Why we should care if Ethiopia stops loving us

Why we should care if Ethiopia stops loving us


Stuart Grover is a former News Tribune reader columnist. Photo by Dean J. Koepfler The News Tribune

Tacoma, WA (The News Tribune) — I recently returned from three weeks in Ethiopia, an abysmally poor, highly primitive nation of more than 100 million people on the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia is also the cradle of civilization, from which humanoids migrated to Europe and beyond.

It was also probably the first nation to adopt Christianity and boasts ancient ties to Judaism stemming from the liaison between the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. It houses the Ark of the Covenant in a monastery in Axum, as well as extraordinary churches hewn from solid rock.

Ethiopia remains a multicultural nation, comprising Ethiopian Orthodox, Muslim, Catholic and animist populations, which coexist harmoniously. Intermarriage carries no stigma, people accept differences and strife reflects tribal rather than religious divisions.

Ethiopians are not shy about expressing feelings. They show their disdain for the Chinese who are building roads and rail lines (not very well); their hatred of the Eritreans, with whom they have territorial disputes; and their unabashed love for America.

People were genuinely happy to meet us and (literally) embraced us. They see the U.S. as a promised land that welcomes newcomers.

Ethiopia participates in the United Nations peacekeeping force in South Sudan to help prevent the spread of terrorism in the region, and maintains cordial relations with Israel. We have had a long-term Peace Corps operation there, provided them foreign aid and offer humanitarian support through such nonprofits as Federal Way’s World Vision.

Ethiopians admire America’s openness and the welcome it has offered to refugees and immigrants. Large populations of Ethiopians reside in the Northwest (including the Puget Sound region), Washington, D.C., and the upper Midwest.

They have been made to feel welcome and found jobs that fill important niches. They pay taxes, obey laws and fit into their adopted communities. They feel safe under our system of law.

President Donald Trump has probably neither visited Ethiopia nor given it much thought. While I toured this extraordinary nation, he was taking actions and adopting policies that will alienate Ethiopia and lose America an important ally.

We stand in danger of losing the love and friendship of a country that offers a moderating voice in Africa and a lengthy history of cooperation with the U.S. The ban on Muslim immigration from seven countries was front-page news and under discussion by Ethiopia’s citizens. Even though Ethiopia wasn’t among the disfavored seven countries, they were shocked and disappointed, and America’s standing fell precipitously.

Proposed sharp cuts in foreign aid threaten our long-term policy of using “soft power” to maintain their friendship at a relatively low cost. They appreciate this support and would prefer to maintain these ties rather than accept Chinese investment.

However, budget cuts would leave Ethiopia to rely on aid (and pillaging of commodities) by our Asian rival. While Trump has torn up the Trans-Pacific Partnership and threatens to withdraw aid from Africa, China is working with a 62-nation group to expand its influence.

Ethiopians suddenly see America expressing dislike and disdain for immigrants and foreigners. The nationalist policies of Trump adviser Steve Bannon frighten and confuse Ethiopians

“How could they change this way? Aren’t all Americans immigrants?” one young man asked me.

Retreat from an open, receptive society, a decrease in economic trade and aid, a rejection of multinationalism, and the withdrawal of a welcome mat offered to nations long our friends and allies will not come without cost to the U.S. All undermine the regard that Ethiopia and other African nations hold for us.

They presage the loss of the trust, economic benefits and geopolitical advantages conferred by our historic relationships.

Stuart Grover of Tacoma was a 2016 News Tribune reader columnist. He holds a doctorate in history, has traveled extensively and maintains a strong interest in American foreign policy.

6 Responses to Why we should care if Ethiopia stops loving us

  1. Tumsa March 26, 2017 at 8:59 pm #

    Title and content!

  2. Richard Tekol March 27, 2017 at 5:10 am #

    Ethiopian leaders those who America put on power are terrorizing not only Ethiopian people but also all the east African region. TPLF, the closest Ally and the property of America and UK is one of the cruellest fascist group that organized to destroy Ethiopia. They help to divide Retires from Ethiopia and leave hundred million people without port. They (USA and UK) give them money by the name of “helping people” but that money is helping the Three fascist group to buy weapon s to kill Ethiopian people, particularly Promo people. It is ASA democracy for Ethiopia and African nations. Many people know how much money the TPLF gave to USA candidate of President H.K. then, when tenth of millions of Ethiopian people live in need of food.

  3. Bortol March 27, 2017 at 9:13 am #

    Why do you post this Woyane pupate article?

  4. Abba Maachaa March 27, 2017 at 11:29 am #

    This article on the friendship between US and Ethiopia remind us, the 18th centuary
    So called travlers, whom var bribed by the Abyssinian kings to report lies to their respektive countries to get arms to occupay other people in the south IF abyssinia. He never report the genoside the current regime is responsible on the Oromo and other people. But, this is not 18th centuary, the American people understand the true reality not this fake article.

  5. sirreessaa March 28, 2017 at 3:24 am #

    Very low quality article. Shame on ayyaantu.

  6. kimemu March 28, 2017 at 10:38 pm #

    Writing about Ethiopia is not an easy task anymore. One need to understand the difference between reality and fiction; ‘Ethiopia” and ‘Ethiopians”, and the “the leaders” and the ordinary people (the subjects).

    I am having difficulty understanding what this guy is talking about; is he writing about the Ethiopian “Government” or Ethiopian people. It seems to me that he is missing something somewhere, or trying to lobby for the TPLF somehow.

    I appreciate the author’s positive attitude towards Ethiopia, but it is frustrating knowing how biased he is or pretending to be ignorant of the facts on the ground in that country.

    It may be true that he said Ethiopians favor USA over China but he should not try to fool us by telling the Ethiopian ‘government” is a dependable ally of the USA. However, you may buy them (TPLF) for any price as long as you are willing to ignore the lives these thugs are eliminating day and night.

    I guess the piece that he just wrote is a tool to survay and looking forward to reading more from him and will able to identify his true motive.

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