27. National Security Council Report0
STATEMENT OF U.S. POLICY TOWARD WEST AFRICA1
1. The primary importance of West Africa is its growing political significance. There is a developing awareness that Africa is an area which will have an increasingly important influence in the course of world events and that its political alignment will be deeply affected by the policies of Western European nations and the United States. This increasing influence may be expected to make itself felt primarily in the United Nations as a growing number of independent African nations take their seats and join in voting on many issues with the less-developed nations. African leaders seek the understanding and goodwill of the United States. Above all, they want to be accepted as equals and to be treated with dignity and respect. One of their criteria of success in this connection is membership in the United Nations.
2. West Africa is probably the fastest changing area in the world today. New countries are springing up with startling rapidity and the people of the area are determined that control of West Africa will be firmly in West African hands. Though many of the countries are sorely lacking in both human and economic resources, this fact does not and will not slow the drive toward self-government and independence. There are presently four independent countries in West Africa: Liberia, Ghana, Guinea and Cameroun. Independence is scheduled for Togo on April 27 and Nigeria on October 1, 1960. In addition Mali—an autonomous state, within the French community, formed by federation of the former colonies of Soudan and Senegal—is now negotiating with the French the terms under which it would attain [Page 118]independence, probably this summer, but with continued strong ties with France and with French assistance. The Malagasy Republic has effected an arrangement looking toward its independence this summer, and other states of the French Community such as Dahomey, Upper Volta, Ivory Coast and Mauritania may follow their example soon thereafter. Sierra Leone will shortly begin discussions with the British regarding terms for its independence.
3. The political stability of the area faces severe trials as the remaining territories achieve independence, frequently accompanied by the tribal rivalries and external political pressures. At present the pace of political change is being set by a very small educated elite. The trend in most countries is toward domination by a single party and growing authoritarianism in government. Communism has not yet become a strong force in West African politics, and, except in the Malagasy Republic, there are no known Communist parties in the area. However, during the early days of independence, the opportunities for Communist penetration and influence are likely to increase and complicate an already difficult situation and make more difficult the area’s continuing identification with the West.
4. In this connection, the West will have to contend with a growing Communist Bloc effort to gain influence in West Africa and to exploit anti-colonial sentiments. The Bloc has already established diplomatic missions and established economic and trade links with both Ghana and Guinea, and we can expect a rising tempo of such activities, as well as offers of credits, in other newly independent countries. A concerted Communist effort is also being made with some degree of success to cultivate and subvert African students in Europe and the Bloc.
5. West African leaders are jealous of their new-found political power and are unlikely to surrender it to elements not under their control. In the longer run, however, the efforts of younger leaders to obtain increased political power at the expense of the present political leadership could create a situation favorable to the growth of Communism.
6. Most new West African countries will probably adopt more or less neutralist foreign policies and seek to avoid cold war entanglements, although their underlying orientation may in fact remain more pro-Western than their official pronouncements suggest. Most African leaders have indicated a preference for Western assistance. However, some may turn to the Communist Bloc for aid, not only if they feel the West has not been sufficiently responsive to their needs, but also as a means of emphasizing their neutrality. Many of the new West African nations will probably also succumb to the temptation to play off the West against the East.[Page 119]
7. Within West Africa there are various schemes directed toward preventing the further “balkanization” of the area. They range in content from combinations to maintain common public services, through loose political alliances, to plans for Federal union. With independence, however, the political benefits envisaged in most of these schemes have become considerably less attractive to many national leaders who regard such schemes as an infringement on their newly-won independence. Over the longer term, the less glamorous economic measures may provide a more solid basis for regional cooperation.
8. If an orderly development of the countries of West Africa with a Western orientation and in cooperation with their former European metropoles is to be assured, it is important that the traditional economic ties which bind Western Europe and Africa be maintained and that every effort be made to encourage the former Metropolitan powers to continue economic and technical assistance. On the other hand, strong anti-colonial sentiments will linger and will make certain of the new countries reluctant to remain exclusively dependent upon their former metropoles.
9. The policies of the former metropoles regarding their ex-dependencies vary. The United Kingdom, which has provided economic assistance in the past, has explicitly acknowledged its willingness to continue public and private aid to less-developed members of the Commonwealth, and in September 1958 the U.K. Government announced new measures under which newly-independent members of the Commonwealth would continue to be eligible for development assistance loans from the U.K. Government. The British have also indicated a willingness to provide technical assistance grants to newly-independent Commonwealth countries. The French have said they are willing to continue helping independent members of the Community such as Mali which are willing to remain associated with France and who continue to support France in their foreign policies. However, former French colonies such as Guinea which choose to break with France, lose their claim on direct French development assistance, although some forms of indirect aid have continued. Such colonies also relinquish their claims on Common Market development funds. It is probable, therefore, that both the United Kingdom and France will continue to extend aid on a unilateral basis to their former colonies in Africa. It would be unrealistic, however, to look to the British and French Governments exclusively as sources of external assistance to their respective former dependencies in the area. In any event, probably U.K. and French assistance will be far short of the needs for outside public assistance which many of the former dependencies will [Page 120]probably feel they will require. Moreover, for reasons of political prestige and to reinforce their position of independence, the independent African countries will seek to develop other sources of aid.
10. The West African economy is characterized by the predominance of subsistence agriculture of very low productivity. In some areas (almost entirely limited to certain of the countries along the coast), impressive gains have been made in such export crops as cocoa, coffee, palm products, peanuts and rubber. As a result, some areas have accumulated substantial foreign exchange holdings; notably, Nigeria and Ghana which have reserves of about $600 million and $500 million respectively. Throughout the area, efforts to increase the efficiency of food production have brought very slight results because of the lack of technical knowledge and capital, resistance to new methods, the system of communal land ownership, and unfavorable soil and climatic conditions.
11. The best prospects for long-term economic growth seem to lie in the further development of known mineral resources—iron in Mauritania, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Gabon; bauxite in Ghana and Guinea; scattered deposits of diamonds in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia; and manganese in Gabon. Modest oil deposits have been found in Nigeria and Gabon. The area’s hydro-electric resources have so far been exploited only in Cameroun, but plans for major installations are in an advanced state in Ghana, Guinea, and the Congo Republic. However, the problem of financing remains largely unresolved.
12. American economic interests in West Africa are modest. In 1959 this area accounted for only about one per cent of U.S. trade (about $276 million). American investment in the area is approximately $225 million, but the greater bulk of it is in Liberia where until recently most of the American economic interest has focused.
13. Our primary strategic military interest in this area is to deny it to Communist control. We now have no significant military requirements in this area. However, control of sea and air communications in this and surrounding areas might become important to us in certain emergency situations, and U.S. requirements for installations, rights, and facilities in this area might develop with technological advances in weapons systems.
14. Maintenance of the Free World orientation of the area and denial of the area to Communist domination, including:
- The minimization of Communist influences therein.
- Orderly economic development and political progress by the countries of the area in cooperation with the metropoles or former metropoles and other Free World countries.
- Access to such military rights and facilities and such strategic resources as may become necessary to our national security.
- Formation of federations or other larger political groupings of the nations of the area.
Regional Policy Guidance
15. Impress on the countries of Western Europe, including the metropoles or former metropoles, the continuing importance to them of a stable and prosperous West Africa and conduct all U.S. activities with a realization that a continued close Eur-African relationship is important to the United States itself. Similarly, impress on the West Africans the fact that their national well-being depends in large part on a continued close economic and cultural relationship with Western Europe.
16. In applying the policy guidance which follows to all parts of this area except Guinea and Liberia, urge the Western European nations to expand their efforts to influence and support their respective dependent and recently independent areas and, to the extent feasible, to exercise primary responsibility for providing such influence and support, so long as this policy is consistent with U.S. national security interests. Seek to reach an understanding along the above lines with appropriate Western European nations.
17. Until an area achieves independence conduct U.S. activities and programs in the area in full recognition of the responsibilities of the metropolitan power involved, and, to the extent feasible:
- Consult with the responsible metropolitan power on U.S. activities and programs in or relating to the area; and
- Avoid actions in the area or directly relating to the area likely to cause serious misunderstandings between the United States and the metropolitan power involved.
18. In the event it does not appear feasible or consistent with U.S. national security interests for the European power concerned to exercise primary responsibility in a dependent area or a newly-independent area, be prepared to provide influence and support for such an area, taking into account:
- The need for establishing friendly working relationships with the newly-emerging state.
- The need to incline this state toward the Free World rather than the Communist world.
- The effect of our policies on other Free World States having a colonial heritage.
- The need for maintaining Free World harmony including friendly relationships and consultations as appropriate with the present or former metropolitan powers.
19. Pursue actions which will assist newly-independent areas to maintain a Western orientation, mindful of the natural desires and intense sensitivities of the Africans, particularly with respect to their newly-acquired independence. Make clear wherever possible that self-government and independence impose increasing responsibilities which the people must assume.
20. Encourage expansion of those United Nations activities in the area and assistance (other than development financing)3 to the newly-emerging states which will assist in the constructive political and economic development of those states and will complement U.S. efforts to attain its objectives in the area.
Independence, Nationalism and Regionalism
21. Encourage those policies and actions of the former administering powers which assist the newly-independent nations to develop as a part of the Free World.
22. Encourage friendly relations between the nations and territories of West Africa and between those nations and territories and other African countries. Encourage friendly relations between West African nations and the United States.
23. As appropriate, encourage the formation of federations or other forms of association among the newly-emerged states which will enhance their political and economic viability.
24. As feasible, support constructive, non-Communist nationalist and reform movements, balancing the nature and degree of such support, however, with consideration of our relations with our NATO allies.
25. Discourage wherever possible, expansionist tendencies and ethnic xenophobia.
26. Recognizing the importance of non- and anti-Communist labor organizations, as well as farmer’s, business and similar organizations to the political and economic development of Free World-oriented African societies, encourage such organizations to follow courses of action consistent with U.S. interests and the needs of the African people.
27. Encourage American companies to set an example in practicing non-discrimination to the maximum extent and to train Africans in managerial positions.[Page 123]
28. Seek to correct distorted African views of U.S. race relations, emphasizing, where appropriate, progress made by the United States in the race relations field.
29. Cooperate locally with security organizations to combat Communist subversive activities.
30. Encourage, in independent areas where practicable, a full appreciation of the dangers involved in formal Sino-Soviet Bloc representation, in extensive use of Sino-Soviet Bloc technicians and in other Sino-Soviet Bloc economic and cultural contacts. Alert the governments of such nations, without causing false suspicions of our own objectives, to the probability that the Sino-Soviet Bloc will attempt to utilize trade and assistance programs as a technique for political subversion. Nonetheless, maintain a flexible posture that would minimize the damage to U.S. prestige in the event that such nations accept diplomatic or economic relations with the Sino-Soviet Bloc.
Military, Strategic and Internal Security
31. Keep the area under periodic survey to determine any changes in the U.S. appraisal of the strategic value to the United States, bearing in mind that the United States may, in the future, require bases, rights or facilities.
32. Discourage the development of an arms race in Africa and of the concept that the United States is prepared to provide military assistance to any nation which requests it. As countries in the area become independent, encourage them to maintain adequately equipped and trained internal security forces. In those cases where external assistance is required for this purpose, encourage the appropriate former metropole to provide such assistance. If this approach fails and if required to achieve U.S. objectives, consider providing U.S. assistance to meet minimum legitimate internal security requirements, including technical training in U.S. military institutions.
33. Establish technically competent observers in African countries to keep abreast of military or internal security developments, subject in each case to the approval of the Secretary of State.
34. a. Encourage the independent countries and, as may be appropriate, those achieving independence: (1) to make the maximum contribution to their own economic development, (2) to eliminate barriers to trade and investment, (3) to take measures capable of attracting maximum amounts of external private capital, and (4) to look essentially [Page 124]to Western Europe, to the Free World international financial institutions, and to private investment to meet their needs for external capital so long as this is consistent with U.S. security interests.
b. Urge the United Kingdom, France, Portugal and Spain as well as other Free World powers, the Free World international financial institutions, organizations such as the Common Market, and private capital to expand their efforts and, to the maximum extent feasible, rely on these sources to meet the need of the territories and nations of the area for external capital. In meeting the desires of the newly-independent nations for external assistance from sources other than the former metropoles, utilize the Free World international financial institutions to the maximum extent possible, consistent with relevant U.S. loan policies.4
c. Wherever it is determined to be infeasible or inconsistent with U.S. national security interests to rely on the sources in subparagraph b to meet the external capital needs of a particular territory or nation, be prepared on the basis of case-by-case appraisal of country of major project requirements to extend economic development assistance or special assistance consistent with the foregoing guidance.
d. Be prepared to extend to independent nations and, in consultation with the metropolitan power concerned, to dependent territories (1) U.S. technical assistance and (2) U.S. special assistance for the improvement of education and training, with particular emphasis to be given to the meeting of the needs which are common to all of the countries of the area. Be prepared to negotiate surplus commodity sales under P.L. 480 when appropriate.
e. Seek to avoid the creation of unrealistic African expectations of U.S. assistance. Accomplish this in part by conducting forthright discussions with the metropoles and countries concerned as to the probable limitations of U.S. assistance both as to type and amounts. Initiate such discussions prior to independence where possible; otherwise in close coordination with the former metropole.
35. In the provision of U.S. assistance, attention should be given to those activities which especially (1) complement the efforts already undertaken by and for the governments of the area concerned; (2) improve, develop or conserve human resources by programs of education, training, and health; (3) accelerate economic development by the selective application of skills to the resources available; (4) serve multinational needs or are otherwise regional in scope.[Page 125]
36. Encourage U.S. and Free World business to participate more actively in the development of the economies of these countries by expanding trade and investment. Seek the denial or limitation of exports of strategic commodities from these areas to the Sino-Soviet Bloc in accordance with U.S. economic defense policy.
37. Encourage expanded efforts by private American institutions and foundations in the field of education, training and research on Africa.
38. Selectively increase educational exchanges between West Africa and the United States.
Policy Guidance On Individual Countries And Territories Supplemental To The “General Policy Guidance” Above
39. Support the stated UN recommendation for early free elections throughout the country.
40. Cooperate with the Malagasy Government in its efforts to combat the local Communist party.
41. Be prepared to extend economic assistance to Guinea.
42. Discourage a pro-Soviet orientation on the part of the Government of Guinea and encourage the development of a neutral policy as the first step toward persuading Guinea to adopt a pro-Western attitude. Recognize that use of excessive pressure at this stage in Guinea’s development may produce negative results.
43. Exploit any opportunities tending to weaken the influence of the Communist Bloc.
44. Encourage the continuation of close and friendly relations between Liberia and the United States and the rest of the Free World, bearing in mind the desirability of countering the general view of Liberia as a U.S. dependency.
45. Encourage friendly relations with the other independent African countries with a view to facilitating Liberia’s role as a force for political moderation in West Africa.
46. Encourage Liberian efforts to bring the hinterland tribal peoples into the economic and political life of the nation.
47. Be prepared to extend economic assistance to Liberia.[Page 126]
48. Discourage, whenever possible, Ghana’s current tendency to support extremist elements in neighboring African countries.
49. Encourage close and friendly relations with other independent African nations with a view to facilitating Nigeria’s role as a potential force for political moderation.
- Source: Department of State, S/P–NSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, Secret. Enclosure to a memorandum from Lay to the NSC dated April 9. The Annex, “General Considerations Relating to Individual Countries and Territories of West Africa,” and the Financial Appendix are not printed.↩
- Includes the independent states of Liberia, Ghana, Guinea, and Cameroun; the republics formerly federated in French West and French Equatorial Africa and now autonomous members of the French Community (Dahomey, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, the Mali Federation of Senegal and Soudan, Niger, Voltaic Republic, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, and Gabon); the UN Trust Territory of Togo; the British colonies of Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Gambia; Portuguese Guinea; and Spanish Guinea. The Malagasy Republic (Madagascar) is also included in this paper because it is a part of the French Community. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- See attached Annex for General Considerations Relating to Individual Countries and Territories. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- This provision does not preclude the operations of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- Specific guidance for Guinea and Liberia is provided in paragraphs 41 and 47 below. [Footnote in the source text.]↩