19. Report by the Vice President1
REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT ON THE VICE PRESIDENT’S VISIT TO AFRICA
(February 28–March 21, 1957)
Detailed Conclusions and Recommendations
I. French Relations with North Africa.
French prestige and influence in North Africa are decreasing at an alarming rate. This is due to a number of causes:
- The perpetuation of the Algerian war which is poisoning the atmosphere of all of North Africa from Morocco to Libya and is now beginning to reach down into Mauretania in French West Africa.
- French failure to behave in their relations with Morocco and Tunisia in accordance with the requirements of the independence of those countries. Thus the French still maintain large military forces in Morocco and Tunisia in an uncertainly defined status and to deploy them with little if any regard for the sovereignty of those countries. At the same time, the French exploit the financial dependence of these countries on France in an effort to force compliance with French policies and actions with respect to Algeria. However understandable French attitudes on these questions may be, such tactics are bound to exacerbate relations and, in the long term, run the real risk of the loss of the French position in Morocco and Tunisia.
- The growing belief of many in North Africa that France cannot over a long period marshall sufficient strength to win a military victory in North Africa and that they can therefore afford to hold out for a solution of the Algerian problem which will assure either immediate independence or independence within the foreseeable future. Thus, the more time that passes, the more intransigent the North Africans are likely to become.
- That the United States Government urgently consider a plan of action, which, while recognizing French interests and sensitivities, is calculated to awaken France to the extreme dangers which she faces and to which she is exposing the entire West in North Africa. We should make it clear that we have no desire to supplant France and, on the contrary, are concerned that she maintain a position of influence and assistance in this area.2
- That the United States Government move as rapidly as possible to
assure the continued pro-Western orientation and moderate nature of
the Governments of North Africa by cementing our own relations with
those countries. To this end, the United States should:
- Invite the Sultan of Morocco to visit the United States this year. (I attach the greatest importance to this, having assured the Sultan of our desire to receive him as soon as arrangements can be worked out.)3
- Avoid any identification with repressive features of French policies in Algeria and make clear as necessary that we expect France to respect the sovereignty of Tunisia and Morocco.
- Proceed as rapidly as possible to implement our aid programs with Morocco and Tunisia. While the programs this year may be acceptable in size, we should anticipate increasing needs and demands for larger programs next year.4
- Conclude as quickly as possible an agreement with Morocco to adapt our base rights arrangements with France to the new fact of Moroccan sovereignty.5 The present absence of a direct understanding with Morocco stands in danger of affecting the whole range of our relations with that country.
- Undertake a confidential study of how the stability and pro-Western orientation of Morocco and Tunisia could be assured in the event a rupture should result in the denial of the annual French subsidies of $80 million to Morocco and $50 million to Tunisia.
II. Relations of African States with Egypt.
Nasser’s influence on the masses of the people in North Africa, the Sudan and the Moslem portions of Ethiopia remains high although [Page 59]probably less so than before his defeat by the Israelis. On the other hand, the Governments of those countries see in Nasser a threat to their independence and are therefore cautious in their attitudes towards him. In many cases, they have courageously opposed him. Libya, Tunisia and Morocco are now tending to look toward close cooperation among themselves to enhance their combined capability to resist Nasserism. Ethiopia and the Sudan also seem to be taking the first cautious steps for cooperation among themselves toward the same end.
Egyptian propaganda, particularly radio broadcasts, is highly effective among the Moslem populations of the countries we visited. This contrasts with the ineffectiveness of our own propaganda efforts. I believe that Egyptian efforts can be combatted effectively only by building up the indigenous broadcasting capabilities of the states of the area. Thus a Radio Morocco, Radio Tunisia, etc. would be much more effective than an expansion of VOA facilities in this area.
That while avoiding any appearance of isolating Egypt, we quietly encourage and assist these states, both individually and collectively, to resist the efforts of Egypt to dominate them.
That funds which might otherwise be used for the expansion of VOA facilities in this area be utilized by USIA to strengthen the signal of potentially friendly indigenous radio stations in these countries.
III. Attitudes Towards Israel.
In the Arab countries which I visited, I made a point of talking to their leaders about the danger of the Middle Eastern situation and of eliciting their views about an Arab-Israel settlement. I found that almost without exception the leaders were realistic in privately recognizing that the Arabs must adjust themselves to the fact of Israel’s existence. At the same time, they emphasized that the major obstacle which in their view stands in the way of a more open acceptance of Israel is the Arab refugee problem. They urged that close attention be given to the settlement of this problem both because of the moral and human issues involved and because of the contribution it would make to Middle East peace and stability.
That we give new and careful attention to the Arab refugee problem with a view towards evolving a plan which at the appropriate time could form the basis for an equitable settlement.[Page 60]
Ghana has many growing pains. It has great assets in terms of functioning institutions, responsible leadership and enthusiasm, but it also has liabilities in terms of the constitutional dispute now going on between the proponents of a strong central government and those who desire a large degree of regional autonomy for the native states. Moreover, the economy of Ghana is extremely vulnerable to the extent that it is largely based on cocoa, which has fluctuated widely in price over the period of the last few years. The Government of Ghana is anxious to diversify the economy and is particularly interested in the Volta River scheme for hydro-electric and irrigation development. The realization of this project would permit the production of large quantities of aluminum from the extensive bauxite deposits which are found within the country. The cost of the project is formidable—about $1 billion.
The Prime Minister6 and other responsible leaders of Ghana emphasized to us their desire for strong United States representation in Ghana. They want an experienced officer capable of giving them the best possible advice during the difficult period ahead.
- That we assign our ambassadors to Ghana on the basis of merit, experience and absence of prejudice. I understand that we are about to assign an experienced Foreign Service Officer as Ambassador. He should arrive as soon as possible.7
- That we follow most closely the evolution of this state, realizing that its success or failure is going to have profound effect upon the future of this part of Africa.
- That we show ourselves sympathetic to assisting Ghana through technical cooperation, economic aid, etc., during the difficult period ahead. This assistance should be regarded as supplementary to any assistance the British provide. We should particularly follow closely the Volta River scheme with a view toward ascertaining whether it is a well-conceived and practical project which we should support in the IBRD and perhaps aid to a limited extent ourselves.8
I was deeply concerned by conditions in Liberia. Contrasted with Ghana, Liberia is politically, economically and socially far less developed. The governmental structure corresponds closely to that of a Latin American type dictatorship, with a strong, although comparatively enlightened man, exercising virtually dictatorial powers. There is no opposition party and, so far as I could see, no potential leaders of the calibre of President Tubman.
It is perhaps too easy to excuse Liberia’s deficiencies. The country has not had the same advantages as the Gold Coast, where a foreign power has provided extensive funds and assistance in the development of the country. Although Liberia has historically been a responsibility of the United States for over a century, it was not until 1944 that we began to assist the country to develop economically and socially. Private enterprise is now starting to play an increasingly important role in the development of the country and economic conditions should improve as more rubber acreage is brought into cultivation and as the country’s considerable mineral resources are exploited. Some additional United States technical and economic assistance will undoubtedly be required, particularly with respect to education, the road program and agricultural development.
Liberia’s greatest need, however, is for strong and patient advice in developing the political and social bases of the nation so as to bring about effective representation of all elements of the population in the national life.
- We must find ways and means of strengthening our ability to give the Liberians the advice and assistance which they require to broaden the base of the nation. This will often be advice which they do not wish to hear and any program of this kind will require careful consideration in order to get the essential points across without offending Liberian sensibilities and becoming counter-productive.
- We should stand ready to increase in moderate amounts our grant and loan assistance to Liberia to assist in the development of the country.
Ethiopia is ruled by a highly sophisticated and cultured minority—the Amharas. The large Moslem minority plays little role in the political life of the country. The Ethiopians are currently concerned about the potential for subversion which Colonel Nasser has among the Moslem populations. The first general elections in the history of [Page 62]the country are due to be held in the Fall, but it remains to be seen to what extent these will give effective representation in the Parliament to the minority groups. One has the impression that Ethiopia is looking more to maintaining the status quo by strengthening its armed forces than it is to a program of political, economic and social reform which, in the long run, will probably be more effective in assuring the loyalty of its populations and the stability of the area.
There have been in recent years a series of misunderstandings between the United States and Ethiopia. The Ethiopians maintain, for whatever motives, that we are not living up to the impressions they received regarding our plans and intentions at the time of the base agreement in 1953 and the Emperor’s visit to Washington in 1955 with regard to assisting Ethiopia to build up its armed forces.9 The Emperor made this case very forcibly to me and emphasized the need for a re-examination of relations between our two countries. I am assured that there has been no failure on our part to live up to our promises and I believe that many of the difficulties which have arisen are the result of misunderstandings which must be set straight as rapidly as possible.
- That our new Ambassador arrive in Addis Ababa as quickly as possible10 and that his first task should be a thorough exploration of the whole range of United States-Ethiopian relations with a view toward identifying precise points at issue and taking corrective action.
- That the Department of Defense review its attitude toward the Ethiopian armed forces with a view to deciding whether, in the light of Ethiopia’s contribution to the UN action in Korea and its general attachment to the principles of collective security, it would not be in our military interest to encourage the building of an efficient fighting force in Ethiopia.
- That in order to reassure the Ethiopians of our good intentions and our desire to assist them, we increase moderately the size of our military and economic programs. I believe this will be necessary in any event if we are to secure the additional base facilities we are now seeking. This should be done this year if possible, but, in any event, next year.
- That the Department of Defense review our current military programs in Ethiopia with a view toward speeding up their implementation [Page 63]and assuring that Ethiopia receives the most serviceable equipment possible.
- That ICA similarly speed up the implementation of our economic programs.
The Sudan appears to be suffering at the present time from internal political dissension. The Prime Minister11 gives the impression of a strong man who is pro-Western and anti-Communist and who is making a bid to consolidate his power. The Foreign Minister,12 who appears to be powerful, is much less well-disposed toward the United States. I believe that we should be wary of him and stand ready to throw our support to the Prime Minister as appropriate opportunities arrive.
I believe that the Sudan will at least tacitly support the American Doctrine for the Middle East. In any event, it desires United States assistance.
The Sudan has ties both with the Middle East (particularly Egypt) and with Africa. I believe it to be in our interest to try to orient that country towards Africa and away from embroilment in Middle Eastern politics.
- That we support the Prime Minister, who appears inclined to be pro-American and anti-Communist.
- That we proceed as rapidly as possible with a program of economic and technical assistance for the Sudan.
- That in order to facilitate efforts to orient the Sudan towards Africa, it be included in the jurisdiction of the new Bureau of African Affairs when the latter is set up.
Libya is a deficit economy. The position and intentions of the British are increasingly uncertain. The country occupies a key strategic position with respect to North Africa and the flank of NATO. We cannot afford to lose Libya. I understand that the British are presently contemplating a substantial withdrawal of forces and a cut-back in their budgetary support. I do not believe that we can afford to let a vacuum develop in Libya. This matter assumes greater importance when one considers the $100 million investment we have in strategic facilities as well as the additional requirements which we [Page 64]may have in that country. The present government is well-disposed toward the United States. It deserves our support.
- That we stand ready to support the Libyan Government financially at such time as the British withdraw their financial support.
- That we assist the Libyan Government to decrease its heavy dependence upon Egyptian personnel.
- That we continue to increase moderately our program of economic assistance.
- That we give sympathetic consideration to the building of a Libyan Army which would help to unify the country and fill the internal security vacuum which will be created by British withdrawal.
IX. North African University.
Libya is presently engaged in building a national university. Both Morocco and Tunisia are greatly interested in assistance in expanding their existing institutions of higher education. None of these countries (with the possible exception of Morocco) has the individual resources or capability of creating a first-class university. I believe that they would be receptive to the idea of combining their resources, with some assistance from us, to build a university which would meet their common needs. Because of sectional differences among the various states of North Africa, it would probably be desirable to establish such a university with various branches located in the different countries in a manner analogous to the state university system in California. Thus, an agricultural faculty might be located in one country, and law, medicine, engineering, etc., in another.
That in view of the great importance of increasing higher education in North Africa, the interested agencies of the United States Government give high priority to exploring the possibility of assisting the North African countries to build a North African University with appropriate United States private and/or Governmental assistance.[Page 65]
- That the Department of Defense and the ICA give higher priority than in the past to their programs and operations in the African area.
- That the Department of State take immediate steps to strengthen its representation in Africa, both quantitatively and qualitatively. To the extent that this requires increased personnel, the opening of new posts and the granting of additional funds to ameliorate the conditions of service of our officers in the field, the Administration should give urgent consideration to requesting the necessary funds from the Congress.13
- Assignments of United States representatives in the African area should be made on the basis of merit, experience and stability. We must assure that our African posts are staffed by our most highly qualified people if we are to meet the high standards of competition presently set by the Russians, Egyptians and others.
- We should be sensitive to the fact that new states will be emerging from among the present dependent territories in Africa. We should begin to lay our plans for conducting direct relations with those states and for assuring that when they emerge into independent status, we have laid the best possible foundation for a close relationship with the United States. To the extent that this may require moderate amounts of technical and economic assistance to the dependent territories, we should be prepared to extend such aid. An immediate survey should be made to determine to what extent such programs would further the foreign policy objectives of the United States.
- I believe that we often dissipate much of the political goodwill which our aid programs should engender by too much insistence on detail in our agreements with and programs in recipient countries, by slowness in implementing programs and by falsely raising expectations by engaging in too much planning for projects which have little, if any, hope of realization. These aspects of our aid programs should be carefully reviewed in an effort to assure the maximum political impact. In the new programs which we shall be implementing in Africa, we should make every effort to avoid the pitfalls we have encountered in other parts of the world.
We must look most carefully at our information output which, I suspect, is by no means as effective as that being disseminated by the Communists. In several places I was told by responsible African leaders that our points of view were not getting across. I believe it vital that we find out why and take corrective action.
There are attached copies of memoranda of the major talks I had with leaders of the countries which I visited.14
- Source: Department of State, S/P–NSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, North Africa (Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, NSC 5614, 5614/1). Secret. Enclosure to a memorandum for the National Security Council by Acting Executive Secretary S. Everett Gleason, dated April 22. For an unclassified version of the Nixon Report, see Department of State Bulletin, April 22, 1957, pp. 635–640. The Vice President was in Africa to lead the U.S. Delegation to the ceremonies marking the independence of Ghana, to demonstrate U.S. interest in Africa, and to gain a better understanding of the continent. (Circular airgram 6945, February 27; ibid., Central Files, 511.00/2–2757)↩
- On April 28, the President wrote British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan that Nixon maintained that the United States, in its own interest, had to bring about a better relationship between France and “some of the North African regions” without hurting either side. Eisenhower suggested that it meant “walking a tight rope,” but he thought it could be done. (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DDE Diaries)↩
- Muhammad V arrived in Washington November 25.↩
- Survey teams were sent to study the aid requirements of both countries. It was determined that $20 million in development assistance would be provided to Morocco in FY 1957 and Tunisia would receive $5 million together with technical cooperation projects as negotiated.↩
- The negotiating process began on May 6.↩
- Kwame Nkrumah.↩
- Wilson C. Flake was appointed on May 20 and presented his credentials on June 19.↩
- The United States signed a technical cooperation agreement with Ghana on June 3, and obligated more than $700,000 for contract services to implement projects in agricultural extension and community development and to fund the technical library the United States had given as an independence gift. (TIAS 3838; 8 UST 793)↩
- For documentation concerning the Emperor’s 1954
visit to the United States and military understandings with
Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. xi, Part 1, pp. 418 ff.↩
- Don C. Bliss was appointed May 20 and presented his credentials on June 22.↩
- Abdullah Khalil.↩
- Muhammed Ahmad Mahjub.↩
- In Fiscal Year 1957, Consulates were opened in Kampala, Uganda; Yaoundé, French Cameroon; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; and Mogadiscio, Somalia. In Fiscal Year 1958, it was hoped that funds would be available to establish Consulates at Kaduna, Nigeria; Tananarive, Madagascar; and Brazzaville, Middle Congo, French Equatorial Africa.↩
- See Documents 114– 116, 129, 140, 166, 207, 227, 236, and 248.↩