U.S. Foreign Policy in Africa: A Public Address by Condoleezza Rice

By Sunderji, Natasha | Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, Annual 2011 | Go to article overview

U.S. Foreign Policy in Africa: A Public Address by Condoleezza Rice


Sunderji, Natasha, Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy


Audience

What's the benefit to the United States of having responsible sovereign states in Africa?

RICE

The benefit of responsible sovereignty first and foremost is to Africans because those are countries that can deliver on food for their people, can deliver on education for their people, and can deliver on health for their people. So that's the first and most important goal.

But the international system, not just the United States, is built on the expectation that you will be able to govern and you will be able to control your borders, for instance. Now we know that that's imperfect in many places. But some places are worse than others, such as Somalia. We almost had a war in December of 2007 because Somalia was unable to deal with its borders, and Ethiopia saw the threat from what was happening with the collapse of Somalia. So the international system is very much dependent on responsible sovereigns. That's in addition to it being good for the people.

Audience

Given that Somalia has been a failed state for more than twenty years, what is the future of the United States' relationship with this country, and what can Somalis do?

RICE

In order to have any chance to help a failed state heal, you have to have a plausible indigenous governing body. And it's why, whether it's Afghanistan or the Balkans or Liberia, people look first to some sort of transitional government. The problem in Somalia is that it has been extremely difficult to get this done. I went to Addis Ababa to a summit to try and bring a Somali government in and give it regional support. One thing you can do to substitute for the strength of a government is to give it regional support. But of course then you get into problems with Ethiopia because the region is not very stable. I still think that the best bet for Somalia is to continue to try and work towards some kind of transitional government that can slowly build authority. There is some concern with such a weak government in, for instance, training security forces, but I see no other option than to train security forces for a government like that, or you will have mercenaries, or you will have regional powers constantly poking in. And finally as much as Ethiopia is a problematic state, you've got to work with Ethiopia to try and bring some stability in that region. It's really too early to even talk about economic development for Somalia because there's no government to work with so I think those efforts are probably the ones that are going to need to continue. And perhaps Somalis can come together around that.

There have been talks from time to time that perhaps Somali land should subside or whatever but I see that as more trouble. I think that you have to build a central government there.

Audience

On January 9, 2011, Sudan will hold a referendum. How do we know that we will not see an increase in the tension between northern and southern Sudan given the violence that has erupted in the region after similar political events?

RICE

It was certainly thought that the referendum of 2011 had the prospect of violence and for a rather chaotic outcome. Nonetheless it was believed, and I believe rightly, that without that prospect of a referendum and a decision on southern Sudan's future, it was not going to be possible to get a comprehensive peace agreement [CPA] that would allow the killing to stop and allow people to start to develop. Of course the mechanism that was put in place was to build a unified government for that intervening period, which was to try and deal with some of the more difficult issues that were not frankly dealt with during the negotiations themselves.

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