What to Make of President Obama

From: Dimtzi Eritrawian Kab German <eritreanvoice.germany_at_googlemail.com_at_dehai.org>
Date: Wed, 9 Sep 2015 20:59:34 +0200

What to Make of President Obama
What to Make of President Obama
(Yimer Muhe)
President Obama’s visit to Ethiopia was criticized from all corners of the
world including human rights organizations such as Amnesty International,
Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, think tanks, scholars, lawyers, etc. The
assortment of the displeased with President Obama reminds one of the
international uproar President Bush the son caused before invading Iraq in
2003. President Bush ignored the warning of the rest of the world with the
exception of few nations and we see the result in the current turmoil that
has engulfed Iraq, Syria and the Middle East in general. At that time,
President Obama was not only opposed to the invasion, once he became
president, he didn’t spare time to start disengaging the US military from
Iraq. So what is the explanation why the same person who vehemently opposed
the Iraqi invasion with the rest of the world has stopped listening to the
same rational voices when it comes to the dictators in Africa especially of
Ethiopia? The most obvious and widely held explanation is that the Obama
administration has conveniently abdicated particularly its Ethiopian policy
to the very personal whims of the likes of Susan Rice, Wendy Sherman, and
Gayle Smith who has a long history of working with TPLF going back to 1982.
We know in 2009, President Obama was chosen for the Nobel Prize for Peace,
not because he brought peace between two warring nations like President
Carter did between Israel and Egypt; or not because he was the leader of a
nonviolent civil rights movement like Martin Luther King was; and not
either because he fed the poor as Mother Theresa of Calcutta did, it was
only because the speeches he made in Cairo and Berlin while he was still on
the presidential campaign trail fired up the hopes of the young and the
old, the oppressed and the voiceless across gender and color and national
boundaries. The world was so horrified, depressed and hurt and felt so
disrespected during the previous eight years of the Bush II era, the Nobel
Committee apparently hoped the young Obama hailing from an African father
and an Irish mother would be nothing but a redeemer and rectifier as the
leader of the Free World. The Nobel Committee didn’t choose Obama from
among other eligible candidates just to make a statement directed at Bush
II and his supporters for arrogantly defying world opinion with their
obsession that might is right and that is all that matters. Unfortunately,
the sad truth is that there is a huge gap between what President Obama
preached in his famous and well received speeches and what he has
accomplished for the oppressed and the voiceless warranting that the Nobel
Committee ought to be regretting its premature decision.
For quite a while human rights organizations have been pointing fingers at
the Obama Administration for ignoring human rights violations in countries
such as Ethiopia where such violations are the rules not the exceptions,
and for playing the role of an enabler. All along, the Administration has
been denying the allegations. However, on August 1, 2015, the
Administration came out of its closet when the President visited Ethiopia
defying world opinion, and in glaring daylight with PM Hailemariam at his
side, gave his blessings to the TPLF tyrants as democratically elected.
That day, President Obama didn’t have to go too far to find out that
Ethiopia was anything but a democracy. The proof was staring at him. Only
one Ethiopian journalist was allowed to ask a question, and the only
question the cadre journalist cared to ask the President was about Ginbot
7’s recent movement in Eritrea. Yes, the President did say something better
the next day at the African Union Hall when he lashed out at African
despots, but rest assured his warnings were not meant to include the TPLF
leaders that he anointed the day before as democratically elected. Needless
to say that the President’s lack of consistency ought to be as worrisome
and unsettling as his glorification of the ethnocentric and totalitarian
In one of his speeches the President even implied that democracy needs to
be tailored to fit the prevailing conditions in a society. This begs the
question if the President is buying into or blessing the developmental
state approach which is in total contradiction with the principles this
great nation of USA is founded on – freedom of speech, freedom of assembly,
freedom of press, and freedom of religion as God given and inalienable.
President Obama, did not also hide his surprise at being criticized for
visiting a smaller country like Ethiopia but doesn’t hear any such
criticisms when he visits a bigger country such as China. The President,
without a doubt, missed the point that China never claimed itself a
democracy. Whereas the TPLF dictators do unabashedly claim they have a
democratic system in place, a claim unfortunately endorsed by the President
while the rest of the world begs to differ. Despite China’s huge
involvement in the Ethiopian economy and its blind support for the TPLF
regime, it never crossed Diaspora’s mind to protest in front of the Chinese
Embassy anywhere in the world for the simple reason that China could care
For a man who gave so much hope to the oppressed and the voiceless only to
disappoint them by siding with dictators, for them, Mr. Obama is a Trojan
horse, and will remain so unless he proves himself otherwise in his
remaining time. How could one then explain why President Obama, during his
visit to Ethiopia, did not say a word about the Ethiopian Muslim Community
leaders who on July 5, 2015, were convicted of trumped up terrorism related
charges, and the deteriorating Ethiopian Muslims situation in general? When
Secretary Kerry visited Addis Ababa last year, in his press conference, he
did not utter a word either about the Ethiopian Muslims issues that was
about three years old at that time. However, Secretary Kerry did not waste
time to express his grave concern about the recently arrested Zone 9
Bloggers. Several months ago, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, TPLF’s Foreign Minister,
in an interview with a pro-TPLF radio station in the Washington, DC area
stated that the jailed Ethiopian Muslim leaders had some sort of liaison
with some of the Guantanamo inmates. Both the State Department and the
White house kept quiet regarding the Foreign Minister’s outlandish
statement. Hence, it should not be farfetched to entertain the idea that
the Obama Administration doesn’t have problem with the accusations leveled
at the Ethiopian Muslim Leaders as “terrorists” and their subsequent
convictions on the trumped up charges. It is also justified, at this point,
to conclude that the Obama Administration is contented with the efforts of
the Ethiopian government to forcefully impose the Ahbashi ideology on the
Ethiopian Muslim community, and it is quite eagerly waiting to see the
outcome of the experiment at the expense of the peace loving Ethiopian
In 2008 and 2012, during President Obama’s campaign for the White House,
thousands of Ethiopian-Americans all over the United States were soliciting
votes for him knocking on doors from sunrise to sunset. When the President
visited Ethiopia and declared it a democracy, the expectation of the loyal
Ethiopian-American constituency was shattered and the feeling among them
can be summed up with what Shakespeare’s King Lear said “… how sharper than
a serpent’s tongue to have a thankless child…” Or, the goat parable comes
to mind to most where the goat gave birth to fire and didn’t know what to
do with it. Maybe, it is time to consider changing party affiliation for
Ethiopian-Americans who are overwhelmingly democrats.
One wonders how history will judge the President. He will definitely be
remembered as the first African American President. He will definitely get
the trophy for his oratory. However, the problem with this distinction is
that he will also be bitterly remembered for failing to translate his
oratory into action. As to his seemingly enduring legacy – Obamacare – it
has a high probability of being thrown in the trash bin of history if a
Republican wins the White House in 2016. So, for President Obama to have an
enduring legacy, he must stand on the side of the oppressed, and the
voiceless that he so much fervently spoke about; he must stand with the
people of Ethiopia not with the ruthless TPLF dictators. The President’s
pet projects such as ‘Power Africa’, if successful, might appease his
conscience for the time being, but what he failed to achieve in the field
of human rights will definitely come back later to haunt him. Africans
expect more than pet projects from President Obama and he is running out of
time. To redeem himself, Mr. Obama must come out of the shadow of the
chuckling Susan Rice, Wendy Sherman, Gale Smith and their likes, the sooner
the better. President Obama should always remember that he is the first US
President of African origin that Africans wish to be proud of, and they
expect him to do the right thing – stand for their cause not only in words
but in concrete and tangible terms.
Received on Wed Sep 09 2015 - 14:59:34 EDT

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