Will President Biden’s Sanctions on Ethiopia Cause Suffering for Hundreds of Millions of Africans
Lawrence Freeman, September 30, 2021
President Biden is pursuing a destructive and dangerous course of action for the African continent with his policy of undermining the Ethiopian government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The fact that he may have no comprehension of the consequences of his action is no excuse when you are the President of the United States. President Obama’s administration, which Biden served as Vice President, will be forever marred by the unwarranted and unnecessary overthrow of President Qaddafi a decade ago. Obama’s reckless regime change in Libya has brought hell upon the nations of the Sahel, which will continue to cause unspeakable hardships to Africans for generations. If President Biden is to avoid repeating the failure of the previous Democratic administration and avoid being indicted for unleashing a new nightmare of death and devastation across Africa, he must reverse course, and support the sovereignty of Ethiopia. This will require rejecting the counsel of those in his administration, who are fanatical followers of the wicked geo-political doctrine, especially war-hawk Samantha Power.
Biden’s Defective Executive Order
On September 17, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order authorizing the Departments of Treasury and State to impose additional sanctions on Ethiopia. In his executive order, President Biden falsely claims that the conflict in northern Ethiopia “constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” Similar fraudulent formulations were used over the last twenty years as a pretext by the U.S., to justify regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Have we not learned anything from a generation of foreign policy fiascos that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings and the suffering of tens of millions? Not a single stable nation has emerged from this armed belligerent adventurism of the last two decades.
Contrary to President Biden’s executive order, the real interests of America do not lie in the current U.S. policy of weakening Prime Minister Abiy’s democratically elected government and giving tacit support to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). If a rebel group attacked, raided, and killed soldiers at the U.S. Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina, would there be any question regarding the appropriate response by the U.S. government.
Ignorance by U.S. politicians of the historically complex cloth that holds Ethiopian society and culture together is no excuse for the current mindless and perilous policy of sanctions.
In fact, the true interests of the U.S. are entrenched in its republican principles. The U.S. should be supporting nation-states abroad that are committed to improving the conditions of life of their citizens, as enshrined in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (Emphasis added)
Ethiopia, an emerging nation, is unique in Africa with its bold visionary policies for economic development to raise the standard of living for its more than 118 million people. The shameful and blatant failure by both the Biden and Trump presidencies to celebrate and endorse the progress of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)—a dam for development, indicates how far America has drifted from our republican principles. The generation of 6,200 megawatts of electricity to power the Ethiopian and neighboring economies of East Africa is precisely the development strategy that is required and should be emulated by other African nations.
The Perils of Weakening the Nation-State
Thus far, the sovereign nation-state is the most efficacious form of government created by humankind to apply the laws of the universe to society over successive future generations.
With the ongoing horrors of what has been done to the Sahel and North Africa, through the reckless regime change of Libya, in our minds, let us look anew at the impending dangers to Ethiopia and Africa today. And lets us be mindful that same cast of advisors that drove the policy to create the current failed state of Libya are presently holding leading positions in the Biden administration.
Only fools, knaves, and madmen would dare intervene into a legitimate nation-state.
Horn of Africa Endangered
If the U.S. and the West succeed in forcing Ethiopia to negotiate with the TPLF as equivalents, or try to force some type of coalition government, the consequences could be catastrophic for Africa. Ethiopia would then be held hostage to the demands of other rebel ethnic insurgents, and separatist gangs that want to see its demise. This would in effect lead to the dismemberment of the Ethiopian nation-state. Given Ethiopia’s rigid ethnic divisions, internal war would emerge with ethnic regions fighting each other, leading to tens of millions of Ethiopians migrating to seek safer refuge. There is no way this mass movement of people catalyzed by the collapse of the Ethiopian nation-state would not affect the stability of the region. The total population of Ethiopia and its bordering nations combined is 255 million Africans: Ethiopia-118.5 million, Kenya-55 million, Somalia-16 million, Sudan-45 million, South Sudan-11 million, Eritrea-3.6 million, Somaliland-5.7 million, Djibouti-1 million. Two orders of magnitude greater than the population of Tigray, which could be engulfed in war, chaos, and acute hunger, if the government of Prime Minister Abiy were to collapse. This level of volatility from mass migration would lead an increase in the spread of disease and violent extremism.
Thus, contrary to his stated aim, President Biden’s sanctions regime would in fact endanger the security of the U.S. by creating the potential for massive instability in the Horn of Africa where almost 20% of the continent’s inhabitants reside.
Is this what President Biden wishes to be his legacy in Africa? From the classical Greek dramatists we learn, “Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.” Let this ancient warning penetrate the foolishness of those formulating U.S. policy today. When evil appears as good, in the mind of our leaders, civilization is threatened.
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.