that you're reviving the coastal security thing, which I remember dates back to 1980. You might want to call it the James L. Wood Memorial coast -- but my question for you is, do you feel that we've come to the end of proxy wars in Africa?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SNYDER: I know better than to ever say something that grand into a microphone. (Laughter.) But I think the truth of the matter is that we're getting close to that. That's not to say that there won't be the occasion when African regional powers will not choose to act through their allies in an area indirectly.
I think the point I'm trying to make here is, proxy wars in the sense of somebody acting on the U.S.'s behalf, on Russia's behalf, on China's behalf, yeah, I think we've seen the end of that. But proxy wars in the sense of somebody acting in a place where maybe South Africa is reluctant to be seen as the 800-pound gorilla, and yet, one of the members of SADC, who shares their view and is smaller and less threatening can act, that's possible. And that's still acting through a proxy. But it will be African proxies for African reasons.
That's not the best example. In Nigeria, West Africa, there's some other examples where you're going to see that synergy develop, just like we do it ourselves. There are occasions where we like Canada to lead, as you know.
Yeah. I'm going to see if I can't slow questions down by having you go back and forth.
QUESTION: Steve Honley, Foreign Service Journal and former FSO. We've talked appropriately today mostly about the crises. But what about the sort of countries -- I'm thinking of Cameroon and Gabon, for which I was Desk Officer a decade ago -- that are doing okay but they're stagnating? They've got basic democracy, they're not starving, but they're not really moving. What are we doing to nudge them? What can we do to -- and there are a lot of other countries like that. So can you just talk a little bit about that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SNYDER: I mean, we have all the traditional tools of diplomacy. I mean, everybody wants to see the United States reach out and be its partner, and so by encouraging good behavior on things like no third terms in some places, not necessarily applicable in Gabon and Cameroon, but in Africa more broadly, we can encourage that kind of performance.
In the case of Cameroon and Nigeria, the Bakassi Peninsula is a case where just being there, being a basic building block and supporting African initiatives, including with money and not a lot of money. The Africans have worked through what was a very ugly problem. And instead of getting a kind of clash, which, for a long time, I thought we might get, we seemed to be at the edge of a successful, negotiated African-led deal that's going to solve the Bakassi Peninsula problem, with all the high risk that was involved: disproportionate military power on one side, oil stakes, etcetera.
But it was a case of the Africans giving the system time to work and working at it themselves and us being there behind the scenes and the French being there behind the scenes, but more importantly, African institutions being there behind the scenes, the AU lending its good offices, regional entities lending their good offices, African heads of state talking to each other, encouraging this movement at the right moment, giving credit in African forums for doing this right thing. All of that will bring Cameroon and Gabon a little closer.
More directly, the MCA program is meant to do that. I think if we are successful in this and we put some serious money down and we see some serious results, it will be a real incentive for populations in this gray area that could, with a little work, meet the MCA criteria to move that way, because we'll have the successful examples. And that's when we'll get to the Cameroons and the Gabons and others.
The traditional AID program will stay in place. We're doing a lot of work with them. The Cameroonians have worked with us carefully in international fora. There are rewards for that as well and we still stay at that level of engagement. President Biya had a trip to see President Bush.
So we're engaged in there with all the traditional tools, but we're hoping this MCA thing will be the sea change that will make that radical difference. Why hasn't Africa taken off? We don't know. The MCA is another attempt to answer that question. Maybe it's a lack of resources. So let's put the resources on the table. But let's also take our idea that says good performers are going to do better and do that. Not dissimilar to NIEPAD. The big difference, I would say, is we're saying we'll pick proven performers and put the money in. I think NEPAD is arguing, we'll make the reforms and put the money in now. And so there's a little bit of hard bargaining going on there. But that's what applies to these peripheral states.
We're engaged with them all. One of the big advantages we have is almost universal representation in Africa so that we can work on these problems day in and day out. And it's not a circuit rider that comes through. It's somebody who's spent a couple of years in Cameroon, ideally somebody that was there once before as a junior officer so we get continuity over time, which is one of the big advantages we have. It's an expensive advantage, but it's a real one.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SNYDER: I don't know if I should ask a lawyer. I'll take a chance. (Laughter.) Then we'll let the General ask a real question.
A PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible) any day.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SNYDER: (Inaudible) he said something nice.
QUESTION: I said lawyers -- in this town, lawyers outrank generals.
A PARTICIPANT: We outnumber them. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: We certainly outnumber them. No, I don't know about that. (Laughter.)
Charlie, perhaps -- Tony Carroll, Manchester Trade. Can you give us an update on the Sudan situation, since you've been so deeply involved in it?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SNYDER: You know, it's one of those occasions when they know what the prize inside the box is, they know the shape of the prize, and they just can't bring themselves to tug on the ribbon at the same time. They're 90 percent of the way there.
The issue that's left is tough. It's got to do with the capital and the Sharia in the capital, how that's interpreted in a way that the southerners won't be subject to human rights and other kinds of problems that flow from overenthusiastic enforcement. How do you solve that without undercutting one of the basic agreements was that in the north, that remains the law, the basic law.
Lawyers are involved, so you probably asked that question because of that. And we're hoping that they can come up with a formula that will meet everyone's needs. But after 18 years of war and 2 million dead, to have it come down to this, I think that, as the Sudan Peace Act says, you know, men of reasonable good will can find a way to cross that last mile, especially since the world is watching.
I mean, you saw what happened in Darfur. I mean, Kofi Annan went so far as to say, if this doesn't stop, we need to look at military action. You saw what General Haglauten (ph) said the other day, for the European Union to be prepared to step into this potentially, if it came to that. With that kind of interest, the argument is you can take a chance for peace now and you need to do it.
There's one other minor issue on the table but I think it's being held there as a trading material for this big one. So they're that close. The question is, can they walk that last mile in what's an unstable situation. This Darfur thing destabilized it and forced us, frankly, from the U.S. perspective, to escalate to pressure, because there are other restive populations in Sudan and until the new regime and the transformation begins to take place, there is no effective way to address this and it could flare elsewhere. And we cannot in good faith, with the President or with anybody else, claim to have negotiated some wonderful success if 100,000 people are being displaced and killed in Darfur. Immediately, it says, you fools, how can you trust a government like that?
And so all of these have complicated the problem. They're still right there. We have a ceasefire in Darfur. They've agreed to make it real, in the sense of external monitoring. We're holding them to that. A case again where the AU is stepping up, the AU is hoping to have a meeting in Addis to make this real. We said we will do what we can, including lending people we already have on the ground. We'll sign an MOU with the AU. So it's not the U.S. And you can add five or six or ten of your people immediately so we have some capacity while you gin up your own capacity. We're not saying this is a case where big brother knows best and big brother is going to do it, but we're saying where somebody's got to do it and somebody's got to do it now.
So there's huge pressures on them. And this Darfur thing complicated that matter. I still think at the end of the day, we're going to get them to blink. The Sudan Peace Act requires us to report by the 21st of April. We're on our 99th draft. Every day I write it and change the ending. I think we're going to be writing it on April 19th. Senator Danforth and I are in constant contact and Senator Danforth, the Secretary of State, the President have been engaged in this, making phone calls and pushing people.
So we're 90 percent of the way there. But ultimately, they're the ones that have to pull the ribbon. But we will call them on it, because after 18 years and 2 million dead, there is no reason. And given the pledges we, and not just we, but the European Union and the UN in general are willing to make, that they can't walk that, knowing that they have a partner and a friend beside them.
General, I skipped you before.
GENERAL WALD: (Inaudible.) The question I had is, first of all, a kind of a comment. I agree with you on the high-tech solutions to the military, because there's no reason whatsoever for anybody in Africa -- doesn't matter, Eritrea, Ethiopia, all the way to South Africa -- to have anything high-tech. They do need the capacity to take care of themselves. Airlifts is one of those things, not complicated strategic, but just general medium airlifts. Matter of fact, Angola has what we're talking about later today.
But the question I have is, how do you -- how do we break the cycle of the carrot and stick issue? And at some point, people have to come out of the penalty box for what they've done in the past. I'll give you an example. We talked about Nigeria a bunch today. And I agree Nigeria is very critical. I was in Nigeria a couple weeks ago, in Lagos, talked to their -- in this case, happened to be an air base in which (inaudible) and some of the armory just happened to be. They have one C-130 that works. They have 17,000 people in their military. The question, and the question here is, and I asked them, why haven't they done something about, you know, the other nine or ten airlift aircraft they have. If you look what Nigeria did in Liberia, and you followed that closely, their performance this time was totally different than it was in '96 and they deserve they be punished for that. But we still have sanctions on Nigeria and we can't provide them help for their airlift aircraft. Very simple, not high-tech. Simple solution. How do we break that cycle and how do we get people to actually come off that so we can help Nigeria help themselves?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SNYDER: Let me make one point of clarification and then I'll answer the question directly. When I'm talking about technological disarmament, in a country that has an airline, a domestic airline, providing them aircraft assistance and support makes sense. The capacities are there on the ground. It's institutionalized. And so when I'm talking about high-tech, I'm talking about what they've got on the ground. Some places don't have airlines.
So we've got no institutional issue on technology in terms of C-130s. It's more wear and so on. Same thing with helicopters. Where they maintain helicopters, that's fine. Not everybody does that.
But on your real question, I think one of the things that we're going to have to work with the Hill on and sell the Hill on over time is, we need to take a more regional approach to this. This is why I would like the African Union to step up and set continental standards. And failing that, at least have the region step up so that they would agree on a plan in which, in this particular reason, Nigeria may be responsible for airlift and something else. Maybe South Africa's responsible for communications and artillery so that we can then go to the Hill and say, we put them in the penalty box in ways that make sense, on terms of some things, maybe high-ranking officers coming to talk to General Fulford. But something like that. And yet, the regional capacity is at stake here. The region is moving in the right direction. We are not going to deny this particular assistance in this country because it's part of a regional entity. We punish them for what they've done when they deserve it. Benue state is an outrage more recently.
But we need to get away from that, you're right, in terms of damaging the institutional capacity that the larger Africa needs and the larger UN needs.
I know I'm over time, so I'm going to quit there, but that's where I wanted to go with that. And I appreciate your attention and after lunch, most people stayed awake. That's good.
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