Part IV: ‘Medemer’ and Foreign Relation
This is the final part of “Medemer” book review which has been provided in four parts (read part III here http://aigaforum.com/article2019/Book-Review-Medemer-by-Abiy-part3.htm). Now a days, not only Medemer Philosophy, but also the sale of Medemer Book became the project of the Government of Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed. Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), Ethiopian Embassies, and other Ethiopian Government institutions are busy implementing this project (https://youtu.be/gGDNdVZXGh0 ). As the saying goes, “the request of the king is tantamount to an order”and it seems that everyone is working hard to fulfill the order. If the proceeds from the sale of the book are collected with the official revenue collection receipt of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MOFED) to go to the treasury and to be used for the procurement of goods and services for public purposes, there is no problem of investing public funds in its sale. Otherwise, it is considered misuse of government institutions and the time of Government employees. The process is worrisome because, in a country where the Prime Minister takes public resources with pinches, the ministers will take with shovels and other government officials with buckets.
Chapter Fifteen: International Situations and Their Implication on Ethiopia (Pages241-249)
The Author argues that forces and structures of international relations are volatile;the situationsare in big change and revolt. He listed terrorism, migration,increasing number of international actors, and climate change as main changes surfacing in international relations. He says, the two main international issues which have significant impact on Ethiopia are 1) the confrontation of superpowers and the increase of actors of international relations, and 2) increase in populism and acceptance of ethnic based parties.
1. The Confrontation of Superpowers and the Increase of Actors of International Relations
The competition among the developed countries for political influence beyond their boundaries became one of the realities of international relation.America’s dominance which was seen after the end of Cold War is challenged by the emergence of other powers who are striving for geopolitical and economic influence. Transnational companies and non-governmental organizations (NGO) are also the actors in international relations. The Author says, the revival of Russia and the emergence of China are posing challenge to the United States and the fake newsdisseminated through Facebook, Twitter, and Google are posing challenge to other countries. He also says, the political situation around Persian Gulf and Middle East, the Iran-Saudi competition, the competition between Egypt and Turkey, the war in Yemen and the Nile issue have direct impact on peace and security in the Horn of Africa and around the Red Sea. American, French, Chinese, UAE, and Saudi Arabian military camps around the Red Sea and Indian Ocean and the competition of these countries to have friends in this region are also another challenges in international relations. Therefore, the Author says, these dynamic international and regionalconditions should be given attention equal to building accountable, representative, and effective domestic political economic system.
2. Increase in Populism and Nationalism
The Author arguesthat the financial crisis of 2008 and the stagnation of economic growth and social crises that followed it resulted in increased populism and nationalism. Political organizationsthat accuse the status quo for political and economic problems and who want to change the existing system emerged. Instead of ideology, principles, national and international relations, populism and nationalism became the governing ideas. He listed Sweden, Austria, Finland, Denmark, Italy, Belgium, Norway, Mexico, USA, France, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe as countries where populists and conservatives won election. He says, the anti-immigrant and nationalist behavior of populists is posing challenge tothe international trade and multilateral organizations.
He argues,the rise of nationalism andacceptance of ethnic based parties at international level have significant impact on Ethiopia. An increase in the numbers of political forces who rather than designing agenda which address the basic question of the people inflame grievances and hate immigrants is a challenge for the multicultural Ethiopia. However, the Author didn’t explain how an increase in populism and nationalism at international level create challenge to Ethiopia. In addition, it worth noting that Prime Minister Abiy himself is one of the populists who exploited the grievances of the people to mobilize support and take power ( http://aigaforum.com/article2019/Populism-in-Ethiopia.htm).
Chapter Sixteen: Medemer and Foreign Relation (Pages250-267)
According to the Author, one of the sectors where Ethiopia built capacity without backlog is foreign relations and diplomacy. The good international works done by previous Ethiopian leaders can be huge capital for the foreign relations that the country is following. He identified three causes of war- greed, fear, and dignity- and said Ethiopia enters into war only for her dignity and used the battle of Adwa as an example that Ethiopia fought for defending its dignity. Ethiopia’s peace keeping role in Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, and Liberia and its role in mediation also increased her influence.
As the Author puts it, Medemer’s foreign relation depends on cooperation and competition. It will continue the basic principles of foreign policy of the countryby correcting the weaknesses rather than starting brand new. He says our foreign relation should give priority to relations rather than for pursuing interest and problems could be solved primarily by renewing relations. Renewing relation requires one party to take the initiative otherwise they will be in “Hobbesian Trap” where fear leads to an increasing fear and then to conflict. He says Medemer does not agree with the idea of “there are no permanent friends, no permanent enemies” rather it believes in the idea of “there is no such thing as friend and enemy”. He also says Ethiopia’s foreign relation will give attention to relations with neighboring countries with the focus on economic integration, peace and security and will assure national dignity which includes the dignity of citizens and having strong defense force (army, marine, air force, and cyber). He also discussed the importance of being influential at international level.
EXIT (Pages 268-270)
The Author says Ethiopia got golden opportunities to start new chapters, but failed to use them and those opportunities were wasted. Now, another golden opportunity is in front of us- are we again going to waste or are we going to add the country and generation together and transform the country to the higher level? This chance is not what we usually get and, may be, this will be the last. Therefore, we all must rise up and write glaring history on the record. The Author tried to create sense of urgency to rally people behind his ideas. He also tried to convince the readers that this is the last chance for the country to see change.
According to the Author, the idea of Medemer is the conscious way through which we realize our common goals by exhaustively utilizing one’s ability and reducing wastage. It is a conscious way because it enables to reconcile principles with realities rather than leaving the problems of life to ideology. He says, if we follow Medemer’s way, it will take us to prosperity and civilization. If we are added together, we will solve our problems and ascend to the higher level. The Author concluded that the very existence of the country and the security of the people will be realized only through Medemer. In short, the Author is saying “my way or the highway”.
Medemer can be said a political roadmap rather than philosophy. It is a plan to allure unwary supporters. Time will tell if Medemer brings prosperity or poverty to the country, if it lifts the country to the higher level or douse it in the swamp of despair, if it brings stability or restiveness, if it unites or widen the rift among the peoples in Ethiopia.
In the 280 pages Medemer book, we find only one quotation on page 180 and that quotation is not done correctly (it is indented, in quotation marks, and in bold font and has no page number of the book from which it was quoted. Not using references and quotations and presenting ideas in the general terms based on assumption are some of the weaknesses of the book. In addition, one can observe that the author categorizes intergovernmental or public international organizations as NGOs (page 244) and he usedincorrect timeframes (page 198).
The Author provided the list of books (bibliography) at the end of the book, but these doesn’t help the reader which idea is taken from which book or which idea is supported by which author. This diminishes the quality of the book and the credibility of his arguments.
I listened to numbers of panelists who tried to stretch the contents of Medemer to cover everything and make it one size fits all. Even, I heard that the idea of Medemer came from Oromo Gada system and will work for other Horn of Arica countries too; but this argument is not true. Therefore, the readers shouldn’t be surprised if they couldn’t find the ideas which panelists patched together regarding Medemer. The assignments of some of these panelists are to convince their audiences by hook or by crook.
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