Confrontational Diplomacy Wisdom Of Us-Ethiopia Relations
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By Dr. Haymanot Assefa Nadew
Since the Foreign Policy of a nation is made and implemented by leaders, statesmen and diplomats, naturally it bears an imprint of their values, talents, experiences, and personalities. The ideas, orientations, liking, disliking, attitudes, knowledge, skill, and the worldview of the national decision-makers are influential inputs of Foreign Policy. The differences among the leaders are also influential inputs of a foreign policy.
It is our everyday experience to witness the bashing of the United States (US) by Ethiopian officials. From Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed down to local party officials; Ethiopia’s political leaders are busy trash talking the US and its western allies. The Ethiopian public is also actively encouraged to denigrate America. Government backed rallies have been organized as a show of force and unity. Quick scan of conventional and social media immediately reveals this trend. Supporters of the Ethiopian government in the diaspora seem to play the leading role in this propaganda campaign of vilifying the USA. Pro-Ethiopian government writers publish articles denouncing the current US administration. Even though time will tell the wisdom of such an approach, measures being taken by the US makes me wonder what the wisdom of Ethiopia’s Foreign Policy strategy towards the USA.
Since at least November/2020, the Ethiopian government and its supporters have been engaged in continuously escalating-confrontational diplomacy with the US. Instead of talking with the US, we see repeated efforts of forcing the US to support/accept Ethiopian government positions. It seems that Abiy’s government has doubled down on my way or the highway strategy. Abiy and his supporters are tirelessly trying to manufacture consent. At least in public, they keep upping the ante. Abiy and his government are doing unimaginable things to their own people to make the Americans condemn the TPLF. Abiy and company have allowed the Amhara people to be massacred to use it as a propaganda tool against the TPLF.
On the other hand, the US’s economic power has been a major instrument of its foreign policy. Developed countries like the US can use foreign aid as a tool for securing their foreign policy goals. Adamantly, the US keeps taking measures contrary to the Ethiopian government’s positions. These US measures are impacting the Ethiopian economy and having an oversized impact on the daily lives of Ethiopians.
Though the public cannot tell what is going behind closed doors, what we see in the open is all escalatory and confrontational foreign policy when dealing with the US. When I hear derogatory, escalatory, and confrontational speeches by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, I wonder what the end goal of such rhetoric might be. Is Abiy planning to confront the US: diplomatically, economically, and militaristically? The US openly supporting the TPLF, US’s travel ban on some Ethiopian officials, US’s intention to delist Ethiopia from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and President Biden’s executive order allowing for additional sanctions and Ethiopia’s inability access financing from the IMF and World bank are some indicators of the outcome of this escalatory-confrontational US-Ethiopia relationship.
Many countries that choose to confront the US, are now relegated as footnotes of history with disastrous outcomes to their population. Libya, Yemen, Iraqi, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Afghanistan come to mind. Very few countries such as China might have succeeded in advancing escalatory-confrontational foreign policy with the US. But we all know Ethiopia is not China. And we are not in Biblical times when David killed Goliath with a slingshot. Let us all be pragmatic and refrain from ever escalating confrontation with the US before it is too late.
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