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TRANSCRIPT: Holmes Explains U.S. Africa Command to Nigeria Defence College Audience
<i>Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command&#39;s deputy to the commander for civil-military activities, addressed an audience of more than 200 at the National Defence College in Abuja, Nigeria, January 26, 2010. He spoke about the
Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command's deputy to the commander for civil-military activities, addressed an audience of more than 200 at the National Defence College in Abuja, Nigeria, January 26, 2010. He spoke about the mission and work of USAFRICOM as part of his activities during a four-day trip to Nigeria. (see related story: U.S. AFRICOM's Civilian Deputy Attends Education-Themed Events in Nigeria.)


The college is Nigeria's highest military institution for training senior military officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces and serves as a Center of Excellence for peace support operations training in West Africa. The audience Holmes addressed was comprised of military officers from 13 African countries who are students at the college, representatives from the Ministry of Defence, leadership of the Nigerian Armed Forces, defense officials from European countries, and representatives from civic and nongovernmental organizations.

A transcript of the event follows: AMBASSADOR J. ANTHONY HOLMES: Nigeria is an extremely important country in West Africa, in all of Africa and in the world. And Nigeria is an extremely important partner for the United States, not only militarily, but politically and economically, as well. Now, I'm going to do something a little bit different, I think, than what you're expecting. I'm not going to give a speech. I'm not going to give a lecture. I'm going to give you a briefing -- a military-style briefing, but without slides -- about who we are and what we do in AFRICOM. I will put it in the context of U.S.-Nigerian relations to make it relevant for you, but I will also put it in a broader context of U.S.-African relations -- how we, in the U.S. government, see our relations and our interests with this continent and how we pursue the advancements of those interests. And by we, I mean AFRICOM. So what I want to do is I want to clear up those misunderstandings that the admiral mentioned in his remarks and the misapprehensions that might have been produced as a result of the misunderstandings. Now, before I begin, to help me understand you and your perspective, I'm going to do a little poll here. And what I want you to do is raise your hands according to the three or four questions that I ask. How many of you view the United States favorably? Favorably or unfavorably -- decide which you prefer and raise your hands if you view the United States favorably. And by the United States, I mean the entire country -- government, society, business, politics, movies, Hollywood -- everything. Do you view the United States favorably? Please raise your hands. Impressionistically, that's about between one-third and 40 percent of you raised your hands. Now, I can do my math, so I will assume, as I made this an either/or question, that the rest of you would raise your hands if I asked how many of you viewed it unfavorably. Okay. That's the first question. The second question is AFRICOM. How many of you view AFRICOM favorably? Raise your hands, please. Okay. I could count the number of hands raised on the number of fingers on both my hands, so that's not an overwhelming percentage. So, back to my allusion to misunderstandings and misapprehensions: why AFRICOM? AFRICOM was created formally on the first of October 2008. Informally, it was created on the first of October 2007, with a one-year transition period. Prior to that time, Africa, from the U.S. military's perspective, was basically an afterthought, and Africa was covered largely by the U.S. European Command; the six countries in the Horn of Africa by the U.S. Central Command, which has responsibility for the Middle East; and then the islands in the Indian Ocean by the U.S. Pacific Command just because they're islands. Now, the reason Africa was covered by the European Command was just history. I mean, the United States' engagement in Africa really did not exist before the end of the Second World War. With the sole exception of Liberia, the United States has no real historic relationship with this continent -- and by continent, I mean sub-Saharan Africa. We have a longer relationship with the Maghrebian countries and Egypt on the northern coast. But when it comes to the nations of sub-Saharan Africa -- or, at the time, the colonies of the European powers in sub-Saharan Africa -- it was only natural to put them underneath the U.S. military command, created at the end of World War II in the aftermath and with the formation of NATO, to protect our security interests in Europe. Now, for the next 44 years, until the end of the Cold War, that's where it remained. And this was a period of minimum engagement by the United States military in Africa. And it was largely approached on the basis of the strategic struggle against communism, the Cold War. And increasingly, particularly with the beginning of the 1960s, the other major focus of the United States in Africa was what I will characterize in a single word: altruism. The United States, itself a former colony of Great Britain, which fought a war for a number of years to earn its independence, greatly identified with the emerging countries of Africa. And the United States sought with its foreign policy to support these countries. So from the end of the Second World War until the end of the Cold War, we had this struggle to balance two sets of interests that were not exactly competing, but were difficult to reconcile in some situations: altruism and support for the newly emerging nations of Africa with which we identified, and then the strategic battle to stop the spread of communism. Now, the United States invested greatly over essentially these two generations in our defense to fight this strategic battle. And at the end of the Cold War, there was a political consensus in the United States that we needed a, quote, unquote, "peace dividend." We had neglected problems at home -- serious problems in American society -- so that we could spend the money necessary to create a strong defense to protect our strategic interests. But we had under-invested in our infrastructure. We had under-invested in our social support systems, in education. And there was a political consensus that we needed to take another look at our priorities. So for about a decade, from 1989 through the end of the 1990s, we cut back overseas. We reduced or expenditure on our military. We cut back our foreign assistance. And we stopped investing in the expansion of our diplomatic relations. But about this time -- the past 20, 22 years since the end of the Cold War -- the world has not stopped evolving and developing. And a couple of very major phenomena have continued that have had a great deal of impact on the world itself, on how the countries of the world relate to each other, and by extension, on the security interests of all those countries in it, including the United States. This is what I call the era of globalization. The world has shrunk because of improvements in technology, because of improvements in transportation. The United States and Africa are much closer together now than they were at the end of the Cold War in 1989, much less at the end of the Second World War in 1945. And that has, as I mentioned, real security implications for the United States. Now, a couple of things happened to bring this realization -- to bring this reality -- home to the people of the United States, both the political leadership, but also just the ordinary people. The first was on the 6th of August, 1998. There were devastating terrorist attacks -- bombings -- of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing several hundred people. This made us realize -- it was a shock, particularly those of us in the State Department who'd worked at those embassies. And I spent four years at that embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, from 1984 to '88. And I knew a number of those people who were killed. And then, three years later, on September the 11th, 2001, we had the attacks in New York and Washington. And all of a sudden, it dawned on the American people, in addition to the security specialists who were already aware of what was going on, that what happens in Africa has real security interest for the United States. And I will tell you, very directly, straightforwardly, the United States has security interests in Africa. What goes on in Africa has real implications for us, and after a long period of under-investment and under-neglect, we realized that we can no longer ignore Africa. Now, I've been working in Africa for most of the last 30 years. I spent four years in Kenya, four years in Zimbabwe, three years in Burkina Faso, two years in Egypt. And as I mentioned, we would periodically have visits, engagements -- military-to-military engagements -- from people who had come down from Europe or the United States under the auspices of the U.S. European Command. This was before AFRICOM was created. And we had excellent engagements with the militaries of Africa -- sometimes bilaterally, sometimes multilaterally, regionally. And we would talk to our African partners. And do you know what? They complained. They told us that we did not value them and that we did not respect them. What do you mean, we don't respect you? You know what the response was? You don't respect us because you have a U.S. European Command for Europe; you have a Central Command for the Middle East; you have a Southern Command for Latin America; you have a Pacific Command for Asia. You do not have an Africa Command. We are always an afterthought. Well, when budgets were tight during the 1990s and we were investing domestically in the United States during its period of the peace dividend, we just thought about that. But when the situation changed, and our perception of the situation changed, after September 11th, then we had to begin thinking about how we deal with this new realization of existing security challenges and existing security realities. So after a few years, the idea was developed to form a command for Africa to treat Africa on an equal basis with the rest of the world. And so the functions in Europe in the European Command -- and those in the Central Command and the Pacific Command -- were unified into a single command devoted exclusively to Africa. Now, as the admiral said -- very diplomatically, I might add -- there were certain problems, not so much with that, conceptually, but with how we introduced it, and particularly with our people in the Pentagon at the time, who had virtually no sensitivity to the fact that foreign military activity, intervention, even partnerships would be sensitive and controversial in Africa. And so we had this very unfortunate reality of the initial dialogue, the initial focus, the initial perception of the U.S. Africa Command being related to where the headquarters would be. And the people who put this together bureaucratically, in Washington, just assumed that it made sense to be as close to your partners as possible when you're planning engagements with them. So they mentioned, oh, it would make sense to have it in Africa, without checking with the people in the State Department who knew Africa, and of course, without checking with the Africans themselves. This was not a decision; this was a musing. This was just empty talk. But it unfortunately got the command off to a very bad start, and we've spent the past couple of years trying to correct impressions. And we have stated very affirmatively that we have no plans whatsoever to locate -- to relocate the headquarters of AFRICOM onto the African continent. We have made great investments at our present headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Why Stuttgart, Germany? Because that's where the European Command is, and as most of AFRICOM was taken from European Command, it just made sense to move it to another facility in Germany. We have reduced our military presence in Germany by about 75 percent in the past 22 years, since the end of the Cold War. There are many facilities there that we have given back already to the German government, and are in the process of returning, as we slowly continue to reduce. And so it was an easy matter to identify one of these and to relocate AFRICOM headquarters there. So that's what we've done, and we've spent a lot of money refurbishing facilities so that we would have modern offices. Now, it's also important, when thinking about this headquarters issue, to understand that politically, the pressure in the United States is not to go to Africa. It's to bring the headquarters -- to take it out of Germany and to bring it back to the United States. Now, one-and-a-half year ago, when I was preparing to come to AFRICOM for the first time, someone told me that -- I don't know if it's true, but I believe it, but I've never sought to verify it -- but someone told me that the commander had received over 100 pieces of correspondence from members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives asking him to consider relocating the headquarters to their districts in the United States because they understand the number of jobs created and the positive impact of the investment that this would make. But that's just a digression because I know this is always one of the first two questions I get when I open things up. So I wanted to make that very clear: The United States Africa Command, the United States government, has no intention whatsoever of relocating the headquarters to Africa. Okay, now I'll return to my main line (ph). We made this decision that the realities in the world and U.S. security interests required the creation of an Africa Command. But this was five years ago. This was long, long after the other commands had been created. And so we had the chance to try to get it right, to try to learn from the mistakes, to try to tailor-make the Africa Command so that it was well-suited, well-crafted to the realities in Africa. And we realized that the security threats emanating from Africa, the security interests of the United States in Africa, are not conducive to traditional military approaches -- that the challenges Africa faces are different from the security challenges of the rest of the world. And they are inherently long term in nature and they are far more focused on economic and political and social development than they are in the more traditional, hardcore security interests that we face in other parts of the world. So we had the chance, and we have created both a policy approach and a structure that is adapted to Africa in the 21st century. And the way this is characterized -- the term I use is engagement. What we seek to do: We seek to work with our African partners, both bilaterally, sub-regionally and continentally, through institutions like this, the national defense college and the military services of Nigeria, through the sub-regional organizations that the African Union has recognized as having security responsibilities in their part of the continent, like ECOWAS, like SADC, like the East African Community, like the Arab Maghreb Union and like CEEAC for the center, and then continentally with the African Union itself. And we work with these institutions multilaterally and bilaterally to try to build capacity in African institutions and African security organizations so that Africans, themselves -- African nations -- can better protect and advance African security interests. So we are about engagement -- sustained partnerships with African institutions to create capacity in Africa to deal with African security issues. Let me go back to my poll, here. If anyone doesn't think that's appropriate, or if anyone thinks that is objectionable, please raise your hand. Okay, good. Well, at least we're on what we call the same sheet of music. We're looking at the issues, now, from a common perspective. So how do we do this? Well, I can tell you categorically that the U.S. military and the U.S. Defense Department does not have the knowledge, the expertise and the experience to deal with the inherently long-term political, economic and social problems, challenges, of Africa. No way! So that has required us to put together what we call, in the U.S. government, a whole-of-government approach -- whole spelled W-H-O-L-E. We tried to harness the resources, the expertise and the experience of the entire U.S. government, particularly the civilian agencies, and combine those with the assets of the U.S. military to bring a holistic approach to our partnerships with African nations and African institutions to create this capacity. And so when we say partnerships, we're talking about with the institutions and the nations of Africa. We're talking about external partners. So many of the things we do, we do with European nations, with the United Nations, with U.N. organizations. Whatever the issue is -- if it's humanitarian and disaster relief, we do it with the World Food Program; we do it with UNICEF; we do it with the U.N. High Commission for Refugees. But we try to find suitable and willing partners to work with. And we find our niche. And we do this as part of U.S. government foreign policy. So essentially, when you think about what I've been saying, what you will realize is that AFRICOM is not a monolithic organization. AFRICOM does not set policy. AFRICOM, in fact, is a tool -- one tool in an array of many tools -- of U.S. foreign policy. And we deal, on what we call a military-to-military basis. So we deal with African militaries -- or we become a subordinate, supporting element of a much broader U.S. government effort that involves other parts of African institutions and the militaries. We don't set policy; we follow policy. U.S. policy towards Africa, which has largely remained unchanged in this period since the end of the Cold War, is set by the White House, the president of the United States and his closest advisors, and implemented under the leadership of the U.S. Department of State -- our foreign ministry. AFRICOM does nothing on its own that is not vetted, explained and understood and approved by not only Washington, but also by the relevant United States embassy or the U.S. ambassador in the country where the engagement will take place. So everything we do in Nigeria is done with the explicit approval of Ambassador Terence McCulley, here in Abuja. And that is true -- that is the same for every other country in Africa. Okay? Now, what we also try to do as part of this understanding of the challenges with security in Africa is we try to foster regional approaches because when you look at Africa and when you look at the problems and challenges facing Africa, virtually none of them are conducive to one individual country solving the problem. Almost all of them cross borders. Almost all of them are shared. And it requires the concerted effort, the consultation, the planning, the coordination among several countries or even sub-regional organizations needing all of their members to come to grips with. So we work very intensively with these five designated-by-the-African-Union sub-regional organizations, the one for West Africa being ECOWAS and based here in Abuja, to both build their institutional capacity to coordinate -- to develop the security architecture of the African continent, and then to have specific engagements and exercises and operations in which we work together to either solve existing problems or to get used to working with each other in the event that we will be called upon to deal with future problems. So we spend a lot of time working with scenarios for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. And we bring in the United Nations, and we bring in non-governmental organizations. And another example -- I see lots of nice, white uniforms in the room -- we work extensively with the Nigerian navy, and with the navies and coast guards of the rest of the continent, to try to foster a common understanding and vision for the maritime domain. There are so many things going on over the horizon in your territorial waters and in your exclusive economic zones that occur without anyone being aware. So people are stealing your fish. They are polluting your water. They are trafficking in narcotics and persons. And only once in a while, when something happens to them, do people become aware of it. And we believe it's extremely important for you and for your people and for your economy to begin to, first, understand the magnitude of the problems, and then begin working together to solve them, to prevent this theft and to prevent this breaking of laws, and to begin exerting your sovereignty over your maritime domain. The third area where we work, and have worked for quite some time, with African militaries, both individually and on a regional basis, is in the area of peacekeeping. We have trained -- the United States has trained about 85,000 African peacekeeping troops from 29 different African nations that form the backbone not only of the peacekeeping missions on the African continent, but which also make very important contributions to peacekeeping operations, for example, in Haiti; for example, in Lebanon; and in other parts of the world. Peacekeeping is extremely important for us. The fourth major focus area is what we call development of non-commissioned officers. The key thing that most greatly differentiates the American military from those of all the African countries and many other militaries in the world is the level of education, expertise, leadership and knowledge by our sergeants and petty officers. They do most of the work. They're the ones who train the young officers who come out of Officer Candidate School, or out of our service academies. But without the non-commissioned officer corps, the United States military would be a shadow of what it is today. They carry the load. And the secret, we believe, to capable, competent, professional militaries around the world, including in Africa, is the full development of the human potential of your non-commissioned officers. It's extremely important to us. And the fifth area that I would say is a major focus -- we get involved in other areas -- but the fifth area that's a major focus, and an increasingly large one, is what I would call defense-sector reform. Now, many of you have heard of security-sector reform, which is a very broad concept including not only militaries, but the police, sometimes gendarmes or paramilitaries, the system of justice and courts -- the institutions along the entire spectrum of what we would normally call the rule of law. Now, the U.S. Congress has set very sharp limits on the part of the spectrum that the U.S. military can work with. We are limited to working with just foreign militaries. We, in the U.S. Defense Department, are not permitted to work with police forces, justice systems or others. So we are forced to work very closely with our civilian-counterpart institutions -- with the Department of State -- to put together programs that address the range of needs in countries where there has been a firm political decision to approach security-sector reform. The best example I can give you is in the West African state of Liberia, where we are actively engaged with President Johnson Sirleaf to create from zero, from the start, a new Liberian National Army, a new coast guard and the reform of the ministry of defense. But this, by itself, is not enough because the police must also be reformed. And the justice system must be reformed. But we are limited -- and so we do an awful lot of work with the State Department and with other specialists in these other areas. The second example that we're looking at now -- we have not yet begun, but it is looming ever larger -- is South Sudan. After the referendum 10 days ago, it is very clear that there will be a 54th nation in Africa on the 9th of July this year. I'm not sure what the name will be. We refer to it as South Sudan. And there is a political commitment in the United States, in Washington, to assist the new government of South Sudan with reform of its security sector. This will be an extremely important undertaking, setting the stage for economic and social and political development. Because without security -- a functioning, reformed security sector -- economic development is just not possible. And this will be a daunting task. We estimate that there are 150,000 to 160,000 fighters in just the south alone, and two-thirds of them will have to be disarmed and decommissioned, and then trained to be able to earn a living and do something productive in their societies. The amount of time this will take and the amount of resources that will be required are truly daunting. But this is something that we will work very closely with our political leadership and our diplomatic and development colleagues in Washington to get our piece right. But it will require more. And so this fundamentally illustrates AFRICOM's and the U.S. government's approach to Africa. I mentioned whole-of-government; sometimes, it's called three-D: development and diplomacy, in addition to defense. And each, without the other, has very little prospect for sustained success. It requires all three. We understand our role. We understand our domain and area of expertise. But we cannot do it alone. We need our partners. We need our partners within the U.S. government in the civilian agencies. We need our partners internationally, from other nations who want to support and contribute to African security. And we need, most importantly, you because this process cannot be supply driven. Just because AFRICOM exists -- just because we have assets -- if you don't want them, if this is not demand driven -- if you don't know what you want, if you don't know where you want to go and if you don't have a reasonably good idea of how you get there, we're probably not going to be able to help you very much. But on the other hand, we're not going to walk away. We have relationships. And the advantage of AFRICOM is a sustained engagement with our African partners. Before AFRICOM, when it was the European Command, you know, they would send a group down to do an exercise this year and then disappear. And next year, they would come back and do something similar. But we, in AFRICOM, through our office of the defense attaché and office of security cooperation, led by our defense attaché and senior defense official, Colonel William Dickey, here in Abuja, are here working with you continuously. And he has counterparts, I believe, in every other country in West Africa. And so we need you. When you finish in the college, when you go back to your services, when you go back -- for those of you who are not Nigerian, when you go back to your own responsibilities in your own capitals or in your own militaries, what we need is a regular dialogue, a frank exchange between partners. We would like, even, sometimes to achieve between brothers. But recognizing the suspicion surrounding AFRICOM, we are partners and we need you to think about what you want and what you need and how we can help you achieve that. Now, let me not give the impression that we have infinite resources. In fact, our resources are very modest -- much smaller than the resources of the older, more established geographic commands in the U.S. military for other regions, where they have mature programs, established relationships, and our Congress is used to granting them significant resources to spend. We are new. We are proving ourselves. We have to show results to be able to create, in our Congress, the confidence necessary to, year-in and year-out, even during times of very difficult budgetary crises, like the present one, that they will give us what we need. So last year, our fiscal year 2010 -- between the 1st of October, 2009, and the 30th of September, 2010, so it ended a little less than four months ago -- the United States military spent $389 million in Africa - $389 million, 53 countries, a vast continent. Now, the U.S. government, overall, in terms of development spending, particularly, spent about $7.5 billion in Africa in fiscal year 2010 -- $7.5 billion from the U.S. government; $389 million from the military. So that means that the military programs -- exercises, education -- accounted for about 5.2 percent of total U.S. government contributions to Africa last year -- 5.2 percent. Now, if you read some of these articles about AFRICOM, they will refer to the militarization of U.S. Africa policy. But if you look at the reality and you look at the numbers -- and these are all publicly available -- 5.2 percent of total spending does not represent the militarization of foreign policy. It's actually woefully inadequate to address the needs that exist. But it's a start. I mean, we are new. We are developing. We're maturing quickly. We're building the relationships we need. And we're trying to overcome the suspicions that our botched, unfortunate debut -- rollout -- three or four years ago created. But we're making progress because our experience is that African militaries will work with us. And we have at least some programs with virtually every military on the continent. And they value these interactions because they learn, they get confidence and, particularly importantly, because so much of what we do is regional with other African militaries, with regional organizations. They find it very useful to be working with their neighboring countries, particularly in West Africa, where you have so many francophone countries, and language and comprehension is a problem. Some of our exercises -- Flintlock, the counterterrorism one, or African Endeavor, the communications one -- promote this concept of interoperability, in which you get used to not only working with us, but you get used to working with each other. And we view that as a major benefit, and it's one of the concrete objectives of our engagement tonight. So I think I've spoken long enough. What I'd like to do is, now, hear from you. Tell me what you think. Ask questions. I'm willing to answer any of them. I ask only that you identify yourself clearly in introducing yourself and framing your question so that we all know who you are. And also, I know there are a number of journalists here today. And I'm happy to talk -- to answer your questions, as well. But I really want to hear, in addition to the views of not only the distinguished guests who are here -- and all protocol is observed -- but also from the students at the defense college itself. So with that, I will open up the floor to questions. Please raise your hand. I will call on you. Please be reasonably succinct, but let's have a dialogue. We have quite a bit more time. How much time do we have? AMB. HOLMES: Does anyone have questions? Sir. Q: I'm -- (inaudible). I have two quick, short questions. Your lecture gave an impression that your presence in the Gulf of Guinea is a humanitarian route such as the human factors and -- (inaudible, background noise). But some believe that the presence in this area is to protect your interest, which is -- (inaudible). The second -- would you like to answer the first one, first? AMB. HOLMES: No, go ahead and give the second one. Q: The second one is -- (inaudible) -- the United States Embassy in Kenya -- (inaudible). The U.S. policy on that issue -- (inaudible, background noise) -- United States. AMB. HOLMES: Okay. I'm happy to speak at length on the first question. The second question is basically out of my area. I mean, U.S. policy on renditions is not something that -- the United States military -- AFRICOM does not do renditions. It never has and never will. And I am not a lawyer of any sort, much less an international lawyer, and I just don't have the expertise to adequately address your concerns. I mean, I'm aware that there are these concerns, but I just have to punt on this one. However, in terms of your first question, let me make -- let me say several things. First, I thought I was clear, but I will restate it now: Everything I have mentioned to you in the past hour -- everything -- is in the U.S. interest. We are doing everything I talked about, every example I gave, because it is in our interest. We view it as in the United States' interests for African capacity to be developed so that African nations and institutions can deal with and successfully resolve African security challenges. That is the starting point for what I said. It's in our interest for you to be strong, for you to control your borders. It is in our interest to be able to continue to receive Nigeria's exports of petroleum and natural gas. It is also in our interest that Nigeria and all of the other energy-producing countries in Africa -- and I believe it's almost two-thirds of the countries of Africa that have some form of energy production -- are able to attract the capital and technological expertise necessary to exploit those resources, and then have the infrastructure necessary to export those resources, and that they, in the global community, can keep the means of transport open so that the rest of the world and all of the consuming countries, including the United States, can buy them from you and can use them efficiently. Now, much has been made of a reputed American-Chinese rivalry or struggle for resources in Africa. This is largely nonsense. The United States and China have identical interests in those three things I just described: access to the means to exploit the resources, infrastructure to get those resources to market and then a system that delivers them efficiently to be consumed. The reality is that the petroleum system in the world is an integrated one. It is a global system of supply, of which Nigeria and the rest of Africa is a part, and it is a global system of demand. And prices are set -- are the result of the interaction between supply and demand. So if the United States gets a disproportionate percentage of Nigeria's oil exports as the result of, largely two factors -- the presence of American companies operating in Nigeria that export back to their parent companies' refineries in the United States and because of geographic proximity -- the distance between the East Coast of the United States and Nigeria is much closer than it is between the United States and, for example, the Persian Gulf -- that creates very strong ties between the United States and Nigeria. But what that means is, if we are importing relatively less of the petroleum produced in the Persian Gulf, then that tends to go east through the Straits of Hormuz and the Straits of Malacca to consumers in Asia. But the overall effect on the system is the same. If one country wraps up a monopoly on the supplies of petroleum from some part of the world or in some country, it is removing from the equation both the supply that those resources would add, but also the demand that the consumers of those resources would put on the system, as well. And so the net effect is zero. Fundamentally, the system is global supply and global demand. And what we want is to ensure that the system operates without disruption. And so when we urge the government to address the problems in the Niger Delta, we have a number of motivations for doing that. Part of it is just purely humanitarian; part of it is because of environmental issues; and part of it is, to be sure, to keep the system functioning without disruption. And so that is our approach. And you know, I've been at the Africa Command for about a year-and-a-half. And I doubt I have spent one percent of my time on petroleum-related issues. The disruptions that occur to the system tend to be onshore. The one area where we have great concerns is piracy. It's more focused on the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. We have serious concerns about the Gulf of Guinea, as well. But in terms of disruption, they are less acute concerns. And we approach them through the broad, general approach to maritime domain awareness and our engagements through our Africa Partnership Station with the Nigerian navy and with our AMLEP program, which is a law enforcement program -- African Maritime Law Enforcement Program -- in which we try to bring police training and skills on how to police maritime domains. So this is a very important issue for us. It is absolutely essential to our security interests, globally, in addition to Africa. And it's one that, to me -- I mean, if you look at my CV, I'm basically an economist -- more a political economist. But I spend a lot of time working on energy issues in the past 30 years. And I can tell you without any hesitation or doubt that what you're describing is a global phenomenon based on supply and demand for energy resources in a global market. Q: I'm Hans Robles (ph). I've been a member of the faculty of this college. I have some comments to make about U.S.-Nigeria relations. What you said about Nigeria -- (inaudible) -- of Nigeria. However, this is -- (inaudible) -- America said about Nigeria. He said, and I quote him, "Come 2013, Nigeria will be (dismembered?)." (Inaudible.) And he said a lot of -- he made a lot of -- (inaudible) -- statements, claiming that's what the case would be in -- (inaudible). Okay? We hear this very slogan coming from a former ambassador of the United States of America -- (inaudible). Some of the former presidents -- (inaudible) -- from ambassadors. This will show that Nigeria has very good relations with the United States of America. Coming to myself, I started my diplomatic career some 35 years ago. And I have very good friends in your country, additionally. I have some of your ambassadors who are my friends and we still use communications. (Inaudible) -- I would pick up my pen to write -- (inaudible 56:03]). This will not advance the cause of the United States of America. Neither will it advance our cause. Because we view America as -- (inaudible) -- coming from the former ambassador to a friendly country, and was greeted in a -- (inaudible) -- of the United States of America. I rest my case. (Applause.) AMB. HOLMES: Allow me, please, to not so much respond as to provide a bit of context. It's Ambassador Campbell you're referring to, I believe, yes? Ambassador John Campbell, yes? Q: Yes. AMB. HOLMES: Yeah, okay. I hope it did not escape your notice that he is now retired. He is no longer employed by the U.S. government, the U.S. State Department. And the guy has to make a living, you know? (Laughter.) So when you -- (pause) -- so when you have a job like this -- and I know because I had a job like this for two years before coming to Stuttgart in 2009 -- you have to get on the map, you know. You have to get people to know you're there and who you are. And so you say and you write controversial things because it attracts attention to you. Now, that's part of the context. The other part is, I know Ambassador Campbell -- not tremendously well; I've talked to him a few times. And I truly believe, based on the knowledge that I have of him, and on these -- well, just one discussion, primarily -- that he says these things in his own heart and in his own mind as a friend of Nigeria because -- you know, how many of you are familiar with WikiLeaks? All right, a few people, anyway. The United States tries to have a mature political relationship with the governments -- at a government-to-government senior level -- with all of our friends and partners. We even try to have them with the countries we are not so friendly with. And this requires more than just cheerleading. This requires more than just pats on the back. This requires frank exchanges about views and interests that, one hopes, occur in the context of a friendship and a mature relationship so that we can be frank with each other and we can talk about problems, in addition to progress. And I mean, let me just give one example. As the United States looks at Nigeria today, the number one priority, the number one issue -- in spite of all of our interests, in spite of everything -- is that Nigeria succeed in having a successful, credible election in April that does not have the accusations surrounding it and the taint surrounding it that the previous election had. The way to deal with those sorts of comments is through demonstrating a maturity of society and a maturity of institutions so that you refute these characterizations by showing who you really are and what you can really do. And we try to have this. I mean, I'm AFRICOM -- I just do this on a military-to-military basis. But I'm also a State Department guy and I represent this whole-of-government approach that the U.S. military has to Africa. And I can tell you that any military-to-military relationship that we have on this continent exists in the context of the entire relationship, of the political relationship and the economic relationship, and that problems in one area inevitably have an impact -- negatively affect -- the dialogue and the relationship in the others. So what we try to do is not always say the glass is half-full. Sometimes, we look at the glass half-empty and discuss how to fill it up and how we might assist in doing that. And so I understand your offense that you've taken. I have no apology to make. You heard my initial comment. But I do think that this sort of characterization, on the one hand -- highly enflamed characterization -- and the emotional reaction on the other need to be channeled into productive avenues that move not only the relationship forward, but improve the underlying realities on which that relationship is based. Q: Your Excellency, I am -- (inaudible). We come to this topic of the Gulf of Guinea, and I -- (inaudible). (Inaudible.) AMB. HOLMES: I couldn't hear because of the microphone. Please say it without the microphone. Q: (Inaudible). Why has the United States refused to comply with -- (inaudible)? AMB. HOLMES: Did all of you hear the question about the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, the importance I place on maritime domain awareness and control? And the question was why has the United States not ratified the Law of the Sea Convention? Is that correct? Q: Yes. AMB. HOLMES: In, now, almost 32 years as an American diplomat, one of the things I have struggled to do over the years is explain to people that -- I mean, a big part of being a diplomat -- I mean, basically, you're a filter. You're explaining the country where you're based back to Washington -- interpreting it -- and you're doing vice-versa -- you're explaining the United States to your host government and your host society. And one of the things that's most difficult to do is explain American democracy to non-American audiences. I mean, the reality is that when our Continental Congress wrote our Constitution in, I guess it was 1778 to 1786, they created this system of checks and balances, and they created three branches of government: the executive -- the president, the one most people think of -- the Congress and then the judiciary. And in terms of treaties, the executive branch -- well, the executive branch has most responsibility for foreign policy. The congressional branch has a few constitutionally stipulated responsibilities and functions, as well as what we call the "power of the purse," which means it passes the budgets. So any money that the executive branch spends has to be appropriated by Congress. Now, when it comes to a treaty like the Law of the Sea or like a bilateral treaty -- for example, the recent one on nuclear arms control with Russia -- the executive branch negotiates it and then sends it to Congress for ratification. It requires a two-thirds vote by the Senate of the U.S. Congress -- 67 senators out of 100 -- to pass. And it is a very common phenomenon in the history of the United States, but particularly the last 35 or 40 years, for the administration to negotiate a treaty, sign agreements and send that treaty to Congress for ratification, and then the Congress refuses. It might be controlled by a different political party than the administration is controlled by, that negotiated it. Or it might be that there is not -- I mean, you have support -- if you had a 50-50 vote -- a straight majority vote -- it would be approved, but it's not possible to get to that 67 percent threshold that's necessary for approval. So the way we deal with that is, we go ahead and implement it even though we're legally not bound by it because our Senate has not performed, you know, the ratification function set up by our Congress. And that is the case with the Law of the Sea Treaty. We recognize our own 200-mile exclusive economic zone and our 12-mile territorial limit, and we recognize that in other countries, as well. And whether it's been ratified or not, that's the way we operate. That's what we believe and it's -- I mean, it's just the price we pay, in terms of embarrassment, for very good reasons of balance of power and the system of checks and balances in the American system of government. But I am not aware, and please tell me if you are aware -- of any single instance in which our lack of ratification has gotten in the way of something of practical concern or interest. A more recent example of this is the world court. I mean, we are a huge supporter of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, but our Senate has not ratified this. In fact, in the previous administration, the U.S. military was a strong opponent of this because of the implications for U.S. troops abroad. But nonetheless, we work with the court, in terms of bringing those accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity, or even genocide -- bring them to book and bring them to trial. We do this in the former Yugoslavia; we do it in several places in Africa. And we, frankly, find it -- as a State Department guy, in terms of our diplomacy, it's a very useful tool. But our Congress, in its wisdom, has not chosen to ratify it, and so we work, as best we can, without that ratification. That's just one of the unfortunate realities of representing a democracy internationally, is we are not monolithic. We are a heterogeneous society with strong, differing views. And as a society and as a government representing that society, we do the best we can to have a coherent foreign policy -- sometimes, it's very difficult -- but a coherent foreign policy despite that. Q: (Inaudible) Sir, after the Second World War, the U.S. worked with many countries -- (inaudible) -- work with Nigeria in this way, assisting us -- (inaudible)? AMB. HOLMES: I think I understood the question. It was difficult with the sound system. But I think it's very difficult to compare Nigeria to Europe after the Second World War. I think Nigerians and the Nigerian government would be very offended if we treated them as nations coming out of the devastation of war. Nigeria is a proud country. Nigerians are a proud people. And Nigerians can and must decide for themselves what are their priorities, who they want to work with in achieving their goals, what the United States can do and how to reconcile the need for foreign assistance, the desire for technology and other things, with the basic concept of sovereignty. There is always a tradeoff. When you accept something from someone else, you're trading away a little bit of sovereignty. That's just human nature. When someone gives you something, when you're not paying for it, it alters the relationship between the two parties. And this is just a fact of life. The other thing, I think, that's important to recognize is that when we talk, in the United States -- I mean, it's such a big country and it's such a complex country -- but when we talk in the U.S. government about the transfer of technology, largely what we are referring to is the private sector. We talk about -- if you look at Asia -- I mean, the best -- I think Europe after World War II is not nearly as applicable a comparison as Asia since 1960. And if you look at the incredibly successful economic development in Asia across the region -- China, we talk about today, but we used to talk about the four tigers: Hong Kong and Singapore and Korea and Taiwan -- the vast majority of their success came from the acquisition of technology and expertise and capital from the private sector. It was by attracting investment; by creating joint ventures and partnerships; by providing an economic environment conducive to foreign investment; by rolling out the welcome mat; by treating foreign investors as well as you treat your own companies; by listening to them; by solving their problems; by letting them know that you want them; and by understanding that the reason a foreign company invests in Nigeria or anywhere else is to make a profit, and if you squeeze them too hard and they don't make a profit, they will leave and others will see what happened to them and will not come. And so you must create an environment conducive to an active, prosperous regime of private-sector companies and make sure that they're happy and satisfied and telling all the other ones who have not yet decided to come in that they should come to Nigeria. Then you will get the technology that you want. Q: (Inaudible.) Your Excellency, with your actual relationship with Liberia before the crisis, how do you react to the appearance of protests -- (inaudible) -- the Africans to, as it were, undo the whole progress. Now the crisis is over and we are back on the beat. (Inaudible.) Thank you, sir. ADM. HOLMES: Do we have any Liberians in the room? Okay, unfortunately not. I was in Liberia for three of four days at the end of October -- so almost three months ago. And I can assure you, sir, that it is not back to business as usual. There has been tremendous progress in Liberia. Much remains to be done, that is true. But definitely not back to business. We have a popularly elected president and government. We have, against great challenges, a concerted effort to address the needs and priorities of the nation, including in the security sector. And we have one of the highest-priority recipients of American assistance, partnership in Africa. Now, it's a very small country if you compare it to Nigeria or South Africa or Kenya or Ethiopia. It's a very small country. But we recognize the historical relationship between Liberia and the United States. At the beginning of my briefing, in talking about the historical involvement of the United States in Africa, I explicitly mentioned Liberia. I think it is always difficult -- I mean, the United States has, fundamentally, a different relationship with Africa than the European powers. We were not a colonial power. Other than Liberia, we came into Africa only in the aftermath of the Second World War, and really, only during the height of the Cold War in the late '50s and '60s when you were becoming independent nations. We never had a colonial relationship with Liberia, despite the origin of the state of Liberia emanating from returned slaves from the United States in 1820. But we never viewed that as having the responsibility that colonial powers continue to have for their former colonies. So we were very sensitive about taking ownership of Liberia. It's a sovereign country. And always -- I mentioned the fine line in addressing the previous questioner, the fine line between our engagement and your sovereignty. And we rarely -- once in a while, we cross the line -- but we rarely take ownership of countries and problems outside the United States. Sometimes, we'll get extremely involved -- for example, in Haiti. Exactly a year ago, there was this tremendous earthquake in Haiti. And because of its proximity to the United States, because of the number of Haitians in the United States and, frankly, I am sure -- and this is just Tony Holmes talking; not AFRICOM -- I think because of the racial issue -- I mean, we have Cuba. We have Haiti. One is the first independent nation -- Haiti -- created by former African slaves, or their successors. The other was a product of a Cold War struggle and choices by the Cuban government. And there was a disparity between how we have, over the past 50 years, dealt with Cubans who got out of Cuba and Haitians who came into the United States. And we were determined, as a government and as a nation, to correct this imbalance and to treat them equally. And so we went into Haiti with absolute determination to do everything we could. Now, Liberia is a lot farther away. There are a lot fewer Liberians in the United States. But again, we have tried, since Charles Taylor's removal from power in 2003, and particularly since the democratic election of President Johnson Sirleaf in 2006, we have tried very hard to be a good, strong, active partner with Liberia while, at the same time, respecting its sovereignty. It's never easy. There's always a balance; there's always a tradeoff. But I mean, that's our approach. We're open to dialogue. We are a democracy, so we are accountable to the American Congress and the American people for the results of the foreign assistance funds that we spend in Liberia or any other country. So it's a multifaceted question, but one that we deal with, I think, reasonably straightforwardly. And it's a long-term challenge, a long-term project, but one we're reasonably convinced we're making progress on. Q: Your Excellency, sir, I am -- (inaudible). Sir, the U.S. government national interest is to have access to reasonably priced and secure oil supply -- (inaudible). The question I have -- (inaudible) -- for two reasons. Number one, the -- (inaudible). Africa is plagued by extreme poverty and lack of basic transportation. (Inaudible.) In 2009, 12 percent of U.S. discretionary spending was -- (inaudible). But on the other hand -- (inaudible) -- cost of achieving the millennium development goal will be $40 billion each year for the next five years, which represents only 4 percent of the -- (inaudible) -- this partnership for sustainable development, partnership for food, electricity, education, health and water, partnership for -- (inaudible) -- additional resources; partnership for the navy -- (inaudible); partnership with air force to have -- (inaudible) -- and extension of this partnership to our various in the neighboring countries. Thank you very much. (Applause.) AMB. HOLMES: Well, was there a question in there somewhere? Was there a question in there somewhere? No? Okay. Did we have a journalist with any question? (Inaudible].) Okay, I think we'll take this gentleman and then one final question. These two gentlemen and then we'll wrap it up. Q: My name is -- (inaudible). My question, I just want to stand up for a friend and make an appeal to address to the comment of what Ambassador Campbell spoke. Ambassador Campbell is my friend. I had a working relationship with him while in CEEAC, and we developed a friendship. I have seen a copy of that. I have read it. The fact is that what Ambassador Campbell said is not anything different from what we literally hear -- (inaudible). We've been saying this to ourselves. He said exactly what he saw. But what people have been reacting to was his press comments, based on excerpts of the book. I don't believe that most people who have been making this comment have seen the book. That is where I stand. However, I believe it is part of AFRICOM's initiative to develop that mutual understanding between America and Africa's states. In that spirit, I want to make an appeal that, through you, AFRICOM should please make available copies of those books to this institution and to other similar institutions so that we can read, and to better understand it before we start making sentimental speeches. Thank you. AMB. HOLMES: Thank you. That's a good suggestion. In fact, we have -- since I'm working on a longstanding relationship with the national defense college here and yesterday, our liaison officer was telling me that she was working on the donation of books to the library -- and so while I have no idea how the individual books are selected, I can assure you that we will listen to you and that people from the embassy will discuss with your institutions how we can provide assistance within our means. We have the public affairs officer who is responsible for this, as well, and educational exchanges, and he might also have some ideas in that regard. I have not read Ambassador Campbell's book, but I have read -- I've seen a number of references to it in the press. And I agree. You know, as is often the case with criticism or with observations in books, many of the people reacting to them have not read them. And that gentleman for the final question of the morning. Q: Thank you very much. I am -- (inaudible). I was happy to listen to some of your comments. I was privileged to -- (inaudible) -- many of the African countries across Africa in 2002. The issues that were raised then appear to us now. I remember I was -- (inaudible) -- AFRICOM for the continent at that point, then. Listening to you now, we're obviously impressed because there's a more diplomatic outreach to us on these issues. And some of the suggested solutions are what you are beginning to -- (inaudible) -- the existing structures within the continent -- (inaudible). The other aspect is that sometimes, the perception is that America tends to use hegemony to do so many things, and then -- (inaudible) -- Africa because of the progress of issues, the things that you have established in Africa. The one aspect that was -- (inaudible) -- why didn't America consider making Djibouti, where they have an existing base, a center for AFRICOM while they are moving to Stuttgart? The other aspect is that the perception about the U.S. in establishment -- (inaudible) -- was that if you establish a military base within Africa, it will be cause for antagonism. (Inaudible.) A friend of mine has suggested establishing in Southern Sudan and Eritrea, specifically. But it should not any American contact because if you go there, some of the fundamentalists will attack and will spread -- (inaudible). So these are some ideas and -- (inaudible) -- from this perception they have of America -- (inaudible). Thank you very much. AMB. HOLMES: That is why I am here. In fact, as I was listening to the statement before, you know, I was listening to these areas where partnership is needed, and I was thinking to myself, didn't I mention that and didn't I mention that and didn't I mention that? And by the time he finished, it seemed to me that we had about a 90 percent overlap between my description of AFRICOM's objectives and its approach and his description of what Africa needs. And you know, we always try to get to 100 percent, and we're only two-and-a-half years old, and we're still maturing and evolving. And we don't have nearly the resources of -- people or program budget -- that we would like to have. But I think we're moving towards convergence, here. A big part of this is what I described -- the whole-of-government approach, or the necessity of bringing U.S. civilian expertise and civilian agencies into partnerships with us and our African partners. This is very difficult to do. The U.S. military, over history, but particularly the past 20 years, has been so much better-funded than the civilian agencies that, while the expertise is there, they just don't have the people to provide in the numbers that we need them in AFRICOM. And that's true for other military commands, as well. So it's going to be a slow evolution. It's never as quickly as we would want, and the resource levels are never what we consider to be adequate. But I think that based on the statement of perceived need and our own internal and publicly articulated list of our own priorities, I mean, I think we have a great deal in common and much common ground. And my -- I mean, as I prepare to conclude now, the one thing I would like you to keep in your mind as you leave, and think about in your next assignment, is how can the U.S. military help us? And then let us know. We're interested. We might not be able to do it. And you know, what we need in Nigeria is, we need a mechanism in the ministry of defense that's capable of integrating and prioritizing the individual priorities of the services. So we have, very frankly, a relationship with the Nigerian navy that's far ahead of our relationship with the Nigerian army. We're happy to have that relationship and we don't intend to slow down because this is an excellent example of what I earlier characterized as a demand-driven relationship. It's what the Nigerian navy identifies as its needs that we respond to. It's part of a dialogue. We think we could have a much better relationship with the Nigerian army, but we don't have that, yet. We would like to have that. We think that would serve your interests; we think it would serve our interests. We are open to deeper engagement and more discussion. So you know, this is -- you know, I'm here now. I will leave. In the not-too-distant future, someone else will come. Maybe I will come back. But we have a relationship. We're not going to disappear. And we would like to have a mature dialogue that talks about our mutual interests, your needs and what our strengths and availabilities are. And I think we can get a lot more out of this relationship at very little cost or tradeoff and I think it's in both our nations' interests to do that. So with that, I thank you very much. Thanks for taking your morning and coming here. It's been a pleasure. I go back to what I said in opening. Nigeria is an extremely important nation in its own right, and an extremely important partner for us. Thank you very much. (Applause.) (END)
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