14. U.S. Foreign Policy for the 1970ʼs: Building for Peace: A Report to the Congress by Richard Nixon, President of the United States1 2

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Africa.]


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“Our stake in the Continent will not rest on todayʼs crisis, on political maneuvering for passing advantage, or on the strategic priority we assign it. Our goal is to help sustain the process by which Africa will gradually realize economic progress to match its aspirations.”

U.S. Foreign Policy For The 1970ʼs
Report to the Congress
February 18, 1970

Africa is a continental experiment in nation building. The excitement and enthusiasm of national birth have phased into the more sober period of growth.

Our historic ties with Africa are deeply rooted in the cultural heritage of many of our people. Our sympathy for Africaʼs newly independent states is a natural product of our traditional antipathy for colonialism. Our economic interests in the continent are substantial, and growing. And our responsibilities as a global power inevitably give us an interest in the stability and well-being of so large a part of the world.

Reflecting these close ties, Secretary Rogers last year became the first Secretary of State to visit Africa. His personal observations and experiences, in Morocco, [Page 3] Tunisia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Zambia, the Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, and Liberia gave a new dimension at the highest level to our knowledge and understanding of Africa. A major result of that visit was the basic policy statement issued with my warm approval in March, 1970. In that statement Secretary Rogers summarized our aim in Africa as “a relationship of constructive cooperation with the nations of Africa—a cooperative and equal relationship with all who wish it.”

We recognize that it is not for us to attempt to set the pattern of relationships among the states of Africa. Only the Africans can forge national unity. Those problems having to do with the building of stable national institutions are neither appropriate for, nor amenable to, much of a contribution from us. Only the Africans themselves can do such work.

The promise of the newly independent African nations is great. But they face all the normal problems associated with independence, and some special ones stemming from historic reliance on tribal organizations not always reflected in national boundaries drawn for the administrative convenience of the former colonial powers. Moreover, colonialism and racial injustice in southern Africa continue to frustrate the African sense of fulfillment.

These facts complicate the essential task of clothing new political institutions with authority. They make more difficult the problem of working out stable relationships among the nations of Africa, and between Africa and the rest of the world. They compound the exigent task of obtaining and applying the resources needed for economic development.

The Nixon Doctrineʼs encouragement of self-reliance has an immediate and broad applicability in Africa. Africa has depended less than other areas on American leadership and assistance, and its institutions and relationships were created without our providing either the impetus or the concept. In Africa, therefore, the [Page 4] conflict between the application of our new doctrine and the requirements of continuity are minimal. To an unusual degree, our conception of the current realities is unencumbered by the weight of previous undertakings. Our freedom of decision is not constrained by the demands, legal or implicit, of past commitments and actions.

Within the framework of African efforts, however, there are three primary needs of the continent to which we can contribute. Africa seeks peace, economic development, and justice; and she seeks our assistance in reaching those goals. It is in our interest to respond as generously as our resources permit.


The major contribution we can make to the peace of the continent is to support the African effort to keep free of great power rivalries and conflicts. Africaʼs unresolved problems should not be used as a pretext for non-Africans to intervene. African needs for assistance should not be manipulated to establish an undue outside influence. The nations of Africa need tranquility and a chance to resolve their own domestic and inter-African problems. Conflict and involvement in Cold War rivalries can only bring harm to Africa and tragic delay in its progress.

For that reason, we seek no positions in Africa which threaten the interests of others. Nor can we condone activities by others which have that effect. Therefore, support for the inviolability of African borders and the integrity of African states is a cardinal point of American policy.

Clearly, our ability to adhere to this posture of restraint is dependent upon a similar posture by others. We believe that the African nations themselves are he best guarantors, as they are certainly the prime beneficiaries, of such restraint.

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The second great African need to which we can contribute is economic development. Africa must obtain material resources and technology from abroad. Multilateral and private investment channels are, we believe, the most efficient means to effect capital development. But external resources can bring real progress only if Africaʼs own human resources are developed and mobilized for this effort. It is in this area that we believe our bilateral assistance programs can be most effective. We therefore hope to contribute to Africaʼs economic development in four major ways:

  • —Our bilateral assistance programs in the years ahead will concentrate on the development of human resources—on education, population problems, and agricultural skills. In the technical assistance field, we intend to send more highly trained technicians. This will be particularly evident in the “New Direction” of the Peace Corps programs in Africa.
  • —But aid alone is not sufficient. African countries also need new markets. Generalized tariff preferences will help to open new markets for their manufactured goods in the more industrialized countries. I will shortly submit legislation to authorize U.S. participation in this program. We will also continue to participate in international efforts to maintain and stabilize markets for traditional exports of primary products.
  • —We intend to use our influence in international lending and development agencies to encourage greater assistance to Africa. In this respect we applaud the decision of the World Bank to increase its assistance to Africa threefold.
  • —Finally, we will actively encourage private investment in the developing countries of Africa. Private investment is the easiest and most efficient way to transfer both resources and human skills [Page 6] from a developed to a developing society. American investment in Africa now stands at about three billion dollars, of which more than two thirds is in the developing area. It has been growing annually at over 12%. We expect that a high rate will continue in coming years. In African countries favored with resources and wise leadership, I have no doubt that private investment will play a far more significant role than public aid in speeding their progress.


The third broad area in which Africans seek our assistance is the search for racial and political justice in southern Africa. There is perhaps no issue which has so pernicious a potential for the well-being of Africa and for American interests there. It is, for many, the sole issue by which our friendship for Africa is measured. I wish to review in all frankness our policy toward this grievous problem.

Both our statements and our actions have, or should have, made it patently clear to all concerned that racism is abhorrent to the American people, to my administration, and to me personally. We cannot be indifferent to apartheid. Nor can we ignore the tensions created in Africa by the denial of political self-determination. We shall do what we can to foster equal opportunity and free political expression instead. We shall do so on both moral and practical grounds, for in our view there is no other solution.

The United States has, therefore, reaffirmed and continued to enforce the embargo on the sale of arms to South Africa. When Southern Rhodesia attempted to sever formal ties with Britain, we closed our Consulate there. We have reaffirmed and continued to enforce the economic sanctions against Rhodesia, and we have sought ways to ensure a more universal compliance with those sanctions.

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The United States also has continued its embargo on the sale of arms for use in Portuguese African territories. In support of the United Nations effort to terminate South Africaʼs jurisdiction over South-West Africa, we have adopted a policy of discouraging American investment in that territory. We have sought to provide assistance and encouragement to Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland in their efforts to prove the viability of multiracial societies in the heart of southern Africa.

These measures define our policy toward the problems of southern Africa. We intend to continue these efforts, and to do what we can to encourage the white regimes to adopt more generous and more realistic policies toward the needs and aspirations of their black citizens.

However, just as we will not condone the violence to human dignity implicit in apartheid, we cannot associate ourselves with those who call for a violent solution to these problems.

We are convinced that the use of violence holds no promise as the solution to the problems of southern Africa. Neither the military nor the economic strength is available to force change on the white minority regimes. Violence would harden the resistance of the white minorities to evolutionary change. Resort to force would freeze the prejudice and fear which lie at the heart of the problem. Finally, violence would certainly hurt most the very people it would purport to serve.

The interests of the white regimes themselves surely dictate change. The United States believes that the outside world can and should use its contacts with southern Africa to promote and speed that change. We do not, therefore, believe the isolation of the white regimes serves African interests, or our own, or that of ultimate justice. A combination of contact and moral pressure serves all three.

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I have dwelt at length on the problems of Africa because it is to them that our policies are of necessity addressed. But it is necessary also to recognize the progress which is taking place.

The return of peace to Nigeria was the paramount African event of 1970. That event was all the more welcome to us, for the American zeal to help reduce the anguishing human cost of that conflict led to some misunderstanding and strain in our relations with the Nigerian Government. The United States views with admiration the humane and statesmanlike policy of reconciliation which Nigeria has adopted. We ourselves know the suffering and bitterness which a civil war entails. Our country emerged stronger and more united. Nigeria, too, has emerged from the challenge stronger and united, and ready to assume the significant role in Africa which, her size, her resources, and her sixty million people dictate. That is a development of the highest significance for the future stability and well-being of Africa. We welcome it.

I should also mention the striking progress which has been made in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Five years of peace have transformed that country from perhaps the most tortured of African states to one of the most stable. This development vindicates the faith in a united Congo which the United States displayed in darker days. President Mobutuʼs visit to Washington in August served to recall the support we extended to the Congo at that time, and to reaffirm the strong friendship between our two countries which has resulted.

The Emperor of Ethiopia, unique among world leaders in the length of his reign and his contribution to independent Africa, visited the United States in October. That occasion provided an opportunity for me to review with him the role of the United States in the economic progress of that ancient land, and to reaffirm [Page 9] the close ties of cooperation between our two countries. Ethiopia has been a leader in Africaʼs creation of regional organizations. Their growing vitality is encouraging, and we hope that activities of this kind will serve increasingly as the focus for economic cooperation between African countries. We believe such a development will both promote and increase the effectiveness of foreign assistance.

The Future

The potential of Africa is great, but so are its problems. We view Africa with the strongest of goodwill, tempered by the sober recognition of the limits of the contribution which we can make to many of its problems. We look to African leadership to build the framework within which other nations, including the United States, can fully contribute to a bright African future. A peaceful, progressive, and just Africa is an exciting and worthy goal. We hope by our policies to facilitate economic progress in one part of Africa, human and social justice in the other, and peace in both.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Africa.]

  1. Source: Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. No classification marking.
  2. President Nixonʼs second foreign policy report to Congress acknowledged Rogersʼ lengthy policy statement of March 26, 1970, (attachment to Document 11) and then elaborated on his specific goals for Africa: peace, economic development, and justice.