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

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[Omitted here is material unrelated to Africa.]


“We know you have no easy task in seeking to assure a fair share of Africaʼs wealth to all her peoples. We know that the realization of equality and human dignity throughout the continent will be long and arduous in coming. But you can be sure as you pursue these difficult goals that the United States shares your hopes and your confidence in the future.”

Presidentʼs Message
to the Sixth Annual
Assembly of the Organization
of African Unity,
September 6, 1969.

In this greeting last September to the summit meeting of the Organization of African Unity, I expressed Americaʼs determination to support our African friends as they work to fulfill their continentʼs high promise. [Page 3] The unprecedented visit of the Secretary of State to Africa this month is a confirmation of this support.

One of the most dramatic and far-reaching changes of the last decade was the emergence of an independ. ent Africa.

Only ten years ago, 32 countries covering nearly five-sixths of the Continent were still colonies, their voices silent in world affairs. Today, these are all sovereign nations, proudly determined to shape their own future. And contrary to fears so often voiced at their birth, these nations did not succumb to Cornmunist subversion. Africa is one of the worldʼs most striking examples, in fact, of the failure of the appeal of Communism in the new nations. African states now comprise one-third of the membership of the United Nations. African issues have become important moral and political questions. African views justly merit and receive the attention of the world.

But this rebirth of a continent has been hazardous as well as hopeful. Africa was the scene of many of the recurrent crises of the 1960ʼs. There was the factional strife and international rivalry in the Congo, an arms race between Ethiopia and Somalia, the establishment of white minority rule in Southern Rhodesia, and the agonizing human loss in the Nigerian civil war.

The Continent still faces grave problems. The imbalances of economies and institutions once under full external control are only too evident today. Arbitrary boundaries drawn in European chancelleries left many African countries vulnerable to tribal strife; and nowhere is the task of nation-building more taxing. Not least, Africans face the formidable task of strengthening their sense of identity and preserving traditional culture as their societies make the transition to modernity.

Over the last decade, America has not had a clear [Page 4] conception of its relationship with post-colonial Africa and its particular problems. Because of our traditional support of self-determination, and Africaʼs historic ties with so many of our own citizens, our sympathy and friendship for the new Africa were spontaneous. But without a coherent concept to structure our policies, we allowed ourselves to concentrate more on temporary crises than on their underlying causes. We expressed our support for Africa more by lofty phrases than by candid and constructive dialogue.

Just as we focus our policies elsewhere to meet a new era, we will be clear with ourselves and with our African friends on Americaʼs interests and role in the Continent. We have two major concerns regarding the future of Africa:

  • —That the Continent be free of great power rivalry or conflict in any form. This is even more in Africaʼs interest than in ours.
  • —That Africa realize its potential to become a healthy and prosperous region in the international community. Such an Africa would not only be a valuable economic partner for all regions, but would also have a greater stake in the maintenance of a durable world peace.

These interests will guide our policies toward the most demanding challenges facing Africa in the 1970ʼs.


The primary challenge facing the African Continent is economic development.

If the 1960ʼs were years of high hopes and high rhetoric, the 1970ʼs will have to be years of hard work and hard choices. The African nations and those who assist them must decide together on strict priorities in employing the relatively limited development capital available [Page 5] to the Continent. In doing this, Africa and its friends can benefit from several lessons of the past decade.

Certainly development will not always proceed as rapidly as the Africans and their friends hope. In many countries, needs will outrun local and international resources for some time. But solid and steady progress will be made if our common development investment concentrates on those basic if undramatic building blocks of economic growth—health, education, agriculture, transportation and local development. In particular, Africa will realize the full advantage of its own rich material resources only as it nurtures the wealth of its human resources. In close coordination with the Africansʼ own efforts, the United States will direct our aid at these fundamental building blocks.

Another lesson we have learned from the 1960ʼs is the need for close regional cooperation, in order for Africa to get the most from development resources. The United States will work with other donors and the Africans to help realize the potential for cooperative efforts—by the support which we are giving, for example, to the East African Economic Community and the promising regional groupings in West Africa. We will recognize, however, that regional action is not the only road for African development. In some cases, for geographic or political reasons, it will not work.

Our assistance throughout the Continent will be flexible and imaginative. We will make a particular effort—including programs of technical assistance and new encouragement of private investment—to help those countries not in a position to participate in regional projects.

We have learned that there are no panaceas for [Page 6] African development. Each country faces its own problems, and the solutions to them must spring from the national experience of each country. Foreign ideologies have often proven notoriously irrelevant, and even tragically wasteful, as designs for African progress. The most creative conceptual approaches to African development should come, of course, from the Africans themselves. Outsiders cannot prescribe the political framework most conducive to Africaʼs economic growth. In some countries, progress has depended upon stability. Yet elsewhere, solutions to local problems have been found amid periods of uncertainty or even turmoil.

The United States will measure African progress in terms of long-run social and economic accomplishment, and not in the political flux which is likely to accompany growth.

In Africa, as throughout the developing world, our goal in providing development aid is clear. We want the Africans to build a better life for themselves and their children. We want to see an Africa free of poverty and disease, and free too of economic or political dependence on any outside power. And we want Africans to build this future as they think best, because in that way both our help and their efforts will be most relevant to their needs.

As Secretary Rogers said in Ethiopia on February 12:

“As a developed nation, we recognize a special obligation to assist in the economic development of Africa. Our resources and our capacity are not unlimited. We have many demands at home. We will, however, continue to seek the means, both directly and in cooperation with others, to contribute more effectively to economic development in Africa.”
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Africaʼs second challenge in the 1970ʼs will be to weather the inevitable strains which will come with the further development of nations which house a great diversity of peoples and cultures.

We have witnessed tragic manifestations of this problem in the civil strife in the Congo and Nigeria. The process of national integration may be stormy elsewhere.

Such turmoil presents a tempting target to forces outside Africa ready to exploit the problems of change to their own advantage. But foreign intervention, whatever its form or source, will not serve the long-run interests of the Africans themselves.

The United States approaches these problems of national integration with a policy which clearly recognizes the limits as well as the obligations of our partnership with Africa:

  • —We will not intervene in the internal affairs of African nations. We strongly support their right to be independent, and we will observe their right to deal with their own problems independently. We believe that the national integrity of African states must be respected.
  • —However, we will distinguish between non-interference politically and the humanitarian obligation to help lessen human suffering.
  • —Finally, consulting our own interests, we will help our friends in Africa to help themselves when they are threatened by outside forces attempting to subvert their independent development. It is another lesson of the 1960ʼs, however, that African defense against subversion, like African development, [Page 8] must be borne most directly by Africans rather than by outsiders.

Southern Africa

The third challenge facing Africa is the deep-seated tension in the southern sixth of the Continent.

Clearly there is no question of the United States condoning, or acquiescing in, the racial policies of the white-ruled regimes. For moral as well as historical reasons, the United States stands firmly for the principles of racial equality and self-determination.

At the same time, the 1960ʼs have shown all of us—Africa and her friends alike—that the racial problems in the southern region of the Continent will not be solved quickly. These tensions are deeply rooted in the history of the region, and thus in the psychology of both black and white.

These problems must be solved. But there remains a real issue in how best to achieve their resolution. Though we abhor the racial policies of the white regimes, we cannot agree that progressive change in Southern Africa is furthered by force. The history of the area shows all too starkly that violence and the counter-violence it inevitably provokes will only make more difficult the task of those on both sides working for progress on the racial question.

The United States warmly welcomes, therefore, the recent Lusaka Manifesto, a declaration by African leaders calling for a peaceful settlement of the tensions in Southern Africa. That statesmanlike document combines a commitment to human dignity with a perceptive understanding of the depth and complexity of the racial problem in the area—a combination which we hope will guide the policies of Africa and her friends as they seek practical policies to deal with this anguishing question.

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Issues for the Future

American policy toward Africa, then, will illustrate our general approach to building an enduring peace. 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.

We must understand, however, that this process is only beginning. Its specific course is unclear. Its success depends in part on how we and the Africans move now in the climate as well as the substance of our relations.

  • —Africaʼs friends must find a new tone of candor in their essential dialogue with the Continent. All too often over the past decade the United States and others have been guilty of telling proud young nations, in misguided condescension, only what we thought they wanted to hear. But I know from many talks with Africans, including two trips to the Continent in 1957 and 1967, that Africaʼs new leaders are pragmatic and practical as well as proud, realistic as well as idealistic. It will be a test of diplomacy for all concerned to face squarely common problems and differences of view. The United States will do all it can to establish this new dialogue.
  • —Most important, there must be new and broader forms of mobilizing the external resources for African development. The pattern of the multilateral consortium which in the past few years has aided Ghana should be employed more widely elsewhere. This will require the closest cooperation between the Africans and those who assist them. [Page 10] There is much to be gained also if we and others can help devise ways in which the more developed African states can share their resources with their African neighbors.
  • —The United States is firmly committed to non-interference in the Continent, but Africaʼs future depends also on the restraint of other great powers. No one should seek advantage from Africaʼs need for assistance, or from future instability. In his speech on February 12, Secretary Rogers affirmed that:

    “We have deep respect for the independence of the African nations. We are not involved in their internal affairs. We want our relations with them to be on a basis of mutual respect, mutual trust and equality. We have no desire for any domination of any country or any area and have no desire for any special influence in Africa, except the influences that naturally and mutually develop among friends.”

The Africa of the 1970ʼs will need schools rather than sympathy, roads rather than rhetoric, farms rather than formulas, local development rather than lengthy sermons. We will do what we can in a spirit of constructive cooperation rather than by vague declarations of good will. The hard facts must be faced by Africans and their friends; and the hard work in every corner of the Continent must be done. A durable peace cannot De built if the nations of Africa are not true partners in the gathering prosperity and security which fortify that peace.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Africa.]

  1. Source: Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. No classification marking.
  2. In this published report the President summarized his administrationʼs goals and policies regarding Africa. A major concern was “that the Continent be free of great power rivalry or conflict in any form.”