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When does the US learn from its mistakes?

Ethiopia _


Ephrem Madebo (

Many Americans believe that their first president established non-interventionism as the national policy of their country in a farewell address that he wrote in 1796. Here is what George Washington said: “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop”. This timeless message of George Washington is often cited as laying the foundation for a tradition of American non-interventionism, and it was honored for well over a century. 

Interventionism is characterized by the use of force to change a political, economic, cultural, or religious lifestyles outside one’s own country or jurisdiction. It is the political, humanitarian, or military intrusion in another country’s affairs, and regardless of the motivation, intervention is a selfish, egotistical and a highly volatile undertaking whose virtues are almost always harmful in the country intervened. Intervention is an act of violence and bullying that is unwelcome and always opposed by the victims of intervention. 

Whether its interference in economic affairs at home, or in political affairs of another country, the net outcome of intervention has always been more intervention and more problems than they were before. In 1963, the CIA helped a 26 years old Iraqi man to overthrow the then Prime Minister of Iraq, General Abdul Qassim. That 26 years old Iraqi man was Saddam Hussein. In 1978, the CIA backed another coup, a coup that eventually made Saddam Hussein the strongest man in the Middle East. 

In 2003, President George Bush invaded Iraq and eventually brought the end of Saddam Hussein’s life whose political life was facilitated by his predecessors. Today, Iraq is in shambles, and the standard of living in Iraq is much worse than it was at the time of Saddam Hussein. AS Sir Winston Churchill once said, when it comes to outside interventions, the US government, after doing many wrong things, thinks it would always end up doing the right thing. This is not just insanity, its arrogance and insanity together.  

In the 1980s when Saddam Hussein waged a bloody war on neighboring Iran, many people in the US and around the world called him a brutal dictator.  However, the US supported Saddam Hussein with billions of dollars in export credits and with satellite intelligence. If Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, or an evil man as President Bush later called him; then, how should the rest of the world evaluate the U.S. government that helped Saddam Hussein come to power and actively supported him during his war against Iraq? 

Dubbed “Operation Enduring Freedom”, the US invasion of Afghanistan started in October 2001. Twenty years later, it ended as one of the most hamulating invasion in modern history delivering the Afghans the same, but a much more focused and determined Taliban instead of freedom and democracy. 

During the 2011 uprising of Libya, President Qaddafi did not use force or target civilians. However, the gullible NATO intervened in Libya on humanitarian grounds by reacting to the rebel propaganda that sought intervention by falsely crying genocide. NATO’s intervention in Libya did not even aim at protecting civilians.  In fact, the intervention protracted the conflict duration, quadrupled the death toll and exacerbated the human rights abuses and the humanitarian crisis. The negative role the western media played during the Libyan crisis is precisely the same negative role it’s playing today against Ethiopia. 

Security, prosperity, ending dictatorship and expanding freedom have always been the buzz words behind the US policy of intervention. For almost a century, the US has been good at articulating and selling these buzz words, but totally ineffective in materializing them, and it never had a good strategy how best to achieve them in a stormy and violent international scenery. 

In the last 50 years, the uncalled for, the unwanted and the excessive involvement of the US in the affairs of other countries has clearly demonstrated that, the US has been the cause of crisis, political instability, and serious human rights abuses in the countries it intervened in the name of freedom and democracy. This is deplorable and unfortunate for a nation like the US that boasts to have been the forebear of the lights of liberty. It’s about time that the US must understand that spreading the light of liberty abroad has nothing to do with using military and diplomatic muscle to intervene on internal affairs of other countries.  

The promotion of democracy or protection of human rights abroad were often the justifications for intervention by current and past US administrations. Here is what George W. Bush said when the US invaded Iraq: “Our goal in Iraq is a free, representative government that is an ally in the war on terror, and a beacon of hope in a part of the world that is desperate for reform”. A history of the countries that the US intervened in the last 25 years tells a different story. In Afghanistan and Libya, the conditions of political rights and civil liberties which are fundamental to functioning democracies have deteriorated. 

Obviously, in almost all cases, the US intervention has nothing to do with its intended objective, and it delivered neither liberty nor democracy. We have seen time and again that, whenever the US foreign policy or the so-called US interest comes into conflict with the spread of democracy, the US has embraced and helped foreign dictators. The pitiless Saudi monarchs, the highly oppressive Hosni Mubarak administration in Egypt and the now fugitive TPLF regime in Ethiopia that the US is still helping to make a comeback are good examples of the US embracing totalitarian regimes. 

Despite its egregious human rights records, corruption and historic level of public embezzlement, the US, the EU and the UK helped the TPLF regime financially and diplomatically for 27 years. These same countries and group of counties who vehemently opposed Colonel Mengistu’s human rights abuse, passionately embraced the human rights abuse of the TPLF administration. Today, more than three years after the TPLF is pushed out of power, the US led West and their media institutions are working in a coordinated manner to extend the life of the otherwise dying TPLF.

The TPLF is the mastermind behind the war in North Ethiopia, and it’s also the one that initiated the war by attacking a Federal Army Base that has been protecting Tigray for over two decades. It’s also the TPLF that took the war to Afar and Amhara regional states in its evil attempt to disintegrate the Ethiopia that it doesn’t control. In June 2021, the Ethiopian government declared a unilateral cease-fire and pulled out its forces from Tigray, but the ever-belligerent TPLF vowed in public not just to continue the war, but to take the war all the way to Amhara reginal state.  Today this evil force is killing the Amhara with impunity because it has the full backing of all the bullies of the world.

With all the above publicly available evidences that the TPLF is the one that started the war, and it’s also the one that ignored the domestic and international calls to bring the conflict to an end, why are the US and its allies still nagging Ethiopia with the threat of sanctions and financial aid withholding? Why is Ethiopia, a nation fighting to safeguard its sovereignty pressured economically, politically and diplomatically to just appease a rebel group with insatiable appetite? Why is the Biden administration helping a rebel group determined to disintegrate a country of 115 million people? Why doesn’t the US learn from its mistake in Vietnam, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan and stop making the life of people difficult in faraway countries by not intervening in their domestic affairs? 

The United States is the symbol of justice, liberal and democracy, and it’s a nation founded on the core principles of liberalism. One of the most important tenets of liberalism is individual liberty. Why doesn’t the US respect the liberty of individual countries and leave them alone to be what they want to be? When does the US learn from its mistakes and ends up doing the right thing after doing so many wrongs?  . . . . When? 


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  1. I like well written articles like this. It shows Obbo Ephrem is a man of letters in respect to his word and phrase construction. It is a pleasant piece to read.

    The claim that the US had made mistakes in places like Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria to me is just that, a claim. There haven’t been juries designated to decide on the matter. What is evident in the case of Vietnam is right after the ‘unification’ milk and honey did not raining from the sky. It did not take too for the commies to realize the motto ‘Workers of the world unite’ with which they sent millions of their youth to their death was just a daytime fantasy, a mirage. It did not take too long for them to take a clobbering from their commie comrades in Beijing. It did not too long to beg Washington to come back and rescue them from Deng’s wrath. They needed and begged for billions of American dollars in direct foreign investment. The company I used to work for was one of them that showed the commies there the ABC’s of economics. The question now should be will the current vibrant economies of Vietnam and China survive without the ever vibrant markets of America and the West? First of us we should direct the question to the countries mentioned in the article. When should we learn from our own mistakes as Ethiopians? US or any country in the West was not the one that started this senseless bloody conflict in Ethiopia. None of them at all. It is not fair and right to rest the blame on others. We did not learn from our own mistakes of the 1970’s, 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s. We still point fingers and keep lobbing denigrating and incendiary name calling at each other. We still call our upright people from Tigray ‘Agames’ in denigrating epithet and call equally upright Amharas demonizing them as ‘fascists’. If that is not enough they call me and my equally upright Oromos as bloodthirsty ‘extremists’. When will we learn from our own mistakes that have proven to be be deadly and destructive? It us and nobody else. The same goes for Afghans, Syrians and Libyans. The Vietnamese commies seem to have learned from their stupid mistakes. Just look at who is bringing the dough home for them now. It is none other than Good Ole USA!!! You can take that to the bank!!!

  2. I’m sure our dear brother Obbo Ephrem and many of you have read the most recent fact finding by AFP. Its fact checking unit has caught a bold face lie by bigoted republic dreamers where they doctored a photo to look like as if soldiers of the Shene gang heading towards the capital. They found out that the same photo of ENDF soldiers seen riding a military truck heading toward a battle front 6 months earlier. I have seen may other photo shopped photos on many other social media outlets for months now. One of them stands out for me more than many others. It was posted by one these republic dreaming bigots. It shows an elderly man shot many times on his forehead and lying dead. We were told he was her 82 year old grandfather. Then you see sympathy after sympathy pouring. The person who posted that lie has glowing accomplishment with MBA from one those colleges in Minnesota. So being believed comes with that(according the playbook created for the gullible). That person even had the audacity to tell the village where her elderly uncle was savagely gunned down. That was when this Ittu went to work. I was told by my relatives that the village mentioned in the allegation is a tranquil place where you could hear a pin drop. That was during the popular protest in Oromia and Amhara regions in 2016-18. ‘Down, down Woyane’ was the chant that accompanied every one of those sympathies. Folks, that ‘Down, down Woyane’ has been replaced by ‘Long live Woyane’ and ‘Down, down Abiy and his Amhara fascist friends’. You still can see many of such doctored photos and videos. So it is incumbent upon us to take every photo and video with a grain of salt. It is a wild, wild world out there. Here is the link:

  3. The root of the problem that has been bedeviling the old country began in the 1960’s when that demonic philosophy of Marxism/Leninism took root at the only higher education institution in the country. Everything was critique and destroy. Those few who advocated for critique and reform were demonized as reactionaries. The only solution for the ills of the country comes through violence, Progressive forces, we were told, should wrestle away governance through a violent overthrow of existing regime. Such take over by progressive only comes out of the barrel of the gun, we were counseled. Take to the bushes and gunned down every ‘reactionary’ in sight, we were preached!!! Some smart aleck individuals got together and became the vanguard, the proletariat of the country!!! If you utter the word ‘reform’ you would not know what had just hit you. You will be shouted down and mercilessly ridiculed at your first utterance of that ‘cursed reactionary’ word. So that communist pathogen has managed to live on passing from one generation to another. Lately I am seeing a beauty contest as to which generation was the best at its trade. The veterans claim the generation of their time was the best of the best. They claim they were the one that scaled up the consciousness of the people but will not take the responsibility for any problems that country had to go through. If you ask the MEISON member he/she will tell you it was all EPRP’s fault and if you dare to ask EPRP member he/she will tell you it was 100% MEISON’s mess. When you ask the OLF member he/she will tell you it was all Neftegnas fault. So the blame game goes on and on.

  4. Liberalism is only a sham to hide the greed of insatiable western merchants. They will sell you your soul if you let them. Let the world congregate around the new world order of the EAST.

  5. I believe the writer of this article was wrongly taken for a 1960s generation by some. Too young to participate but old enough to understand what was happening would be more right.

    Ephrem Madebo’s ancestors fought heroically hundreds of miles away from home to preserve the independence of Ethiopia. That piece of history was told by many but it was not well-told until a book called YABESHA JEBDU came out two decades ago. With breath taking clarity and detail the author of that book describes where and how the patriotic farmer-soldiers fought to the bitter end in the second war with Italy.

    In some communities in Ethiopia patriotism runs high through generations surprising those who are not familiar with the experiences those communities went through. And at other communities it is the exact opposite; totally hostile to the idea of Ethiopia where you expect patriotism.

    Like every country on earth Ethiopia was led by a group of people that were stronger than the rest at the time of their rulings. In retrospect Ethiopia didn’t do very bad in trying to bring many communities, or better yet, leaders of communities in the royal house. Some times the leaders from the seemingly marginalized communities proved to be much stronger than the usual. The story of Fitawrari Habte Mariam Dinegide from the ‘south’ is a very good example. When the MEHAL SEFARI held a secret meeting demanding the removal of all of Queen Zewditu’s ministers, Fit Habte aka ABA MELA aka ABA MECHAL who was the longest serving war minister in Ethiopian history was the only exception. When crown prince Lij Iyassu was too young to rule it was Ras Tessema and F/ Habte Mariam that took him under their wings and running the country for a while.

    It is also normal to complain or reject part of own history as long as it doesn’t threaten the foundation. But in Ethiopia that is exactly what is happening. Some political parties are so stuck in the narration full of hatred and hostility, they keep on fabricating history that was never written by anybody. These are university professors and PhD’s lying to the young generation but never mention their lies when they are giving interviews to the West. In Ethiopian culture you just believe any old man just bc he is old, but some of those old people were BANDA and trying to justify their betrayal by inventing stories that didn’t happen. The unfortunate children of BANDA grew up bitter and determined to destroy Ethiopia that made their fathers live in shame. Those children of fathers with titles given by Mussolini only to see it removed when the flag rose up again were the most dangerous. Upon his return the emperor tried to manage the SIDETEGNA vs ARBEGNA vs BANDA triangle and some times it took military confrontations to settle things, creating new enemies in the process.

    For an African nation, foreign gov’ts were always too much involved in Ethiopian domestic affairs. The Russian revolution in the first decades of the 20th century some how became a big issue in Addis Ababa. Haile Selassie I sometimes managed foreign gov’ts very well and some times he failed. He visited Europe when he was Ras Teferi and that helped a lot but also did the most damage. He was still hoping for some type of negotiation while Ethiopia was totally betrayed and bombs and poison gas raining on his troops every day. Fascist Italy took advantage of the hesitancy to the fullest. Some westerners were genuine in their efforts to help but they were powerless. His Majesty should’ve relied on his troops and the tactics of ABICHU more.

    Some evil kids sitting in class learning history can wish Hitler won WWII but it will be hard to make that wish come true when they grow up. But there are some softer targets like Ethiopia. The other black island, Haiti, gained her independence the way Ethiopia did. And look at Haiti now. Afghanistan too was never conquered. They just don’t leave you alone and then they’ll make you go to the extreme in desperation. Somalia was not religion extremist until they messed her up and dumping their hazardous toxic waste in her ocean shores. Ethiopia was never hostile to the West. Even after Carter betrayed her and the officers looked to the East, the general population never blamed the West. The Americans and the Brits picked the Albanian style communist TPLF to rule over Ethiopia the way it wants. Since TPLF’s base is so narrow they knew they can do whatever they want to Ethiopia as long as TPLF depended on them.

    “However, the US supported Saddam Hussein with billions of dollars in export credits and In the 1980s when Saddam Hussein waged a bloody war on neighboring Iran, many people in the US and around the world called him a brutal dictator. However, the US supported Saddam Hussein with billions of dollars in export credits and with s a t e l l i t e intelligence.”

    But this is not new and many nations through out the world struggled and has won their economic independence since. India was very very poor and suffered 300 years of brutal colonization but today no West has no say in India. Gen McCarter thought he was the king of Japan and told the Japanese to stop growing rice and to import American wheat and eat bread. Colonialism was humiliating and degrading through out Asia and beyond but look at them now. Some times I honestly believe the West is playing god and causing so much suffering on purpose. And they always admit they were wrong but too late to save lives. They were admitting to their atrocities in Vietnam being wrong while they were doing the same exact thing in the middle east, The so called free press doesn’t tell the tax payers the whole truth and the youth that protests the wrong doings were called hippies on drugs with loud music. You would think those hippies would be better when they rule, but no. All the good hippies must have O D and died in their youth. You see very few honest people fighting the good fight but that too might be done on purpose, so that you won’t think all of them are pure evil and forgive all that was done to you for the good deeds of the few later.

    Mean while in Ethiopia, history is happening. A shockingly great number of people are being brutalized by western backed TPLF. The West keeps saying it is neutral and the so called journalists might be thinking their lies are good to help an underdog that is leashed on innocent people to do things that has never been done in the history of the world. They are so detached and It is like a video game for them and the lives lost are black lives. They were sick of BLM movement at home for quite some time now and they needed to destroy some black lives somewhere else where they are not accountable anyway. Besides there is some of the stolen thirty billion dollars they reported stolen a few years ago themselves readily available to them now. Paid in cash and discreetly, journals are broke and practically begging for contribution from readers on their websites.

    A few years ago some Ethiopians like the author of this article took arms to remove the brutal ethnic apartheid boss TPLF. Imagine they had the ENDF on their side, EDF and FANO, AFAR Militia, Amhara Militia and the special forces in addition to being able to collect funds from the general population. It would be only a matter of time before they destroyed the evil TPLF.

  6. Article is full of fallacies. Yikes!

    I don’t understand why the author stated with the wrote from Washington explicitly stating commercial relations as the prism thru which to define foreign relations, and then list off countries that are deeply ingrained with the US’s wider economic ambitions. Ie resources from Afghanistan, resources in Iraq, economic subservience in Libya etc.

    Please try again to write a more palatable article, preferably thru the lense of quotes from Ethiopian leaders and foreign relations defined thru an Ethiopian lense.



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