Our stake in the continent will not rest on today's 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 1970s,
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 Africa's 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, 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 come 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 Doctrine's 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 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.