Opinion: Why US Policy on Ethiopia and Horn of Africa is Flawed

A general view of the White House in Washington, DC., July 2021. (Reuters)

Daily Sabah

Despite its imperfections, the U.S. boasts one of the oldest and most successful examples of constitutional breakthroughs in the world. The U.S. Constitution emerged as a result of the historically arduous but careful compromises of its framers.

Learning from the flaws of the country’s first founding document, i.e., the Articles of the Confederation, the current Constitution that was drafted in 1789 also led to the birth of the current U.S. system of federalism.

As opposed to an ineffective and costly confederation that had empowered then 13 states consolidated after the American Revolutionary War, the new federal Constitution balanced political power between the national government in Washington, D.C. and that of the states and their local governments.

Since its inception, however, the U.S. Constitution has not been immune to facing many constitutional debates or state-national tensions that have ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court’s judicial review framework and that created both good and bad legal precedents that still define federal relations in the country.

To mention one major achievement, among others, the U.S. federal system has also ensured the implementation of what is referred to as the “national standard,” a system of direct, conditional and blocked federal grants that guaranteed more or less similar economic growth across the country’s 50 states.

For instance, thanks to such a system, an American who hopes to move from any small town in North Dakota or Alabama to major cities like Chicago or New York would still have access to quality health care, education opportunities, immediate employment and the right to enjoy any benefits that his new state’s residents receive.

Thanks to such a working system of governance, any impediment to the free movement of people, goods and services is also never a concern.

The un-American approach

Unfortunately, when it comes to what system of government and governance that the U.S. wishes for others, especially for third world countries that happen to rely on foreign economic aid, it has always been evident that its approach is mistaken.

A recent statement by the U.S. State Department that called for keeping Ethiopia’s flawed ethnic federal arrangement is one such example.

Unlike the U.S. federal system, Ethiopia’s ethnic federal arrangement is a failed system that illegally constituted the country’s internal borders according to ethnic and linguistic classifications.

Such an arrangement has now been proven to be a ticking time bomb when it comes to the unity of Ethiopia’s people and the nation’s territorial integrity.

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