Ethiopia’s excess: U.S. bears responsibility in sad African tale

April 11th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

Editorial, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | April 10, 2007 How Ethiopia has gone from being a developing country, focusing on economic improvement, with a fair record for honesty and an evolving, positive attitude toward democracy, to where it is now is a sad tale, and one in which the United States bears considerable direct responsibility.

In recent years, Ethiopia, along with Uganda, Botswana, Mozambique and a few other African countries, was among the favored ones of Africa in terms of prospects for the future. It joined the reform-minded New Partnership for Africa’s Development, retained the headquarters of the new African Union and was working on becoming democratic in its political institutions.

Now it perpetuates hostilities with its neighbor Eritrea, which had the nerve to secede from it in order to be accepted by the world. In December Ethiopia carried out the ultimate anti-social act among nations, invading another of its neighbors, Somalia, and replacing its government with one more favorable to it.

More recently Ethiopia has bought arms from North Korea, partly with American money. It is also currently holding and interrogating hundreds of supposed terrorists, including women and children, from 19 countries captured in Somalia and perhaps elsewhere, acting on behalf of the CIA and the FBI.

In objective terms, some of what Ethiopia has done should have brought it strong censure from the United States. Instead, much of what it has done has been either at the instigation of the United States, or carried out with American support. Notably, its invasion of Somalia was sustained by American attack aircraft and Special Forces advisers which provided Ethiopian forces assistance during their campaign against the previous government in Somalia.

The Somalia invasion has come out almost totally wrong. The only possible positive part — from the point of view of the Bush administration — is that an Islamic government was ousted. It was forced out in spite of its continuing requests for dialogue with the United States. This regime was replaced by a weak, transitional government, selected in Kenya. That government’s forces and Ethiopian occupying forces are now under heavy military pressure from resurgent Somali Islamic military elements. In addition the population of Mogadishu, the Somali capital is killing and harassing Ethiopian and Somali provisional government forces in much the same way Iraqis and Afghans attack U.S. and government forces in those countries.

The saddest part is that, for the half year or so that the Islamic government was in power in Somalia, it had restored order to most of a country torn up by war since January 1991 when the previous Somali government collapsed, until the Ethiopians backed by the Americans drove it out.

The current U.S. administration’s attitude toward Ethiopia is that it is there to be used and, if its worst tendencies are compatible with America’s own predispositions, whatever Ethiopia is willing to do to help the United States in the Horn of Africa is not only acceptable but deserves American financial and military support.

There was some thought that with the end of the Cold War in 1990 the United States would no longer work with scum-of-the-earth, outlaw governments. Ethiopia now is proof to the contrary.


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