Oduu Haaraya

An Excerpt from the United States and Ethiopia: The Tragedy of Human Rights

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Dear Friends and Colleagues:
Below is an excerpt from a new book release by Kadiro. He is promoting his book at the OSFNA soccer tournament. Certainly, this is one of the best books ever written on this subject. We are expecting his second book at the end of this month. I am so proud of him and his achievements. For those of you who do not know him personally, you will be proud of him too when you read his book. Please, take your time and read the excerpts below. Thanks.

An Excerpt from the United States and Ethiopia: The Tragedy of Human Rights
Kadiro A. Abdulatif A Elemo
This book is about the what, the how, and the why of the United States foreign policy towards Ethiopia, from the vantage point of promotion and protection of human rights. It studies factors that shaped it, and, it draws how it impacted political dynamism of the nation with diverse cultural and religious landscape. It unravels its deficiency in promotion and protection of human rights in the ages of imperialism, Cold War antagonisms and fighting terrorism. It argues that the U.S had-and-has wrong diagnoses of human right problems in Ethiopia and hence applied wrong prescriptions. Based on the wrong prescriptions and myopia in the foreign policy, the U.S. offered carte blanche for the discriminations of the ruling class of Ethiopia instead of playing positive roles on promoting the rights of diverse linguistic and ethnic groups in Ethiopia. The wrong prescriptions perpetuate and exacerbate human rights violations and damage the reputation of the U.S. as the champion of freedom around the world.

The U.S. alliance with Ethiopia entertains irony of the U.S. strong pledge to put its weight in a global arena to promote human rights on one hand, and its silence to the atrocities committed by the Ethiopian government, on the other hand. Perhaps, it is not an exaggeration, if I may say that only a few countries match Ethiopia in demonstrating a discrepancy between the rhetoric and reality of human rights in the U.S. foreign policy. Ethiopia symbolizes a mecca of contradictions between human rights and national security within the foreign policy. It provided footing for U.S. adventurism into Africa during the inauguration of diplomatic relationship during the Minilik era; it became a robust partner in halting the spread of communism by providing a spy base of Kagnew during the Hayla Sillase period, and it turned into a headache for U.S. policy makers by defecting to the communist bloc during the Darg era. Today, Ethiopia is all about its status as a regional ally in a fight against terrorism and hub for predatory drones, a U.S. weapon of choice in the fight against terrorists.

In this national security driven diplomacy, the human rights causes are forsaken, naturally lost in the gray and often offered as the sacrificial lamb. The modern concept of human rights postulates that states have a responsibility to respect and protect natural and inalienable rights of individuals. Accordingly, states have to undertake preventive measures to discourage occurrence of violations of human rights and take remedial measures, on the event of breach, to redress the wrongs. From its formation, Ethiopia was-and-is a textbook example of “predatory state” with all connotations and denotations the phrase implies. Accordingly, Ethiopia is a police state and antithesis to the concept of human rights itself. Naked tyranny and a culture of impunity are everyday experiences. Its government is hardly accountable to its own people; power comes from bullet, not from ballot. If there is a ballot, a ballot is not a bullet proof for the ballot justifies the bullet. Often, the ballot process lends itself to the bullet process as the former lacks creditability and transparency.

The U.S is the most powerful nation on the face of the earth. She has an enormous influence in the international financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Her cultural [soft] power captivates the imagination of the world, for good or bad. She lures us not only with her flamboyant rhetoric, but also with her voracious consumptions, and she even exports her “craziness” as Ethan Watters’ Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche vividly showed. In Ethiopia, except some unfortunate times, we covet the U.S. for her power, economy, strong media, for everything, but especially for its democracy and human rights protections. It is imagined as a land of “dollar tree,” a land where one kisses miseries goodbye. In short, it is a Heaven on earth. I will explain this with my personal experience.

Believing myself that I was well-informed, I did not expect for surprises in the U.S., such as collecting dollars from a “dollar tree” and remitting to my unhappy kinsmen. My sub-conscious (unconscious) fooled me; it abruptly awakened me from a deep sleep, one night. In my dream, I got the chance to go to the U.S.; I looked through the window; I saw a radiant light of the Chicago skylines; poor-me-one. Perhaps, the America my subconscious expected was greater than the one I saw. Alas! My teacher once told me, in high school, he would have rather preferred being a cow in the U.S. than being a man in Ethiopia. “How about India, you would be worshipped,” I interjected. He told me that the noble America is all about animal welfare, and, a subsidy for a ‘happy’ cow is greater than our per capital income. He would have rather preferred being a tree in America because it is watered daily and protected from cutting, a ‘tree right’. Being a pet in Americans would have been the finest thing because he would have lived the luxurious life of our prime minister, a dictator of comfort.

“The Ethiopian coffee gives a drinker gastritis; the American coffee gives the drinker happiness,” he told me. Come on, are not we the home of the world premium coffee, I impolitely interrupted him. I wondered; Are you telling me about a hot pepper or coffee? “Our coffee is good; America makes it better,” he replied. “Thus, Americanized coffee is drinkable; one can drink a liter of coffee in the U.S., but only few small cups in Ethiopia,” he explained. He even told me that citizens have the right to insult their president, the most influential person on the face of the earth. Perhaps, he wanted to say that citizens have the right to criticize the president because the culture of criticizing rulers in Ethiopia is unknown and intolerable. In the middle of the hot conversation, he stumbled on a rock; he enchanted with America more because, in the innocent America, there are no such mean stones because technology had destroyed them, meaning roads are asphalted. Wow, the magic of America!! An America in the mind of my teacher, a land of happy cows and happy trees, is different from a real America.

Seriously, America is a powerful, influential and prosperous country. Why are her leverages compromised on the aid-hungry-nation like Ethiopia? Why is the U.S. end up buttressing the perpetrators of fragrant violators of human rights? Why did a noble America provide weapons for dictators, with which they kill, petrify, traumatize, terrorize, and rule their people? What is wrong with the U.S. human rights policy on Ethiopia? This book addresses that dilemma by investigating the foundations of American policy toward Ethiopia.

All rights reserved. Copyright © 2013. Kadiro Elemo. This excerpt can be redistributed for noncommercial.

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