South African Minister Pandor Speaks ”Truth to Power” in U.S.

South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Grace Naledi Pandor

March 30, 2024

South Africa is under attack by the self-proclaimed international rules-based order, which is another name for the Anglo-American establishment. Naledi Pandor, who is the equivalent of the Foreign Minister for South Africa, in her visit to the United States, is challenging their geopolitical doctrine that erroneously views the world as a zero-sum game composed of only victors and victims.

South Africa is being assaulted in the United States Congress for its right to conduct its sovereign foreign policy with other nations. Congressman John James (R-MI) has spearheaded the passage of legislation H.R. 7256  through the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which alleges that South Africa is a threat to the national security of the U.S.

H.R. 7256  Section 3, sense of the Congress (1)

that the ANC’s foreign policy actions have long ceased to reflect the stated stance of nonalignment, and now directly favor that PRC, the Russian Federation, and Hamas, a known proxy of Iran, and therefore undermines the United States national security and foreign policy interest.

The mis-named U.S.-South Africa Bilateral Relations Review Act, with bipartisan support has passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and can now advance to a full vote of  to the House of Representatives.

According to this nefarious legislation, South Africa’s alleged “offences” include:

  • Courageously bringing to the United Nations International Court of Justice, the genocidal behavior by the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamim Netanyahu against the Palestinian people of Gaza.
  • Remaining in continuous dialogue with nations of the so called axis of evil; Russia, China, and Iran.
  • For participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • For being a leader of the Global South and Non-Aligned Movement that provides an alternative to the diseased ideology of zero-sum geopolitics. .

In a March 21, press release from his office, Cong James writes: “South African officials have made a miscalculation by aligning themselves with Russia and China. It is in our national security interests for the United States to review our relationships with nations that may not share our values and align themselves with such actors.

This disgraceful piece of legislation, which attacks Minister Pandor personally, reflects the animus towards a nation that does not accept the absolute authority of the “rules-based order.” South Africa is being targeted by the United States, not for any single action it has taken, but because South Africa will not submit to the dictates of the Western political-financial elite.  South Africa, other African nations and those of the Global South will rightly understand this legislation as a full scale violation of South Africa’s sovereignty.

Minister Pandor, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC, March 19, 2024

Speaking Truth to Power

Into this environment, Minister Pandor challenged the precepts of geopolitical thinking in Washington, displaying courage, morality, diplomatic adeptness, all with a quality of grace and dignity, rarely seen in the U.S. Capital.

On March 19, I had the privilege of observing Minister Pandor in her discussion at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and afterwards at an inter-faith dialogue at the South African embassy on ending the war in Gaza.

The event at Carnegie entitled: Are South Africa-U.S. Relations at a Turning Point? A Conversation With Naledi Pandor, was conducted by Dan Baer, Carnegie’s senior vice president for policy research. Baer’s argumentative attitude reflecting the prejudices of Washington, was constantly challenged by Minister Pandor, as can be seen from the partial transcript that follows.

Baer began by asking Min. Pandor to rate American political leadership. She responded, shockingly: I rate it at 6 for executive and below that for the legislature…. I’m not sure the legislators have an understanding of South Africa…. I think they make conclusions about South Africa’s international relations, without necessarily speaking to us. And this is very troubling…. If I were to make a statement about their policy, I would at least speak to us first, and attempt to understand, the cause, if any, might be of an emerging dissonance.

Regarding the United Nations, Min. Pandor said: I think we need to look at the composition and the functioning, and the capacity associated with having a Security Council. I think we should have African presence as permanent members…. I also think East Asia should have a presence. I think India being so big and not being a part of the permanent members is an odd reality….

Continuing on the UN, she said: we don’t need more multilateral bodies to replace the United Nations, but the UN needs to be reformed to be more than a monitoring body…. We need to consider the [UN] capacity for peace enforcement. We have to find a way of protecting innocent people when there’s a conflict.

Minister Pandor participating in an interfaith dialogue (South African Embassy, March 19) with representatives from Jewish, Christian and Muslim organizations opposed to Israeli’s war in Gaza.

Baer asserted that: the BRICS invited six new members, four of which are authoritarian regimes.

Pandor stood her ground, responding: Who makes these judgments? This assessment that you’re making…

Baer interrupted her, saying: You would challenge the premise that Iran, for example, is an authoritarian regime?

Min. Pandor: Is it your role to make that judgment?

Baer replied: I don’t think it’s me, uh, saying that. It’s widely regarded by most people….

Min. Pandor: I don’t know if they are an authoritarian regime. I do know that—

Baer interrupted: The minister of South Africa does not know if the regime in Iran is authoritarian?

Min. Pandor: I don’t have that definition in my logbook. I do have a concern about women, and their rights in Iran, and this is something I have discussed with the government of Iran, particularly my colleague, the foreign minister…. And to use our [South Africa’s] earned democratic success to say this actually works … because if we stop talking with everybody, because we define them in a particular way, I think that the models we have adopted would not have any meaning…. We use our post-apartheid progress as a way of exemplifying for others that we think this is a good practice to adopt.

Baer: It’s difficult to make the argument that South Africa’s example is available to people in Iran or China, or in Saudi Arabia….”

Min. Pandor: We’re not a perfect democracy by any means…. We have huge problems of poverty … which derive from our history … which we have not been able to fully address as an emerging democracy. But I do believe that there is a strength in being able to speak with everyone, because if you close off, I don’t think you achieve anything.

International Court of Justice (Courtesy of Al Jazeera)

The discussion was contentious again when Baer criticized South Africa for bringing the charge of Israeli genocide against Palestinians living in Gaza, to the International Court of Justice, and not against Russia for the war in Ukraine.

Baer: What did South Africa intend to accomplish by bringing its case to the ICJ on Gaza? And how does South Africa square that with abstaining on UN resolutions with respect to Russia’s aggression to Ukraine? You compellingly spoke of the need for the UN to respond to the killing of innocent civilians, and certainly that’s happening in Ukraine. How does South Africa see connecting those two positions?

Min. Pandor: On Gaza, and what we hope to accomplish, the first thing is to stop the killing of innocent Palestinians, and what we’ve seen, what each of us watches every day, surely makes us horrified about ourselves, and our inability to stop that. So, we hoped that through the ICJ, through respect for it…as one of the international law institutions that through the provisional measures … would reduce the harm…. We knew that we may not stop the conflict in its entirety, but if we could reduce harm to the civilian population and get humanitarian aid in, we would be happy.

Min. Pandor: Provisional measures have been ignored by Israel, we’re seeing mass starvation now, and famine before our very eyes…. I think as humanity we need to look at ourselves in horror…. Speaking of Israel’s defiance to adhere to any law… there’s license, I can do what I want, and not be stopped…. The minute you allow something like this, then what you’re doing is setting in play a form of practice that will be very difficult to challenge in the future. We went to the ICJ, because we have always been told by those who know democracy better than us, that we must respect human rights, that we should respect UN institutions, that we should practice democracy, that we should end conflict in Africa. And so, we were merely practicing what is preached to us every day….

Min. Pandor: It behooves us to say, how do we find a better way…. It’s made more difficult by the most powerful countries in the world, because the impression that’s created is that it’s the weak who must respect, the weak should implement and the powerful can do what they want.

Min. Pandor: How do the powerful contribute to the greater good? What role is being played to ensure all of us hold up the highest standard? We’re the country that remains talking every week to both [Russia and Ukraine]. That’s saying we’ve got to get you in the same room. We participated in all the working groups, on the peace plan of President Zelenskyy. And we’ve now said, we think there has to be a meeting with Russia….

Talking of South Africa’s aspirations for the continent, Min. Pandor said: So, we do try to be good. But we don’t get it right all the time. … I believe we’re making an effort. And for us, the first prize would be in Africa to silence the guns, focus on development, industrialization, productive capacity, and achieving a livelihood for the majority of Africans, that places us in a different space of development. That is first prize, and first concern for us.

I completely concur with Minister Pandor: development, industrialization, and improving the livelihood of Africans is the first prize!

In the videos below, once can view Minister Pandor’s articulation of South Africa’s policy.

Read my earlier posts:

South African Minister Pandor Articulates Principles of Development for Africa

Int’l Court of Justice Rules Genocide Plausible: Netanyahu & Biden Losing Support

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

On “Talk Africa” Freeman Discuses Geopolitical Attack on South Africa and Value of AGOA

Watch the discussion on Talk Africa from February 22, 2024

February 27, 2024

Talk Africa above, I discuss that the geopolitical faction in the United States is targeting South Africa because it will not submit to being controlled by the so called international rules-based order. South Africa is a important nation in Africa, a member the BRICS, and a leader in the Global South. It maintains close economic relations with China and has strong political ties with Russia. Sadly the U.S. executive branch, and the Congress, focus on countering China and Russia, but lack a consistent positive US-Africa policy,

Talk Africa below, I discuss that AGOA is insufficient to meet the needs of Africa. It is not transformative, and does not address the massive poverty and infrastructure deficits that hold back the economic development of African nations. There is only one valid measure for true economic progress: the increase in the per capita material standard of living of Africans.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

Non-Aligned Movement Spreading Across The Globe

Bandung 1955, Nehru of India, Nkrumah of Ghana, Nasser of UAR/Egypt, Sukarno of Indonesia and Tito of Yugoslavia

January 25, 2024

Western media and governments, led by the United States are attempting to dismiss the growing dynamic by the “Global South” to chart an alternative path of development free from Western domination. In Washington DC, one can witness the palpable fears of de-dollarization, the rise of China’s leadership in the developing world, the expansion of the BRICS, and the declining dominance of the U.S. hegemon.

Below is a report by EIRNEWS of the recent meetings by the Non-Aligned Movement and the Third South Summit, organized by the G77+China, in Kampala, Uganda.

Representatives of the entire “Global South” have been meeting for over a week in Kampala, Uganda at two back-to-back summits on the central topic of creating a world system which is fair and just, in which their nations participate in making the decisions on how that system functions, so that their peoples, too, can develop.

The 19th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit, held Jan.15-20, was followed Jan. 21-22 by the Third South Summit, organized by the G77+China, the grouping of developing countries founded in 1964 to jointly defend the collective economic interests of its members on major international economic issues at the UN and its relevant institutions. Members in the two groupings strongly overlap but are not synonymous. The NAM, with its historic roots in the 1955 Bandung Conference, today has 120 member nations from Africa, Asia and Central and South America, 20 observer states, and 11 organizations (such as the African Union and the Arab League). While it still keeps its original name, the G77+China now has more than 130 member states.

The theme of the G77 summit was “Leaving No One Behind.” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni “called on leaders in the world to support each other’s prosperity and ensure that no one is left behind.” He asked the central question of the day: “I wonder why global economic actors fail to understand that the prosperity of the entire world population benefits everyone, instead opting for policies that keep the majority in poverty.”

The Kampala Declaration issued at the end of the NAM Summit has a fighting tone. Targeting, for example, evil imperial practices which violate the sovereignty of nations protected under international law and the UN Charter, such as imposing coercive sanctions on nations.

And right from the outset of the Declaration, the right of Palestine and Palestinians to exist is asserted as their fight, as they reaffirmed “the importance of the Question of Palestine to the Non-Aligned Movement.” Expressing grave concern at “immense loss of life and injury, widespread destruction of their homes and massive forced displacement” being imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israel, and the violence against the people of the West Bank, they take note of the case against Israel for genocide against Gaza filed before the International Court of Justice by South Africa, “a member of the movement,” themselves “strongly condemn the illegal Israeli military aggression on the Gaza Strip, the indiscriminate attacks against Palestinian civilians, civilian objects, the forced displacement of the Palestinian population and further call for an immediate and durable humanitarian ceasefire.” 

Read PD Lawton’s post below:

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

Freeman Tells Xinhua: U.S. Officials Lie About China’s Belt & Road Initiative-BRI In Africa

Chen Mingjian, Chinese ambassador to Tanzania, speaks at an international symposium to mark the 10th anniversary of China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Aug 25, 2023.(PHOTO / XINHUA)

(BRF2023) Interview: BRI greatly contributes to Africa’s infrastructure development, says U.S. expert

Source: Xinhua, Editor: huaxia

October 24, 2023   

Staff members work on the fiberglass production line of Jushi Egypt in Suez, Egypt, June 26, 2023. (Xinhua/Wang Dongzhen)

Speaking of the groundless accusations and malicious attacks by some U.S. politicians on the Belt and Road Initiative, Freeman, an American expert on Africa, said claims that China conducts the so-called “debt trap diplomacy” have been repeatedly proven false by Western experts.

by Xinhua writers Deng Xianlai and Xu Yuan

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) — Lawrence Freeman, an American expert on Africa, said in a recent interview with Xinhua that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has made important contributions to improving global political and economic relations since its inception a decade ago, especially on the African continent.

He believes that the severe shortage of electricity is the most intractable infrastructure problem facing Africa, which not only exacerbates poverty, but also “kills” Africans.

“This is not a metaphor,” Freeman said, because without electricity, industrial and agricultural production and basic infrastructure such as hospitals would be impossible. China is actively working with many African countries to address this issue, he added.

Belt and Road projects in Africa cover energy, ports, airports, roads, railways, schools and other aspects, Freeman said, and it is a proven fact that China’s involvement in Africa’s infrastructure construction and economic and social development “is right now irreplaceable.”

As an expert on Africa, Freeman has advised many governments in sub-Saharan Africa on economic development policies and has witnessed several Belt and Road projects on the continent.

“One economic minister in Africa once told me: ‘If you take China out of Africa, there is no substitute that would step in,'” he said.

For years, Freeman has been vehemently advocating for the African Union’s visionary Integrated High Speed Train Network, which is a flagship project of the AU’s “Africa 2063 Agenda” adopted in 2015 and, when finished, would connect African capitals and commercial centers. As such, Freeman is particularly impressed by the several high-standard railways China helped build on the African continent.

This photo taken on Aug. 21, 2023 shows the Karuma dam at Karuma Hydropower Plant in Kiryandongo, Uganda. (Photo by Hajarah Nalwadda/Xinhua)

In 2016, Freeman attended the ceremony marking the inauguration of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti electrified railway — an early harvest project of China-Africa production capacity cooperation — in Addis Ababa, capital city of Ethiopia. And his decades-long dream of taking a train in Africa was realized on a Chinese-built railroad in Nigeria.

“Of the 30 years I’ve been traveling to Africa, I finally got a ride on a railroad in 2021,” Freeman said, adding it was on the railway linking Abuja — the Nigerian capital — and Kaduna, a northern metropolis and a major transportation hub in the country.

“I’ve driven that route on a poorly paved road,” Freeman recalled. With the completion of the Abuja-Kaduna railway, “I could sit back on a train … It was comfortable, it was smooth … I enjoyed every second of it because I’ve been waiting for decades to take a train in Africa.”

Speaking of the groundless accusations and malicious attacks by some U.S. politicians on the Belt and Road Initiative, Freeman said claims that China conducts the so-called “debt trap diplomacy” have been repeatedly proven false by Western experts.

“China is not intervening into domestic affairs (of countries along the Belt and Road),” he said. “China lends money with no conditionality.”

“Yet we have ignorant people in the U.S. government, in the State Department, in the Congress who repeat this” (false rhetoric) about China’s Africa policy, Freeman said.

Some U.S. diplomats and members of Congress have repeatedly discredited China’s Africa policy, throwing out “unfounded or ignorant attacks on China” despite “having access to knowing better” what the reality is, he noted.

“They’re repeating something that is known to be untrue. So that is no longer ignorance. That’s deliberate disinformation,” Freeman said.■

Read Chinese translation

Read my earlier post: “Win-Win Cooperation” Is Our Goal for China-U.S. Relations

Also read: “BRI provides solid platform for global cooperation” chinadailyhk.com

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

“Pan African Visions” Freeman Interview: The Newly Expanded BRICS Has Indelibly Changed The Universe-Ethiopia and Africa

Pan African Visions

The addition of Ethiopia with over 115 million people, and Egypt with over 105 million people strengthens Africa’s hand in BRICS , says Lawrence Freeman.

For almost three decades, Lawrence Freeman, an American Political Economic analyst for Africa has been voicing critically against the west’s approach towards its economic relation with the developing world especially Africa. After creating his website entitled, www.lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com he has been lobbying for economic interventions that liberate Africa from poverty and has been suggesting ways that African policy makers should adopt in order to sustainably address the economic problems of Africa. During his latest interview with The Ethiopian Herald in connection with the BRICS summit in South Africa, he said that he is happy to see one of his dreams, for which he fought for about a generation, has come true. Enjoy reading the detail!

September 26, 2023

The interview below is reprinted from Pan African Visions

Read: BRICS-alliance-challenges-the-old-order

Question: How The BRICS Alliance Challenges The Old Order

Lawrence Freeman: The addition of Ethiopia with over 115 million people, and Egypt with over 105 million people strengthens Africa’s hand in BRICS , says Lawrence Freeman.
For almost three decades, Laurence Freeman, an American Political Economic analyst for Africa has been voicing critically against the west’s approach towards its economic relation with the developing world especially Africa. After creating his website entitled www.laurencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com, he has been lobbying for economic interventions that liberate Africa from poverty and has been suggesting ways that African policy makers should adopt in order to sustainably address the economic problems of Africa. During his latest interview with The Ethiopian Herald in connection with the BRICS summit in South Africa, he said that he is happy to see one of his dreams, for which he fought for about a generation, has come true. Enjoy reading the detail!

Question: How do you see the course that BRICS has passed through so far?

Freeman: The BRICS now has already emerged and is now accelerating its institution as an alternative to the western view of the world, and the Western political economic system that gives now called a new rules based international order. And that unipolar Western domination is now ending. And the BRICS is a very strong, emerging alternative. And as you know, an additional six countries have been invited to join the BRICS beginning 1st of January 2024. And of those six countries, Ethiopia is one of those countries, and Egypt is another. And therefore, out of the 11 nations, that will be BRICS members three of them will now be from Africa. So, this is very good news for Ethiopia, for Africa, and for the World Development.

Question: Two more African countries are now invited to join BRICS. How do you see the representation of Africa in the bloc?

Freeman: What is clear now is the addition of Ethiopia, which is over 115 million people, and Egypt, which is over 105 million people. You’ve now two very important countries added to the bloc, the second and third most populous countries of the African nations, and together with the existing member of South Africa.

So this is a very powerful representation, because these countries represent very significant pillars of the African continent.

Now, Ethiopia has been a leading nation in terms of driving economic development, not only in the country of Ethiopia, but really implicitly for the whole continent. Because of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is going to produce 5,150 megawatts within two years. This dam will also lead to a great development in the Horn of Africa, East Africa, and Nile Basin nations.

Egypt has also been expanding its economy. It’s building nuclear power plants. It has built industrial complexes along the Nile River. And so these two additions, plus South Africa, which is the most industrialized nation on the continent, these three represent a very significant force for change and economic development in Africa. And the BRICS now has made it clear that they’re going to build the New Development Bank (NDB), which was set up after the BRICS; the NDB is going to be increasing its lending and 30% of its new lending will be in local currencies. So what we’re seeing is the domination of the dollar and the domination of the rules based order are now being said really weakened.

And we’re already in or approaching to the post unipolar Western dominated world. And BRICS is going to be one of the most central institutions in making those kinds of dynamic changes for world economic development. And of course, for Africa, with the level of poverty that exists on the continent, this could be a game changer.

Question: Do you think there will be a confrontation with other contending blocs now that BRICS is expanding by more than double?

Freeman: There is the danger of the West, taking measures against the BRICS, they have been organizing against the BRICS consistently. In fact, I found it very revealing that even days before the BRICS summit, which was the 22nd 23rd, and today to 24th, the whole western establishment in Western media was talking about how unimportant the BRICS summit was, and how it was much to do about nothing. And of course, they were just expressing their fear. Because if you ask China and other countries, they will tell you that they need oil. But they’re not just taking oil, they are building infrastructure and expanding the markets.

And the West has basically lost a level of its thinking capability, because rather than adjusting itself to these new developments; they’re trying to maintain the old developments. If, these BRICS countries, that are now growing to 11 increase the trade among themselves, if they’re increasing the investment among themselves, if they are building important infrastructure, manufacturing capabilities, and expand their markets, that each one of them can be selling to the other then it is given that the thing is going to be more and more dominated outside of the dollar, it’s going to be conducted in local currencies. So, if the West, my United States, was more intelligent, we would be oriented toward also being part of the changes but the geopolitical mindset have always been on top and is in control, and the hegemony is preventing the west from thinking clearly.

The BRICS is a reality; just like the Belt and Road Initiative is a reality. It’s not going to be put back in the bottle, as we say. And it’s a potential for real growth, and energy for infrastructure and energy for manufacturing development projects.

Development is the most important aspect of Africa’s relationships with the BRICS, says Lawrence Freeman.

It would be beneficial to all the countries involved, and the sooner the West, and the Secretary of State Blinken and President Biden and others wake up to this new reality, the better the world would be. We are facing a dangerous situation in Niger, West Africa, which I know well, is a sign of the same dynamic that you’re having. West African countries are rejecting colonialism; the French control over their economy, and are also rejecting military intervention. The coups are driven by the fact that the country is poor. One has to know the fact that there is only 3% of the Niger population accessing electricity. Less than 50% of the African continent has electricity access. Development is the most important aspect of the relationships with the BRICS. And the West does not or refuses to understand this vivid fact.

Question: How should African countries work in collaboration with BRICS as an alternative source of finance, market?

Freeman: One good thing is, they’re now going to be capable of having access to loans from the BRICS New Development Bank, and the NDB set up in 2015. So now this NDB is going to increase its loan portfolio. And it means that these countries may have an opportunity to get these loans. Now, these loans do not contain the conditionality that the IMF and World Bank attaches with. And the mindset of the BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, is the global south has to be developed.

The BRICS has already represented about a third of the GDP worldwide, about 40% of the global population. So, both those figures are going to increase. So, the reality is that the African nations are joining a new dynamic in a world that is going to offer them with the new opportunities. Don’t forget, Africa is suffering; people are dying every day, because of a lack of electricity, and a lack of manufacturing capability. Those two things had been denied to the nation’s economies of Africa, this now gives an opportunity to change. But the West has never wanted to see this kind of economic development, in manufacturing, in particular, and electricity. Those two things are addressed along with a plan for high speed integrated rail, which I’ve also written about it on my website, those things will change or transform the African continent, and this is the way to eliminate poverty.

And if you eliminate poverty, you can eliminate instability. The reason is a lack of security in many countries, especially on the Sahel is because there’s no development, because people live like beasts, forced to live that way without the basic qualities of life. And so if you transform that, you can transform the entire political economic security situation. So, Egypt is all the way up in the north of the continent. It has an effect on the whole Sahel region. Ethiopia is right there in the center of East Africa, is the largest economy in East Africa. This could obviously affect a number of countries, Kenya, Djibouti and Sudan. And then you have South Africa in the very tip in the south. And if we expand the relationships, if we build the high speed railroads, if we expand the electricity, if we build manufacturing centers, we can see a whole different Africa.

Now, the BRICS, can’t do that overnight. But as they expand their lending capability, and also complementary is the Belt and Road Initiative, over a period of time, we can see a significant change in the lives of Africans and that their material standard of living. So now, three of the 11 nations of the BRICS are African nations, because that’s already a very sizable bloc within the BRICS itself. So I’m very optimistic about the potential and I’m very happy and excited for Ethiopia, because Ethiopia, if it gets this kind of new economic relations with the BRICS, then more of the desire and potential of Ethiopian economy can be realized, which is what I’ve been advocating for over 10 years.

Question: What kind of challenge do you expect for the newly invited countries in the course of joining BRICS?

Freeman: They will become official members of BRICS in about four months. And what we need to do for Ethiopia, especially all the countries involved in Africa, is long term low interest. What I mean is 2% to 3% long term interest rates on 15 year loans, government backed loans, or government supported loans for infrastructure. We need to be building an additional 1000 gigawatts of power on the continent. We need to have a high speed rail system that connects every port, every major city, every major industrial center, and every major agricultural center, connects the continent so that we can do the merger of Africa. Failing to have this infrastructure and have this manufacturing capability is the biggest weakness which is observable now. And only 13% to 15% of trade from African countries is among African countries, they’re exporting 85%. The African countries are importing 40 billion and plus dollars’ worth food commodities. The fact is that there is no reason for Africa to become self-sufficient in food. But Africa also needs the infrastructure, and it needs manufacturing.

So there’s a lot of potential, how aggressively would the BRICS proceed, I don’t know. But if they’re going to proceed as aggressively as possible, in effect, Africa can become a different place. All in all, the changes that are going on in West Africa are really part of the same process. The rules based order is no longer, hegemonic. The world is not unipolar. And therefore, that gives us potential for transformational change in Africa.

Question: How do you think developing countries including Africa maintain their ties with the west in the middle of the possible rift that could happen between BRICS and the other blocs?

Freeman: I suggest African countries have to understand this. There is no reason and there’s no benefit to attacking the West, head on. What these countries will be doing is that they will maintain their relations with the West. But they will not be forced to submit to the conditionalities of the West. And they want to drive out the last vestiges of colonialism. So, you have the French controlling 14 countries’ economies in Francophone Africa to a new form of colonialism. We have 1500 French troops in Niger, we have 1200 American troops. We have six bases in just Niger alone, that we’ve helped build. We’ve spent billions and billions of dollars on the so called counterterrorism.

What we now have to do is we have to spend billions and billions of dollars on development. So the African countries will say, we are open to working with everybody.

We will work with the West, we will work with the Global South. But we’re going to only work in ways that build our nations.

Lawrence Freeman backs calls by South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor for African countries to prioritize investment that also boosts local production

You had a very interesting statement from Naledi Pandor, who is the equivalent of foreign minister of South Africa last month when she met with her counterpart from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, [ And she said do not accept any investment that does not include manufacturing in your own country, and I agree with her 110%, then there should not be. The African nations now also have to expand their energy. And that means they should burn and use their natural resources. That means coal; that means oil; that means gas; that means hydro. And it means expanding nuclear energy, with the help of Russia, China and India will help in this regard. And they have to be and they’re not going to accept the dictates of the bank, the Western banking system that says, No, we’re not going to lend you money, unless you stop burning fossil fuels. And the African countries have said clearly, we are going to go ahead and burn our fossil fuel because we need energy to keep our people have a fulfilling life. So I don’t think the Asian countries in general are not going to be confrontational, but they no longer have to submit to the dictates of the rules based order.

Question: What do you think the countries of the West should do to maintain their relations with BRICS and developing countries?

Freeman: This is a very interesting question I’ve been writing and speaking about this. The problem that the West has, take the United States, for example, is that it is dominated by a geo political ideology. And this ideology says that the world is fixed, doesn’t grow. And therefore, the only way for superpowers to exist, they have to be on top, they have to be in control, called the zero sum game, everything has to add up to zero. So if I’m on top, you’re going to be on the bottom. If I am on the bottom, then you’re going to be on top. And this mentality is completely destructive. Now that mentality, that ideology, which is perverse, in my view, is under attack, because the reality of the universe we live in, has changed as you and I have been discussing.

So now, the world as a result of this BRICS summit and the changes in the BRICS configuration is a new factor in reality. It cannot be changed back in the west now, either they have to become aware of that and reflect on your policies and change their policies to pro development policies for these emerging markets, or the West will be left out of it or gets to military confrontation. So , can the West adjust? Can the West, think? Can people like the Secretary of State Blinken and Biden, think and reflect that the policy they’ve been advocating has failed? I don’t know if they’re going to do that. But that’s what they have to do. If they want to remain relevant in the world, and not push the world to military confrontations or impossible nuclear wars we’re seeing with Ukraine and Russia, whether they will actually have the ability to rethink and understand the errors of the ways is a very interesting question are going to see over the next several months, but the reality has changed, and that fact, can no longer be denied as much as the media would like to.

Now the 11 nations in the BRICS are representing larger and larger portions of the world economy in the world’s population, a large percentage of those almost 30% now of African nations, this represents a new reality. This represents a new dynamic. As we speak, the world has already changed. So now we have a new potential. And it is up to leaders of these African nations, and leaders of the BRICS, and leaders of other global south nations, to make these new realities, new potentials come about to realize that and to organize them around a new paradigm of economic order for development. And that is something very exciting. Something I’ve been fighting for 30 years, and I’m very happy to see the progress we’re making. And the reality has now changed as of today.

Thank you very much for your time!

You’re most welcome!

Culled from the September Issue of PAV Magazine and published Courtesy Of ZEKARIAS OLDEMARIAM, THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD SATURDAY 26 AUGUST 2023

Read my earlier post: BRICS Offers New Potential for Africa & The World: The Human Race Will Benefit

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com.

Everything You Are Not Being Told About Africa & Why It Matters

Watch my discussion with Mel K

September 5, 2023

Please watch this excellent interview with Lawrence Freeman conducted last month. You will enjoy it. Topics discussed:

  • What does the coup in Niger reveal about the failure of Western policy for Africa?
  • Why economic development is a human right?
  • Is the Western political and financial oligarchical elite brain dead or can they change in accordance with reality?
  • Why is the West scared of the newly expanded BRICS?
  • Why is China’s policy towards Africa superior to that of the West?
  • Is Africa on the verge of an economic-political breakout?
  • Are Western leaders smart enough to modify their failed policies.
  • Will Africa have too many people? Can there be too much human creativity?

All of this issues and more are discussed in a conversation with Mel K that you wont see anywhere else.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com.

BRICS Offers New Potential for Africa & The World: The Human Race Will Benefit

August 26, 2023

The just concluded BRICS Summit in South Africa, has changed our planet and implicitly the universe. This change cannot be reversed. It is the consequence of adding Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Argentina to the BRICS, beginning in January 2024. This expansion of the BRICS to eleven nations, which already comprised 40% of the world population, and is expected to reach 32.1% of the global GDP this year, larger than that of the G-7 nations, cannot be disregarded. It is a new reality for our civilization. Obviously, as a result of its doubling of participating nations, the BRICS will experience significant growth beginning next year.

The new expanded BRICS definitely ends the control by the West’s “rules-based order.”  There is now an alternative global institution not under the thumb of the so called advanced sector nations and their IMF-World Bank financial system. A new global potential has emerged, one rooted in the commitment by “South -South” nations to fully develop their economies. The BRICS, unlike the geopolitical ideologues of the West, will bring forth a new paradigm of development in political-economic relations among nations.

A new dynamic now exists on our planet which is the culmination of the progression of the BRICS from its initial embryonic form to a universal institution. The BRICS came into existence in 2009 , and its own New Development Bank, five years later. Despite all the naysayers, critics, and those who called this recent BRICS Summit “much ado about nothing.” The BRICS is here to stay and is expanding.

We should all take a moment to celebrate this accomplishment, but not for too long. We have to get back to work, and make sure we realize the full potential of this new factor of change that has altered our universe. To my friends and collaborators, who have labored with me to improve the living conditions of the people of Africa, I anticipate a special joy, knowing that in a few months, three of the eleven BRICS nations will be from the African continent.

“BRICS expansion game changer for Africa” Lawrence Freeman

THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD, ADDIS ABABA, August 26, 2023

The invitation of Ethiopia and Egypt to BRICS membership gives Africa a very powerful representation in the new bloc and could be a game changer for the continent, says American political economy analyst.

“This is very good news for Ethiopia, for Africa, and for World Development”, added Lawrence Freeman, a political analyst of African affairs.

He further explained that he is optimistic and excited over Ethiopia’s membership of the new bloc as this kind of new economic relations with the BRICS would help it obtain more resources to realize more of its desire and potential of economy.

“This is what I’ve been advocating for over 10 years” Freeman noted.

According to him, the BRICS expansion is a new paradigm or dynamics in the world while the changes that are going on in West Africa are also part of the same process, Freeman stressed.

Out of the 11 nations in the BRICS, a bloc that represents larger portions of the world economy and the world’s population, almost 30% are African nations; this represents a new reality or a new dynamic.

The rules based order is no longer, hegemonic and the world is not unipolar, he noted adding “that gives us potential for transformational change in Africa”

The African nations and the whole global south no longer have to bow to the rules based order, according to Freeman.

The BRICS is now accelerating its institution as an alternative to the western view of the world and the Western political economic system that gives a new, rules-based international order.

“And we’re already approaching the post unipolar Western dominated world. And BRICS is going to be one of the most central institutions in making those kinds of dynamic changes for world economic development” Freeman indicated.

Concerning the way African countries can benefit from the expansion of BRICS membership, he said that it is up to leaders of these African nations, and leaders of the BRICS, and leaders of other global south nations, to make these new potentials come about to realize that and to organize themselves around a new paradigm of economic order for development.

And the BRICS now has made it clear that they’re going to launch an expansion of their New Development Bank, the NDB, which is going to be increasing its lending. And 30% of its new lending will be in local currencies. Freeman further noted that African countries are now going to be capable of having access to loans from the do not contain the conditionality that the IMF and World Bank loans do.

“And that is something very exciting. Something I’ve been fighting for 30 years, and I’m very happy to see the progress we’re making. And reality has now changed as of today” Regarding the future ties of BRICS, developing countries with other blocs, Freeman stressed that the changes in the BRICS configuration is a new factor in reality and cannot be changed back.

Therefore he noted, the West now has to become aware of that and reflect on their policies and change their policies to pro development policies for these emerging markets, he reiterated.

 BY ZEKARIAS WOLDEMARIAM

Read my full interview below

Watch my discussion on the significance of the BRICS Summit


Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com.

To Prevent More Coups Like Niger: Eliminate Poverty in Africa

(Curtesy of voanews.com)

August 7, 2023

While the Western World, in particular, was shocked by the July 26, 2023, coup in Niger, I was not. This is now the fifth or sixth coup, (depending how you count) in the Sahel and Western Africa, following Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Sudan, and Chad. Sadly, more coups may follow, unless we face the truth, and change Western policy. The primary underlying cause for these coups, is poverty, resulting in despair and desperation in the population. We should be clear that Russia may benefit, but they are not the cause of Africa’s coups. It is obsessive reliance on kinetic counter terrorism programs in the Sahel, all of which have failed, that drives policy makers to repeatedly fail to see the error of their ways. Niger’s coup should make it obvious to the architects of U.S.-European policy for Africa, unless they are brain-dead, that a radically new course of strategic thinking is required. Promoting economic development is the most vital element of a new strategic policy for Africa, and the Sahel in particular.

Remember Mali

For those of us who have been involved in Africa for decades, remember the Malian coup in the Spring of 2012. Prior to the removal of Malian President, Amadou Toure, by the military, Mali was touted by the West, as the show case of democracy and stability. It was viewed as a strong ally of the United States, with their armed forces trained by the U.S. The immediate trigger for the collapse of Mali, was the disastrous  decision to overthrow the government of Libya and assassinate President Omar Gaddafi by President Obama, and his assemblage of war-hawks (witches); Susan Rice, Hilary Clinton, and Samantha Power. Obama’s October 2011 regime-change of a stable Libyan nation, unleashed hell across north Africa and the Sahel with thousands of armed Tuaregs and violent extremists set loose to occupy weak state regions and ungoverned territories. Similar to U.S. support of Mali, Secreatry of State, Antony Blinken, made a special visit to Niger in March 2023, to strenthen U.S. backing for another nation in the Sahel.

Why Niger?

With the end of French-Afrique well on its way, particularly with the French being kicked out of Mali, and the failure of the French anti-terrorist military deployment in the Sahel, known as Operation Barkhane, the U.S. designated Niger as the center of its counter-terrorist operation in North Africa.

At the time of the July 26 coup of Nigerian resident, Mohamed Bazoum, by his presidential guards, there were 1,500 French troops and 1,200 U.S. troops based in Niger. Additionally, the U.S built its largest drone base in Africa, Air Base 201, at the cost of over $110 million dollars, to provide intelligence and surveillance in the U.S. campaign against violent extremism. Estimates are that the U.S. spent almost half a billion dollars training the Nigerien armed forces.

Chris Olaoluwa Ògúnmọ́dẹdé insightfully reports in worldpoliticsreview/niger-coup:

Last week’s coup in Niger caught much of the outside world by surprise, given the country’s image as a relatively stable outlier in a region beset by frequent upheaval. Many outside observers found it hard to understand how President Mohamed Bazoum, a seemingly well-regarded leader believed to enjoy popular legitimacy, was overthrown by the armed forces. But if foreign observers were stunned by Bazoum’s toppling, it did not come as a shock to many Nigeriens, and not solely because of their country’s history of military coups.

To begin with, tensions between Bazoum and the army’s top brass and senior Defense Ministry officials were well-known to Nigeriens. Bazoum was also ushered into power in 2021 by a controversial election in which a popular opposition candidate was barred from running and that featured allegations of electoral malpractice. The protests that followed were marred by at least two deaths, many more injuries and mass arrests. And harsh crackdowns on recent public protests against the rising cost of living and Niger’s security partnership with France likely did little to assuage Nigeriens’ concerns.

Claims of an improved security landscape in Niger amid the fight against Islamist jihadists are also open to debate. But beyond the vagaries of statistical analysis, many Nigeriens simply do not believe that their lives have become safer and more prosperous, and seemingly favorable comparisons with their neighbors are no consolation. Niger remains one of the world’s most impoverished nations

Security, economic progress, and social development are necessary to sustain public support for any system of government, including democracy. (Emphasis added)

Development Not Understood

During the years of the Obama Presidency, members of his administration would repeatedly and publicly lecture me that “we don’t do infrastructure.” Now, in the two and a half years of Joe Biden’s Presidency, both he and Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, openly espouse  that the overarching intent of U.S. policy towards Africa (and the rest of the world) is to export “democracy” and “ good governance.” They believe, that only when nations embrace and commit to implement their constructs, will they be allowed to join the “rules-based international order.” 

A July 17, 2023, opinion by the Editorial Board of the Washington Post reveals, unintentionally, the tragic flaws of the Biden-Blinken policy towards Africa.

As we have argued in this space before, the Biden administration should compete with Russia’s aggressive maneuvering, as well as China’s, for influence in Africa by focusing on what the United States does best: building the infrastructure of democracy. That takes time. But in the long term, it is the key to ending chronic instability and crippling poverty (sic), reining in corruption, and jump-starting economic development.

There is only one thing wrong with this policy; it is no damn good! Stability, peace, and democracy are dependent on a population that is prosperous, educated, and secure. Without economic development, these goals will not be achieved. If the tens of billions of dollars that was spent on kinetic counter-terrorism programs to diminish violent extremism, had been deployed for building infrastructure, the Sahel would be in far better shape than it is today. Electricity, roads, railroads, water management, farming, and manufacturing are essential for the wellbeing of a nation.

Without a continuously rising stanard of living for its people, Niger, like many other African nations, will not achieve peace, and stability. The physical economic improvement in the material existence of the lives of the population is not optional, not secondary, but a primary-essential requirement for a nation state’s continued existence.

The failure to comprehend these fundamental concepts is at the crux of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Western political-financial elites and their inability to design a successful strategy towards Africa.

Listen to my 20 minute PressTV interview on Niger.

Read my earlier post:

My Thoughts: Poverty & Ethnicity Kill Democracy in Africa

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

China & Freeman Agree With The African Charter: “Economic Development is a Human Right”

June 24, 2023

The concept that economic development is a fundamental human right has been rejected by the United States, the United Nations, Europe, and all Western institutions, including  Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). This failure to understand the essential, vital importance of promoting real-physical economic growth in developing nations has prevented the West from achieving its goals for  human rights, good governance, and democracy, if they are even truly sincere about these objectives.

I concur with Zhang Weiwei when he writes: China has politically recognized poverty reduction as not only a human right, but also a core one…, in his column, China’s poverty eradication and implications for global human rights governance.

Zhang Weiwei is right: The United States has never considered poverty eradication as a human rights issue. I might add that the United Nations has officially refused China’s request to list economic development as a core human right.

However, contrary to the UN and U.S., the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, correctly states in Article 22:

All peoples shall have the right to their economic, social, and cultural development…States shall have the duty…to ensure the exercise of the right to development.

China has succeeded in lifting three quarters of a billion of its people out of poverty; a feat that the Western financial institutions could not accomplish with their monetarist policies. This has been achieved through a dedicated effort by the Chinese government over several decades. Should not concerned nations in the West, collaborate with China to eliminate poverty worldwide, as a shared common mission?

U.S. Has lost Its Vision for Development

As the U.S. vision for the world has shrunk and its culture corrupted, we have produced no statesman, much less a visionary leader, who can articulate a policy for uplifting humankind. There are no Kennedys, Roosevelts, or Lincolns, in the political class of America today. As a result, the notion of developing other nations, (much less our own) has virtually vanished from the American lexicon, and U.S. strategic policy. Tragically for the U.S. and the rest of the world, the diseased doctrine of geopolitics has become the dominant ideology in formulating foreign policy. In this warped creed, might makes right, and the desire to remain on top dominates, in a belief structure of a fixed zero-sum world. In this perverted mind-set, what drives a nation’s foreign policy is the thirst to maintain its power.

Demands for so called human rights, good governance, and the insistence for Western structured democracy, are not only terribly flawed, but in fact, have been used  as weapons to bludgeon nations into accepting the dictates of the “rules-based international order.” This is the new term for geopolitical control by the West, with its unipolar view of the world, following the demise of the Soviet Union. China and Russia are wrongly viewed as enemies of the U.S. However, it should be understood that China and Russia China, along with an increasing number of nations in the expanding non-align movement are indeed a threat to the hegemony of the “rules-based order.

BRICS is emerging as an alternative to the “international rules-based order.” Ocotober 2019. (Courtesey of wikapedia)

Again, I agree with Zhang Weiwei: “Only through development can poverty be eliminated, and the root causes of many conflicts be removed.” Allow me to extendthis line of reasoning by stating unequivocally: poverty is the enemy of human rights, the enemy of democracy, and the enemy of peace and stability.

Democracy and human rights are a cruel illusion: when almost half of one’s nation lives in poverty; when the majority of the citizens have no access to electricity; when mothers have to search for food each day to feed their children; when the lack of productive jobs forces young men and women to hustle for survival in the informal economy; and when families believe they have no long term economic security for the future.  

Democracy is more than voting every four years. Democracy requires that its citizens have the material standard of living and leisure time to inform themselves  so they can intelligently discuss and debate national policies that will impact the present and future of their nation. Electing candidates who will offer a meaningful and dignified life for its people, and hope for the future, requires a society with a culture that fosters a thinking citizenry. What makes us human is our creative imagination that allows us to discover the laws of the universe. Thus, each human being should have a rising standard of living that provides for one’s material needs and the freedom to nurture the creative potential of their mind.

Why isn’t the right to electricity a human right? Why isn’t the right to have a productive job a human right? Why isn’t the right to a quality education a human right? These omissions from the mantra of the “rules based order,” and the U.S. State Department, are glaring and fatal.

Common Aims of Humankind

A nation’s foreign policy towards other nations is clear and elementary, if one understands this crucial principle: all people share a universal similarity as members of the human species, who are uniquely endowed with the potential of creative reasoning. Thus, the interest of each nation is the same: the material and spiritual development of each of its citizens. Therefore, it is in the self-interest of each nation to cooperate with other nations to foster the enrichment of the mind, soul, and body of every human being. From this higher understanding of civilization, we redefine a nation’s relationship to the rest of the world, away from geopolitics to one of collaboration in creating a new paradigm based on economic development

President Franklin Roosevelt, and Prime Minister Winston Churchil, Casablanca Morocco. 1943, (Courtesey of the National War II Museum)

It has not always been the case that U.S. foreign policy towards developing nations excluded economic development. President Franklin Roosevelt was appalled at the conditions of Africans living in British controlled colonies. Prime Minister Churchill was furious when President Roosevelt confronted him with this ugly reality. Elliott Roosevelt, President Roosevelt’s son, who was present at many of his father’s meeting with the Prime Minister, reports in his book, As He Saw It, their diametrically opposed view on colonialism.Elliott Roosevelt recalls a heated conversation, when his father told Churchill, that after the war he intended to dismantle the British Imperial system. President Roosevelt also told his son of his intention to help turn the Sahara Desert green with vegetation.

Sixty years ago, a young President, John Kennedy, reversed his predecessor’s  aloofness towards Africa, and embraced the newly independent African nations. He made a commitment to assist in modernizing and industrializing their underdeveloped economies. This was most evident in President Kennedy’s agreement with Ghana President, Kwame Nkrumah, to support the construction of the Volta River Dam project. To this end, the Kennedy administration provided a $40 million loan for the hydroelectric dam and bauxite smelting manufacturing facility to produce aluminum.

President Kennedy invites President Kwame Nkrumah to Washiongton DC, March 8, 1961, for the first State Dinner of his new presidency

When in the last five decades has the U.S. led any effort to assist an African, or developing nation, in significantly expanding its manufacturing capability?

In examining whether a nation’s foreign policy is successful or not, the criteria is  obvious, and one that I have long ago adopted. Does it result in an improvement in the conditions of life? Does it lead to a reduction of poverty? If it does not, the policy should be discontinued, and replaced with a strategy to increase the production of physical economic wealth for the benefit of the people.

It is well past time for the “rules-based order” to be replaced with principles that benefit humankind. Principles are always superior to rules.

Read my earlier post: My Thoughts: Poverty & Ethnicity Kill Democracy in Africa

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

U.S.A.’s Last True Statesman: Pres. John Kennedy’s Strategic Avoidance of Nuclear War

President Kennedy speaks at American University June 10, 1963

Today, I post an article below, written by my colleague, Nancy Spannaus, creator of the website: americansystemnow.com

It is urgent that all citizens of every nation read in full: President John F Kennedy’s Speech at American University, June 10, 1963 .

The world is approaching a new danger of expanding wars, that could lead to nuclear destruction. Tragically, today, and in recent decades, the United States, is no longer led by great Presidents, statesmen, and strategic thinkers. In the U.S., we have no elected officials from either party with the qualities of leadership to navigate the world through our present crisis.  There are not even any poor lilliputian sized  imitations of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, or John F Kennedy to steer the U.S. in these troubled waters.

The current President Joe Biden, and his Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, are infected by the diseased world outlook known as geopolitics. This geopolitical zero-sum doctrine dictates to the mindless, that the U.S. must remain on top, while all other superpowers must remain underneath. The so called rules based order is driving the U.S. closer and closer into confrontation with Russia. President Biden, and U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, have foolishly declared China our number one enemy, and are preparing for a future war with China, of which there is no cause.  

Absent from the mental constraints of geopolitics is any positive notion of a shared-common interest of mankind. We don’t need rules, we need principles, which articulate the common aims of development that are in the self-interest of every nation.

Today, on the 60th anniversary of this profound speech, let us reflect on the words of our beloved, departed president, John Kennedy, as he spoke to the nation and the world in a time of crisis, with the passion  of reason, not of war.    

JFK Delivers a Vital Message

By Nancy Spannaus, June 5, 2023

“Nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war.”

June 4, 2023—When President John F. Kennedy took the podium at the commencement address of American University on June 10, 1963, he was about to deliver one of the most consequential speeches of his presidency. He had a vital message to deliver, both to the Soviet Union and to the American people.

JFK Delivers a Vital Message
President Kennedy speaks at American University June 10, 1963

Kennedy’s central topic was peace, world peace. Having experienced the eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with the Soviet Union called the Cuban Missile crisis (November 1962), the President was more committed than ever to finding an alternative to war. He had, of course, not abandoned his lifelong, and often strident, opposition to communism and its expansion. But, as an avid student of history, a combat veteran, and an experienced strategist, he had concluded that a new approach to the super-power conflict was needed.

I believe that Kennedy’s message is coherent with the best of the American System tradition, especially that of Abraham Lincoln and his lead general Ulysses Grant. While totally dedicated to defense of their nation, both understood the need for understanding and respecting the perspective of the “enemy,” and creating a peace that would benefit all sides in the conflict. (cf., the Gettysburg address) His approach also sharply contrasts with that of our government today.

I urge you to read the full American University speech and ponder it. Then send it to your congressmen; send it to the President; repost its message wherever you can. Demand our elected representatives read it: it is their duty to do so.

In the post below, I highlight some of the key elements of Kennedy’s June 10 speech, all of which challenge what has become accepted policy today. It should be noted, as well, that as a result of this speech, the Soviet leadership changed its policy toward talks on nuclear arms control, agreeing to discussions which ultimately resulted in the signing of a treaty a few months later.

Examine Your Attitudes

The core of Kennedy’s speech called on Americans to re-examine their attitudes on three key issues: the possibility of peace, the Soviet Union, and the “cold war” itself.

On the first, the President took aim at the view that world peace is impossible, and war is inevitable. The following paragraph is exemplary:

We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade–therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable–and we believe they can do it again.

He proceeded to outline an approach characterized by practical steps, what he called the “process” of peace.

JFK Delivers a Vital Message
A statue in devastated Stalingrad after Nazi bombing.

Next, Kennedy called for people to examine their attitudes toward the Soviet Union. I quote a key section:

As Americans, we find communism profoundly repugnant as a negation of personal freedom and dignity. But we can still hail the Russian people for their many achievements–in science and space, in economic and industrial growth, in culture and in acts of courage.

Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war. Almost unique, among the major world powers, we have never been at war with each other. And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union suffered in the course of the Second World War. At least 20 million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and farms were burned or sacked. A third of the nation’s territory, including nearly two thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland–a loss equivalent to the devastation of this country east of Chicago.

The President went on to say that it is both the United States and the Soviet Union which would suffer the greatest devastation if war broke out between them. And both sides would benefit from the establishment of peace. He concludes this section thus:

So, let us not be blind to our differences-but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.

JFK Delivers a Vital Message
An image of Hiroshima after the nuclear bombing, a small foretaste of what nuclear devastation would look like today.

Finally, Kennedy urged Americans to re-evaluate their attitude toward the cold war. The two relevant paragraphs go as follows:

Let us reexamine our attitude toward the cold war, remembering that we are not engaged in a debate, seeking to pile up debating points. We are not here distributing blame or pointing the finger of judgment. We must deal with the world as it is, and not as it might have been had the history of the last 18 years been different.

We must, therefore, persevere in the search for peace in the hope that constructive changes within the Communist bloc might bring within reach solutions which now seem beyond us. We must conduct our affairs in such a way that it becomes in the Communists’ interest to agree on a genuine peace. Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy-or of a collective death-wish for the world. (emphasis added)

Will anybody listen?

There is no evidence that large numbers of the American people, or policymakers for that matter, carried out the re-evaluation that President Kennedy demanded.  There was no popular upsurge demanding arms control or other such negotiations. But with Kennedy in the Presidency, it was nonetheless possible for some progress to be made.

Today, however, with the exception of a recent ad by the Eisenhower Media Network in the New York Times, there is very little prominent dissent from the prevailing line in both political parties that demands precisely the “humiliating retreat” which Kennedy warned against. Any legitimacy to Russia’s concern about NATO expansion, for example, to its borders is denied.

A memorial of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, erected on the battlefield in 1912. JFK echoes Lincoln’s approach to the “enemy.”

One wonders what our Washington policy analysts would have to say to Kennedy’s argument.  Times have changed, they would obviously say. Yes, indeed, they have. Among other things, it is the United States and its military allies deploying offensive nuclear weaponry at the border of Russia, not the Soviets doing the same in our backyard.

But contrary to a prevalent line today. Russia is still a pre-eminent nuclear power with the ability to wipe us, and many other nations, off the face of the earth. Should any sane person be crowing that the fact that Russia has not “gone nuclear” means it’s wielding “empty threats?”

Sixty years after President Kennedy’s American University speech, it’s time we re-evaluate our attitudes once again.

Read in full: President John F Kennedy’s Speech at American University, June 10, 1963

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton