5. Memorandum From Henry Richardson of the National Security Council Staff to Robert Hormats of the National Security Council Staff1


  • USAID Policy and General US African Policy

I recently had lunch with Goler Butcher to talk about a closer coordination of AID policy in Africa with general US policy objectives. We left it that I would get back to her with a memo.2

Let me sketch a few thoughts. To the extent that the President has rightly put substantial restraints on using American military forces and providing military assistance to African governments, economic, diplomatic, and ideological strategies rise in importance. Our AID program (with other economic strategies) will emerge as a quite important instrument of American foreign policy. This implies that the NSC must at least have a reasonably clear picture of the objectives of AID programs, the response by host countries to those programs, AID projections of future country needs, and the capacity and desirability of the United States to meet them. This does not imply, however, that AID should become a naked instrument of US policy manipulation vis-a-vis any African government.

General Aid Objectives in Africa

Our general aid objectives would include the following:

1. Maintain increasing aid levels to participate in meeting the needs of African countries most important to us.

2. Maintain an effective AID program in the Sahel.

3. Maintain sufficient aid flexibility vis-a-vis Congress and congressional appropriations to serve the most important policy functions which we call upon the AID program to perform.

4. Maintain sufficient aid flexibility for our North-South objectives—whether bilateral or multilateral—in Africa.

5. In line with our policy of dialog with African states, formulate AID objectives by even closer consultation with host country governments, but be more open and honest with them about defining US [Page 10] interests, and operate more forthrightly with respect to AID programs on a benefit-sanctions basis if American interests are not being met.

6. Formulate American objectives and American interests with a greater appreciation of African realities and perceptions than heretofore.

These thoughts refer primarily to our bilateral AID policy vis-a-vis each African government, and not as much to our general North-South strategy, in which, of course, Africa plays a large role.

AID and African Policy

In making such an inquiry, as we explore the utility of AID programs as an instrument of general US African policy, we must be aware of the limits of that concept. These would seem to lie at the point where we might ask AID to take action which is not consistent with the development of the country or countries concerned. That notion constitutes a limit because development of African countries in se is a quite important interest of the United States. I may go further and say that we are rapidly moving beyond definitions of development based on purely economic statistical criteria and incorporating into our policy perceptions and definitions of development—especially in Africa—which have value concepts inherent in them.

In Southern Africa, for example, there is a strong strain of thought which says there is no development without victory of the liberation movement. That is, development cannot exist in the context of racism and white minority rule. Similarly, under our human rights policy, we are beginning to say that there can be no development without a minimum level of human rights in the host country, however we may define it. In any case, it seems clear that “development” in each African state has inherent in it certain value premises which AID must increasingly respond to, and which we at NSC should increasingly be aware of.

We should not, therefore, call upon AID to take any action or formulate any objective contrary to the development of a particular African country. But, within the notion of development, there is room for dialog between the host government and the US Government about the implementation of some shared value-premises. This dialog is subject to the overriding truth that the development of each African country must, in the medium-to-long run, be accomplished by Africans.

Next Steps

Having proposed the above, it would seem that we need to know certain things. First, the general policy objectives of AID for Africa. Until Goler gets a little more settled in her job, and finishes budgetary planning for FY ’79, these may be difficult to ascertain in any coherent form.

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Second, AID individual country objectives in Africa. This dovetails to some extent with a recently expressed wish by the President to have individual country objectives submitted by each Ambassador.3

Third, areas of policy flexibility within AID programs that could be more responsive to more general US policy needs in Africa. Much of this, I understand, is curtailed by the necessities of budgetary planning, congressional appropriations, and the difficulty of reallocating unspent funds. Nevertheless, the effort would seem worth making because of the importance of AID and related economic strategies through our overall African policy.

Fourth, areas of AID policy which are absolutely unavailable, for the reasons above, to serve immediate US policy needs.

Fifth, proposals to upgrade, improve, and make more meaningful the process of consultation and dialog with each African state and groups of African states relative to formulating AID objectives. Greater input might be possible here for overall US African policy objectives. Simultaneously, we might better understand by participating in such dialog the development imperatives of individual countries.

You might already know most or all of this. Or, most or all of it might be already in process. Some of this might better apply to other US assistance programs. To the extent that it does not, I believe there is an opportunity here for us, touching base with other relevant NSC people, to go back to Goler in a memorandum suggesting ways to better coordinate AID policy with our other African policy objectives.

Let me have your thoughts at your early convenience.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Box 105, 8/12–31/77. Confidential.
  2. Not found.
  3. Not found.