range of support programs, and facilitates business contacts and partnerships between African and American businesses. The President’s historic March 1998 trip to Africa and the unprecedented March 1999 U.S.-Africa Ministerial further solidified our partnership with African nations across a range of security, economic and political issues.
Helping Africans generate the food and income necessary to feed themselves is critical for promoting sustainable growth and development. Despite some recent progress, the percentage of malnourished people and lack of diversified sustainable agricultural production in Africa is the highest of any region in the world, and more help is greatly needed. In 1998 we launched the Africa Food Security Initiative, a 10-year U.S. Agency for International Development-led effort to help improve agricultural productivity, support research, expand income-generating projects, and address nutritional needs for the rural poor. African nations are also engaged in battle with diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis, which sap economic productivity and development. Worse, the epidemic of HIV/AIDS continues to attack the continent, threatening progress on development, reducing life expectancy, and decreasing GDPs in the hardest-hit nations. The Administration has made the battle against AIDS and other diseases a priority for international action and investment in Africa. Our global AIDS Initiative has focused special attention and earmarked resources for Africa.
In Africa as elsewhere, democracies have proved stronger partners for peace, stability and sustained prosperity. We will continue to support the important progress African nations have achieved and to broaden the growing circle of African democracies. The restoration of civilian democratic government in Nigeria can help return that country to its place as a leader in Africa. Over the past year, the government and people of Nigeria have succeeded in restoring democratic civilian government, freed political prisoners, lifted onerous restrictions on labor unions, and worked to restore the authority of the judicial system. Nigeria’s new civilian government has taken sweeping steps to ensure that the military remains in the barracks and that fighting corruption will be a top priority. The peaceful elections in February 1999 and inauguration of the new civilian government in May 1999 were important steps in this transformation.
As in any democratic transition, Nigeria’s new government is facing enormous challenges: creating accountable government, building support within the military for civilian rule, protecting human rights, and rebuilding the economy so it benefits all citizens. President Clinton met with President Obasanjo at the White House in October 1999 and reaffirmed our commitment to work with him on the challenges and security, economic, political and social issues.
Through the Great Lakes Justice Initiative, the United States is working to help end the cycle of violence and impunity in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, and to support judicial systems that are impartial, credible, effective and inclusive. In addition, we will work with our allies to find an effective formula for promoting stability, democracy and respect for human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo so that it and a democratic Nigeria can become the regional centers for economic growth, and democratic empowerment that they can and should be. In order to help post-apartheid South Africa achieve its economic, political, democratic and security goals for all its citizens, we will continue to provide substantial bilateral assistance, vigorously promote U.S. trade and investment, and pursue close cooperation and support for our mutual interests.
Ultimately, the prosperity and security of Africa depend on African leadership, strong national institutions, and extensive political and economic reform. The United States will continue to support and promote such national reforms and the evolution of regional arrangements that build cooperation among African states.
Today, as we reach the twenty-first century, we are building new frameworks, partnerships and institutions – and adapting existing ones – to strengthen America’s security and prosperity. We are working to construct new cooperative security arrangements and build peace, contain weapons of mass destruction, fight terrorism and international crime, rid the world of ethnic cleansing and genocide, build a truly global economy, and promote democratic values and economic reform. This is a moment of historic opportunity to create a safer, more democratic, and more prosperous tomorrow — a better future for our children and grandchildren. This promising state of affairs did not just happen, and there is no guarantee that it will endure. The contemporary era was forged by steadfast American leadership over the last half century – through efforts such as the Marshall Plan, NATO, our security ties in the Pacific, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The clear dangers of the past made the need for national security commitments and expenditures obvious to the American people. Today, the task of mobilizing public support for national security priorities is more complicated. The complex array of unique dangers, opportunities and responsibilities outlined in this strategy are not always readily apparent as we go about our daily lives focused on immediate concerns. Yet, in a more integrated and interdependent world, we must remain actively engaged in world affairs to successfully advance our national interests.
To be secure and prosperous, America must continue to lead. Our international leadership focuses on President Clinton’s strategic priorities: efforts to promote peace and security in key regions of the world; to create more jobs and opportunities for Americans through a more open and competitive trading system that also benefits others around the world; to increase cooperation in confronting security threats that threaten our critical infrastructures and our citizens at home and abroad, yet often defy borders and unilateral solutions; to strengthen international arms control and nonproliferation regimes; to protect the environment and the health of our citizens; and to strengthen the intelligence, military, diplomatic and law enforcement tools necessary to meet these challenges.
Our international leadership is ultimately founded upon the power of our democratic ideals and values. The spread of democracy supports American values and enhances our security and prosperity. The United States will continue to support the trend toward democracy and free markets, peace and security by remaining actively engaged in the world.
Our engagement abroad requires the active, sustained support of the American people and the bipartisan support of the U.S. Congress. This Administration remains committed to explaining our security interests, objectives and priorities to the nation and seeking the broadest possible public and congressional support for our security programs and investments. We will continue to exercise global leadership in a manner that reflects our national values, promotes prosperity and protects the security of this great nation.