Sunday, December 16, 2007

Obama for Change

Earlier this year I opined about the wrong-headed approach the Bush administration has taken on the war against terrorism, particularly as it is being implemented in the Horn of Africa, and the need for the US to change its policy. By making its alliance with the tyrannical regime of Ethiopia the center piece of its policy of the war on terror in the Horn of Africa, the Bush administration has undermined America's long-term security interests in the region, and the administration's support for Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia and the calamity the Ethiopian occupation has caused is a prime example of the failure of the current US policy and a very good reason why it needs to change.

A change of administration in the White House will not guarantee a change of policy. However, the probability of a change from the simplistic policy of the Bush administration to a more holistic one is greater if a Democrat wins the 2008 presidential election, and it will be much greater if the Democrats nominate Barack Obama to represent them in the general election. Why Obama? Well, simply because he is the only major presidential candidate from both parties who is an agent of change and has the credibility to enact a change of policy if elected. Please read this compelling article about Obama by Andrew Sullivan of the Atlantic Monthly and find out for yourself why Obama is an agent of change.


Anonymous said...

Although your reasoning for your choice of Obama is uncomprehensible, I agree with you that he seems to be a person guided by reason and might notch the nomination of his party given the recent polls. That said, I do not see how he might be able to help you with your fantasy and dreams of the Ethiopian palace from miles away. Even Chalabi who was able to fool a bunch of people did not succeed to come closer to his daydreams. I advise you to help on the "research" your ideal/typical political leaders are planning to accomplish in short 6 months to solve Ethiopia's ills. BTW, do not take my critical comments personal as you have been doing so far. Take them for what they are. Below is my letter to your would be President regarding your imaginary tool HR 2003:

Dear Senator Obama:

I am writing to express my strong opposition to H.R. 2003, which is misleadingly named as, the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007, and to request that the Senate take no further action on this legislation. I believe that passage of this bill would be detrimental to the furthering of democracy and promoting human rights. It will also negatively affect the hard working peoples of Ethiopia who are striving to come out of a long-standing poverty. Worse, the bill will pose a great threat to peace and security in the Horn of Africa.

Like many other developing countries, Ethiopia has been facing challenges in the path to democracy and economic prosperity. For instance, many including the Carter Center which observed the 2005 election in Ethiopia praised it as the most free and fair in Ethiopia’s history, but it was tarnished by a short lived violence. Ethiopia has been making a remarkable stride in growing its economy by as large as 12% annually for the last 4 to 5 years, despite irregularity in the much-needed seasonal rains. Further, strong efforts toward political reconciliation are being made, marked most recently by the Millennium pardoning of prisoners all over the country. Ethiopia has been a strong regional player in terms of supporting peace missions in the region, despite the havoc inflicted on her by the extremist jihadists in Somalia and their financier the Eritrean regime.

Further, I fear that H.R. 2003 will destabilize an already tenuous situation in the region by undermining Ethiopia’s standing in the Horn of Africa. Our neighbor to the east, Somalia, is threatened by a radical Islamist insurgency with ties to al-Qaeda. Our neighbor to the north, Eritrea, provides weapons and a safe haven to the insurgents who threaten the security of Somalia and Ethiopia. Now is the time that the United States must embrace its strongest ally in the region, not punish it.

The road to democracy and prosperity is never easy and I am sure that Ethiopia’s path will be marked by more successes than failures. However, it is my hope that the relationship between the United States and Ethiopia could be one of partnership, not reproach, so that Ethiopia’s path is not marred by more hurdles than it already faces. So, H.R. 2003 is bad for Ethiopia and bad for the USA.

Ephrem Madebo said...

I like both H.Clinton and Obama, but I like H.Clinton more. In my opinion, Obama is less experienced for the presidency when compared to H. Clinton. Though my vote does little (historically in VA), I have made my mind to vote for H.Clinton in November 4, 2008. If a democrat goes to the Whitehouse this time, there could definitely be a change in some domestic and foreign polices of the US (Domestic Social Programs, Issues of Global warming such as the “Kyoto protocol). As far as Ethiopia is concerned, both democrats and republicans see Ethiopia from the point of view of the so called American interest. I don’t expect much from both.

enset said...


I respect your choice, but I wouldn't vote for Hillary because of her experience. That may actually end up being her Achilles Heel if she is the nominee of the Democrats. As you are well aware, I will vote for her if Obama doesn't get the nod and she gets it. However, my vote would then be a protest vote against the Republicans and not an affirmative vote. On the contrary, if Obama gets the node, my vote for him will actually be because I feel that he has the potential to be a very good president. Hillary, on the other hand, is very likely to be a very divisive figure and thus would be a very ineffective president if she gets elected. Here is an interesting take on Obama's experience from YouTube. Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Anon, despite your attempt to sound otherwise, it is clear that you are very partisan in favor of EPRDF, and of course I am not making an accusatory statement with that. You are entitled to your opinion. But a couple of things I want to address from your post.

First, do you really think Chalabi 'fooled' a government as sophisticated and as informed as the US? I find your comment rather naive. Chalabi was used by the US government as a front for the war and he also tried to use the US government for his own agenda.

Second, I just loved your letter to Obama, especially the part about the "Ethiopia has been making a remarkable stride in growing its economy by as large as 12% annually for the last 4 to 5 years, despite irregularity in the much-needed seasonal rains." It reminded me of a comment by Solomon Tessema (I think that's his name) , the late great journalist and soccer play by play announcer, when he described a loss by the Ethiopian national team. He said, 'zare zinab bayzenb noro ye Ethiopia budin yashenif neber'. It's nice to throw numbers around, like the 12% growth in the economy, and it makes you sound like you have done your homework, but can you break that down for us? What is behind that 12% and is that 'economic growth' reflected in the day to day lives of the millions in the country? Can you back that up?

Third, so is that what they are calling it now, the Millennium pardoning? lol So, I suppose the rest of the political prisoners have to wait another 1000 years to be pardoned by dear leader? lol I guess that describes the EPRDF policy perfectly. lol
And from what I read, it sounds like you are in full support of the occupation in Somalia. Can you tell us how that benefits Ethiopia in the short and long run? I am very curious to know. Again, throwing terms like 'Jiahdists' and 'Islamic insurgency' sounds good, but if there is no substance behind it, it sounds like you are just being an alarmist.

Ephrem, if you think Hillary Clinton will bring a major change different from the Bush administration's, I am afraid you are sadly mistaken. Hillary is a Republican light who is determined to keep the status quo of a corporatist government just like her husband did. She tries to sound more Neo-Con than the Neo-Cons themselves. She is as corrupt as they can come. Obama is better than Hillary, but not much better in my opinion. At least he is willing to talk to even supposed enemies of the US. I like him, but I wish he can be a little more aggressive. As an Ethio-American who's concerned about US foreign policy, as well as many other issues both domestic and foreign, my first choice would be Dennis Kucinich, but I'm afraid he has no chance thanks to the 'liberal media' here in the US. As a second choice, I support John Edwards over both Hillary and Obama. I think he has a better vision for the country and the world and is not afraid of the Republicans, not to mention his strong stand against corporatism.

Anonymous said...

Chereka, thanks for the civil dialogue. I agree with you that Chalabi was used by some hawkish people in the US government and also tried to use the situation for his own agenda. But he also fooled a lot of journalists, pundits and government officials (watch the podcast of “Buying the War” by Bill Moyer and so many other programs in PBS). So, we are in the same page on that. But, what I am saying is who ever the next president of the US is, he/she should be beware of Ethiopia’s chalabi’s! as they will be Bad for both the US and Ethiopia. Hope you get it now.

Regarding the economic growth, I am not manufacturing the facts. These numbers have been reported by international agencies as well. Is the economic growth trickling to the people? I say, so far, it is both yes and no. Yes, because there are and will be a lot of people who are/will be employed as a result of the growth. I will mention very few examples. The employment in the flower sector is a great example. You may have seen the ladies employed in the emerging Strawberry farms. The employment in the rocketing construction sector is undeniably huge. The number of roads, dams, universities, and other buildings constructed and being constructed should clealry validate my point as these can not be done with out human power, both professional and laborers. More than anything though, the many farmers who are telling their success story over the last few years has been a reason for me to hope and a very good indication of what is to come. The growth in primary school enrollment, primary heath coverage, sanitary water delivery and the likes are also sufficient facts that show growth that is trickling to the people. All in all there is movement towards progress and development. From my point of view, the per capita income is not going to grow as fast as the economy and hence I would not expect a radical change in that regard at this point. If the current trend continues, I would hope to see a substantial change in the per capita income and hence more trickling effect to the masses. Some of us are optimistic and others are pessimistic about what the future holds for Ethiopia, but we should at least not deny the facts on the ground because we do or do not like the regime in power. The metric should be based on facts not politics. Let me ask you some very simple questions which could help us to talk in terms of numbers. Trickling effect could be measured in several ways and I would take the simplistic ones. What was the primary enrollment in 1991 and what is it now? What was the lowest salary scale in 1991, and what is it now? In the middle, what was a university lecturer’s salary upto 1991 and what is it now? Do not go to the pandora box of inflation as that is, as far as my understanding goes, another complication that could come with economic growth. More over, my and your monthly remittances are helping and the fact that the size of remittance is undenaiably growing adds spice into the overall growth (this is funny, ha).

On your question of Somalia, I would like Ethiopia to withdraw from Somalia as soon as it could. I do fully understand the reason why Ethiopia had to act to the jihad declaration from the UIC as it was vital to the national interest of the country. I do not believe that the leaders in Ethiopia would play with game of war as they would know better than any of us on what war is and its consequences. My hope is that Ethiopia would overcome the challenges in Somalia and be able to withdraw.

Ephrem Madebo said...

I decided to vote for Hilary because I like her strength, political maturity, smartness, and the amazing personal character she showed the world when her man betrayed her in the Oval office. I followed her since 1993 and I liked her ever since. If Hilary doesn't make it, then I will take it to the wire and vote for a candidate that satisfies my issues. It could be Republican or Democrat.

Anonymous said...

enset, if the europeans (those with guns) didn't employ their religious war against islam to help menelik's empire (island of christianity in the ocean) then the boundaries of the horn of africa would have been different. menelik wouldn't have had the weapons to attack the ocean and expand his empire to create current day ethiopia. an empire created in this inhumane ideology has to be kept by this same ideology by joining the "War on terror"..if you have checked the UN security council, egypt, libya, eritrea, gulf states were financing and arming the islamists in mogadishu. are these "enemies" of ethiopia doing this because they love us?? NO. they do this to destroy ethiopia.

for you to think that a US policy AWAY from "war on terror" would help ethiopia is as unrealistic as saying Menelik's "island of christianity" propaganda didn't shape up the current boundaries of ethiopian empire.

the fact is Menelik's foreign policy helped create today's ethiopia. And the same way, ethiopia will always need play similar games to survive the numerous direct and indirect attacks from the Arab nations (and their stooges like shabea)

a credible opposition party (like CUD) should play the same pro-ethiopia foreign policy to attract western support.

Anonymous said...

Well, it appears Obama has made great strides int the election since your posts. I believe he has the potential to unite America and help African people. Yes, Hillary is more experienced. But experience is no guarantee of change. In fact, one could argue she'll only return African people and African-Americans back to the earlier 90s. And I'm not sure we want that. I belive we should move forward.

I'm not sure if African people can appreciate what it means to have a black person obtain the presidency if only symbolic. And I don't minimize the struggle of Africans. But for Africans living in America and African-Americans constantly faced with subjugation and the indignity of being a 'second-thought' when it comes to intellectual worth, a black presidency would help inpire a generation of young black people.


p.s. I was reading a news article where a Somali immigrant said "Kenya is not our country" when asked about Obama. It is unfortunate some African people have yet to realize the importance of seeing beyond borders and ethnic groups. After several generations in America I hope that person comes to realize, as many African-Americans have, united we stand.