Daniel Whitman of the U.S. State Department Speaks About U.S Policy in Africa
Web Editor - Published: November 24, 2008
On Thursday, November 20th, a substantial audience of students, faculty, and staff filled the Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom to hear Dr. Daniel Whitman, Deputy Director of the Bureau of African Affairs in the Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, speak on “U.S. Policy in Africa: Theory & Practice.”

Professor Patrick Kelly offered a brief introduction, thanking the Delaware Chapter of People to People for their help in arranging for Dr. Whitman to speak, before declaring, “Today we are very privileged to have with us Dr. Daniel Whitman, who has spent much of his career in Africa.”

Dr. Whitman opened his remarks with a quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower about how there are some individuals who stand in the way of efforts at peace. He also noted that the United States suffers from a perception problem around the world that puts added importance on diplomacy, before discussing the colonial system that led to the creation of the African countries, and how many westerners doubted that these African countries could make it.

“You can’t fix a problem unless you have the courage to say what it is,” asserted Dr. Whitman as he discussed the importance of seizing opportunities for communication and engagement with the rest of the world. “If you can assist a country in establishing itself, it is much cheaper in the long run than providing humanitarian aid,” he added. Diplomatic relations have many benefits, and, “We have an enormous amount to learn from Africa,” he concluded.

Dr. Whitman discussed the general values and goals of the State Department’s diplomatic mission, as well as specific efforts in Africa, including AGOA, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and AEI, the African Education Initiative. He also enumerated some of the challenges ahead on the African continent for the new administration to deal with, including genocide in Darfur, the tense border conflict between north and south in the Sudan, and the ongoing civil war in the Congo.

After concluding his remarks, Dr. Whitman fielded questions from the audience, including one about what the State Department was looking for in prospective employees. Other questions focused on the efforts of other G8 countries in Africa and how effectively the money set aside for aid to Africa was being used.

Dr. Whitman has served in the State Department for more than 20 years, serving in locations such as Denmark, Spain, South Africa, Haiti, and Cameroon. He is the author of five books including A Haiti Chronicle, the Undoing of a Latent Democracy 1999-2001. Dr. Whitman earned his PhD in French from Brown University, and he was a Fulbright lecturer at Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville, Congo from 1980 to 1981.