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US/Africa: More than a Trip?
Africa Policy E-Journal
July 3, 2003 (030703)
US/Africa: More than a Trip?
(Africa Action document)
With President Bush scheduled to depart on Monday for five days in
five African countries, it is still unclear whether African
realities will force the presidential party and press coverage to
confront substantive issues, or whether the White House will
succeed in focusing attention on spin and symbolism. "Is this for
real or is this tourism?," former Reagan administration assistant
secretary of state for Africa Chester Crocker asked last week at a
Brookings Institution forum.
The most immediate challenge is now coming from demands that the
U.S. make a substantive leadership contribution to multilateral
peacekeeping efforts in Liberia (see separate posting later today
on this issue, including background on how previous U.S. policy
failures contributed to the decades of conflict in Liberia).
The rift between spin and substance is apparent on virtually every
policy issue, however. Most tragically and deceptively, the Bush
administration is taking credit for announcing promises of $15
billion for HIV/AIDS, while continuing to block efforts to provide
resources now by funding the multilateral Global Fund and expanding
access to generic anti-retroviral drugs for AIDS treatment.
This posting contains an op-ed by Africa Action executive director
Salih Booker, originally entitled "Bush Africa Policy: It's a
Trip," which appeared in the Chicago Tribune today, and talking
points prepared in advance of yesterday's press briefing by Africa
Action, TransAfrica Forum, 50 Years is Enough, and Foreign Policy
in Focus, It also contains brief excerpts from yesterday's White
House press briefing, in which White House Press Secretary Ari
Fleischer attempts to answer skeptical questions about the
President's AIDS initiative.
Chicago Tribune, July 3, 2003
Bush's lackluster Africa policy
By Salih Booker
President Bush is misleading a nation and a continent. He is
misleading Americans by claiming his administration is taking
real steps to address Africa's most urgent challenges. He is
misleading Africans by declaring U.S. partnership with their
efforts to fight AIDS and poverty and to promote peace.
In fact, the Bush administration is on a collision course with
Africa because its policies are simply antithetical to Africa's
interests. The White House's few new Africa policy initiatives
that seem compassionate are actually fictitious because they are
The U.S. defines the most urgent international priorities as
weapons of mass destruction, nuclear proliferation and terrorism.
The G-7 club of wealthy countries concurs. Yet the rest of the
world, the global majority, is concerned less with these
potential threats than with the more immediate threats to human
security and global stability--AIDS, poverty and civil conflicts.
The divergent priorities of the Bush administration and the
people of Africa should be apparent when President Bush travels
to Africa for his first official visit next week.
In West Africa, Bush will be confronted with the crisis in
Liberia, amid growing calls from within that country for U.S.
intervention to stop the latest violence. Bush has called for the
removal of Liberian President Charles Taylor, but so far has been
unwilling to take action to ensure a peaceful transition in that
country and stability in the larger region.Despite America's
unique historic ties with Liberia, the "hands-off" approach of
the U.S. is undermining African peacemaking initiatives so
important to Africa's people. This also is true in Sudan and in
the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Bush also will visit Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and
the fifth largest supplier of oil to the U.S. Washington's
interests in West African oil have not translated into a
commitment to Nigeria's democracy or to its economic development.
Nigeria's efforts at poverty reduction are impossible under the
burden of the $30 billion it owes in foreign debt. The refusal of
the U.S. to support the cancellation of these debts reveals the
absence of a real partnership between the U.S. and Africa's
In South Africa, Bush will visit ground zero of the global AIDS
crisis, home to almost 5 million people living with HIV/AIDS.
While Bush has made much of his commitment to fighting AIDS in
Africa, this is becoming a cruel hoax at the expense of those on
the frontlines fighting AIDS in Africa. The president requested
no new money to fight AIDS in Africa this year, and only $450
million in new money for 2004. He has virtually sidestepped the
Global Fund to fight AIDS, thus undermining the most important
vehicle in the war on AIDS in Africa Despite his declarations --
that he is committing $15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa and the
Caribbean--Bush's failure to take action now is tantamount to
breaking his promise.
Far more significant to the Bush administration is the so-called
war on terrorism. The military footprint of the U.S. has been
growing, particularly in East Africa where military bases and
access to ports and airfields are of increasing strategic
importance. U.S. military concerns run counter to the efforts of
Kenyans, Ugandans and others to combat poverty, HIV/AIDS and
broader insecurity. The new $100 million anti-terrorism
initiative announced by Bush last week will not even offset the
money being lost by the tourist industry in Kenya as a result
of frequent terror warnings from Washington.
As Bush travels to Africa, we must recognize the dichotomy
between U.S. global priorities and those of Africa's people, and
we must work to bridge the deadly gap. A failure to demand more
of U.S. policies toward Africa will ensure a continuation of
America's historic disdain for Africa, with all of its terrible
July 2, 2003
Talking Points on President Bush's trip to Africa and on the Bush
Administration's Africa Policy
President George W. Bush travels to Africa for his first official
visit next week. Between July 7 and 12, he will visit the nations
of Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda and Nigeria.
The following are talking points covering the key issues in U.S.
Trade is high on the agenda of Bush's Africa trip. Though the
Bush Administration promotes trade as the engine of growth, the
reality is that the U.S. continues to pursue trade policies that
are antithetical to Africa's interests.
- The U.S. trade representatives continue to block implementation
of the 2001 Doha Declaration on trade, which called for looser
patent rules in order to give African countries greater access to
essential anti-AIDS drugs.
- U.S. agricultural subsidies undermine Africa's competitiveness,
and cost the continent tens of billions of dollars each year in
- Total trade between the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa fell
dramatically in 2002. Two-way trade was just under $24 billion,
down 15% from the previous year. U.S. exports shrank to $6
billion, and U.S. imports fell to $17.9 billion.
- Africa's share of total world trade stands at 1%, less than
half of what it was in 1980.
- The African Growth & Opportunity Act (2000) was intended to
offer incentives to African countries to open their markets, but
it has brought very little benefit to a few countries, and has
not promoted sustainable economic development.
The Bush Administration is increasingly interested in Africa's
oil resources as an alternative to importing oil from the Middle
- In 2002, crude oil accounted for $11 billion, or 61% of U.S.
imports from Africa.
- In 2001, sub-Saharan Africa supplied 18% of U.S. oil imports.
This is almost as much as Saudi Arabia.
- The National Intelligence Council projects U.S. oil supplies
from West Africa will increase to 25% by 2015. This would surpass
U.S. oil imports from the entire Persian Gulf.
- Nigeria is the 5th largest supplier of oil to the U.S.,
accounting for more than one- tenth of total U.S. oil imports.
- Aside from Nigeria, the major oil producers in West Africa
include Angola, Congo, Gabon, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.
The U.S. is the richest country in human history, but it fails to
provide its fair share of foreign assistance to support African
efforts to promote human development and overcome great social
and economic challenges.
- The U.S. currently ranks at the bottom of all donor countries,
with only 0.1% of GNP (or about $10 billion) going to foreign aid
worldwide. Only 1/100th of 1% of the U.S. budget ($1 billion) is
spent on aid to sub-Saharan Africa.
- In March 2002, President Bush announced a new initiative called
the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA). This would increase U.S.
development assistance by 50% over the next 3 years, so that by
2006 an annual increase of $5 billion would be achieved. The
President's budget request for the MCA for FY 2004 (beginning in
October 2003) is $1.3 billion.
- MCA funds will go to a list of countries (only a handful in
Africa) that meet specific criteria govern justly, invest in the
wellbeing of their people, and encourage economic freedom.
- The MCA will be administered by a new body called the
Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). This will be a government
corporation headed by a Chief Executive Officer, and staffed from
the public and private sector. A cabinet- level board will
oversee the MCC, and will be chaired by the Secretary of State.
- The MCA proposes a smaller increase in foreign aid than what
the U.S. can and should provide. The eligibility criteria defined
by the U.S. reinforces an imperialist-style relationship with
poor countries, and creates competition between poor countries
for a portion of the relatively meager MCA funds.
- The U.S. has consistently failed to commit the level of aid
that would be commensurate with its own interests and
obligations, or with African countries' needs.
The U.S.' "military footprint" in Africa is growing. The U.S. is
increasingly interested in establishing military bases and
securing access to ports and airfields in Africa for strategic
- The U.S. military base in Djibouti, East Africa, has been the
main U.S. base for counter-terrorist activities off-shore and in
that region since September 2001. Camp Lemonier is home to 1,800
U.S. troops, strategically placed across the Red Sea from the
- The U.S. is boosting its troop presence in West Africa, a
region that is strategically important because of U.S. oil
interests. The tiny island nation of Sao Tome offered to host a
U.S. naval base, and Washington is considering that invitation.
- President Bush announced a new $100 million initiative last
week, to support the counter-terrorism efforts of East African
- Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) has written a letter to
the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, expressing concern
over the expansion of the U.S. military presence in Africa, and
asking for an explanation of U.S. plans.
Conflict Resolution & Peacekeeping
The refusal of the U.S. to participate in multilateral
peacekeeping efforts undermines African initiatives in this area.
It also reveals the lack of U.S. commitment to addressing
Africa's most urgent challenges.
- In Liberia, the political crisis is growing in the aftermath of
the breakdown of last month's cease-fire agreement. The United
Nations, European powers, and the people of Liberia are asking
the U.S. to intervene to stop the latest violence. Although Bush
has called for the removal of President Charles Taylor, the U.S.
remains unwilling to take action to ensure a peaceful transition
in Liberia, and promote stability in the West Africa region.
- In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the peace
process is moving forward, and stakeholders have approved a
transitional government that should be inaugurated soon. However,
violence and insecurity persist, particularly in eastern Congo,
and a strong international commitment, and a larger peacekeeping
force, will be required to ensure the peace process can be
brought to a successful conclusion.
- In both Liberia and DRC, the U.S. bears a large degree of
historical responsibility for the conflicts that have
destabilized these countries. During the Cold War, the U.S.
provided billions of dollars worth of aid (and arms) to dictators
of African countries that were considered geo-strategically
important. Liberia, DRC, and Somalia are among the countries that
had "special" Cold War relationships with the U.S. and that fell
into violence and political turmoil in the 1990s.
- Despite this historical responsibility, the U.S. adopts a
"hands off " approach to African conflicts, and it refuses to
participate in multilateral peacekeeping efforts, committing only
bare logistical support in some cases.
Africa's Debt Crisis
Sub-Saharan Africa's massive burden of external debt is the
largest obstacle to the continent's development, and to the fight
- African countries owe almost $300 billion to rich creditor
governments and to international financial institutions such as
the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Ø Each
year, African governments are required to pay almost $15 billion
in debt service to foreign creditors. These debts drain money
from health care, education and other essential services, and
from the response to the AIDS crisis.
- Most of Africa's debts are illegitimate and they should be
canceled. Many of these debts were incurred by dictators during
the Cold War, who did not use the money to benefit Africa's
people. Other loans were given for failed development projects,
which also did not benefit Africa's people.
- The current international debt relief framework, the Heavily
Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, has failed to provide
a solution to the debt crisis. It was launched by creditors in
1996, and "enhanced" in 1999, but it has failed to reduce
Africa's debt to a sustainable level. Even the World Bank and IMF
have admitted that the HIPC initiative is not working. An
independent audit of these two institutions has shown that they
can afford to cancel Africa's debts completely.
- The U.S. is the single largest shareholder at the World Bank
and IMF, to whom most of Africa's debt is owed, and it can use
its power to demand a new initiative to address Africa's debt
- An inventory should be done of the debts currently being repaid
by African countries, to establish what loans are being repaid,
and whether the debts are legitimate. The U.S. should support
this proposal. Until a solution has been found to the debt
crisis, a moratorium should be declared on debt repayments. Kofi
Annan, Secretary General of the UN, is among those who have
endorsed this idea.
The AIDS Crisis
The AIDS pandemic is the greatest global threat to human security
that exists today. It is taking its most devastating toll in
- Africa is "ground zero" of the global AIDS crisis, home to 30
million of the 42 million people living with HIV/AIDS globally.
More than 18 million Africans have died of AIDS in the past 20
years, out of 25 million people worldwide.
- The UN and the National Intelligence Council emphasize that the
global AIDS crisis is still in its infancy. They project that
over 100 million people will be living with HIV/AIDS by 2010.
- In his State of the Union address in January, President Bush
announced a new plan to increase funding to fight AIDS in Africa,
but this is turning out to be a cruel hoax.
- Bush promised an "emergency plan" to give $15 billion over 5
years to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. But NO new money
has been made available in 2003, and only $450 million is being
requested for 2004. The White House has backtracked and said that
the money will not just be for Africa and the Caribbean, as the
President said, but for the entire world.
- President Bush has requested only $200 million per year for the
Global Fund to fight AIDS, which is the most effective vehicle
for addressing Africa's AIDS crisis. The Global Fund is
transparent and accountable, it has fewer administrative costs
than bilateral (USAID) programs, and it involves key stakeholders
in decision-making. But because the U.S. refuses to pay its fair
share ($3.5 billion per year), the Global Fund will not have
sufficient money to fund a third round of grant proposals in
- President Bush has acknowledged that affordable antiretroviral
drugs are necessary to fight HIV/AIDS. In order for African
countries to have access to these drugs, they must have the
capacity to produce them for low cost themselves, or else to
import cheaper generic versions from Brazil, India and elsewhere.
But the U.S. trade representative is still blocking African
access to these drugs, and insisting that pharmaceutical company
patents take priority over people's lives.
- The absence of U.S. leadership remains the greatest obstacle to
a successful effort to defeat AIDS in Africa and globally.
Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer
2 July 2003
Q Ari, AIDS advocates had a couple of reactions to the Tobias
appointment and administration AIDS policy in general. First of
all, they're saying that Tobias' history as a drug company
executive show that that's where the administration's real
allegiance lies, is in policies that foster the profits of the drug
companies, rather than AIDS victims in Africa who would benefit
from low-cost generic drugs -- that sort of thing. And they are
also criticizing the administration for not seeking full funding in
the first year of the AIDS initiative ... Can you address those
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, first of all, I'm not sure who you're quoting,
but I can tell you for certain they don't speak for the majority of
AIDS activists in the country. Let me cite you somebody who has
spoken out about this appointment, and this is Sandra Thurman, who
was the Director of the White House AIDS Office in the Clinton
administration. She is now the President of International AIDS
Trust. She called Mr. Tobias' selection "good news." And she added,
"This is clearly a person with tremendous stature and management
And, indeed, that's right. The President wanted to appoint somebody
to undertake a massive $15-billion 5-year program who had sound
business and management judgment. ...
Mr. Tobias is a known and innovative leader. He's a successful
businessman. He has worked with billion-dollar organizations before
to make certain that they were run effectively. ...
Q Does he support revising his trade policy to make it easier for
African countries to get low-cost generic drugs?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, of course, the President's proposal for AIDS
focuses on getting low-cost anti-retroviral drugs to people who
suffer from AIDS. That's part and parcel of the program. That's
exactly what he's going to administer.
Q And then the funding question?
MR. FLEISCHER: On the funding question, I don't recall off the top
of my head whether the funding proposal in its first year was $2
billion or $3 billion. But it's a $15 billion, five-year
initiative. Listen, I think -- the President has tremendous
sympathy with all the advocates who are fighting for more. This is
the President who has delivered the most. And he understands that
for people who suffer, the most will never be enough. But this is
the President who has tripled funding for AIDS around the world,
who has made a front-and-center State of the Union national
priority fighting AIDS in Africa. He understands that there are
people who have friends and relatives who suffer. But he is leading
the way around the world and bringing help to those who need it.
Q And then on the trip. On Randy's question, on HIV/AIDS, some are
saying that this is going to be a victory lap, a photo op in
Africa. And they're saying that it's all about the President's
promises for HIV/AIDS, this $15 billion. And it still has yet to be
allocated. And many Republican congresspersons are trying to
underfund this. There's a concern, many people want to hear from
the administration, one, if the HIV/AIDS will be fully funded, as
well as the millennium program, and if this funding will be of new
money, not taken from any other developmental projects.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, one, the House and the Senate just passed this
with overwhelming, big votes, a full $15 billion. So the President
announced it in his State of the Union in January. In June, a mere
five months later, Congress passed it. And now we're in the middle
of the appropriations cycle, as you know. You've been around,
you're an expert. You know the timing that Congress acts under. So
now comes the important appropriation process to back up the
authorization level, and members of Congress in both parties know
that this is a top presidential priority and the President is going
to fight for every penny of this funding.
Q But at this point, it's a promise. Is the President going to put
this on the fast track? Is he going to say -- MR. FLEISCHER: I
think he already has. It's clear to all.
Q But it's a promise at this point. Many are talking about
underfunding this. How is this going to be fully funded to $15
MR. FLEISCHER: I just -- I don't understand how right after
Congress overwhelmingly just voted the full $15 billion you can say
that it's being underfunded. It was just voted on.
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