THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 24, 1998 8:40 P.M. (L)
PRESS BRIEFING BY
REVEREND JESSE JACKSON ,
NSC DIRECTOR FOR AFRICA JOHN PRENDERGAST,
ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE SUSAN RICE,
AID ADMINISTRATOR BRIAN ATWOOD,
Nile Conference Center
MR. MCCURRY: Good evening, everybody. I'm your M.C. for this evening's event. We're going to do two briefings right now. I want to tell you how we're going to structure them. First, I've asked the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who is the President's and Secretary of State's Special Envoy for the Promotion of Democracy in Africa, to talk a little bit about the context of this trip in the new partnership that exists between the United States and Africa broadly defined.
Second, I want to talk a little more specifically about today. These two briefings are roughly -- the first one is today; the second one, which we will embargo, is for tomorrow.
But next I would like to John Prendergast, who is the NSC Director for Africa to talk a little bit about U.S.-Uganda relations, the discussions we had today with Museveni and his government, and put that in the context of what a change has occurred here in Uganda in the last 15 years.
Third, our Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Susan Rice, will talk to you about the education initiative the President unveiled today that has really broad implications throughout sub-Sahara specifically.
Brian Atwood, the Administrator of the Agency for International Development will then talk a little bit about AID support for FINCA and what they've done, and talk a little bit about the other initiatives the President has done today.
They'll take some questions. Then we'll do an embargoed briefing with Joe Wilson, who is the Senior Director for Africa at the NSC, and John Shattuck, the Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, who can set up a little bit of the history of Rwanda and the genocide there prior to our --
Q Embargoed until when?
MR. MCCURRY: We'll figure that out during the first briefing. I don't see any reason why people can't use that for overnight purposes, particularly for the wires, but we'll figure out an exact time for that.
So let me start with Reverend Jackson. Jesse, thank you for being with us today.
REVEREND JACKSON: Thank you very much. There are several huge themes it seems in this mission that are a consideration. When we were finally able to get behind the Berlin Wall and to Eastern Europe, it was a major breakthrough in foreign policy and extended the walls. When we were able to get into the Soviet Union it was a major going behind the walls. In some sense, to reach out, to engage with Africa and see African stability, and American economic growth and security as a part of our foreign policy is a very new development in foreign policy.
It is an irreversible trend. Yesterday, in many ways, set that process in motion. Per se, we have dealt with Africa in essentially five stages. The first stage was slavery -- 200-plus years in which Africa, through the process, suffered as America's development, where Africa became the creditor and our country the debtor. Two hundred years of work without wages is a subsidy. Two hundred years of raw materials, viable materials, below market rate a subsidy.
Many of our earlier Wall Street investment firms were shipping companies importing Africans as slaves and exporting cotton. And so the foundation of our nation's wealth is hugely connected to the first stage of our relationship with Africa.
And then the basic lack of rights for African Americans within the country was domestic African policy -- as in Cinque in the picture Amistad was international African policy and Dredd Scott 18 years later was domestic African policy, but nonetheless African policy. The designation three-fifths human was African policy. Dredd Scott, the Supreme Court ruled he had no rights whites were bound to respect -- that was African policy, domestic African policy.
The Civil War essentially was driven by a conflict over how would we handle African policy. The Plessy versus Ferguson, the apartheid decision of 1896, or the 1954 decision were all driven by our -- with U.S. African policy.
So the first stage was that of slavery. The second stage was that of neglect, just neglect, the exploited continent -- which the President talked about quite a bit today. The third stage was using Africa as a pawn, a manipulative pawn during times of war and times of crisis, with no regard for its being colonized and lack of development -- no commitment to bring it in the tent of global policy.
The fourth stage was Africa paternalistically, or simply relating to Africa as aid and a kind of gesture toward people who -- starvation, whose desperation was embarrassing -- we were able to give some aid and did so. The fifth stage, a partnership, is the most mature stage of our development, the most politically sound, the most morally correct. It will affect the future of all U.S. foreign policy, for to bring in one-eighth of the human race into the foreign policy circle it affects in some measure ultimately Asian policy, French policy, or British, or Portugal. It alters the equation.
It's not a zero-sum game, but expands the equation of foreign policy, but to bring Africa in, and on a mutually beneficial basis. Africa's development and security and our growth is very connected one to the other.
Yesterday, for example, in Ghana a half-million-plus people -- that government responding to our government, that leader responding to our President. And the central issue that was accomplished beyond the massive outpouring of people was to focus on energy.
In 1962 President Kennedy and Nkrumah signed an energy deal with Kaiser, with Akosombo Dam, the hydro-electric, which made Ghana energy sufficient and helped Togo and West Nigeria to some extent. Now it's down to about 40 percent production. It's without electrification. It will affect the gold mines. It will stop economic growth, it will stop investment. It could very well put Ghana into a crisis where they would have to begin to depend in a major way upon Nigeria for its energy purposes.
But yesterday President Clinton and President Rawlings, in talking about that, put forth a rather specific energy plan where Vice President Mills from Ghana and I suppose Secretary Pena from our own country will look at the energy crisis and try to address it because it becomes a major structural commitment that's mutually beneficial. And, of course, Kaiser and Reynolds and a host of American companies' investment and continued presence is all tied to the energy focus there in Ghana. I thought that was a pretty big deal.
Lastly, today was a classic case where the President focused on education and the need to raise the literacy level in the country. One byproduct, when a country commits itself to the path of democracy, a commitment to building democratic institutions, a commitment to human rights, and transparency in government dealings, and conflict of interest laws, such a government becomes investment attractive. So while, on the one hand, the President expressed a commitment to help with the education issue, at the same time, Coca Cola today broke ground for two new plants -- a $50 million investment will bring to Uganda 1,000 middle class jobs.
But more than that, it also is a commitment by Coca Cola to deal with the infrastructure. They're already building roads and sewer lines to the two new plants to be opened next year, and partnership between a U.S. corporation and the people of Uganda, but also when Coca Cola makes that commitment, it affects the sugarcane growers who must supply sugar for the making of Coca Cola. That, again, a fruit of political stability and democracy and human rights -- a country becomes investment attractive.
That's why we work so diligently to gain more victories in the democratic column, because, historically, at least in one stage, we put military or security and trade on the top, and human rights and democracy in the margins. But now, President Clinton, by focusing on human rights and democracy as we struggle with those concepts, more than any sustainable growth is based upon in some measure that kind of stability.
I would say lastly, that as we look at the African scene, we must have a greater cost benefit aid-trade equation in our minds. For example, today we import more oil from Africa than we do from the Middle East, and that margin is growing. We export more product to Africa than we do to the Former Soviet Union, including Russia, by 20 percent. A 30-percent return on African investment; about 12 percent to Eastern Europe, about 14 percent to Latin America.
More than 100,000 U.S. jobs are directly tied to expanding African trade. Africa to us is -- the Atlantic Ocean does not divide us, it connects us. We are as close to Senegal in Washington, direction -- as we are to Los Angeles. And yet, in Ghana, were closer to New York than we are to South Africa, which shows the vastness of this place.
Across these levels of neglect, our political, foreign policy has neglected Africa, put it in the margins. Not only our politics, our corporate investors, but so has the mass media. Our mass media has too little appreciation it seems to me of the ramifications of this mission not only for Africa, but for America and for foreign policy, because if 700 million people in some serious measure are brought into the equation, and if there is a cost benefit analysis, clearly we will see the need not only to expand trade and aid, but debt reduction and stability, because we have an interest in Africa's stability, an interest in Africa's development. It's connected to our growth, and it's connected to world security.
What happened yesterday was, in my mind, as massive a move as the March on Washington, which was a turning point in how we saw the civil rights question massively in the states and how we saw domestic African policy. This 12-day, 11-day mission by the President will -- the spotlight will go into dark places. It will complete revive -- revise how we see Africa, and there will never be another serious foreign policy debate that does not include the African fact in terms of security or trade or stability and growth.
Thank you very much.
Q Sir, can you take a couple of questions?
REVEREND JACKSON: I will at the appropriate time. I will.
MR. PRENDERGAST: Thank you. It's important to note that from the mid 1960s to the mid '80s, for two decades Uganda experienced some of the most brutal dictatorships in all of Africa. The regimes of Milton Obote and Idi Amin terrorized Uganda's people. They destroyed Uganda's infrastructure --
Q Could you identify yourself first?
Q Who are you?
MR. PRENDERGAST: John Prendergast at the National Security Council, Africa Director.
Q What's your title there?
MR. PRENDERGAST: I'm the Director for African Affairs.
Q This is the off-the-record briefing?
MR. MCCURRY: No, no. This is on the record.
MR. PRENDERGAST: So in that historical context, one understands that in the mid-1980s President Museveni and President Museveni's ascension, Uganda has experienced one of the most profound transformations throughout this continent. And it's in the context of this transformation that Uganda has experienced that President Clinton and President Museveni were able to move forward the partnership that America and Africa are forming across this continent.
They were able to talk about throughout the day U.S. support for this Uganda transformation. They talked about how Uganda-U.S. trade has doubled in the past year. We're now exporting from the United States $35 million in goods, up from million just last year. And Ugandan exports have doubled as well, up to $38 million.
The U.S. has a very robust development aid program here in Uganda totaling about $45 million a year, with additional food assistance of almost $30 million. We have targeted many of the same objectives that the Ugandan government has identified as its major priorities, and Ugandan civil society organizations --things like, as you heard today, improving educational opportunities, raising rural incomes, combating AIDS, and improving health care delivery. They talked a lot about education, and you saw a lot of that at the Kisowera School.
They talked also about Uganda's unique and leading role in promoting women's opportunities and women's rights in Uganda. Uganda, I think, offers important lessons for the entire continent in terms of the political and economic empowerment of women. Its progress I think is personified by the Vice President, who is the leading African woman -- Africa's highest ranking women official. The government itself requires families with boys and girls to send an equal number of boys and girls to school under this free universal primary education system.
President Clinton and President Museveni also had a chance to talk about the important next steps that Uganda must take to continue on its path towards reform and transformation. President Museveni is clearly a leader, an acknowledged leader through this continent on economic reform and on political participation issues.
They talked a lot about how his movement system, the political system that exists today in Uganda, of no party politics, with its focus on local participation -- how it can grow to institutionalized greater participation throughout the country while at the same time understanding the contexts and the dangers of identification along ethnic lines within the political system.
So those are some of the topics that they were able to interact on today. Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE: Good evening. I'm Susan Rice, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. I'd like to talk a little bit with you about the primary theme of today, which was investing in Africa's greatest and most untapped resource, it's human capital.
The President spoke a lot about education, as did President Museveni. I'd like to talk a little bit about the education initiative that the President unveiled, and then turn to U.S. AID Administrator Brian Atwood, who will talk about other aspects of our efforts to support investment and human capital in Africa.
As the President said, we do this not only out of altruism, but out self-interest, because a vibrant, growing Africa that is democratic, that respects human rights, that is free of conflict and is growing economically is manifestly in the United States' interest. It's a partner with which we can work in the future to defend ourselves against common transnational threats. And it's also a partner with which we can work in international political fora and trade in our mutual interest.
So with that in mind, let me tell you a little bit about the Education for Democracy and Development Initiative. The genesis for this idea came out of a meeting that President Clinton had last year with President Konare of Mali. And President Konare is one of Africa's leading new democratic leaders. And he spoke with great passion about the difficulty of trying to make democracy stick in a country as poor as Mali when less than half of his children are educated. And with that in mind, President Clinton began thinking about what more we might do to build human capital in Africa and improve the quality of education, so that Africa and its people can be more competitive in the new global economy of the 21st century.
The education initiative that the President announced today will entail an initial expenditure of $120 million over the next two years, fiscal '98 and primarily fiscal '99. And we hope to be able to continue similar programs beyond fiscal '99. This initiative is on top of the already $65 million that we spend continent-wide on education in Africa.
And under this new education initiative, which we hope to work out in close consultation with African partners, we'll focus on several areas. First, in the realm of primary and secondary education, we will do three things. The first thing is to build community resource centers, building on existing infrastructure to the greatest extent possible, existing schools in secondary cities and rural areas -- where we hope to use high technology, access to the Internet, as well as more traditional technology, such as radio learning, to bring educational materials and opportunities to a much broader cross-section of the African public.
We will also do what we call in-service teacher training. That's augmenting and improving the training that teachers already teachers, active teachers already receive; and make a special effort to target out of school youth, which is a chronic problem in Africa, particularly in those societies that are emerging from conflict and have child soldiers to integrate back into the mainstream of society.
These schools that will serve as community resource centers will also be bases from which to improve the overall quality of life in communities writ large, bringing all sorts of information and technology to communities that wouldn't otherwise have them.
The second thing we intend to do at the primary and secondary level is to build school-to-school partnerships, both within Africa, as the President noted today, and between American schools and African schools. And President Clinton noted one example of that, the Pinecrest Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland, that will partner with the Kisowera School that we visited today, drawing on technology linkages, the Internet, as well as curriculum exchanges and teacher exchanges.
And the third area that we're working on in the primary and secondary sphere has to do with girls' education. And you heard the President speak at some length about girls' education. All of the evidence shows that investment in young girls and women pay the highest dividends, not just in the developing world, but in the developed world as well and we intend to do more in that sphere through leadership training, scholarships, school feeding and nutrition programs, as well as mentorship programs linking older women with young girls.
In the realm of higher education, we will focus on university-to-university linkages, bringing together not only universities in Africa, but universities in the United States with African universities. One example of such a partnership is Makerere University here in Kampala, that is building a new partnership with Johns Hopkins University back in Maryland. The two universities will work together in the sphere of public health, sharing lessons, sharing experiences. And the education initiative will help link these universities up through the Internet and through Internet activity link all of Makerere University, not just the public health institute, to the whole Internet.
Also at the university level we will be working in the areas of curriculum development, particularly in the sphere of business, health, science, math, technology and engineering. We're prepared to make investments in upgrading teacher training and building university-to-community linkages, drawing on the experience of American community colleges and land grant universities.
And lastly in the sphere of professional and civic education, we also seek to enhance partnerships within Africa, between African civic organizations -- whether they be groups of legislators or jurists or NGOs, as well as between Africans and the United States. And an example of such a partnership already underway is the American League of Women Voters that will be working the Ugandan Action for Development NGO, pulling together resources and experience.
Let me just close by saying that this initiative has a bilateral assistance component to it, but like much of development in Africa it has multilateral and private aspects as well. The World Bank has for many, many years been engaged in investment in education in Africa. It will continue to do so, and it's making substantial new investments. We intend to coordinate with the World Bank and to make sure that our efforts are complementary and mutually reinforcing.
Let me finally say a word about American foundations that have played over the last two decades, three decades, a tremendous role in promoting and improving the quality of education in Africa. We hope that American foundations will continue to play an important role in this area and will find this effort one that they want to lend their substantial expertise and experience to.
And finally let me say, in the realm of the private sector a number of American corporations have already expressed interest in supporting this initiative and lending their advice as well as their resources to it. Let me just mention a couple of those: Science Applications International Corporation, DynCorp, Lucent, and Qualcom are among others that have indicated an early interest in trying to support this education effort and bringing to bear the fruits of Africa's human capital to the 21st century global economy.
Let me just stop there and ask Brian Atwood to add.
ADMINISTRATOR ATWOOD: Okay, I know you're tired and we all are. I'll be very brief. A few years ago --
ADMINISTRATOR ATWOOD: It makes you feel welcome. Thank you, Sam.
Let me just say, a few years ago I ended up out here in Africa and on all five networks -- I guess you say five nowadays -- on the same day, because I was sent out here to be a special envoy for the President to look into the genocide and the exodus into Goma. This is the only other way that an AID Administrator is going to get any attention from you, so I'm going to take a little of your time, because the point is that the President's visit is about setting forth a new foundation for a partnership for development on this continent as opposed to responding to crises.
We've had plenty of crises to respond to in Africa, and to give you one example of that, the amount of money that we spent on development last year was $700 million, and we spent $600 million on emergencies of various kinds -- emergency food assistance and disaster relief -- and of course we spent $2.2 billion on Somalia and countless billions of dollars on the Rwanda crisis itself, which was the result of underdevelopment and tension and the like.
I want to just talk about the announcements that were made today. Some of you went out to the site where FINCA's microenterprise program was underway. The United States has made a commitment to try to eliminate one-half of the extreme poverty that exists in the world by the year 2015. One of the ways to do this is obviously through microenterprise programs. It brings women into the economy of these countries, gives them dignity, assures that they will be better members of their own family, and the like. But the other reason is that this is a way of breaking down the public sector control over the economy and creating a new private sector in these societies.
It's very significant. We provide loans to over 2 million people a year -- USAID alone. Many other institutions are doing the same thing, and this is beginning to catch on in the United States as well. So it's got a significance. The President's visit to this village today has a significance far beyond the village and far beyond the women that he met there. It sends a message to the world that the microenterprise revolution is alive and well.
He also announced today an initiative to try to help these governments with the malaria problem. Now, Americans are becoming increasingly worried about infectious diseases, particularly infectious diseases that have their origin from this continent. This country, Uganda, was the place where HIV/AIDS originated in the 1970s. Today it's a major epidemic, a pandemic indeed around the world, and we worry a great deal about it. We're worrying right now a great deal about malaria. Even in the United States cases have been detected -- mosquitos carrying malaria have been detected in the United States and we have a number of cases where drug-resistant malaria, in particular, has caused deaths.
If it causes worry in the United States, in this continent it causes governments to rise or fall. There are approximately 2 million people a year who are dying of malaria in Africa. That's an incredible number. And, of course, that's only one of the many infectious diseases that affects this continent.
For the NIH to invest an additional million dollars is very significant. It's a scientific exchange with African scientists. For USAID to invest an additional $16 million, over and above the approximately $100 million we already spend here in Africa on health care systems and infectious diseases, is really quite a boost to these societies who were worry so much about this problem.
A few years ago I led a delegation into this region of the world to deal with an impending crisis -- 25 million people at risk of leaving their homes or starvation or famine because of a severe draught that was caused by the then El Nino of four years ago. We're about to face a drought, perhaps caused by El Nino again, and food production and access to food is a major issue.
So the President's announcement of an additional $61 million for expenditure on food security -- what I mean is enhanced food production techniques, privatizing the agricultural sector in these societies, and helping them liberalize trade so that a country like Uganda that can produce a surplus can trade agricultural crops with the Ethiopias and the Eritreas of the world.
So these things are very significant, because what they are is an investment in the future, it's an investment in cutting down the amount of resources that the American taxpayer has to put into crises. It's also, obviously, as the Reverend Jackson mentioned, an investment in a new partnership that is going to create the markets for the United States in 20 or 30 years.
We're now living off the markets of Asia and Latin America, the good development investments we made in those regions, and we can certainly do that here. We're already being advantaged by the amount of trade that exists with Africa. It will become that much more significant in future years if these countries can continue to develop at the rate they're developing now.
MR. MCCURRY: Questions for any of the briefers.
Q A question for Jesse Jackson. I wonder, Reverend Jackson, if you could tell us how you feel the President dealt with this slavery issue today and whether in your mind that was the same as a formal apology for slavery?
REVEREND JACKSON: He simply said it was morally wrong, a source of great shame, and begin to focus on remedy and repair, which is what the African leaders want to hear. They're concerned about partnership and repair and reciprocal interest. And, frankly I thought that was statement enough on that matter.
The leaders here seemed to have a much more definite concern about a partnership that's mutually respectful, a partnership that will, on the one hand, acknowledge the historical immorality in the relationship, but it wants a commitment now to build bridges. And the fact is, after all of these years of these stages of illicit relationships, this is the first time an American President has come here to address the African challenge and African possibilities on Africa's soil.
Part of my appeal to you in putting this matter in perspective is that the Pope is in Nigeria, and we see the massive response to his moral appeal. President Clinton drew an even bigger crowd in Ghana. It was reduced to a crisis at the ropes, where he was desperately trying to save somebody from getting crushed to death. Yesterday's political statement at the largest crowd an American President has ever addressed is a huge statement toward a new American-African relationship.
Q Reverend Jackson, do you think that it's a slap in the face that the President would say that the most egregious situation for Africa was the fact that the United States has neglected the country, and there hasn't been a partnership before -- do you think that's a slap in the face versus the slavery issue?
REVEREND JACKSON: Well, it is obvious, as he stated today, that the slave trade was immoral and that the subsequent years of neglect within Africa and within this country -- within our own country, should I say -- but let us not forget that the entire history of the development of our democracy and what we know as the civil rights struggle really was a struggle for African policy within our own country. Two hundred years of -- where we were defined as three-fifths of a human being in the Constitution was domestic African policy.
The decision to free Cinque, Amistad and send Dredd Scott back to the plantation was African policy. It drove the Civil War essentially and -- grapple with people of African descent. The Plessy versus Ferguson decision was African policy -- right through Dr. King's time.
This week, I might add, 33 years ago Dr. King was marching from Selma to Montgomery for the right of African Americans to vote, but not limited to African Americans. In many ways there's an unbroken line between the march and Alabama and yesterday, the address in Africa, because both were about healing the breach, about building bridges that we might have a future much brighter than our past.
Q You said the President had said enough that African leaders wanted to hear, but what about African Americans? Are there still people waiting to hear -- are there still African Americans waiting to hear a formal apology for slavery?
REVEREND JACKSON: You know, African Americans are
waiting to hear that there is a mutually beneficial, reciprocal partnership that will represent mutual growth and affirming of the humanity of African people, whether in Africa or in America. And that's why I'm concerned that even while we're here on the continent of 700 million people, a continent that's subsidized our development with which we enjoy now substantial trade with a potential for much more trade, that the half million people were reduced to 40 people last night. So America saw us through a keyhole, rather than through a door.
I talked with several people today, and the excitement was, what about the fight at the ropes. That is an absolute misrepresentation of the most vulgar sense of what happened yesterday Ghana. The response of the people, the historical connection, the question of African policy, the number of people at the crowd, the timbre of the crowd, no hint of protests, seeking this relationship with us -- even when we went to the slave castle, where the bilateral meetings took place, in the basement of that castle once was a dungeon where Africans were held until they were transported to ships right at that castle on to America.
Quite an emotional day in one sense. And for African Americans to be here from the Cabinet, like Rodney Slater and Alexis Herman, and they have African American Congress people here -- or Susan Rice, Assistant Secretary of African Affairs -- there seems to have been no interest in our feelings about being at the slave castle. I think our being in the slave castle was comparable to Madeleine Albright going to a temple and in some sense rediscovering her roots. It was that emotional to us. That ought to matter to you, how we felt about yesterday. It was a big emotional day.
And to watch those who were snatched from or sold into slavery come back to this continent now as leaders of our own government, having helped the shape of democracy -- we've helped to shape this democracy, we're operating now far more under Martin Luther King democracy than Jefferson democracy because it's much broader. We've helped inform that democracy -- it was first only white male landowners, and for so many years women couldn't vote. And finally, everybody can vote because of African Americans making us have a more perfect union.
Those were some great moments yesterday in terms of our feelings, the crowd, the foreign affairs, dimension of it. And I would hope that in the coming days as we explore these dynamics on this continent -- I talked to a number of you today, for example, who had never been here before, and that's a little late. But now that you are here, I urge you to get deeper in, more rooted in the historical neglect of Africa by the media and the politics and corporate America. This is one of those very special moments for an expansion of our democracy.
Q Reverend, in light of those feelings yesterday, do you think that Clinton's admission that slavery is morally wrong, do you think that's a precursor to the administration apologizing to African Americans for slavery? And do you think this historic trip is an appropriate place for that apology?
REVEREND JACKSON: I think the preoccupation with the semantics of an apology is diversion from the substance of the crisis. People in Ghana, for example, yesterday were talking about how in 1962, five years after their independence from colonialism, that President Kennedy and Nkrumah signed an historic energy agreement to get energy, hydroelectricity, from the dam, the Akosombo Dam, that gave them the energy to grow -- and to Togo and West Nigeria as well.
And now, with the drought and lack of solar and other energies, the growth is down to 40 percent. If Kaiser pulls out in 60 days, then Ghana will be devastated. It will not survive its economic process. It will not have growth. It will become more dependent upon Nigeria. It will destabilize the whole region.
And so for him to sit in a bilateral talk with President Rawlings and talk through an energy policy between U.S. companies and Ghana and the U.S., between Vice President Mills, Secretary Pena and Reynolds, that was what the people of Ghana were looking for yesterday. It helps Ghana. It helps West African stability. It helps American jobs -- all connected with our connection with American companies in Africa. That was the substance of the meetings yesterday.
Q Reverend, what impact do you have this trip to have on the President's race initiative back at home?
REVEREND JACKSON: It will have at least this impact -- to the extent to which many Americans operating in the historical vacuum have seen African Americans as parasites, and not as co-builders, when you really think about the fact that Africa is the creditor and our nation is the debtor -- we think of ourselves as the creditor and Africa as the debtor. But face it, 250 years of work without wages is a tremendous subsidy. Our ability to give the Homestead Act millions of acres of land away to whites preferentially and exclusively, our ability to build the railroad that connected us, to build the southern textile industry, to help to build this -- all this was driven by Africa or an African policy.
Most Americans do not associate our growth and development with our historic relationship with Africa, except it was trade policy without human rights and democracy. Now we bring to this agenda a set of values. And this idea of democracy -- I heard someone say, well, shall we impose it upon Africans -- democracy is not an imposition. It is a series of freedoms widely embraced by the people of this continent when they have a chance to engage in it. Democracy as we know it today is largely instructed by our struggle to create a one big-tent America, wherein everybody would have equal protection under the law. So we have massively engaged in helping to heal our country while now, with a commitment to reconstruct this one as we build. Q Two questions, Reverend Jackson. First, do you think the slavery apology question is obscuring other issues? And number two, on the issue of the castle, would you or the delegation be willing to make yourselves available at the end of the day for questions? We've had a good deal of time and trouble reaching members of the delegation to ask questions.
REVEREND JACKSON: Yes, we would, but, of course, that's under Mr. McCurry's direction. We have some -- those who have sought to get interviews have gotten them. My point simply is that often when you travel to a country or a continent you've never been to before, you only bring to it your own frame of reference. If your frame of reference is, say, you're neither from or estranged from where you land, all you can do is regurgitate what you brought and not learn and look at what you see.
And my point is, for many who this is a first-time trip, there is the exotic state of being here, but I submit to you that when we look at -- if the issue is national security, if the issue is trade, if the issue is democracy, the issue is economic growth, the cost benefit of aid-trade ratio with Africa has big meaning for our future -- is my real point.
Q Reverend Jackson, there seems to be an issue that if there is an apology from President Clinton, that many people feel that that would mean reparations down the road. Do you know if that is the administration's thought, that if the President were to apologize, that reparations would have to follow for African Americans? And also, we understand that the Ugandan President is also saying that African tribal chiefs had to apologize as well for slavery.
REVEREND JACKSON: I think his real point was, during the slavery period there was a lot of buying and selling. It was an awful moral crisis in which a country, a continent was interrupted, and severe strain put upon the human family. It was not just an episode -- a 200-year ordeal.
But as I talk with people at home or people here, the preoccupation you seem to have, respectfully, with the word "slavery" is not the prevailing issue. It might fit into a sound bite, but it really is not the issue. The fact is, it is accepted that slavery as an institution was not only immoral, but illegal, and it exists no more.
The question is, where shall we go from here? And where we go from here is the move from slavery and neglect and paternalism and pawns to partnership. This is people are looking for answers to questions and solutions to problems. And when you look at the level of illiteracy in the country, the need -- for example, one of the persons here that is in greater demand is Rodney Slater. He does not fit into the kind of basic everyday, newsy talk -- conversation guy, but the issue of roads and bridges and ports.
What we did for Europe was -- after the war was over -- was defend them during the war; when it was over, to then do what? A Marshall Plan for structure and then NATO for aid and defense. And Africans are saying that they are an even larger market, have related even longer, and we simply want to be inside the tent of the global economy.
Q Did Mr. Museveni say anything about when he would move towards allowing a political party system?
REVEREND JACKSON: You know, today we met with opposition leadership, a cross-section of them. One or two would run against him for the presidency. And the point there was that many years ago when I was in this area the debate was about how to end colonialism, and then how to end the reign of terror of Idi Amin. Now it's a debate about at what stage will democracy be even broader here.
After all, there was a vote about the question of parties, and at this stage they find themselves in so many conflicts and wars over the question of multiparty when they were not quite prepared for it. They voted for that. Within two years, that vote will come back up again. This is, in fact, a democracy, more so than many other nations in the world with which we have relations.
Q Reverend Jackson, it seemed that the President did not push very hard to open up the system.
REVEREND JACKSON: I didn't hear you.
Q To open up the political system here, to move towards a multiparty system. Does that mean that the President endorses this non-party democracy? And how do you reconcile that with what we have heard for a week now about human rights, democracy being the bedrock of U.S. policy toward Africa?
REVEREND JACKSON: You know, Uganda's democracy is 11 years old. Look at ours after 11 years. We have the strongest and best and now oldest in the world, after many years of struggle. I mean, we're still dealing with the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission. The struggle for democracy is a continuing battle to expand and conclude, even some period for experimentation. It's fairly clear here that the commitment to building democratic institutions is afoot. There was an election -- Museveni was elected. There will be another election in two years. Or in our judgment they are moving toward a more comprehensive and a more representative democracy.
But in the meantime, while we're focusing on how they vote, the question is economically how do they survive. The question of electricity; the question of rails and infrastructure; the question of literacy for their children; the question of corporate America seeing if this is a trading partner, as was expressed in Coca Cola today. So while voting and having a democracy likened unto ours is important -- it took us a long time to get it -- they're clearly moving in that direction. This is not a military state, this is a democracy in development.
Q Reverend Jackson, I wonder if I could just -- in a totally unrelated area -- there have been reports that you've been serving as a minister to President Clinton during this difficult period back home that he's been going through. I wonder if you'd dare to -- if you'd want to comment and tell us what that's all about?
REVEREND JACKSON: I really wouldn't now. If we were praying together at home, we were praying even more going through that storm the night before last. And we'll pray again tomorrow. Suffice it to say that we are now embarked on a historical journey to expand our democracy, to bring Africa into the global community, to put it under our foreign policy -- one big tent. And on the rest of this mission the President is standing up amazingly well and with great energy.
Q You and the President prayed together on this matter, you've talked about praying together --
REVEREND JACKSON: On occasion I pray with the President and, matter of fact, with the entire staff. We are convinced, Sam, that in the middle of these challenges that we must remain focused, be prayerful, be steady at the wheel, given the range of concerns that the President must address. The fact is he, in my judgment, is handling these chores and challenges with amazing strength.
Q You talked about how emotional yesterday was. What about the emotion that he was standing on the runway, the tarmac at Kigali and the emotion of standing at the South African Parliament when the first American President comes to speak to the government there?
REVEREND JACKSON: It's hard to describe. As I think about at the castle yesterday, when you walk in the castle where the talks were, there's a thing that looks like a well that was a chute to drop Africans into to go to the dungeon while the governor stayed upstairs. From there they would go onto the ships. And that was a point of no return from Ghana. A major slave shipping station was Ghana involving the Ashantis.
Well the South African moment, I suppose, of great emotion will be going to Robben's Island. That's the big moment. I remember being there in 1979 when the laws of apartheid and the violence was at such a height. And we, ourselves, as a nation were involved certainly indirectly with the apartheid regime because we saw the apartheid Africaners as our geopolitical partners. Within our own country we fought mightily to change that relationship. And at the end our country was the most effective in helping them with their transition .
And then Goree Island will have its own special emotional moment. But we're not really wallowing in the emotions even of those high points, because some of us have been to those places before. The real issue now is reconciliation, reconstruction, renewal and partnership. Those are the prevailing themes now: reconciliation, reconstruction, renewal and partnership. Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE: I'd just like to add a little bit to the question about Ugandan democracy and democracy promotion is an important element of our foreign policy in general with respect to Africa.
Let me just remind folks that we have spent over the last several years in Africa some $400 million on the promotion of democracy. This is not just on electoral assistance. It's on building civil society, building judicial institutions, supporting the development of sustainable grass-roots democracy in Africa. And we're doing that in some 46 African countries. And at the same time, we are making very clear at every opportunity that democracy and respect for human rights are fundamental and universal. And that applies in Uganda, it applies in the United States, it applies everywhere else in Africa.
Throughout our dialogue with the government here in Uganda, we have shared our views on the democratic progress that has been made here. We think it's been substantial, but obviously there is a long way to go. The people of Uganda will ultimately choose the nature of their democratic system, whether it is multiparty or it takes some other form. That's for them to decide. But in the meantime, we have made absolutely clear and I think the government of Uganda fully shares the view that respect for basic human rights is absolutely fundamental and that democratic participation, freedom of expression, freedom of association -- those have to be the benchmarks by which a democratic society is measured.
In Western Europe, in other parts of the world, the United States and its people understand and respect variations on the democratic theme. We can understand the difference between Canadian democracy, Swiss democracy and French democracy. We ought to be able to be as sophisticated as we understand variations on the theme in Africa.
In the case of Uganda and other countries that we will talk about in the next several days, we're talking about countries that have emerged from conflict. We're talking about countries that have a history of divisiveness and in some cases, ethnic conflict, which makes it difficult to achieve what we might call Jeffersonian democracy in a mere 10 or 15 years. But those countries that are moving down the right path, that have the best interests of their people at heart need and deserve American support. And engagement with these countries does not necessarily indicate endorsement, but it does mean that positive strides need to be reinforced, in our interests, as well as in the interests of Africans, and we'll continue to do that.
Q Was President Clinton in on the meeting with the opposition leaders?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE: President Clinton was having lunch with President Museveni while his Cabinet officials, the congressional delegation, myself and several others met with the opposition leaders, and Reverend Jackson, and had a very productive conversation.
Q One of the things that's happened over and over again in Africa in the last 40 years has been countries start down the road to democracy, have new leaders, come up against the big question -- will the person yield power in a peaceful, democratic transition. In the country we were in yesterday, Ghana, today you have people that originally came to power by force of arms. What makes us confident that Rawlings and Museveni, when the moment comes that they have to decide whether they'll yield power peacefully to the ballot, that they will behave themselves and do that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think it's a good question, but the fact is in Ghana, where we were yesterday, President Rawlings did submit himself twice to a ballot. And the second ballot in 1996 was by all international standards viewed as free and fair. So if he is to be reelected, so be it. I will say, parenthetically, that he indicated quite plainly yesterday that he intends that this be his last term. And so we will see if that's the case. But having said that, he is a democratically-elected leader. And as long as their constitution allows him to reelected, I'm not sure it's our prerogative to object.
Q In the President's remarks about the Cold War alliances sometimes putting human rights in the back seat -- I think we can all take guesses as to what countries and what relationships that he was talking about. But do you know specifically what sort of U.S. relationships he feels really don't stand up well in historical perspectives?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE: I'm not sure I'm following your question.
Q Well, he says in our own time during the Cold War when we were so concerned about being in competition with Soviet Union, very often we dealt with leaders who did not stand up and struggle for their own people's aspirations. I mean, what countries and what relationships is he talking about, do you know?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE: I think the President was talking broadly about our experience during the Cold War period when we, for various reasons, supported governments and, in some cases, insurgent movements in Africa in a fashion that suited our Cold War requirements and not necessarily broader humanitarian or human interests.
I mean, it's not a secret where were involved. We were involved in Angola, we were involved in the former Zaire, we were involved in the Horn of Africa. But I'd like to make the point to all of you that you ought to be, I would argue, not focused on the past, not focused on the Cold War, not focused on slavery, which, as an African American, is largely irrelevant to what we're about here, but focus on the future.
You asked a question of Reverend Jackson, how do you feel -- or how did you feel hearing the comments of the President or experiencing the slave castles as an African American. Let me just speak for myself -- I felt, one, a sense of reverence and a sense of history, but far more interested in the future. What is going to be the fate of my 8-month-old son, what is going to be the fate of the young children we saw today in Jinja -- that's what's relevant.
And what President Clinton is doing by virtue of this trip, is trying to show America a new Africa with which we can and must work in the 21st century, with which we can and must trade in the 21st century, and with which we must cooperate in our mutual interest if we're going to defend American children in the United States against very serious threats to our national security that are transnational in nature and that emanate from Africa, just as they do from anywhere else in the world -- terrorism, narcotics flows, crime, environmental degradation, disease. We need strong partners in Africa with which we can work to cooperate to combat these threats.
So I hope that we can increasingly stop talking about slaver, which is, frankly, largely irrelevant to most of us here today, and talk about how we can overcome our history, both positive and negative, in a fashion that builds a brighter future for Americans and Africans alike.
MR. MCCURRY: Last question -- one question in the back.
Q The local newspaper raises an issue about slavery. It suggests that this was not an issue of buyers and sellers. It says that what slavery was "was warfare, trickery, banditry and kidnapping," and it suggests that you, by calling it buyers and sellers, have insulted Africans. Is not apologizing for slavery an insult to the African people?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE: I stand by my statement, Joe. There were buyers and sellers. That's a historical fact. That's not to cast blame. That's simply to say that the past is past, and buyers and sellers are now on both sides of the Atlantic and it's our task together to build a brighter future. We can spend the rest of this trip and the rest of our time while we're in government talking about the past, or we can seize an opportunity and build a better future for American young people and African young people. To me, that's a no-brainer.
Q Ms. Rice, I understand the question about living in the past, but then we're asking questions because the President brought up the past.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE: The President mentioned the past --
MR. MCCURRY: President Museveni brought it up.
Q No, both Presidents brought up the past.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE: The President has also spoken a lot about the future.
MR. MCCURRY: All right, let's go. I need to move on.
Q Mike, can you help us with some stuff on tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, that's what we're going to do. I'm going to embargo this briefing now, so we need to go off camera.
Q Wait a minute.
Q Embargoed until when?
Q Didn't you just say, whether or not the President -- because I need this now -- whether the President is going to go to the memorial -- the genocide memorial at the Kigali Airport? There's some concern up there among the government officials. They built this monument and they think the President's not going to come. Is he?
MR. MCCURRY: My understanding is the President is preparing a plaque and meeting with people who have been involved in the memorial and will donate a plaque that will be on display at the memorial.
Q Was it your intention to answer no questions on the record tonight?
MR. MCCURRY: Say again?
Q Is it your intention to answer no questions on the record tonight?
MR. MCCURRY: No, I just wanted to move. We've got another briefing to do. I want to move on.
Q Why not go to this monument, Mike? Why not go to it?
MR. MCCURRY: He'll be spending considerable time tomorrow talking about the genocide that did create -- we're going to get some people here in a second a little bit more about that history.
Q Can you just tell us --
Q But it was -- especially for him, Mike?
MR. MCCURRY: And the President will commemorate that with the presentation of a plaque that will be on display at that memorial.
Q Is that a plaque on behalf of the American people?
MR. MCCURRY: Maybe the folks who can brief up next can help you on that.
Q But he's not going to actually go to that site?
MR. MCCURRY: My understanding is that he'll not actually go to the site.
Q What's the rules tonight? Are you coming back after the --
MR. MCCURRY: I will -- it's up to these guys back here. I can come back. I would rather get on with the people who've got to brief up for tomorrow .
Q Well, we have questions for you on the record.
MR. MCCURRY: I'll take a few questions.
Q Well, I just want to know who we should go to to ask about executive privilege. The President said, go to someone back home --
MR. MCCURRY: Jim Kennedy has been fielding those questions for your news organizations back home.
Q And, secondly, the President said that he knew nothing about -- or words to the effect -- this question of asserting it on behalf of the First Lady. Was he not consulted?
MR. MCCURRY: I can't add to what the President said on this subject.
Q Well, can you answer that question I asked?
MR. MCCURRY: I think the President told you he was not familiar with the issue that was in The Washington Post story that he read this morning, and I take that to be the case.
Q Could I take it, then, that he has not asserted executive privilege in that area -- was trying to signal to us that it was not correct?
MR. MCCURRY: I can't -- I'm not in a position, because whatever proceedings on that matter may or may not have occurred have been under court seal and we couldn't discuss it, in any event, if he had.
Q He told us to come talk to somebody.
Q He said he didn't know. He is the only one in the world who must know, right?
Q He's the only one who can assert executive privilege.
MR. MCCURRY: That's correct, but you can -- if you go back and look at -- Espy, which is the governing case in the D.C. circuit, and look at what circumstances in which Presidents can invoke privilege, they can include conversations between senior advisors. They don't necessarily have to directly involve the President. That's referred to very specifically in the case. Now, that's not suggesting that one way or another with respect to the reporting on Mr. Blumenthal's testimony. But that's a fact. You can look it up.
Q Well, March 6th, in answer to a question, you said that you thought the President would want the American people to be in a position to understand why we'd make such an assertion.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think that at such time -- if there has been any proceeding related to privilege, at such time that the arguments that have been presented to court or would naturally be presented to courts, speaking hypothetically, when they are unsealed properly by the court and the American public can study the arguments, I'm sure they would find it to be a forceful one -- if, in fact, that happened.
Q And those arguments have not been made to the court?
MR. MCCURRY: I can't tell you because if they have been, they've been done under seal, so I wouldn't be able to talk about it in any event.
Q Mike, the President knows that nobody -- that neither he, nor anyone else would talk about this issue because it's under seal. Is he comfortable, though, with that state of affairs, where you're having a constitutional showdown in camera in the judge's court?
Q I don't know whether he is. I think it's a peculiar circumstance to be in, but it derides from the nature of grand jury proceedings which are secret. That's the way our system of justice works. And so litigation that does or does not involve, or may or may not involve disputes about grand jury testimony are themselves secret for all the reasons that the courts keep those matters under seal until such time as they are unsealed -- as has happened -- as every other instance in which there's been an executive privilege came, and in the most recent one in the case involving the Espy investigation was one in which the President's assertion of privilege was upheld. At the proper time, the court unsealed the opinion and people could judge the arguments.
Q Reverend Jackson said that he had prayed with the entire staff, to use his words in this matter. Was that just a figure of speech, or can you tell us --
MR. MCCURRY: No. We had prayer this morning, as a matter of fact, about the subject of Africa.
Okay, can we get on?
Q One more on this Africa speech. I mean, the President did refer back when he started talking about the American past, he referred back to Museveni's remarks. Were these impromptu, or were these not something that he was planning to make up there?
MR. MCCURRY: Those were impromptu remarks, and I think not dissimilar from what the President suggested in the past.
Okay, cameras off, and what we're going to do is an embargoed briefing now because the circumstances for briefing are really restrained in Rwanda. So what I want to do is for those of you who are going to have to report on the fly tomorrow get you going on that subject. We are embargoing this briefing until 12:00 noon tomorrow -- 12:00 noon Kigali time, which will be 5:00 a.m. Eastern time.
Q Well, can we not do some on camera material, here tomorrow after that embargo time? Mike, nothing is being fed out of Kigali tomorrow at all. It's all being carried back here.
MR. MCCURRY: That's the problem that we've got. Shattuck, are you comfortable doing some of this on camera for tomorrow?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: Sure.
MR. MCCURRY: Okay, that's fine, but the embargo still stands.
Q When the lights come back on, say that to the camera.
MR. MCCURRY: Lights back on for you guys in the back. But again, to stress, this is material for broadcast use after 5:00 a.m. Eastern tomorrow, which will be 12:00 p.m. Kigali.
Q What about the newspapers?
MR. MCCURRY: The embargo is the same -- can't use it until 12:00 noon Kigali time, 5:00 a.m. Eastern time. This is not for your filing for whatever tomorrow's newspapers are.
Q Is there an overnight?
MR. MCCURRY: You guys mover overnighters, but they're embargoed. There's no wire transmission -- wire transmission is fine as long as it is embargoed material.
Joe Wilson, the Senior Director at the National Security Council for African Affairs, will start, then turn it over to Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, John Shattuck. And they'll both give you some historical context for the President's visit tomorrow and tell you a little bit about some of the President's initiative.
Again, this information is embargoed until 12:00 noon Kigali time, 5:00 a.m. Eastern.