WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 -- The office of Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, issued the following floor remarks about Rwandan President Paul Kagame and the U.S.-Africa foreign policy:
"Mr. President, I am going to talk about something that is different than anyone else has talked about here, but there is a very good reason for it. The first is to establish some credibility here. I've had occasion to spend quite a bit of time working on issues in Africa. In fact, I've had occasion on over the last 23 years to make 156 African country visits, that's a lot of African country visits. We have friends there--I personally have friends there--intimate friends. We've worked on a lot of the military concerns that they've had, but this is an area where we have very close friends.
"And so, I'm going to be singling out one close friend, but not to the detriment of the rest of them because we have many close friends. Certainly as many as 32 country presidents and prime ministers that we've been very close to. But, there is a reason for singling out one particular individual, which is Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda. And the two reasons are: First of all, he will is going to be coming in as the Chairman or President of the African Union. The second thing is he has survived the Rwandan genocide which, arguably, could be the greatest genocide of all times. On the 28th of January he will become the President and Chairman, I guess, of the African Union.
"Now this is nothing short of a miracle. Rwanda is a miracle, and we have Paul Kagame and the people of Rwanda to thank for it.
"In 1994, one of the most atrocious genocides ever perpetrated occurred in this small East African country.
"For a period of about 100 days, nearly one million Rwandans were slaughtered. As is always the case, the seeds of genocide were planted many decades before. But when it all finally started in April 1994, many thousands of Hutus used machetes and clubs to slaughter Tutsis. Those are the two tribes that people are very familiar with.
"In most cases, it was neighbors killing neighbors--even some family members--the horror was just unimaginable. Fathers and mothers were forced to watch their children be hacked to death. One man was forced to beat his wife to death in order to spare their seven children from being tortured to death.
"Many Rwandans who were lucky enough to survive remember watching their parents and siblings being murdered.
"One person--in fact, this would be kind of a last minute though--but there is one individual--her name was Immaculte. She wrote a book and the name of the book was Left to Tell. And that's something that you can really get an idea of what happened. The fact that there were people in her own community trying to kill her. They killed 70 percent--70 percent--of that entire tribe.
"The world just watched as this slaughter happened and did nothing--despite having United Nations peacekeepers stationed in Rwanda and they were ordered to withdraw. Our president was Bill Clinton. He did nothing. The world just stood by and watched.
"The horror was stopped only because of one man. That one man was Paul Kagame.
"In October, 1990, Paul Kagame led a group of young Rwandan refugees from Uganda whose parents had fled the country's mass violence three decades before. Now, you have to keep in mind, that was Uganda. The president there is President Musevini. President Museveni and President Paul Kagame both actually came from the bush. They were good friends and he went up there for refuge to try to save his Rwandans at that time because he saw the genocide coming. And what's even more amazing about Rwanda is their leader What's even more amazing about Rwanda and their leader Paul Kagame is what happened after this.
"You see, Rwanda had two very different paths it could have taken
"They could have either just taken revenge. Paul Kagame could have taken the new strength that he had, the new power that he had and he could go after the other tribe that was there, the Hutus, and he could start another genocide of his own. That could have happened.
"The other thing he could have done was the path of forgiveness and reconciliation. This is the path of hard work, where the Tutsis who survived the genocide would have to learn how to forgive and live alongside the same Hutus who killed their family members. This is the path of rebuilding a nation from the ground up so that together they could have a common future.
"We now know which path Rwanda chose. President Kagame led them down the path of reconciliation.
"There are a lot of people who helped make this happen One of the individuals I happen to, personally, be very fond--he is deceased now--but it was Chuck Colson, remember him. He was--he spent time in prison--he started the Prison Fellowship and was very actively involved in the reconciliation process.
"In many cases, the Hutus who committed genocide against a Tutsi family would seek forgiveness from that family and then achieve reconciliation by building a home together for the Tutsi survivor to live in. Though this may seem like a small gesture, but to the people it allowed the healing and forgiveness process to work.
"Together, the Hutus and the Tutsis are rebuilding their nation as Rwandans working together. I had one experience that I watched them after this happened. My wife called this to my attention. We had a bunch of the Hutus and the Tutsi women that were working. They have, in Rwanda, they build a certain kind of a basket that's different from any other country. So, after the reconciliation, there they were. The Hutus and the Tutsi young women were making these and then the ingenious of Paul Kagame. He worked out a deal with several department marketing areas in the United States. Macy's is one of them. And so, they started selling this stuff. It was a great boom for them.
"He should be credited, Paul Kagame, for this amazing transformation of a nation divided by hate to a thriving, successful country; and this transformation is paying great dividends.
"I was in Rwanda most recently in October, and I've been there a total of eight times in the last few years. Each time I go there I'm surprised by what I see. Let me just mention five things that are unique to Rwanda:
"First, there's not a piece of litter anywhere in Rwanda. People can't believe--there, anywhere in Africa or any other country, the United States--there's nothing. In fact, the last Saturday of every month, they have a program where they go through and everybody joins together and they pick up every kind of bit of trash and everything else. That doesn't sound like very much, but you sure notice the difference when you're there.
"The second thing that is different about them is their infrastructure. Rwanda is known as the Land of a Thousand Hills. They don't have any level areas in Rwanda. I remember, not long ago, going for an hour and a half in between the hill area and the mountain area on a road that was paved--perfectly paved. It was one you'd you'd expect to find to be in the United States. But, it was a highway that you'd expect to find anywhere except in Africa. They are known for this because Rwanda is different.
"Third, their people are hard workers. I mentioned that there aren't any flat areas out there. Every square inch of Rwanda is used to grow something--from the bottoms to the peaks--were being farmed. Tea, coffee, potatoes, and other crops are all being cultivated across the entire country. And that's hard work--they do it mostly by hand, but because of this hard work they're able to feed themselves and export the more valuable crops abroad.
"Fourth, it's safe. You wouldn't expect a country that has gone through the most devastating genocide, maybe in history, to be a safe place to walk around. And it is. You can walk there at night and, I'll tell you, it is safer than Washington, D.C.
"Fifth, the economy is booming. Everywhere you look in Rwanda, construction is happening. In just the last few years they've built new hotels, a convention center, and now they're working on a new airport to facilitate all of the growth in tourism and business they're enjoying.
"And these are just my observations. But President Kagame's leadership has is not just resulting in visible changes--the numbers back up what I've seen. Since he became president in 2000:
"Rwanda has experienced a GDP real growth of eight percent. Now this is kind of interesting because here we are, through our tax bill, going to be increasing our GDP here in this country and there is a formula that no one disagrees with and that is that each one percent growth in the GDP that develops a trillion dollars over the period of ten years of increased revenue. This is not the United States, this is Africa, and eight percent GDP growth. It's geared toward the poor people and that's why the population has just lifted people out of poverty.
"Rwanda has dramatically improved its ease of doing business. The World Bank recently ranked Rwanda #1 for doing business in East Africa, #2 in Sub-Sahara Africa, and #41 in the world. That's remarkable when you consider that in 2008, Rwanda was ranked 150th in the world for doing business. Today you can start a business and get all of the necessary permits to operate within a few days.
"Rwanda has become a model for gender empowerment. Rwanda's constitution requires that 30 percent of decision-making positions be awarded to women, but today over 60 percent of Rwanda's parliamentarians and 40 percent of its cabinet positions are filled by women, including my good friend Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo and Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana.
"Rwanda has facilitated the development of technology that no one would expect in Africa. Rwanda enjoys a nationwide fiber optic infrastructure that will ensure 95 percent of its citizens have access to high speed 4G internet. Further, it is integrating drone technology into its health care system to ensure vital supplies like blood can quickly reach patients all over the country.
"Rwanda has transformed its healthcare system. Life expectancy is now 64.5 years. In 2000, it was just 49. All that has taken place just in the past two years. Child mortality rates are down more than two-thirds; maternal mortality is down 80 percent. In 2000, there was only one doctor for every 66,000 people; today there is one doctor for every 10,555 people. Between those years since this genocide has taken place, the malaria-related deaths plummeted by 85 percent (NYT 2013/09/08).
"When asked how these things were possible, the World Health Organization's country director said, and this is a quote, "The main ingredient is visionary leadership. It's about having a target, saying we want to be there in the future and understanding obstacles in the way." That visionary leader is Paul Kagame, and he gets results.
"Rwanda has established a highly capable and professional military. President Kagame actually studied at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas as part of the IMET program in the early 1990s. His military background is very professional, and as president he has required the same of his forces. In the Rwanda Defense Forces, all military orders and instructions are issued through the chain of command.
"Rwanda's plan is to have a small, well-equipped army of 20,000 with a reserve component of 100,000. Their defense strategy is to sustain a combat-ready force capable of rapidly deploying to meet varying contingences both at home and abroad and they are delivering:
"Rwanda is the fifth largest contributor to U.N. peacekeeping operations in the world. They currently have close to 5,000 peacekeepers deployed in different missions, widely acknowledged as some of the best performing and most trusted peacekeepers in the world.
"Rwanda is also a major participant in the Eastern African Standby Force (that's a battalion of 850 troops and a police contingent of 140 officers), which are on standby for contingencies in East Africa.
"The countries that have gone together are Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and of course Rwanda.
"These are the kinds of things that are exactly in line with what we should be helping them and participating and doing ourselves here in the United States in terms of policy goals for AFRICOM. We set up as a way to help Africans help Africans, to train and assist regional partners so that they will be capable of handling security threats before they become global crises. With the emergence of their peacekeeping mission, their regional cooperation, what we hoped would happen is happening and Paul Kagame is the reason Rwanda is leading the way. Rwanda is a clear example of what a strong, strategic partner should look like to the United States.
"And it's not just me saying this. Rwanda is recognized around the world for its professional force. In fact, Rwanda's defense minister was among the few leaders who spoke at the United Nations Peacekeeping Ministerial in November in Vancouver, Canada.
"Because of these amazing accomplishments, President Kagame is widely viewed as one of the most influential heads of state on the continent of Africa.
"Many leaders and observers praise him and his record.
"Benedict Oramah, president of the African Export-Import bank said "[Rwanda] is a country that was all but written off some two decades ago. But just like the phoenix that died and arose from its ashes, it emerges to become the shiniest star on the continent. The shiniest in terms of governance, in terms of the can-do spirit, doing those things that nobody ever thought was possible."
"The head of the World Health Organization's Africa department said "I want to recognize [Rwanda's] remarkable leadership - its creativity, tenacity and resolve--which have delivered significant progress in advancing health and development for the benefit of all your people. Your achievement in such a short space of time are truly remarkable."
"Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, widely seen as an African elder said, "Rwanda has made difficult trade-offs. But as an African leader, I tell you that I would make the same trade-offs."
"And yet his influence is recognized more clearly not by what has been said about him, but by what his peers have asked him to do.
"In July 2016, Kagame was selected by his peers to lead the effort to reform the African Union to make it more effective. He did not use this opportunity to raise his own profile. Rather, he used it to build consensus and cast a vision for a future Africa that is no longer reliant on aid from outside nations. Within months, he developed a reform package focused on four categories.
"The first thing: the African Union must be focused on key priorities with continental scope (as opposed to regional). He wants the AU focused on fewer, but bigger issues that affect everyone on the continent.
"The second thing: the AU must be connected to its citizens. He envisions doing this by establishing women and youth quotas across its institutions and by identifying appropriate ways and means to ensure the private sector, parliament, civil society, and citizens are participating in the process. He also wants to make the Africa passport available to all citizens, allowing a free flow of people among the nation states.
"The third thing: the business of the AU must be managed effectively and efficiently with accountability--the Rwanda way.
"The fourth thing: to charge the member states with providing all of the funding necessary to operate the African Union, without the assistance of outside donors. He envisions doing this by imposing a 0.2% tariff on eligible imports. While not all observers agree, I admire this vision of seeking ways to ungrip themselves from the assistance of other nations to fund their government activities.
"So that was his plan. But what cements his status as an influential power broker in Africa is that at the AU's next meeting, in January 2017, his peers at the AU affirmed the recommendations and charged him with actually implementing them.
"Once again, African leaders unanimously decided to trust Kagame. They chose him as the best leader to put reforms in to action.
"So far, a number of the proposals have already been implemented. About half of the nation states have already implemented the most difficult part of the plan - they've imposed the 0.2% import tariff and forwarded the proceeds to the African Union to fund its operations. They now have real skin in the game. More and more nations are getting on board, and Rwanda is leading the way.
"To further cement his standing in influence, in July 2017, Kagame was selected by his peers to Chair the African Union in 2018. And here it is, 2018.
"With genocide, Rwanda has a dark history. But because they chose the path of forgiveness and reconciliation instead of revenge, President Paul Kagame has had--and used--his national platform to be an agent of friendship and reconciliation between nations that don't normally trust one another. Let's take a look at what he's done:
"First, he and the state of Israel have a similar past - both have been the victims of genocide.
"Many African nations--about half of them--are Muslim majority countries.
"President Paul Kagame has used his influence in the region to facilitate Israel's desire to re-engage in Africa.
"Indeed, Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel referred to Rwanda as "the indispensable bridge on which [Israel] marched to return to Africa." And in just the last two years, Prime Minister Netanyahu has been welcomed in several African capitals.
"At the United Nations, Rwanda has put itself at risk of widespread criticism in order to stand up for what is right. In 2014, Rwanda rotated onto the UN Security Council. While there, Rwanda abstained from an anti-Israel resolution so typical of the United Nations, and when he did this they blocked it from moving forward, preventing the United States from having to veto it.
"More recently, Rwanda was one of the few nations not to vote against the United States on the vote condemning our decision to move our Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Rwanda is willing to take a stand for what is right, keeps its word, and does not shake with fear at the possibility of intimidation.
"Kagame has also brought about the restoration of broken relationships with Africa.
"In 2016, he led the push to invite Morocco back into the African Union. The problem was that Morrico was very rich Western Sahara was very poor. Because of that advantage that they have, they have been not willing to come to the table. And Morocco has been the only country that can be considered an African Country that is not part of the African Union. What did Paul Kagame do? He brought them in to the African Union. He has been able to convince both the African Union and Morocco to join so they can get together and get something done.
"But did this effort sour the relationships of Kagame? No--in fact the impact has been just the opposite. Earlier this month, former German President Horst Kohler, the UN envoy for resolving the Western Sahara--Morocco dispute, traveled to Kigali to appeal for Kagame's help to resolve the situation.
"The UN recognizes the important steps Kagame has taken to bring Morocco into the African Union as an important step in resolving the problem. But it's not just Morocco where Kagame has made a difference. Let's look at Sudan.
"Sudan and South Sudan used to be the same country. Finally, South Su7dan has been trying to gain their independence. They finally did gain their independence and this started a civil war.
"President Paul Kagame is neck deep in helping resolve that conflict as well. Rwanda has peacekeeping troops in both countries and the Sudanese and South Sudanese forces do not target--but protect--Rwanda. They trust Rwanda's military because they trust Kagame.
"It's tempting to think that Rwanda is a small country in the middle of nowhere that does not have a lot of influence. But that would be a mistake. Because of the results Kagame has been able to secure for his people, and because of the personal relationships he has developed, Rwanda is among the most influential countries in Africa.
"Consider the fact that when Kagame was inaugurated to his third term, no fewer than 22 heads-of-state from across Africa attended the festivities. The leaders of African nations who normally fight with one another were actually seen embracing one another live on TV. That doesn't just happen for no reason. It happens because they all trust and admire Paul Kagame.
"With all of this, it's no wonder that African leaders are increasingly looking to Rwanda and Kagame for vision of how to move forward into the future.
"According to one reporter, the "Rwanda model" is becoming a hallmark phrase in Africa. Simon Allison writes "In Africa's...corridors of power - in the boardrooms of its banks, in closed-door Cabinet meetings, in donor discussions and interminable governance conferences - it is repeated like a mantra: 'The Rwanda model. The Rwanda model. The Rwanda model.'"
"Kagame is advancing a vision of African leadership that is no longer reliant on the aid of outsiders. He wants to move his country--and the whole continent--away from dependence on foreign aid into bustling free market economies that enable the people to take care of themselves.
"In fact, he recently complained to his fellow peers at an African security summit that they have relied too much on the international community to deal with their problems. "A major pillar of institutional reform of the AU is a more focused and assertive Africa" that is focused on solving its own problems. He's added, "We must take responsibility for ourselves, which doesn't exclude partners but they add to our efforts." (Fredrick Ngugi - Face2Face Africa).
"Last March, while speaking in London at the Wall Street Journal's Investing in Africa conference, Kagame said "I want to see Africa get its act together" so that it is not reliant on Western intervention in its affairs.
"He sees a future Africa that is more autonomous and capable of taking care of itself and its problems. It is this kind of vision that his peers are gathering around.
"But we shouldn't misunderstand it. Kagame is not saying that Africa should have no involvement with the United States or the West - far from it. What he wants is to have a peer-to-peer relationship instead of a donor-based relationship. He wants legitimate business relationships between customers and suppliers to spring up among African businesses and with other international companies, including those in United States.
"In Kagame's vision of the new Africa, African nations will have cooperation on security, anti-terrorism, and trade agreements with their friends, partners, and allies. He wants to end the days of reliance upon foreign governments to solve their problems.
"Many leaders in Africa have desired this kind of change, but few have had the position, influence, or clarity of focus to articulate it with the kind of passion and persuasion of Paul Kagame. And there are far fewer that have his kind of record of improving the lives of his own people in the way that he has.
"And this is exactly the kind of partnership that the United States should have with our friends and allies in Africa.
"For too long, the United States has had the wrong policy toward African nations. And most Americans still think there is only one country on the continent--Africa--than the 54 independent states that make it up.
"U.S. Policy toward Africa should be different. Our policy should be a partnership approach that focuses on helping Africans help Africans with three key components: Security, Trade, and Diplomacy.
"Security. The United States security goals in Africa should be focus on training and equipping key partners to be capable of addressing regional and continental terrorist threats that could ultimately affect the United States and addressing regional security threats that develop in the region so that the US Military does not have to engage on a significant level.
"This is the goal of AFRICOM; it was designed for this express purpose, and we are increasingly meeting these goals and objectives. Where we lack on this front is resources, and it is one of my key priorities to secure additional resources for AFRICOM moving forward as I outlined in a Wall Street Journal editorial in November 2017.
"The second thing is trade. Our trade focus in Africa should be focused on developing free trade agreements with African nations so that we have a reciprocal, peer-relationship with our African trading partners.
"Fortunately, this is already the statutory policy of the United States.
"In 2015, a ten-year extension of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act was signed into law. This is an appropriate policy for the near term, but long term it is not because we need to have the same kind of access to African nations as we provide to them. But in this law, it explicitly states that the policy of the US is to pursue Free Trade Agreements with African Nations.
"In my travels to Africa, I've seen many countries that are ready for Free Trade Agreements. But the bureaucracies over here in Washington do not agree. They just say they aren't ready - but they never elaborate why.
"So I introduced the African Free Trade Initiatives Act, which does two things. First, it requires US Trade Representative to articulate what African countries need to do to get ready for trade agreements with the United States; and
"Second, it requires the United States Trade Representative to coordinate with Millennium Challenge Corporation and USAID so that their aid dollars are focused on projects that will help prepare them for Free Trade Agreements with us. These provisions have since been signed into law.
"So the bureaucracies have all of the tools they need, but they aren't willing to use them because they do not take Africa seriously; they do not view them as peers. They look down on them because they are small. But this is a shame because the economies in Africa are growing faster than any other region in the world.
"Then there's diplomacy. Our diplomatic focus in Africa should be focused on building relationships and alignments with countries we can trust, who share our values, and who will help us influence the rest of the continent (and the world) to be favorable to the United States.
"For too long, we have ridden on a high horse throughout Africa. We have been quick to chide them for the mistakes they've made, and we've been slow or completely negligent in recognizing their accomplishments.
"Take Rwanda as an example, I've already articulated the miracle they've experienced. But when the people of Rwanda decided to amend their constitution to allow President Kagame to run for an additional term, the Obama Administration condemned them. They publicly shamed Kagame for the country's actions and doubled down when he ran for re-election.
"The Obama Administration did not have a category for a democratic process that was different from ours; they did not have a category for a new nation needing stable leadership for a longer than expected period to ensure the country's transition out of genocide was successful. The Obama Administration did not respect the democratic process of Rwanda simply because they did not agree with it. The Obama Administration also failed to recognize the amazing progress Rwanda has made to improve their economy and the health and education of their people, nor did they recognize the superb security assistance Rwanda provides in the region.
"And so our relationship with Rwanda was negatively impacted by the Obama Administration's actions.
"Rwanda does not stand alone. We have become known as an unreliable partner and friend in Africa. If we do not catch up and change our approach, our friends will find new partners, and we'll be left alone.
"It's no secret how engaged China is on the continent. They understand how important Africa is going to be in the coming decades, so they are treating African nations accordingly - as peers. China has surpassed the United States as Africa's largest trading partner. China funded the construction of the African Union's headquarters in Ethiopia.
"Their aid dollars go toward projects that are actually needed, and the projects happen much faster when compared to ours. The United States is falling behind - and at great risk.
"Between now and 2030, the economies of African nations are expected to grow by an average rate of 5% per year, meaning the total size of their economies will nearly double in that time. By 2025, the continent will have a combined GDP of over $2.5 trillion, and $1.4 trillion of that (more than half) will be consumer spending. Increasingly, Africa's growing middle class will continue to become a highly attractive business market.
"By 2034, Africa is expected to have the world's largest working age population of 1.1 billion people, which could lead to a low-cost labor economic boom similar to what was experienced in East Asia after World War II.
"Our National Security Council has noted that these demographic and economic shifts will have enormous political consequences and that Africa's role in world politics will dramatically change because of them.
"Implementing this policy will benefit our people. It will give us greater security. It will give us a stronger economy. It will add to our influence in the world long term.
"These are things we need to do, and to implement this policy effectively, we must cultivate critical relationships of influence with our likeminded friends. In the Middle East we have Israel. In Europe we have Great Britain. In Africa we have Rwanda and Paul Kagame.
"Now is our time to catch up. President Paul Kagame will soon be sworn in as the Chairman of the African Union. In him, we have a visionary leader who has accomplished great things for his country. He has also established himself as a highly influential figure among African heads of state because he has set a bold vision for a future Africa that is autonomous, self-sufficient, and open for business. This vision is 100% complementary to what the United States policy toward Africa should be.
"Recognizing this, it is my hope that the Trump Administration will embrace him and Rwanda as the American friends that they are. We need to bring Rwanda close so that we can work cooperatively with them to accomplish our shared goals. Rwanda and America are like-minded friends; we should treat them accordingly.
"Let me conclude with a story that I hope will establish my credibility to make this evaluation of Rwanda and Paul Kagame.
"Let me conclude this with a personal story. In 2000 I was called by Chris Murigande to come and speak at the inaugural National Prayer Breakfast in Rwanda. I went over and spoke. 14 years later, in 2014, we were on another trip and planned to land in Burundi before going to Ethiopia. Then, for security reasons, we weren't able to land in Burundi, and so we stopped in Rwanda instead, without any warning. We made no plans to go to Rwanda on that trip, but this time we went...no one knew we were coming.
"When we got there, as a coincidence, the morning after we landed, Rwanda was having its 14th National Prayer Breakfast. The Rwandans believed I was there to deliver the keynote address to help them commemorate 14 straight years of Prayer Breakfasts. And I did.
"The reason I tell this story is that Paul Kagame, 14 years before that happened and every year since was then leading both Prayer Breakfasts. So in addition to all of the above virtues of Paul Kagame, he is a strong man of faith. It doesn't get any better than that Mr. President."
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