14. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Reaction to Andy Young’s Suggestions for African Solutions to African Problems

Cy recently tasked our African posts to respond to the ideas for solutions to African problems, without direct U.S. involvement, contained in Andy Young’s June 14 cable to you and Cy.2 You will remember that Andy suggested State initiate a study aimed at developing specific ideas, considering political, economic and military options, on how the Africans can more effectively deal with their own problems. He recommended that the study be developed, in consultation with principal African leaders, in advance of the Khartoum meeting of the OAU heads of government, and that our efforts be directed toward assuring that the focus of that meeting will be a serious effort at African [Page 37] problem-solving. Andy’s specific proposals included realistic reassessment of the role of the OAU, encouraging recourse to the Security Council for peacekeeping support, challenging outside powers to voluntarily limit their actions in Africa, and emphasizing that tolerance of Cuban intervention legitimizes intervention by others.

Most posts enthusiastically supported Andy’s initiative in general. They are in agreement that the OAU is incapable of solving Africa’s problems, but doubt the acceptability and/or advisability of an increased UNSC role. Most wholeheartedly endorse expanded consultations with African leaders, but many add that the U.S. must retain a capability to respond rapidly to challenges such as the Shaba crisis. Following are summaries of the more significant available responses.

Frontline States:3 Zambia: Clingerman feels that challenging Africans to meet what we consider to be their problem-solving responsibilities is to run the risk of alienating the very people whose support we seek. Tanzania: Spain thinks Nyerere is unlikely to be receptive to suggestions that Soviet/Cuban involvement is not in Africa’s interest, but that he might be interested in consultations directed toward ending crossborder violence and dealing with the difficulties of major tribal groups divided by international borders. Botswana: Norland sees the starting point in efforts to uproot and eventually roll back Soviet presence and influence as adoption of policies, such as our current ones on southern African issues, which will enable African opinion to associate itself with us.

The Horn:4 Somalia: Vought sees bleak prospects for immediate improvement in the OAU, and, while reluctant to see a U.S. big-brother relationship across the board, believes strongly that Africa will look to the U.S. for “deeds as well as rhetoric” during the next few years. Sudan: Bergus agrees that the OAU has failed woefully and sees much to commend the suggestion for an expanded UNSC role, but feels it will face stiff resistance. In order to contribute to stability on the continent, the ambassador sees a definite need for a U.S. capability to move quickly with economic aid, supporting assistance, and a modest supply of arms. Kenya: LeMelle thinks we should impress on our African friends the urgent and critical need to strengthen their own regional machinery in order to avoid exacerbating East-West rivalry in Africa.

[Page 38]

West Africa:5 Nigeria: Wyman sees problems and difficulties with Andy’s approaches, but is confident that their relative advantages and disadvantages can be “carefully weighted” in the State study. Liberia: Horan is concerned that we not mislead the Africans, through any new consultative process, into thinking we are losing the resolve we showed in both Shaba I and Shaba II to send the Soviets the message that “enough is enough.” Sierra Leone: Linehan said we should carefully examine our own rhetoric to determine whether we are in a position to cast the first stone, and at whom.

Francophone Countries:6 Senegal: Cohen says the U.S. must inevitably become involved in some way with material support. Guinea: Crosby feels the U.S. initiative might be welcomed as an expression of willingness to keep “hands off” Africa and as the basis for serious discussion at Khartoum. Chad: Bradford thinks that the suggested approach, if devoid of the promise of security assistance or financing, would be “laughed out of nearly every office in which we make our case.” Togo: Palmer feels the U.S. should encourage and support self-assertive efforts by moderate African states to deal with the instabilities of the African political system. Gabon: Tienken sees our greatest contribution as being pressure on the Cubans and Soviets in various fora that need not be African. Mauritius: Keeley says it is difficult to generalize an “African policy,” and expresses the need to examine each African problem as an individual case. Guinea-Bissau: Marks thinks we must avoid the inadvertent impression that our interest in a particular leader or group of leaders results from unenlightened self-interest. Cameroon: Smythe says we should identify African leaders who have some ambivalence toward Soviet/Cuban activities in Africa and open a dialogue with them on the rationale for control of outside influences in Africa. Mali: Byrne suggests we consider establishment of a formal U.S. mission to the OAU, separate and distinct from our embassy in Addis Ababa.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Box 124, Africa 2–6/78. Secret.
  2. See Document 13. In telegram 153145, to all African posts, June 16, Vance requested that Ambassadors respond to Young’s cable. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780255–0554)
  3. The Ambassadors to the Front-Line States responded to Vance’s tasking in telegrams 2202 from Lusaka, June 20; 2593 from Dar es Salaam, June 16; and 1872 from Gabarone, June 19. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780256–1058, D780252–0688, and D780255–0353, respectively)
  4. The responses from the Embassies in the Horn of Africa are in telegrams 1383 from Mogadiscio, June 20; 2711 from Khartoum, June 17; and 9104 from Nairobi, June 17. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780256–0987, D780253–1085, and D780253–1191, respectively)
  5. The West African posts’ responses are in telegrams 7552 from Lagos, June 19; 4411 from Monrovia, June 16; and 1977 from Freetown, June 21. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780255–0557, D780252–0463, and D780258–1127, respectively)
  6. The Embassies in the Francophone countries responded in telegrams 4616 from Dakar, June 16; 1170 from Conakry, June 17; 2408 from N’Djamena, June 20; 1967 from Lome, June 19; 1669 from Libreville, June 19; 692 from Port Louis, June 19; 778 from Bissau, June 22; 3053 from Yaounde, June 22; and 2925 from Bamako, June 22. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780252–0476, D780253–1197, D780256–0476, D780255–0770, D780255–0217, D780255–0339, D780260–0649, D780260–0583, and D780260–1176, respectively)