Should Ethiopia reach Nuclear Power Capability or should it turn into a terrorist state to attract the attention of the United States? – Abdi Lami

June 14th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

An old friend of mine and I took our memory back to the mid1990s and early 2000s when we both were students at Addis Ababa University. Even though we were not in the same batch and pursued different professional studies, we have shared some fundamentals of campus life common to all students who undergo the processing machines of higher education institutions. Sometimes as friends and concerned citizens we shared our frustration, despair and grievance to one another about the lack of democracy, the repulsive, ever deteriorating nature of Ethiopian human rights and the toxic political landscape citizens have faced in that country.

Our frustration often goes to an extent to suggest to completely ignore politics and just to live in obscurity. This was however, a self defeating and a dangerous manifestation of hopelessness that could feed into our own professional degeneration. As we thought quitting is not a viable option and a recipe for self denial, our anger and resentment at this poisonous political reality fuel our discussions and often serves as an incentive to scramble to come up with possible scenario and solutions to our own inquiry.

In our discussions and arguments we often politicized foreign assistance and development aid industry. We frequently find ourselves excessively obsessed with the misguided west foreign policy toward Ethiopia particularly the appeasement policy pursued by the United States administration. In the course of our dialogues my friend often recalls the notorious AAU campus conflicts which were intentionally incited by the ruling parity security agents for political possible consumption. He had always been furious about these artificially inseminated conflicts among ethnically polarized student groups and the possible international reactions. He was very much optimistic about intervention particularly from the United States. In fact, he gradually recognized that the United States of America does not care and even there was a very real possibility that those skirmishes were not heard at all.

Probably we were too much ambitious and too young at the time. As we mature, learn more, widen our political scope, expose ourselves to a broader world view and get to know the international power order, however, we came to recognize that the west, particularly the United States of America does not care whether you democratize, prosper, advance, and or suffer from exclusion, subjugation, and subjected to evils of horrifying actions as caused by totalitarian regimes. In fact, massive amount of development aid has been poured into Ethiopia by donors primarily to protect and promote the national interest of the donor countries disregarding the needs of impoverished people. The United States of America cares if and only if circumstances are against its national security interests and the welfare of its people.

Several examples can be cited where the United States is particularly interested to defend and protect International peace and security and promote democracy. The United States is heavily preoccupied itself confronting the Iranian nation. Because the Islamic nation is committed to pursue its desire to acquire nuclear power and always resisted to back down to the US and UN’s demand to abandon its ambition to nuclear proliferation. For the Iranian nation to reach this level and achieve its nuclear power capability, whatsoever the nuclear power is used for peaceful or military purposes, means the national security of the United States and its closest allies are at stake. Even though several options are available to exclude Iran from international presence, strong economic embargo has always been on table to cripple its ambition and undermine Iran’s desire to become regional power. The growing influence of Iran in the Middle East means potentially a serious setback to the United States regional economic interest mainly its stake in the vast oil and petroleum resources. Iran’s nuclear weapons ownership would probably mean the falling of the nuclear weapons into the hands of “terrorist groups”, a capability that can strike the United States mainland, international and its regional interests.

The North Korean case of nuclear ownership and its controversial relation with the west particularly the United States is primarily motivated and caused by ideological divide. The communist nation is still a powerful remnant of the past socialist world order. In the 21st century, almost the entire world is organized under liberal ideology and free market principles where integration into the international trade and market is considered to be an opportunity to growth, prosper and benefit from what the world can provide. The globalization of international trade and movement of the global production factors have created an immense opportunities for multinationals corporations and international free enterprise that crash and dismantle the interests of indigenous entities and institutions. The defiance of the communist Korea to surrender to the international capitalism, in which the United States is a front runner, is a serious heart burn to the US administration and international allies. The psychological warfare and the sanctions that target and intend to weakens North Korea fundamentally reflects the desire by the United States to promotes solely its foreign policy interests but not historically to stand in solidarity with the North Korean people against the repressive and brutal communist dictator.

China is still a communist nation that is typically characterized by centralized development planning by which state monopoly and interference in every aspect of individual lives is highly reflected. However, with mixed economic policies of the Communist China the United States has been able to penetrate the Chinese vast market. Chinese companies have also a very solid ground in the United States and the economic interdependence between these nations has been growing exponentially in recent times. China is the biggest foreign creditor to the United States treasury as the US owes the Chinese government almost a trillion dollars. Whereas China is one of the world’s worst human rights offenders. The United States has always been reluctant to strongly condemn the Chinese government on this stance and the appeasement US policies towards China has always been a serious headache to the international human rights defenders. In the end, the pacification of the US government towards the Chinese government grave human rights records portrays the US’s recklessness about the Chinese totalitarian regime and US failure to pass even its own test of promoting democratic values.

For naive and innocent people like me, the invasion of Iraq by the United States means the United States is the guardian of world peace and stability with a vested interest in the promotion of human rights, democracy and social justice. Saddam Hussein was ousted and his minority government was toppled as the United States invaded the country back in 2003. Even though Saddam Hussein was undeniably one of the worst Dictators history attest, the real objective behind the US invasion of Iraq was primarily economic interest. Some credible but unconfirmed sources link high profile Royal Families in the Saudi Arabia and the United States former administrations inner circles to oil and petroleum fortunes in Iraq and the entire Middle East. Therefore, the US invasion of Iraq and ousting of the dictatorial regime could primarily be justified by reasons of not religious, nuclear weapons, political, concerns for suppression of freedom and deterioration of human rights. The United States had to meet the national security interest in terms of uncontrolled and obsessive consumption of the global resources.

In the nation where the lion share of its economy or 70% of GDP is accounted by consumption, it is barely possible to rely on domestic production. So, to meet these growing needs of its population the United States has to leave any stone unturned to dominate, control and exploit the world by creating any pretexts, and false reasons to scramble less powerful, non-complying rouge states. Iraq was an innocent bystander and the victim of the desire of the world capitalist domination and exploitation.

The contemporary concept such as terrorism is a fuzzy and abused word. The concept is defined and misunderstood solely from a single perspective characterizing terrorism as a desperate act of groups, or individuals who are frustrated in the formal institution of governance. For genuine understanding of the concept terrorism, states sponsored terrorism and state terrorists have to be in the category. If the definition of terrorism is equally applied to the Ethiopian government we may not have problem of understanding the concept itself. If it is means to the United States of America we may not contest its definition because the US indirectly promotes an act of terrorism by supporting dictators who terrorize their own citizens. If terrorism defines the nature of the Chinese government, it is fairly realistic to assume that any party can commit it to silence descents, maintain its status qua and extend its lifeline. The world also needs to thoroughly understand the motives of individuals and groups that engage in a catastrophic destruction of innocent lives and resources.

The US presence in every corners of the world in the pretext of fighting the international terrorism is the desire to control resources and promotes its selfish foreign policy motives. International presence also simply means the radicalization of Muslim extremists, Jihadist groups or individuals. The ever growing proliferation of what they call “home grown terrorists” in the United States seeks to resist the supremacy of international predatory capitalism. In fact, the United States of America is in war with not the Muslim world but with extremist groups. Attaining International peace and security needs common and mutual understanding among nations. The US can govern the world only through genuine promotion of democracy and defending human rights not through merely propagating the egocentric nature of its predatory capitalism.

Al Qaeda’s base of strike against the west particularly the United States and its ideological warfare has so far been Afghanistan and Pakistan. The overt motive of presence of the US and NATO force are counter-terrorism in mission. However, the covert purpose of the international coalition forces in Afghanistan should be beyond this clear mission. Somalia is becoming the next Taliban in East Africa where terrorism is moving its strong international presence to this failed and collapsed state. Therefore, exploiting every possible opportunity to pursue and destroy the terrorist networks means for the United States of America and its allies is to conquer further territories, disrupt indigenous structures and replace with its surrogate, expand the reach of the capitalist web of exploitation networks and ultimately meet their selfish economic interest.

In the name of terrorism, they invade and destroy local culture, dismantle indigenous governance structure, seed instability, create mistrust among various groups. Yes the United States want to maintain its global lead in terms of military capability, economic mighty, political influence and cultural slavery. Loss of international dominance in this competitive world means for the United States is a symbolic and catastrophic failure in every aspects and probably equivalent to committing suicide.

The United States is a uniquely and exceptionally built nation on earth. A nation that is built on the core value of promoting predatory capitalism does not recognize the true face of democracy and freedom. If the US really does recognize these credos they are solely limited to its national boundaries. Every calculation the United States makes in the international relation is guided fundamentally by the material gains and self-centered corporate world. The United States claim to promote democracy, international peace and security is therefore, simply a fake. It is a fake claim because the United States does not live up to its commitments and universal principles that are enshrined in its own democratic ideals when it comes to promoting freedom and democracy beyond its national borders.

A fake claim in a sense that the United States partners it-self with predatory of peace, creators of havoc and insecurity and the worst offenders of human rights. A false and fake claim because the United States provides moral, financial, logistic and material support to totalitarian/ authotarian rulers who brutally crash oppositions, silence dissents and suppress freedom and liberty. A false claim in a sense that the United States institutes coercive state machinery and surrogate government that defends its foreign policy interests and dies for its dirty war particularly in the fight against terrorism. These actions do not represent and guarantee the interest of the impoverished people of Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular. Therefore, this is absolutely a failed and misguided foreign policy goals as well as a serious strategic blunder if not a severe provocation of instability, chaos and devastation the United States of America has ever caused to the International peace and order.

The United States of America has nurtured the present regime in Ethiopia. It has done every possible effort to strengthen Melese Zenawi since the mid 1980s when he joined guerrilla warfare until his TPLF thugs were eventually able to topple the military regime in 1991. CIA’s covert involvement in the Ethiopian catastrophic civil war from the very outset was primarily motivated by the US interest to dismantle the socialist camp in which Ethiopia was a party to it during the Dergue regime. The communist camp came to an end in Ethiopia and the presumption and hope was to make a meaningful transition from totalitarian rule under the communist regime to democratic governance.

In fact, in early years of the transitional government there were some hopes that Ethiopia would democratize sooner or latter. As early indicators, free speeches began to emerge. Free media, independent newsletters flourished, opposition groups were blooming, and economic independence and freedom were some of the symptoms of free markets and democratization process. Early elections were held relatively in an environment of peace and stability with some exceptions that eliminated few opposition groups from the real political game changers. The mysterious case of the OLF removal from the political and nation building processes was in fact one of the classic examples and the gravest and most calculated political risks the TPLF has ever made in early 1990s.

As the government got solid ground and critics from the oppositions camps held strong resilience, the early signs of democratization process ceased way to intimidation and harassment. Symptoms of totalitarian nature of the TPLF inner circle began to emerge and its human rights records began to deteriorate. And the EPRDF ruling clique has made greater stride toward steady movement to consolidate its power and eliminate any forms of descents by any possible means. Opponents were crashed and stifled, and the TPLF gangsters have proven themselves the worst predators of peace and stability. They have achieved every reasonable level of what the totalitarian regime can achieve on average.

The may 23, 2010 Ethiopian parliamentary election outcomes has clearly proven that the path Ethiopia has taken is absolutely an erroneous course. However, the west particularly the United States has managed to remain silent and soundless even unabated their solidarity with Melese. Two fundamental questions remain to be answered when it comes to the silence of the United States and the west. The questions are: Should Ethiopia turn into a terrorist nation or reach a nuclear power capability to attract their attention to curb its dangerous move toward an authoritarian single party rule and totally eliminate free thinking, democracy and liberty? Should the west really trade off democracy with stability? We will wait and see what happens.

  1. aha!
    | #1

    Brilliant geopolitical analysis for USA and the west to look into with respect to endorsing the current flawed land slide election and the direction it is heading to in the East Asian style of economic and political development, that did not even follow the Code of Conduct Agreement at the behest of the donor countries and the implementations of the eight point conditions for fair and free election. That did not happen on their watch.

    Since after the 2005 election debacle, the peaceful struggle for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians was wedged between countries fighting terorism and those aligned with terorism, nuclear armed or or not and Ethiopia is aligned with fighting terrorism. With in these courses of events, the struggle for freedom and democracy as stipulated in the above goals with parties with national agenda has been dampened by news media talking heavily about invasion of Ethiopia into Somalia and Eritrea posing a new war with Ethiopia and heightened campaign for the release of the political prisoners for the the two of the five years. After the release of the political prisoners, another dampening effect of the peacefull struggle set in with the alignment of loyalist opposion parties formed a coalition called Medrek, with etnic agenda, holding on to their entitlements of ethnic and secessionist rights along with the dissident party of UDJP, wearing two hats:one for ethnic and another for national agenda. These coalition party nothing more than a mirror image of TPLF/eprdf regime with no contrasting ideology to that of TPLF/eprdf regime lead by Ex-TPLFites for the most part, where the votes for UDJP in Amhara and Tigrai regions served Medrek party with ethnic agenda, rather than KAEUP, EDP and others with national agenda, thus serving as a spoiler.

    My take is Ethiopia does not have to turn into a terrorist or nuclear armed nation to attract the attention of the donor countries. But what the opposition parties need to do including the existing teletafi parties and the loyalist opposition parties to abandon the phoney entitlements of ethnic and secssionist rights, ethnic boundries and coalesce around the unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians under the the banner of liberal/ ideology/ democracy. That will attract more attention of the western donor nations, when the balance is tilted towards the positive forces of integration of truley peaceful democratic nation with individual freedom and liberty, rather than the currently maintained peace, stability, economic and political development in the East Asian style, instead of truley Ethiopian style with national agenda at the forefront.

  2. Aba Biya Abba Gobbu
    | #2

    Ethiopians should know that by writing nice articles, begging the americans and the eu or remaining in asmara eritrea we shall never rescue Ethiopia from the enemy. The diaspora Ethiopians muste know that the west under the leadership of the yankees is the primary of Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Why in the name of god or the devil isayas afeworki helps the Ethiopia that he promissed to destroy and convert into desert. There is no diference betwen isayas and the tplf kuncho zenawi.Bothe are enemies. Those who think taht they would/could liberate Ethiopia from Asmara and USA muste be fools who understand nothing. Ethiopia shall be liberated from Ethiopian mountains.

    Ethiopia prevails.

  3. Zare Min Sim Alegn?
    | #3

    Why not both? What happens to some irresponsibly naughty states that possess both tools – nuclear and terrorist approaches? [For God's sake,please don't misunderstand me,I don't mean Israel or any one else!]

  4. Another Garbage
    | #4

    Ethiopia shall be liberated from Ethiopian mountains.
    Ethiopia prevails.
    Patiently , ofcourse with much Pain I finished reading the article. I found it garbage. I didn’t stop there. I thought I might misunderstood the author and I decided to read the comments. When I came acros Aba Biya Abba Gobbu’s comment I confirmed that I was right.
    Aba Biya Abba Gobbu should go and read our history. Nothing good came from our mts. (I want to make one qualification:Here, I’m not discrediting the roles our mts played to root out our invaders in our historical struggles for survival.)But for our internal political and social problems resorting to armed struggle is not less than playing to the hands of the enemy.

    The author of the article did not address the problems the opposition encountered and did not give us any way out.
    I think we all forget that democracy has gone through so much changes and developments since its existence.
    The students’ movement leaders before the revolution blindly belived in the so called communist block. Someone might say that I’m harsh on those dedicated but naive leaders. I know.They didn’t have much choice. But still I don’t excuse them…
    The post tplf opposition leaders repeated the same mistake…they accepted the tplf propaganda without scrutinizing the tplf political and historical character…
    Just check the following (in the above article): “…In fact, in early years of the transitional government there were some hopes that Ethiopia would democratize sooner or latter….”
    This is an absurd. I was there. I participated in the so called kebele constitution discusion (sorry I couldn’t remeber the exact wording of the process). Who were the conductors of such discussions? Weren’t they shabia agents? Weren’t they representatives of one tribe? Is this author telling us that article 39 was the will of the nation? The handing over of eritriea to issayas..?
    Did this author hear dawit johanis ranting that he doesn’t accept Proper Ethiopia?
    Where were the symptoms of democratization?
    tplf was and is an occuping force.
    I support the peaceful struggle because of two reasons: 1. The western world is obsessed with international terrorism. This gives the opportunity to the tplf gangs to masquerade as champion of democry.
    2. The mts are no more belong to all of us.

  5. Kane
    | #5

    @ Abdi,

    As a proud fellow AAU alum, I want to say kudos for your article! You seem to have wide encompassing understanding and good grasp of global politics in general and U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis the hot political spots (or conflict ridden regions) of the world in particularly. This is a testament to the rigorous curriculum of AAU and the fruits it bare from its former students like you.

    I have a question though. What is your central thesis in this article? Are you trying to argue, as it stands now, Ethiopia is not getting the full attention of America? So much so it needs to go into the terrorism business or acquire nuclear weaponry so it can attract attention from the US. Sort of like, if only America had given us enough attention. If only we had a nuclear technology like N. Korea or Iran. Is that what you are saying? Correct me if I am wrong but that is what I got out of it. If that is your central thesis in this article, I am going to strongly disagree with you. I will try to be as civil as possible, if not for any other reason but for the fact that you are fellow AAU alum. My argument (disagreement with your central thesis) does not discount the fact that you have given us great education on a wide variety of issues in this article.

    “The questions are: Should Ethiopia turn into a terrorist nation or reach a nuclear power capability to attract their attention to curb its dangerous move toward an authoritarian single party rule and totally eliminate free thinking, democracy and liberty? Should the west really trade off democracy with stability?”

    First, I think you are way in over your head to think, such undeveloped country like Ethiopia that doesn’t even possess the knowhow to rudimentary technology from the 19th century, or a country that never had a track record of a slight ambition to propel itself to technological advancement would be a candidate to try to acquire nuclear weaponry, just so it could be noticed by the United States of America. Let’s not flatter ourselves in thinking just because we would like to practice democracy like the rest of the world does (particularly the western nations), that means we are also able to achieve technological advancement overnight like those nations, let alone to be able to acquire one of the highly secretly guarded, highly regulated and infinitely scrutinized technology in the world in our time. You know that is a ludicrous proposition. So, I am not even going to argue this point since it is a dead issue.

    Secondly, I am going to say to you this with absolute certainty, Ethiopia has the full attention of the US. You and I may not think the foreign policy position of the U.S. vis-à-vis Ethiopia is right headed for either country; nevertheless Ethiopia does have the full attention of the mighty US government. Case in point, the lawless state of Somalia has been a big thorn in America’s throat for the past twenty-five years now. America needs to prop up some dictator that is in close proximity to Somalia so that it can intervene in Somalia’s internal affairs whenever it feels like, or better yet, why not use the puppet’s (Meles) own soldiers to intervene on its behalf. Isn’t that a good deal? U.S. could not reason with the stubbornly dictatorial regime of Isayas Afworke to help them with what they call “Terrorism” in the horn of Africa. If the first dictator does not work, try the second best thing, and that is Meles. Meles could be equally a vicious dictator as Isayas, but he seems to have it right in his head to know that he may need outside help to “govern” a big country like Ethiopia. If that help happens to come from one of the most powerful country in the world, US, I think Meles will take it. That seems to me Ethiopia has gotten great deal of attention from the US.

    Why do you think the regime is getting billions and billions of aid money from America? Why else would you think the dictator, Meles, is given opportunity to sit on the same table with the president (US) in many occasions? Why else do you think these western leaders (US and UK in particular) on occasions prop the dictator up with accolades by giving him so called leadership positions on African issues, by proclaiming him to be “a newly emerging face of African leaders”? Got my point now?

    In doing so though, do not think for a minute, America has failed to realize all the atrocious things Meles is doing to Ethiopians. They just turn a blind eye to his evil practices. Because, raising complaint to his ever-growing litany of misdeeds would mean upsetting their ally on the fight against terrorism. As you aptly explained the reasons in your essay, the foreign policy of America is not helping democracies around the world, as they never fail to remind us in their constant PR campaigns, but to promote solely its national interest. In fact its national interest comes above all and everything else. Never mind if suffering of the whole population of a nation comes in the way. You can study America’s interventionist foreign policy over the past, say sixty years, and you would understand America cares less about democracy in foreign countries but their own strategic interests. This have been demonstrated repeatedly by America’s past actions around the world, with its meddling in internal affairs of other countries to the point of toppling democratically elected governments, if that government does not happen to agree with the strategic interests of America over its own sovereign interests.

    Unfortunately at this point in time, Ethiopia by virtue of its geographical location finds itself in similar position, in that its sovereign interest intersects with that of the national interest of America (that being fighting terrorism in the East African region). If America has to befriend a dictator to achieve what they think to be one of the biggest threats their country has ever encountered in recent times, they will do so. Again, America thinks itself first then others later, even if the choice seems gravely unfair in anyone’s mind that has a least bit of common sense in him. Unfortunate but the Ethiopian people are the latest victim of this ill conceived and convoluted foreign intervention quest by America in the name of fighting terrorism. And there is nothing that can stop them until they are convinced that they have achieved their goal. So, if they have to support a dictator in the process and a whole people of a nation is suffering under its brutal suppression, well that is too bad. So it is not a matter of America and the west not paying enough attention to Ethiopia (or Ethiopia is not being noticed by them), it is rather the attention that is being paid is wrong headed altogether. The foreign policy position employed by the Americans is to the detriment of the Ethiopian nation as a whole but to the great benefit of its dictator, Meles.

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