Sunday, May 10, 2009

Keynote Address by H.E. Mr.Festus G. Mogae former President of the Republic of Botswana and also the Balfour African President-in-Residence - Boston

source: Republic of Botswana (9/5/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 13 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"


At the National Defence Intelligence College (NDIC) APRIL 2009 CONFERENCE ON “Africa: The Shifting Intelligence Landscape”, April 20th 2009, Washington DC, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Lt. General Ronald Burgess, Director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, Mr. Denis Clift, President of the National Intelligence College Ambassador Cindy Courville, Ambassador Amadou Lamine Ba of Senegal Ambassador Dr. Samuel Assefa of Ethiopia Ambassador Lekoa of Botswana Ambassador Stith of the African Presidential Archives & Research Centre Col. Leopold Kyanda, Defence Attaché of Uganda Ambassador Adonia Ayebaro of the International Peace Institute Other Senior Members of Staff of the NDIC and other Dignitaries here present

1. Let me thank the management of the National Defence Intelligence College (NDIC) for inviting me, a lay person, to share with you, intelligence professionals, my perspective on the theme of “The Shifting Intelligence Landscape Regarding Africa”. My very lack of pretension to intelligence expertise gives me freedom to express my perhaps naive views freely.

2. An old adage goes and I quote “Prevention is better than cure” end of quote. I would add the phrase “and cheaper”. We, i.e. Africa and the United States, have a number of events to prevent. We have among other things, to prevent the following:

• The emergence of failed States, I need not elaborate on the undesirable consequences for us all as they are self-evident;
• Conflict between and among African States;
• Conflict within individual African States;
• The development of situations that threaten peace and security or that hinder the development of democracy in individual African countries.

3. This is indeed a formidable list of events to prevent and their prevention is a Herculean task worthy and capable of being achieved. Consequently, we must use our best endeavours to accomplish it. I am sure that even as I speak, you are sceptically asking yourselves the question “how?” How do we achieve this prevention? Part of the answer lies in sharing intelligence. This was done in one instance and action was quietly taken jointly to persuade one leader in an African country not to stand again. He was indeed prevailed upon.

4. This was no mean achievement, because we have in Africa, the unfortunate phenomenon whereby popular leaders, in fact national heroes, overstay their welcome and end up undoing the good that they had attained. I say part of the answer lies in sharing intelligence.

5. The word, intelligence, means information and news. Any information or news! However, it also means information about an enemy or potential enemy, and it is this latter contextual meaning of the word that one tends to attach to the word, intelligence, especially when one is speaking at a NDIC.

6. But intelligence broadly understood is not only information about enemies, and or potential enemies. It is information about everybody and everything, including friends and family. My youngest daughter last year dropped out of the University of Cape Town during her second year, a fact which I came to know only at the end of the year because I had no intelligence, i.e. no information as to whether she was or was not attending lectures.

7. We need to share information about all sorts of criminal activities, such as money laundering, drug trafficking and other activities of organized cross-border crime. This is more so now that we know that they are often interlinked not only with one another but also to more directly strategic ones such as illegal arms trafficking.

8. In these days of the high-jacking of civilian airliners and capture of merchant ships for ransom, the boundary between ordinary crime intelligence and strategic intelligence has become so thin that it is often hardly discernable. National security can nowadays be threatened by seemingly domestic crime.

9. There is much information gathered by Intelligence agencies that is not about enemies or potential enemies, that is not gathered clandestinely, that is not gathered by spy satellites and spies, which can therefore be usefully shared between and among friendly countries or organizations. I also do not mean that intelligence gathered clandestinely cannot be shared if and when necessary, pursuant to policy objectives.

10. The point is that in Africa, situations which are now threatening the lives and interests of all, could have been prevented or mitigated had information on what was happening been shared and consultations undertaken on the basis of that intelligence. This could have led to timely action.

11. I am of course, speaking in the context of United States of America-Africa relations. Since the United States has much greater capacity to gather information than African countries put together, it can usefully share some of it in the conduct of its relations with them as a collective. It is a matter of approach. It is in the mutual interest of the United States and Africa to prevent conflict in and among African states, as I have said.

12. This can be done by timely consultation based on shared information or intelligence. This consultation could be at the continental or regional level or both, regarding perceived threats of conflict of one kind or another.

13. By continental I mean the African Union level and by regional I mean at the level of Organizations such as Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS), Common Market of East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Southern African Development Community (SADC).

14. What I have in mind is the United States coming up with information in its possession on a worrying situation in a region and asking what can be done to prevent the situation from deteriorating. This way, the continent or region or even individual countries would be caused not only to acknowledge the existence of the threat to peace, but also and above all, forced by the question to come up with a suggestions regarding action.

15. By the time action becomes urgent; various courses of action will have been canvassed if not agreed. Above all, suspicion about the motives for acting will have been precluded and the need for continental or regional action placed squarely on the shoulders of the Africans so that they can act as they did in Liberia and recently in Darfur. When that happens they will be receptive to assistance from outside.

16. Timely action based on shared and therefore corrected information is likely to make extreme measures such as military intervention, either unnecessary or rare or limited and more effective. There is an element of public relations here.

17. When the United States comes up with a proposal for action by the Africans, without prior consultation and information sharing of the kind, I have in mind, it is often either misunderstood or resented on grounds that it wants Africans to do its bidding even when the proposal is accepted as sound and valid.

18. I am a member of the Advisory Board of Transparency International and so I appreciate the transparent way the United States often conducts its Foreign Policy. However, there are cultural considerations that must be taken into account when dealing with Africans as with Asians. When a proposal is to be made to the African Union or an African region or country, Africans prefer and expect it to be announced after it has been made to them; the making of the proposal public could be made by both sides the same day.

19. When the President or Secretary of State announces details of what he is going to say to Africans, on departure from the United States, so that they are discussed by all and sundry here before they are presented, Africans feel belittled. I am told Asians also tend to feel humiliated and their reaction is sometimes coloured by this perceived condescending behaviour on the part of the powerful United States.

20. When proposals that are to be shared with us are shared with the press here first, we tend to recall the statement of our Kith and Kin in the United States, to the effect that “we may be black but we are somebody, we may be poor but we are somebody.” That mood is not facilitative of the achievement of the United States Policy objectives and therefore should be avoided if possible.

21. Admittedly, there are factors that militate against early consensus on issues of United States-Africa relations that have nothing to do with the content or style of United States-Africa Policy. These are personal rivalries between individual African leaders, between countries and between regions.

22. We, Africans ourselves, have to work on this one. We are not yet free and frank with one another. That is why there has been neither rejection nor acceptance of the proposals regarding Africom. I do not know of any Sub-Saharan African leader who has rejected those proposals outright, and yet I do not think the U.S. has received clear answers regarding the communication facilitation equipment. I suspect the phenomenon i.e. rivalry is also behind the continuing arguments as to whether we Africans go for all or nothing with respect to seats on the Security Council.

23. Finally, regarding Africom itself, I very much endorse and welcome its establishment. The US has always had military and strategic relations with African countries. I am told this was done under the auspices of the European command. We are not appendages of Europe and therefore it is logic that the institutional structure of the United States Government should reflect that. It is right and proper that there should be sub-divisions of the US Government that are openly designated as African for dealing with African issues.

24. I think these are the few thoughts I wanted to share with you, namely:
• The necessity to share information otherwise known as intelligence;
• The efficacy of timely consultations based on shared information;
• The existence of cultural sensitivities on the part of Africans;
• The existence of psychological sensitivities of Africans given our smallness as countries and the bigness of the US;
• The internal rivalries between individual country leaders, between countries and between regions, all of which colour reactions to policy proposals to a lesser or greater extent;

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