Guarding our Sovereignty from Competing

                                                                             Forces of Influence



 Adal Isaw

August 1, 2009


A clearly delineated three-way competition to influence Africa is in the order.  U.S., China, and the European Union are competing softly by engaging African countries worthy of their interest.  U.S. and China are state actors and their competitive behavior is straight forward; states compete primarily for an easy access to resources and also for open markets to sell their finished products.  But imbedded in the deeper layer of international economic relationship, is the unrelenting competition by resourceful states to gain relative strength in their overall standing.  Under this context, states compete to become the most influential and dominating actor they can be.  The reason:  If conditions allow, a state with a supreme dominance will have the power to dictate its own ways of doing things on relatively weaker states.  Soft or hard and contentious or not, this is what U.S. and China do, to primarily serve their own interest.


The European Union is a different breed with respect to this three-way competition and behaves in a slightly different manner relative to U.S. and China.   In its truest sense, the European Union is an intergovernmental entity without the full-fledged characteristics of a state.  And, by having some structures akin to a state, this Union of many states behaves part-time as states do to dispense its duty.  When it comes to a foreign policy issue coupled with clear economic interest, however, what matters most is not what Europe collectively says it will do, but what its constituent states are willing to do to enhance their individual interest.  Because, many of the states which make up the European Union have a long held diplomatic and economic affair that primarily dictates their individual behavior in their relation with other states.


In this world of “dog eats dog” economic showdown for resources and unrestrained open markets, it’s natural for states to primarily behave according to their own interest to aggrandize their relative strength.   In fact, this is precisely what states are expected to diligently do in their business hours.  Some state interests are done for supremacy while others are done to better economic life.  Meanwhile and by far, our world is inundated by the politics of interest than it’s by the politics of co-operation.  The politics of interest is self-centered while the politics of co-operation is mutual if not all the time.  Therefore, we Ethiopians should be vigilant and be able to sift the politics of interest from the politics of co-operation; so that, by being highly cognizant of the real interest in question, we will have an answer that will enable us to guard our sovereignty from the dictates of these competing forces of influence.


These competing forces of influence are accompanied by an ideology that lays the base for how resources should be exploited and distributed among claimants that may reside in two different localities.  The resources that are exploited in Africa may affect lives in two different ways and in two different continents either positively or otherwise.  During the brutal colonial times, for example, Europe boomed economically, and life for Europeans especially for Britons soared positively consequent to amassing the resources of Africa and other continents without a payment.  Conversely, life for Africans and many other dwellers of the colonial world became insanely brutal to the core.  The brutal face of colonialism might have waned, but the ideology that adored it is still with us and it is called capitalism.


If consumed raw wherever it is implemented, especially in its classical modality, capitalism is an ideology of economics that is inclined to serve few strong hands more so than it serves million others.  For an economic transaction of the biggest order with Ethiopia; U.S., China, and the European Union may speak of capitalism in varying pitch of voice and degree of enthusiasm.  But, what should be known is the fact that, the end result is not to primarily help Ethiopia become as developed as they’re and as influential as they have become.  No state helps to knowingly create its own competitor, and no competitor has become one by helping other states garner more power to be in the position of dictating.


The scramble for finite resources, accompanied by ever enigmatically coiled international economic relations, requires all future Ethiopian leaders to be more vigilant than their predecessors.  To facilitate this vigilance, the strongest guiding principle by which the future leaders of Ethiopia should abide with has been forwarded and is being implemented with hard work by the Ethiopian people alongside EPRDF.  This principle is as simple as it gets to communicate, learn, and carry over for implementation.  More than anything else, this principle is also as indispensable as the collective lives of Ethiopians and it is called sovereignty.  Sovereignty is the supreme asset common to all Ethiopians and it is expressed in full by Ethiopia’s territory with all of its embodying resources.  Protecting this supreme commonly owned asset of Ethiopians from competing forces of influence is thus the only guarantee that will make us stay sovereign as we should.