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Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Quiet West

In their quest for a good image in foreign policy, Western leaders waste a great deal of resources supporting African leaders who look obedient to their prescriptions for the ills of the Continent.

Ethiomedia -- African rulers in turn pay lip services to their Western counterparts and slave for them to get a thumbs-up for their governance. They know very well what the international community wants or expects to hear from them.

In this symbiotic relationship, neither of them listen to the heartbeats of people on the ground, nor do they think the African poor have a say in their country's future. Even when the Euro-American administrations step in to help, it is usually too little and too late. It suffices to mention the case of Rwanda and Darfur. Mr. Herman Cohen, former Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, helped Meles Zenawi to come to power in the midst of a popular protest in 1991.

After 14 years, Mr. Cohen retreated from his position and blasted Zenawi after the eruption of violence. In the aftermath of the bloodshed in the capital, PM Blair ignored the outcry of the Ethiopian people and approved the stolen election result.

Today, both the US and Europe keep silent while Ethiopians around the world protest the killings, imprisoning and torturing of thousands of Ethiopian politicians, journalists and human rights activists. It is also naive to expect a heartfelt intervention from these leaders in favor of the powerless when they themselves have difficulties in connecting to their own people. Not to mention that they are totally consumed by the war in Iraq, the sliding economy, and international terrorism.

The Euro-American politicians should, however, recognize that our world will be safe only if leaders get out of their bubbles and associate themselves with their people. The more they rely on their muscles, the more they mess up and the faster they demise.

Demiss Belayneh, PhD

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Protesters in Los Angeles, 6/14/05 (photo courtesy: Ethiopian Review)

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