Monday, November 14, 2005

The Hidden Costs of Tunnel Vision Foreign Policy

Iraq and the Crisis of American
Posted by Suzanne Nossel, Senior Fellow at the Security and Peace Institute
Via Democracy Arsenal:

During her confirmation hearings, Secretary of State Condi Rice said 'the time for diplomacy is now.' The sad thing is, it isn't working. A dizzying schedule of trips abroad and a new tone coming from Foggy Bottom have not pulled American diplomacy out of crisis.

The strains in our relationships, our diminished influence and our inability to bear down and get things done is affecting issues small and big, immediate and long-term...


I'm probably the only person in Oxford who spends his Sundays in a Laundromat discussing Ethiopian politics via cell phone.

I finally was able to get ahold of my friend Mesi to find out how her family's been doing back in Addis Ababa - to make sure everybody's doing okay, that nobody she knows actually got picked up by government in last week's bloody uprising.

Everybody's fine. Thank God.

But Ethiopia's not.

Neither is neighboring Eritrea, that nation's sibling and most bitter rival for political dominance. Nor is much of the Horn of Africa. If the two nations ever start shooting at one another again, Africa will experience the largest military engagement in modern history. If either of those nations develops a nuclear arsenal, North Africa will more than likely become ground zero for World War Three.

Mesi and I started talking a bit about her experiences growing up and other tales from "back home." Stories of watching American armored vehicles driven by British-trained Ethiopian military, carrying American made weapons. Before that, when the were in power, the weapons were Soviet-made. And before that, during the reign of Emperor , back when and were marginally unified, the weapons poured in from the West to keep the country on the "right" side of the .

Now both nations, more than a decade removed a bloody civil war, are full of American and European weapons with no real democratic leadership on the horizon.

Imagine sticking a stick of dynamite in the microwave, if you will. How long before someone flips the right switch and blows up half the neighborhood?

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