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

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“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.ʼ

U.S. Foreign Policy for the 1970ʼs
A Report to the Congress
February 25, 1971

We owe it to ourselves and to Africa to define clearly and to state candidly American interests, aims and possibilities in the African Continent. We owe it to ourselves and to the Africans to understand clearly heir aims and priorities.

Our African diplomacy, including my own meetings these past three years with the leaders of 14 African nations, has been directed to the establishment of an honest relationship with the peoples and governments of the continent.

Africa is in its second decade of emancipation from colonial rule and the achievements of independent Africa have been impressive:

  • —Despite great obstacles, African states have maintained their political independence and territorial integrity.
  • —Though progress was uneven, a number of African states have taken significant strides to broaden their economic base and to develop untapped resources.
  • —In the face of overwhelming domestic strains, African leaders in the main have succeeded in moving toward internal consolidation.
  • —Despite great ethnic diversity and unnatural geographic divisions, Africans have created new regional institutions to grapple with common problems.

Africans, however, still face two awesome problems:

  • —The hope for modernization is spreading across Africa more rapidly than the means to assure its realization. The problems created by slender resources of capital and skilled manpower are [Page 3] aggravated by the narrow scope of national economies. Many African countries face a harsh choice between policies involving cooperation with others which hold realistic promise of growth, and the jealous guarding of unmitigated sovereignty.
  • —The quest of southern Africaʼs black majorities for full participation in their countriesʼ political and economic life continues to meet minority intransigence and repression, and to divert African attention from the problems of development.

Americaʼs Interests in Africa

Historically, U.S. interests derive from the many American citizens of African descent, and the long involvement of American churchmen, educators, and businessmen with Africa. In the last two decades, Africaʼs drive for independence stimulated our interest, and commanded our understanding and our support. The creation of new independent governments in Africa gave a new focus to our relationship and opened new opportunities for fruitful contacts between us. The special identification of black Americans with their African heritage adds intensity to our inherent interest in demonstrating that men of all races can live and prosper together.

One-third of the worldʼs independent nations are in Africa. Their voice and views are increasingly important in world affairs. Our global responsibilities require that we seek their understanding and diplomatic support for a wide range of policies.

In the economic sphere our common interests are substantial and growing. African leaders look to the United States for help primarily in meeting their development objectives. The American interest in a fruitful relationship with the African Continent commands that we, along with others, respond. On our part, we consider this an area particularly appropriate for an active U.S. role in African affairs. As African countries diversify their economic relationships, our own economic interests and opportunities in Africa expand. Our interest in African trade and investment opportunities matches the African interest in American goods and their desire for American technology.

The Need for Mutual Respect and Restraint

If these American interests in Africa provide a firm basis for relations of mutual benefit—and I believe they do—I am equally convinced that [Page 4] both African and American interests are served by political restraint in our policy toward Africa.

We have made preeminently clear our respect for the diversity and independence of African nations. For historical and geographical reasons, Africa is resistant to involvement in alien conflicts and controversies. This accords with our purposes as well as Africaʼs. As Secretary of State Rogers stated following his February 1970 trip to Africa:

“We have no desire for any special influence in Africa except the influence that naturally and mutually develops among friends … we do not believe that Africa should be the scene of major power conflicts. We on our part do not propose to make it so.”

Restraint must be mutual to be effective. Non-African powers should not seek, nor Africans provide, opportunities for exploiting local conflicts. Africans have demonstrated, in their drive for autonomy and self-reliance, their ability to solve their problems without outside interference.

Mutual respect in relations with the United States also includes African recognition of our non-interference in African political affairs. We expect African nations to resist the temptation to serve domestic political purposes by making unsubstantiated charges of American interference in their affairs. Such charges appeared in a few places in Africa in 1971, particularly in Madagascar and Guinea.

American restraint accords with the natural pride of new nations molding their own future after generations of foreign rule. It is precisely what we demanded of others after we had obtained our own independence. The United States cannot, and will not, therefore, attempt to define Africaʼs goals, nor determine how they should be met. We will not recommend internal political arrangements to Africans—though we naturally prefer open and tolerant systems. But we can and we will support African commitments to the values we share.

The Dimensions of Cooperation

The United States responded, in 1971, to the special and priority concerns of Africans. This Administration was able, even in the face of declining worldwide aid resources, to increase U.S. support for African development. Our development loans to African nations increased 30 percent and Export-Import Bank activity rose 140 percent. In addition, we provided almost 40 percent of the total cost of multilateral assistance programs in Africa. Last year the Peace Corps maintained 2,500 volunteers in 25 African countries, providing teacher training and vocational skills. American assistance to Africa totaled about $550 million last year, compared to $450 million in 1970.

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This record speaks for itself. We have been increasingly active in precisely that area in which Africa expects and wants an American contribution.

Private American investment in Africa is growing at an annual rate of 14 percent, a fact of the greatest promise for Africaʼs economic future. Private investment will undoubtedly play a major role in providing the Continent with the capital and technology it needs. We will continue to make every effort to encourage private investment in Africa. It will benefit not only Africa, but the world, to encourage efficient development of Africaʼs resources of petroleum, mineral, and agricultural products. American companies will also continue to help create new manufacturing enterprises and to facilitate expanded trade and tourism by working to build ports and railroads, air links and hotels.

U.S. private investment in Africa now totals about $3.5 billion, and continues to grow rapidly. Americans are participating in important new enterprises started last year in Nigeria and Zaire. The Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation stand ready to facilitate such ventures where our participation is wanted and where it can take place on a footing of mutual benefit. Africans who want this participation must, of course, create a hospitable climate for private investment. Kenya, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, and Zaire are examples of the benefits which flow from such a climate.

Our growing trade with Africa yielded the United States a 1971 trade surplus of about $400 million, while providing Africans with expanded markets for the exports so vital to their growth. 1971 saw the opening of our sugar market to Malawi and Uganda for the first time, and an increase in our quotas for Madagascar, Mauritius, and Swaziland. Despite our own economic difficulties, we exempted many African raw material exports from the temporary import surcharge imposed from August to December. We have announced our intention to submit to the Congress legislation to implement a system of generalized preferences for the exports of developing areas, including Africa. This year we will open in Nigeria our first Regional Trade Center in Africa. It should lead to a further expansion of African-American trade.

No oneʼs interest is served by underestimating the magnitude of the task ahead, or by exaggerating the contribution outsiders are able or willing to make to the realization of Africaʼs aspirations. The earlier era of euphoria is over. If Africa is to move ahead in the 1970ʼs, it must be largely on the basis of its own efforts and its own prescriptions. Assistance from others will supplement, but will not replace, the need for the application of major resources from the African nations themselves. There is [Page 6] no need to hesitate in expressing that fact. Africans know it, and say it, for it has been a recurring theme in my many private discussions with African leaders.

The Southern African Dilemma

For more than a decade, leading Americans in all fields have expressed this nationʼs profound concern over racial injustice in southern Africa, and decried the serious potential of the issue for bringing large scale conflict to this region. As I have repeatedly made clear, I share the conviction that the United States cannot be indifferent to racial policies which violate our national ideals and constitute a direct affront to American citizens. As a nation, we cherish and have worked arduously toward the goal of equality of opportunity for all Americans. It is incumbent on us to support and encourage these concepts abroad, and to do what we can to forestall violence across international frontiers.

The United States can take pride in the measures it has taken to discourage a military buildup in the areas of minority rule. We have maintained our arms embargoes in those areas. We have stressed the need for self-determination in colonial areas. We have facilitated contact between the races, and underlined the fact that greater political and economic opportunity for Africans serves the true interests of all races. I detailed the steps we have taken in last yearʼs Report. It is a record second to none among the major powers.

Americans alone, however, cannot solve the racial problems of southern Africa. The notion that one nation, however powerful or well-intentioned, can master the most intractable issues plaguing foreign societies belongs to a past era.

For our part, we look toward black and white in Africa to play the primary role in working toward progress consistent with human dignity. We support their efforts by:

  • —Encouraging communication between the races in Africa, and between African peoples and our own.
  • —Making known directly to the parties involved our views on their actions. My Administration will not condone recourse to violence, either as a means of enforcing submission of a majority to a minority or as a formula for effecting needed social change.

The situation today offers no grounds for complacency about the imminence of racial justice in southern Africa. It is, therefore, important that we continue to do everything we can to encourage respect for human dignity.

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In South Africa, men continue to be demeaned for reason of their race, and to be detained and harassed for their views about official policy But the outside world is witnessing with sober hope the suggestions of change inside South Africa, where questioning voices are being raised, examining both the premises and the results of that countryʼs policies, Private companies, many of them American, are considering new ways to open opportunities for African workers. There is an imbalance between the needs of South Africaʼs active economy and her adherence to racial policies which deprive her of the growing pool of human talent which that economy requires. There is some hope in that anomaly.

In Southern Rhodesia, after six years of economic sanctions designed to end the rebellion against Britain, Rhodesia and British negotiators reached agreement in November on the terms of a proposed settlement. These are now being put before the people of Rhodesia whose choice it is whether to accept or reject them. We hope this process will set Rhodesia on the path toward racial equality.

In the Portuguese territories, development in some areas is over-shadowed by guerrilla warfare and repression. By our words and actions, we have made clear our view that progress toward self-determination offers the best hope of a permanent and profitable Portuguese-African relationship.

In Namibia, South Africa continues to resist the efforts of the United Nations on behalf of self-determination. It rejects the 1971 holding of the International Court of Justice that South Africa is obliged to quit Namibia. We accept that holding and continue to discourage U.S. investment in Namibia. We seek to encourage peaceful ways of realizing and protecting the rights of the people of Namibia.

Some call for the United States to take the prime responsibility for the racial problems of southern Africa. Some want the United States to force upon the minority governments of southern Africa immediate and, if need be, violent change. I have indicated why I reject that position. Southern Africa contains within itself the seeds of change. We can and will work with others to encourage that process.

Our Expanding Relations with Africa

There is a growing depth and breadth to our relations with the Continent. Today, the unprecedented frequency of personal contact between American and African leaders reflects that fact. I visited Africa four times before becoming President, and was able to study at first hand and in considerable detail the problems as well as the progress being achieved. [Page 8] Since 1969, I have met personally with the leaders of 14 African states. Both Vice President Agnew and Secretary of State Rogers have made extensive visits to Africa and have had contacts with African leaders that have been invaluable in setting the course of our African policies. A very special event occurred in January when, for the first time, the wife of an American President visited Africa officially. I was deeply gratified at the warmth of her reception in Liberia, Ghana, and Ivory Coast.

These exchanges have enabled me to confirm that a policy based on economic support, political restraint, and mutual respect serves us well. It accords with the high priority African leaders place on developing their economies. It accords with Africaʼs desire to be free of foreign political influence and Africaʼs need to avoid the diversion of resources inevitable if conflict comes to the continent. Finally, it accords with the growing realization of Africaʼs leaders and people that their destiny is in their own hands, where they want it and where it should be.

  1. Source: Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. No classification marking.
  2. President Nixon discussed U.S. interests in Africa, the need for mutual respect and restraint, economic cooperation in the form of loans, private investment, and trade, and the Southern African dilemma.