30. Report of the Conference of Principal Diplomatic and Consular Officers of North and West Africa, Tangier, May 30–June 2, 19600
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The Conference of Principal Diplomatic and Consular Officers of North and West Africa, meeting at Tangier from May 30 to June 2, 1960,1 after discussing the policies and programs of the United States in the area, recorded the following conclusions and recommendations:
- It is imperative for the attainment of United States policy objectives, which involve the denial of the area to Sino-Soviet bloc domination, that the United States identify itself with the legitimate aspirations of the peoples of Africa. Such identification involves in the first instance a clear demonstration of U.S. sympathetic interest in their problems and treatment of the new countries of Africa on a basis of equality. While conventional diplomacy through personal contacts and public positions plays an important role in establishing areas of common interest, economic aid will be an increasingly necessary instrument for the attainment of United States objectives in Africa.
- The situation in Tropical Africa is distinguished by its special urgency and its rapid, often unpredictable evolution. The period immediately before and after the attainment of independence will be crucial for the establishment of friendly and cooperative relations between the U.S. and the new African nations. Early and effective action in responding to the needs of such countries can be more economical than action at a later time: one dollar spent now may well be as useful [Page 137]to the U.S. interest as ten dollars spent two years from now. In general, the attitudes initially created in the new nations are likely to have a long-lasting influence on their positions and policies in the world at large and in the United Nations.
- Regarding Algeria, the Conference noted with concern the unlikelihood of an early settlement of the war and the grave menace which the continuation of this conflict represents for the furtherance of U.S. interests throughout Africa. It also took note of the continuing effort of the Sino-Soviet Bloc, and especially the Red Chinese, to acquire influence in the FLN. It considered this indicative of Sino-Soviet intention to ensure a Communist presence and influence in Algeria if and when a settlement of the Algerian problem is achieved. The Conference felt that while the U.S. had understandably refrained from becoming deeply involved in this delicate and difficult problem, we should nonetheless remain alert to the possibility of making a definite contribution toward a settlement. Such a contribution might bring about a change of current opinion in Africa, which seems to associate the United States closely with the French war effort. The Conference also felt that if prospects for a settlement improve, the United States should begin a careful examination of possible steps to influence the future orientation of the Algerian area of North Africa, bearing in mind that circumstances could so develop as to make speedy action imperative.
- The Conference devoted much time to discussion of the problems posed for the West, and for the achievement of our objectives in Africa, by French policies and attitudes in Africa South of the Sahara. While recognizing the need to conciliate France in view of its staunch position in Europe, the conferees wished to record their view that this conciliation, if carried too far, will impair and might even jeopardize the effectiveness of our effort in Africa.
- With respect to the creation or maintenance of larger African political groupings, the United States should continue to support the idea of greater African unity, recognizing, however, that this is not an immediate prospect and that the present trend in Africa is in a direction of national rather than supra-national aspirations. The United States should be careful not to endorse prematurely any specific proposals for African unity that may be put forth by African leaders. In this connection it was the view of the Conference that the Garvey-DuBois-Nkrumah classical Pan-African concept appears to be a declining force.
- The entry into the United Nations of a sizable number of new African states will have an impact on U.S. participation in that organization. The Conference noted the importance of early discussions with [Page 138]the leaders of the emerging states to provide them with essential background on key United Nations issues and to promote a sympathetic understanding of the United States approach to these problems.
- There is no U.S. strategic requirement for the buildup of indigenous armed forces in Africa. The African states should be discreetly encouraged to agree among themselves on some form of regional arms limitation and control. The U.S. may, however, have to provide military assistance, limited as far as possible to internal security requirements, to forestall the Sino-Soviet bloc in some African countries.
- With respect to United States aid policies in general, the Conference noted the recent shift in emphasis from grant aid to loans, which may reflect a reasonable adjustment to the great changes that have occurred in the world economy as a result of United States aid over a long period. The Conference expresses the belief, however, that the requirements of Africa, although uniquely African, correspond more to those which existed in Europe fifteen years ago or in South and Southeast Asia five years ago. If our aid is to be effective in Africa, our policies and aid instruments must be adjusted to the particular situation prevailing there. This may require departures from established present world-wide policies and aid patterns and a return, in the case of Africa, to patterns and practices that were applied successfully elsewhere at an earlier time.
- Because the needs of the new African countries are very extensive and varied, an attempt to meet all of them would be self-defeating. Although some U.S. assistance to all the new countries is desirable and necessary, the U.S. must be selective in its approach, taking into account also the important aid programs of some of the former metropolitan powers which continue to have important interests in the new African countries. While the United States must continue to urge that aid from the metropoles be maintained and if possible increased, there is no assurance that such aid will in fact continue. Therefore a number of crisis situations may arise in Africa through the creation of vacuums into which Soviet and other Communist aid could flow on a massive scale.
- It was the belief of the Conference that the greatest dangers appear to exist at the moment in Guinea, Cameroun, Togo and Mali (in addition to the Belgian Congo which was not in the area covered by this Conference and where, as in Guinea, we are already faced with such a crisis). In the case of Cameroun and Togo, which are now fully independent, the United States should inquire about the aid plans of the French Government and should urge France to continue its assistance. If it appears that France is preparing to exact political concessions from those countries in return for aid and that those concessions [Page 139]are being refused, the United States should be prepared to step in with the aid programs required to avoid a repetition of the situation that arose in Guinea. Account should also be taken of cases where there is a lack of receptivity to aid from the former metropoles.
- If the objectives of United States policy in the area are to be attained, American assistance must be timely and responsive not only to African economic and internal security needs and to U.S. security requirements but also to African political requirements which may well involve departures from aid patterns in less primitive or more stable countries. United States assistance should create a climate which will engage the expectations of the leadership in a Western direction so that the countries of the area will not be tempted to look upon Sino-Soviet bloc aid as essential for the solution of their problems.
- The United States should seek strengthened multilateral aid programs including programs of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, but such programs can be no more than a modest supplement to United States bilateral programs. The United States should also explore the possibility of some coordinating mechanism for aid to Africa which could maximize resources available from the former metropoles and other potential donors while giving the African countries a forum in which to discuss and coordinate their aid requirements. Since the realization of such a plan involves many difficulties and since the situation requires both flexibility and speed, the United States should not permit consideration of such new patterns to delay the establishment and implementation of bilateral programs which would continue in any case even if a multilateral “umbrella” were erected over them.
- The strong conviction was expressed that certain provisions of our standard bilateral agreements for technical and economic assistance represent definite liabilities. Reference was made especially to provisions dealing with diplomatic privileges and immunities for personnel of aid missions and for contract employees. Several participants from posts in North and West Africa declared that such provisions represent not only irritants but dangers for the reception of our aid programs and for our relations with those countries. It was also noted that in many countries special privileges for American technicians might upset relationships for thousands of technicians from former metropoles who do not enjoy similar privileges and whose continued presence in those countries is essential. (The same difficulties arise with respect to privileges and immunities for personnel of U.S. Government agencies other than ICA–e.g. Defense, VOA, FBIS.)
- The United States should be prepared to waive certain formalities which are not absolutely necessary, especially when such formalities would involve delays in critical situations. African countries cannot be expected to analyze their needs or to submit detailed [Page 140]justifications for aid requests because in many cases they do not know their real needs and do not know how to analyze them. In some cases ICA should be prepared to act promptly on obvious needs without waiting for formal written requests from recipient countries.
- The Conference also expressed itself in favor of a relaxation of the formalities attending the initiation of DLF loan applications. These formalities represent a serious obstacle to the attainment of our objectives and reduce even further the utility of this aid instrument in the African context.
C. Cultural and Information
- There is a need for greatly expanded information and cultural activities in Africa especially tailored for the various regions. The Conference expressed its hope that United States Information Service posts in the newly emerging countries will be fully manned, equipped and financed in the shortest possible time.
- One element of primary importance for the achievement of American policy objectives in Africa is a wider dissemination of knowledge of the English language. As far as the former French dependencies are concerned, however, this encounters a special degree of sensitivity and resentment on the part of the French Government. It was concluded that the United States must, without renouncing its objective of creating a wider knowledge of English in the countries concerned, take into account the attitudes of the French Government; that, accordingly, it cannot be our policy or program to move forward on a broad front and with an intensive effort in all cases; but that, rather, an ad hoc approach is indicated, moving forward wherever French sensitivities appear less intense and stressing, in all cases, that it is not our purpose to displace or diminish the French cultural influence in the countries involved.
- Better coordination and planning are required between the various programs that bring Africans on visits to the United States. Contract agencies should be particularly careful to so arrange grantee programs as to minimize the danger of racial incidents. It was noted that different treatment of grantees in various different categories can give rise to invidious comparisons which are harmful to the program. It was also noted that the effectiveness of visits to the United States is reduced when they involve many short visits in different parts of the country rather than fewer and more intensive visits. Grantees should be discouraged from making excessively ambitious plans for travel in the United States when the length of their visit will be limited.
- Unconventional situations require unconventional methods to deal with them. In African hardship posts we are sometimes confronted with such situations. Unusual requests from African posts must be viewed in this light and deserve more than reference to applicable procedures and regulations.
- With respect to building operations, the situation in Africa requires a much greater degree of flexibility on the part of FBO. In many cases the need for housing is so pressing, and opportunities for rental are so limited or even non-existent, that FBO should be placed in a position to construct authorized housing on a crash basis in a period of months rather than years.
- Recognizing that the present budgetary situation of FBO severely limits the initiation of new construction projects or the purchase of office and living quarters, the Conference felt that the attention of Congress should be directed to the fact that in many African countries annual rentals are designed to amortize a building in three or four years, and where we are left with no alternative, our payments of rent unavoidably result in a much larger expenditure of public funds over a period than would be involved if we constructed or purchased buildings.
- With respect to tours of duty, it was felt that greater flexibility is needed at hardship posts especially in the case of clerical personnel after one year, even within the area, since the change alone would revive morale and stimulate new interest.
- The Conference noted the utility of area training for Africa. It agreed, on the other hand, that there is little merit in training personnel in African languages since English and French are usually the official languages and are spoken by members of the elite and by significant elements of the populations; whereas African dialects are of limited utility not only geographically but even within particular communities. However, increased study of French by personnel proceeding to French-speaking African posts was found very desirable.
[Here follow the remainder of the report and two annexes: A, “U.S. Objectives in Africa,” a statement by Satterthwaite, and B, a list of participants at the conference.]
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 120.1471/6–260. Secret. The undated report is entitled “Conference of Principal Diplomatic and Consular Officers of North and West Africa: Record of Proceedings.”↩
- The conference was chaired by Assistant Secretary Satterthwaite and attended by chiefs of mission and principal officers of 19 diplomatic and consular missions in Africa, representatives of the Embassies in London and Paris, and representatives of the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce, the International Cooperation Administration, the United States Information Agency, the Development Loan Fund, and the Bureau of the Budget.↩