Amanuel Biedemariam, 5 Sept. 2009 — In reaction to Secretary Hillary Clinton’s visit to Africa, former Bush Administration Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs, Dr. Jendayie E. Frazer wrote an op-ed on Wall Street Journal -“One Way to Help Africa”- prescribing four specific actions the Obama Administration needs to take to help Africa. This is coming just eight months after the Obama Administration has taken office amidst some of the greatest challenges this country faces since the great depression economically, politically, militarily, diplomatically and a host of major problems. Her op-ed is not only ill timed but a reflection of the internationally rejected Bush policies that was brazen, inconsiderate, brush, hostile, undiplomatic and disregarding of how their actions impacted US image and credibility.
Dr. Frazer’s op-ed is a vivid insight into her aggressive diplomacy that was based on threats, intimidation, sanctions and the use of military power to pursue ill conceived hegemonic agendas. Dr. Frazer’ was the least effective representative the US has ever sent to Africa. She acted as a Dictator to Africans and helped destroy good will Africans accorded Americans for decades following World War II.
That good will was partly as a result of a call that President John F. Kennedy made to the nation to serve for the greater good by incorporating Peace Corps and other programs that cemented the image of America that is well intentioned, full of descent and God loving people that meant good for the world. The Bush Administration (which ironically run for office on a religious platform) with Dr. Frazer on the helm has damaged that good image and credibility in Africa.
Damage to image and loss of credibility is difficult to measure. It could be subjective and subject to spins for political expediency. But in this case, there is one measure that Americans can-not spin-away by asking one simple question. Can any American serve in the Peace Corps today as they have in the past in remote places in Ethiopia or other African countries with out fear? The answer is no. There are many factors that play into that. However, the main reason hinges on the fact that the US is not a trusted good ally any more as a result of poor representation and policies. Unfortunately, Americans are viewed within that paradigm. It is a fact that Americans cannot venture out on the streets of most African countries unprotected, taking away a vital freedom and connection.
Moreover, for decades, the US owned a moral high ground above any nation for ideals that the whole world believed was international standard. These standards are based on various principles, freedoms and rights that America was founded on. Dr Frazer destroyed that in Africa. As a result, those who believed on these ideals were demoralized, rendered helpless and turned away from the US and those ideals are regarded as tools to US hegemonic agendas.
For example: the election of 2005 in Ethiopia brought a sense of optimism that was unparalleled by any period or event in Ethiopian history. Ethiopians took to the streets expressing their new found freedom and went to the ballot boxes. The events that followed that exercise and the US reactions to it have changed the way Ethiopians view the US for good! In a nutshell, represented by Dr. Frazer, US dumped the people of Ethiopia and sided with Meles Zenawi, unquestionably the worst leader Ethiopians have ever experienced by any standard.
After many arrests of opposition leaders, atrocities in the Ogaden, Gambella, Oromo and many regions throughout Ethiopia, the people in the region have concluded the US to be the culprit to the injustices the region experiences under US client-regimes. For those who follow the politics of the region it is easy to conclude Ethiopians in particular and the people of the region have given-up on the US to be judicious arbiter!
Dr. Frazer, while giving lip-service to democracy, she made a mockery of justice, the rule of law and a process Ethiopians built-up their hopes-on to bring about changes that can make a difference in their lives. Ethiopians truly believed democracy had finally reined over Ethiopia. However, in the name of fighting terror and to pursue what the US erroneously believed to be its interests, Dr. Frazer gave all the political cover the regime needed in the US Capitol while ignoring the Ethiopian people who are long time allies of the US. Ethiopians pleaded with the US and received little or no attention. And when they made any progress, heavy lobbying by former Congressman Dick Army and others stood on the way to protect the criminal regime. These are the people of Ethiopia a country the US boasted to have a special relationship with for decades.
On the contrary, Meles Zenawi was given more aid and a green light By Dr. Frazer to invade Somalia, kill thousands, displace millions and created a human calamity “The Independent”, a British news paper on its 17th of October 2007 edition called, “Somalia , Ethiopia ’s “own Darfur.” In the name of fighting terrorism, the US and Ethiopia invaded Somalia and unleashed unparalleled military power against a Somali rug-tag militia forces. The US was actively engaged on the bombings. As a result, Somali women and children were forced to flee the cities but, they were stranded on the borders of Kenya because they were refused entry as refugees and died from thirst and starvation on the deserts of Somalia by the thousands. This took place under direction and watchful eye of Dr. Jendayie E. Frazer!
Furthermore, the opinions Dr. Jendayie Frazer expressed in her op-ed is full of contradictions to be taken seriously both on the merit and in the disingenuous spirit. Dr. Frazer confidently rendered her advice to the Obama Administration to hold a conference with African leaders and create legislative approaches that can open markets for Africans. However, in her watch, China held the largest gathering of African leaders outside Africa, ever. The Chinese did not dictate to Africans. Instead they gave real unconditional opportunities to develop their infrastructures making serious difference in their capacities to develop future markets for Chinese products and create viable partnerships with China. That was the reality. Dr. Frazer lacks credibility in this matter.
She also prescribed to put Africom headquarters in Liberia and to punish Eritrea for Eritrea’s alleged but unproven support of what she arrogantly calls “Somali terrorists”. Her op-ed was called, “One way to help Africa.” The question one must ask is how does putting military structures in Africa or punishing a country like Eritrea that is struggling to get her people out of poverty help Africa? But worst, that prescription is not based on truth, the reality on the ground, but a cover-up for her failed approaches. Eritrea is not the enemy of the US or in any way positioned to threaten Americans. Eritrea’s belief remains the national reconstitution of Somalia as the only way forward by allowing all Somalis to come to terms on their own, by solving their own problems and without outsider meddling.
Eritrea is not in a position to impact the situation in Somalia because it is physically impossible since Somalia is bordered by Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Indian Ocean that is littered by US warships. On the contrary, it is Dr. Frazer actions that worsened the problems in Somalia by infusing Ethiopia, Somalia’s historical arch-enemy, and destroyed the relative stability that reined in Somalia for a brief period courtesy of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) that Dr. Frazer ejected by force. But what is ironic is the fact Dr. Frazer placed as a leader, the very individual the US and Ethiopia hunted as a terrorist and captured in the military campaign.
At the wee-hours of the Bush Administration, Dr. Frazer created a non-inclusive Djibouti process with her yes-men and organized a new Transitional Government (TNG) and appointed Sheik Sharif Ahmed the leader and pushed for him to be accepted by the UN.
Under the watch of Dr Frazer, the situation in the Congo and Darfur was exacerbated. And while Jendayie-Bush alienated former allies with unparalleled belligerence the Chinese with their smooth carrot approach have essentially taken over the region.
Dr. Jendayie E. Frazer should not have called her op-ed “One Way to Help Africa” because her intention is not to help Africa. In her confused op-ed, she explicitly stated, QUOTE “But U.S. policy in Africa is not about love it’s about advancing America’s core interests: promoting economic growth and development, combating terrorism, and fostering well-governed, stable countries” END OF QUOTE.
Dr. Frazer showed in action, letter and spirit that it is not “about love” when she displayed callous disregard to the women and children of Somalia who died for lack of water while Kenyan authorities denied the refugees access. Dr. Frazer downplayed the atrocities Ethiopian soldiers committed in the Ogaden region. On December of 2008 the Human Rights Watch released a report called “So Much Fear” detailing genocides committed by Ethiopian troops throughout Somalia and the Ogaden giving detailed-vivid pictures as evidences of the devastated areas and torched villages. While she boasted that she played a role in stabilizing the Ogaden, Ethiopian authorities blocked food entry-ways in many parts of the Ogaden starving thousands to death.
All the steps she took to prop up the minority regime in Ethiopia led by Dictator Meles Zenawi will not bring stability and economic development in Ethiopia. On the contrary it is dividing Ethiopia along ethnic and religious lines a sure bet for future conflicts, which could impact peace and security in the region.
In his book “Surrender Is Not an Option,” former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton stated “For reasons I never understood, Frazer reversed course, and asked in early February to reopen the 2002 [Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission] decision, which she had concluded was wrong, and award a major piece of disputed territory to Ethiopia. I was at a loss how to explain that to the Security Council, so I didn’t.”
That will not bring peace, stability and economic viability in the region, he concluded.
What Jendayie Frazer wrote in her op-ed shows lack of judgment and serves as an example of her undiplomatic ways. She didn’t have the decency to lay low and give time to the Obama Administration to frame the issues in accordance to what their objectives and goals are. It also shows why the other actor’s at-play, mainly China, took advantage of her brazen tactics that turned off many and literally infiltrated all aspects of the African continent.
The problems Africa and particularly the Horn of Africa faces today are all up in the air unresolved in large part due to belligerent approach Dr. Frazer followed. She ignored the rule of law and made ethics, morality and humanity irrelevant. She ignored cultures and the way of life of the people in the region when she threw her weights around. She ignored religion and the role it played in the cultures. She was unpolished and unfit. The saddest part is she did it representing the good people of the US.
President Obama is right to want to open up markets in order to provide real opportunities for Africans. It is also pragmatic for the US to be able to compete the right way because China is not going to be pushed-around by any one since they have invested a great deal on Africa. It a sad fact, while Dr. Frazer made enemies, China and others were signing investment agreements throughout Africa with long term implications. That is the reality!
But what is interesting is, to see the worst aspects of the Bush Administration coming back, (ala Dick Cheney) not only to defend their past actions but to promote it as if they flourished. That is because Americans have not decided to hold them accountable for their failures, decisions and actions. Millions are in dire situations in Somalia as a result of poor decisions Dr. Frazer pushed. For a country that pledges allegiance to the flag under God, that must not be acceptable.
One Way to Help Africa:
President Obama has said “we will not dictate.” And we should not. We need to engage, open markets, help develop infrastructures and create educational exchange programs. Africans are ready for change and they have the resources if allowed to exploit it properly. The old exercise of using dictators at the expense of the people needs to stop for Africa to flourish. Genuine effort must be exerted to bring about real change. There is no reason President Obama can not dream of Africa that is in line with Europe in standard of living. YES HE CAN! He should. Because it is time to drop hubris and ill conceived national interest and do the right thing to serve for mutual interests. We can do it by allowing people to solve their problems without meddling in their affairs, by respecting the rule of law and sovereignty of nations, by allowing countries to use their resources in accordance with their needs and most importantly we need to make genuine efforts to bring peace! YES WE CAN! And the role of those concerned must focus on helping to induce positive changes and make sure The Obama Administration and US Congress take notice when they return from their August vacations.
The writer can be reached at: email@example.com