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From my posts on Ethiopian Lists
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not only the West doesn't know the facts you referring to, the media doesn't know them, American politicians do not know and even the US. diplomats know very little about Ethiopian politics. The main US source is the CIA Fact Books, which are not issued every year, but if you look at the data the Intelligence gathered for the purpose to provide American politicians with the facts, you will a lot of "N/A" (not applicable) -- no data. Especially, when it come to the information on political parties. The data gathering at the CIA is based on processing the existing information; if there are no publications, the CIA readers' division doesn't include it in their report. In short, if the party doesn't publicize itself, the West will never know about its existence. That is why Ethiopians must be active and visible.
In 1995 I asked the CIA station chief in Addis Ababa if they still maintain the operatives on the ground in Ethiopia. After the Soviets left, the Americans recalled the ground officers, because Ethiopia lost it strategic importance for US. The State Department issued the statement that US has no national (American) interests in Ethiopia. The CIA and State Department cut the funding for their employees for graduate studies (including the language proficiency) -- and you can see it in the sharp decline in the Ethiopian Studies Departments in American Universities in the 90s. In 1998 I spoke with Harold Marcus about the future of the Ethiopian Studies in the US; he believes that we will experience the lack of specialists, when the existing generation of Ethiopiologists will retire in the next ten years.
The American foreign politics are "reactive" -- when the event occurs they try to make the best of responding to it. They do not have knowledge or expertise to foresee the development. They didn't see the coming disintegration of the Dergue and only at the last moment arranged Mengistu exit to prevent in city fighting. They didn't know who EPLF or TPLF are. In 1985 when we did the fundraising for famine relief in Ethiopia, I met with their representatives in NYC and I asked, if the US intelligence is in contact with them. The answer was "no"... Usually, the US tries to maintain the contacts with the opposition in order to have relations, when the opposition comes to power. This is not the case today. The US accepted that Eritrea and Ethiopia have to alternative political forces and as far as American politicians are concerned this status quo will remain indefinitely. In some way they "closed the book" -- for them even the war is a "conflict."
The future will reflect on the US foreign policy of the 90s as disastrous: instead of using American influence to support the democratic development in the post-communist countries, all the opportunities were lost. Even if they are to wake up today, we are ten years behind and many possibilities, which were in Ethiopia not long ago, are gone. As a result Americans lost all their influence with the Russians and, of course, they never understood that Africa should be a priority when the Soviets abounded all their clients in Africa. The really bad news that the shift in US policy in Africa is not even in sight (you can see it in the most recent PR visit by the US president to Africa; all the hot spots were avoided, including Ethiopia).
Regarding the Red Sea issue, it goes back to the Egypt-Israel peace agreement and even during the Nixon administration Americans lost interest in Kagnew, since they can control the entrance to the sea. At this point Eritrea and the sea are Ethiopian, not American problems. Politics is the art of possible: if there was no organized protest by the Ethiopians to Eritrea's independence, the US accepted it. If there is no organized plea for Afar, they wouldn't do a thing.
To make matters worse, the Western media gets most of it reports from the official press statements by the governments. I do not know if any of the major TV stations or newspapers do have any accredited correspondents stationed in Addis. Where are the sources of the independent information? The only possible solution I see -- the Ethiopians themselves. They have to inform the world. They have to have the means to do it and therefore they have to get organized. Ethiopians have to break the habit of talking to each other only -- and start targeting the sources, which will make the world aware of what take place in Ethiopia and the Horn. When American public listens, American politicians act.
What did I tell you? They will drug the West (USA) into it. Most likely our congressman Benjamin A. Gilman knows that Ethiopia is ready for another offensive, which Eritrean army (and economy) can't withstand. Lets bring it all into it -- journalists, famine -- and tell the world -- you see! Peace loving people of the world, you won't let Ethiopians win, would you?
What an irony that Eritrean army which was a guard for the government in Addis Ababa now asks for protection! Do you know how this congressman ended up defending Eritrea? Because this situation is not just the African mess, but the American diplomatic disaster. The US officials were there supporting those new governments in Asmara and Addis and they thought that things are under control. Did they care to know much about those governments? They even imposed the same arms embargo on both, because they thought that the two are the SAME. Oh, they were right in this assumption.
Do you know why the Americans do not ask Issayas to pull back? Because they do not know what to do when the government in Asmara will collapse. They didn't know what to do in 1991 and have no idea what to do now. There is even less chances to put together an alternative government in Asmara, than in Ethiopia. Of course, Americans know it -- and they know what is coming. The US troops on the ground, when this African problems will become the American problem and this congressman won't be a chair of the committee, he won't be even a congressman when there will be American casualties.
So, his answer is "Just Do It!" After all, they owe us, right? That's right, they do. Oh, he would push Issayas, too. But where? You push him -- and he is out.
Trouble, more mess.
Well, what was this Santa trip to Africa by the president for? Where was the Foreign Relations Committee, when all this PR machine moved from capital to capital in Africa? Look, it is in the "CIA Fact Book: Eritrea 1999" -- they knew that almost 30% of the Eritrean budget was for the military even before the war began. Would it be reasonable to ask, why do they need it? Why wasn't it of the US' concerns that there is not a single political party is registered in Eritrea, besides the ruling party? Don't they know by now how to recognize a military government?
What's next? The usual -- the buy-out. Ethiopia was getting around 100 millions in US foreign aid (one of the biggest in Africa). Would you take a half of billion and just forget it? Lets, say as the aid for famine. Hey, to move a thousand US troops from Europe will cost billions.
It's all primitive and short lived remedies. The Americans messed it up in Somalia, in Sudan -- and now Ethiopia. You don't understand it? How else do you read this "push"? Who will be doing the pushing? The US government, who else? Do you want to see how it was done in Kosovo, when the Muslim minority was defended from the Big Serbs? They bombed Belgrade! That much for diplomacy! Is this the push for peace he is talking about?
They got the peace in Bosnia. With the troops on the ground.
Maybe this is what Eritreans are looking for -- another occupation. Of course, Americans won't bring the spaghetti, but the indefinite presence of the new master will be very revolutionary. New jobs in the service industry...
Wait and see, there will be a call for US observers, peace-keeping force, the Europeans will support it. Who is out there against peace? So Italians will be back. I was wrong about spaghetti.
PS. I am sending a copy of this message to Representative Benjamin A. Gilman. Who knows, maybe he would like to join our discussion?
I will finish my article "Eritrean Syndrom" -- it is more important than I realized.
CC: FYI -- Representative Benjamin A. Gilman
New York - 20th District - Republican
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Benjamin A. Gilman
I heard some talks about "New World Order" and "World Government"... Let me think, what could it be?
That's how postmodern history looks like, my friends.
Maybe, for many, who are not informed (but not the members of this forum) the position of Germany and the West is a mystery. Just to keep it in perspective: the West rushed to endorse the new government in 1991 and both in Addis Ababa and Asmara projected that they will have peace in the region from now on. Political stability is a must for economic development and all western relations are based on economics. Venture capital doesn't move into countries with uncertain future. If before 1998 the development in Ethiopia (reforms) was directional toward free market, now this tendency will be questioned, including the ethnic federation principle (Eritrea and the conflict is a result of this philosophy of decentralization). Without a market or at least a potential market any western government has very little insentives for developing political relations with Ethiopia. In post-industrial world the economic paradox is that poor country is a poor market and therefore the rich countries getting richer, because the money are the condition of a good market. Now, two years of "no war no peace" give the impression that this uncertain future is the future -- or no future for real economic develpment. The famine on the top of it -- as a confirmation that Ethiopia is not in control of her own economics.
"The business of America is business" -- and US will deal with dictators or communists as long as they develop the market conditions in their countries. The government of each country is a business of the people in this country. All what the businessmen are interested in is the end result. If they can make money in Ethiopia, their governments will get involved. I don't think that Germany and the rest do have "a policy aimed at further victimizing the victim of aggression" -- but they did hope for developing a new market in Africa. I don't even think that they are interested in knowing who is victim and who is aggressor. The people do and unless those western societies can make it a business of their governments, the political situation in Ethiopia won't be an issue for the West.
@2000 sellassie www Quotes & Thoughts: