More Than Humanitarianism

A Strategic U.S. Approach Toward Africa

Task Force Report
Analysis and policy prescriptions of major foreign policy issues facing the United States, developed through private deliberations among a diverse and distinguished group of experts.

This Council-sponsored Independent Task Force Report argues that Africa is becoming steadily more central to the United States and to the rest of the world in ways that transcend humanitarian interests. Africa now plays an increasingly significant role in supplying energy, preventing the spread of terrorism, and halting the devastation of HIV/AIDS. Africa's growing importance is reflected in the intensifying competition with China and other countries for both access to African resources and influence in this region. A more comprehensive U.S. policy toward Africa is needed, the report states, and it lays out recommendations for policymakers to craft that policy.

Anthony Lake

Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Christine Todd Whitman

President, The Whitman Strategy Group

Ideally, readers will take away two enduring impressions from this report.

More on:

Humanitarian Intervention

Sub-Saharan Africa

Grand Strategy

First, Americans must pause and reflect on how Africa has become a region of growing vital importance to U.S. national interests. It is outdated and counterproductive to assume that Africa is simply the object of humanitarian concerns or a charity cause. The need for a broader approach exists even while the United States should and does stand ready to answer Africa's urgent humanitarian needs. Nevertheless, steadily in recent years, and with an accelerating pace post-9/11, other newly emergent U.S. stakes in Africa have become apparent: energy, terror, and HIV/AIDS. As these interests have grown in importance, Africa has become a more competitive environment, in particular with China's rapidly escalating engagement and quest for Africa's energy and other natural resources. These new realities challenge our thinking and our policies.

Second, a more comprehensive policy is needed. Such a policy is essential for the United States to operate effectively in the increasingly competitive environment in Africa. A broader policy framework is needed to correct U.S. intelligence and diplomatic weaknesses. Such an approach would bind the diverse and promising recent U.S. initiatives—in counterterrorism, HIV/AIDS, and the reward of good governance and economic reform—that today operate in relative isolation of one another into a coherent, dynamic policy. It would recognize the growing capacity of African leaders and institutions working to improve economic performance and governance, to promote democracy, and to resolve conflicts.

Finally, this more comprehensive approach will strengthen the U.S. response to Africa's humanitarian needs, not weaken it. The results will not end poverty in Africa, but they will raise hope within the bounds of realism.

Once in place, the policies, the programs, and the organizational improvements this report recommends should together enhance our position in Africa, deepen the understanding of our intentions, and increase the hopes for Africa.

More on:

Humanitarian Intervention

Sub-Saharan Africa

Grand Strategy

Task Force Members

Task Force Members

J. DENNIS BONNEY served as Vice Chairman of Chevron Corporation, with responsibility for worldwide oil and gas production, before becoming a business consultant. His thirty-five-year Chevron career was spent mainly in the international sector, including the company's operations in a number of countries in Africa.

LAEL BRAINARD holds the New Century Chair in international economics at the Brookings Institution. Dr. Brainard served under President Bill Clinton as Deputy Assistant to the President for International Economics, Deputy National Economic Adviser, and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council.

CHESTER A. CROCKER holds the James R. Schlesinger Chair in Strategic Studies in the Edmund A. Wash School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Dr. Crocker served for eight years as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under President Ronald Reagan.

ALEX DE WAAL is a Fellow at the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard University and Director of the London-based organization, Justice Africa. Dr. de Waal is the author of Islamism and Its Enemies in the Horn of Africa and Darfur: A Short History of a Long War.

NICHOLAS EBERSTADT is the Henry Wendt Scholar in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Dr. Eberstadt researches demographics, foreign aid, poverty, infant mortality, health disparities, and economic development.

RICHARD FURMAN is the cofounder of the World Medical Missions and heads the medical ministry of Samaritan's Purse. Samaritan's Purse supports medicine throughout the world by providing doctors, surgeons, internists, and supplies to areas without sufficient medical capabilities.

HELENE D. GAYLE is President and CEO of CARE USA. Prior to her appointment at CARE, Dr. Gayle was Director of the HIV, TB, and Reproductive Health Program for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. During her twenty-year-career, prior to joining the Gates Foundation, Dr. Gayle served in a variety of positions at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and retired as Rear Admiral (Assistant Surgeon General) in the U.S. Public Health Service. She is on the board of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the Institute of Medicine, and President of the International AIDS Society.

VICTORIA K. HOLT is a Senior Associate at the Henry L. Stimson Center and is the Codirector of the Future of Peace Operations program. She coauthored a study of peacekeeping reforms at the UN, analyzing implementation of the recommendations for the 2000 Brahimi Report and offering options for further improving peace operations. Ms. Holt served as a Senior Policy Adviser at the Department of State under President Bill Clinton.

GREGORY G. JOHNSON is a retired Navy Admiral. Admiral Johnson most recently served as Commander, Naval Forces Europe (and Africa), and Commander, Allied Forces Southern Europe. He also served in several high-level policy positions, including Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1990–93, and Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense from 1997–2000.

RICHARD A. JOSEPH is the John Evans Professor of Political Science and Director of the Program of African Studies at Northwestern University. Dr. Joseph has devoted his scholarly career to understanding political developments in Africa and has directed the Africa Governance Program at the Carter Center between 1988 and 1994. Among his many publications is State, Conflict, and Democracy in Africa.

ANTHONY LAKE is a Chair of the Task Force, and is also a Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Dr. Lake served as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs under President Bill Clinton. He is the author of several books, including Somoza Falling and The "Tar Baby" Option: American Policy Toward Southern Rhodesia, and is coauthor of Our Own Worst Enemy: The Unmasking of American Foreign Policy.

NICHOLAS P. LAPHAM is President of the African Parks Foundation of America. Mr. Lapham was also Vice President for policy at Conservation International, Senior Program Officer for environment at the UN Foundation, and Senior Adviser to the White House Climate Change Task Force under President Clinton.

RICK A. LAZIO is on the Executive Committee at J. P. Morgan where he directs government relations. Mr. Lazio served as a U.S. Representative (R-NY) for eight years. He was also the President and CEO of the Financial Services Forum, an organization aimed at ensuring the stability of global financial systems.

PRINCETON N. LYMAN is a Project Director of the Task Force, and is also the Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow and Director of Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Ambassador Lyman served as U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and South Africa, and is the author of Partner to History: The U.S. Role in South Africa's Transition to Democracy.

J. STEPHEN MORRISON is a Project Director of the Task Force, and is also Director of the CSIS Africa Program. From 1996 through early 2000, Dr. Morrison served on the Secretary of State's Policy Planning staff, where he was responsible for African affairs and global foreign assistance issues. At CSIS, he initiated the Task Force on HIV/AIDS in 2001, has directed a succession of major policy reviews, and has published widely on terrorism, energy, conflict, and HIV/AIDS challenges in Africa. Since 1994, he has been an adjunct professor at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University.

MICHAEL E. O'HANLON is a Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, specializing in U.S. defense strategy and budgeting, homeland security, and U.S. foreign policy. Dr. O'Hanlon is also a visiting lecturer at Princeton University and coauthor of The Future of Arms Control.

RAYMOND C. OFFENHEISER is President of Oxfam America. Mr. Offenheiser has been the Ford Foundation Representative in several countries and regions and has directed programs for the Inter-American Foundation in South America. He serves on several advisory boards, including the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

SAMANTHA POWER is a Professor of Human Rights Practice at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She is author of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize winner for general nonfiction, "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide.

JOHN H. RICARD serves as a member of the Administrative Board of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and as Chair of Catholic Relief Services. Before being installed as the Fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee in 1997, Bishop Ricard was Chairman of the Domestic Policy Committee of the United States Conference on Catholic Bishops while Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore.

GAYLE SMITH is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress where she continues her near twenty-year-career in African affairs. Ms. Smith is an Adviser to the U.N. Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa, and is a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution. She is coauthor of The Other War: Global Poverty and the Millennium Challenge Account.

CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN is a Chair of the Task Force, and is also President of the Whitman Strategy Group. Governor Whitman was appointed Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in 2000 and held the post until her retirement in 2003. She was Governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001 and is author of It's My Party, Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America.

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