Al Mariam’s Commentaries
The “Dangerous” Secretary of State Antony Blinken
On March 3, 2021, Blinken gave his first speech as Secretary of State.
Blinken said, “It’s the role of the State Department – and America’s diplomats and development workers – to engage around the world and build that cooperation.”
Blinken set out a challenge for himself and the Biden administration.
If we do our jobs right, you’ll be able to check our work – to see the links between what we’re doing around the world and the goals and values I’ll lay out today.
Citing Freedom House, an in-house multi-million dollar funded USAID/State Department think-tank, Blinken argued:
Authoritarianism and nationalism are on the rise around the world. Governments are becoming less transparent and have lost the trust of the people. Elections are increasingly flashpoints for violence. Corruption is growing. And the pandemic has accelerated many of these trends.
He said we are living in a “different time, so our strategy and approach are different. We’re not simply picking up where we left off, as if the past four years didn’t happen. We’re looking at the world with fresh eyes.”
Blinken said US foreign policy under Biden will be a “foreign policy for American workers and their families”
He identified an 8-point plan which included stopping Covid, creating an inclusive global economy, renewing democracy, creating a humane and effective immigration system, revitalizing ties with allies and partners, tackling climate crisis, driving a green energy revolution, securing leadership in technology and managing relations with with China.
In her June 7, 2022 “major foreign policy address”, Samantha Power proposed to implement Blinken/Biden’s “America’s foreign policy for American workers and their families” by declaring a “revolution of dignity” on the world.
The whole idea of a “foreign policy of workers and their families” is not only absurd but downright stupid.
In the memorable words of Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.”
So, it is with America’s top foreign policy makers.
In my view, one of the greatest yet least appreciated problems in US foreign policy in general and Africa/Ethiopia in particular is that the individuals responsible for formulation and implementation of US foreign policy are unqualified and morally bankrupt political hacks whose stupidity is exceeded only by their willful ignorance, depraved indifference, gelastic arrogance and hubris and depraved and dangerous indifference to America’s enduring national interests.
Antony Blinken is downright dangerous to America, and calamitous for the world.
The late Senator John McCain opposing Antony Blinken’s nomination in 2014 said with uncanny and eerily prophetic certainty that Blinken is “dangerous to America.” (See Part I of this series for details.)
McCain said Blinken “is not only unqualified,” but has “actually been dangerous to America. This has led to foreign policy failures, including the continued slaughter of the Syrian people by President Bashar Assad … and the betrayal of our key allies, especially in central Europe…”
Blinken has been not only “dangerous” but also an unmitigated disaster since he became Secretary of state.
Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.”
He meant the medium of communicating information is just as important, if not more so, than the information itself.
Applied to US foreign policy that means the person communicating the message of US foreign policy is, paradoxically, just as important, if not more so than the policy itself.
The wrong person delivering the right message will fall on deaf ears.
Antony Blinken is the Rodney Dangerfield of foreign policy.
Nobody respects him. Nobody likes him.
He is a super lightweight. He is unimaginative.
Blinken botched the Afghanistan withdrawal so badly America lost all respect of the global community. Afghans falling from Hercules cargo planes is seared in the minds of billions of people.
Barely six months after the Afghanistan withdrawal, Blinken botched the response to Russia’s “special military operation in Ukraine.”
Today, Russia is laughing all the way to the bank to collect a record 93 billion euros it earned in revenue from exports of oil, gas and coal in the first 100 days of its Ukraine “special military operation.”
It is mindboggling that Blinken could not even organize the “Summit of the Americas,” last hosted by the US in 1994, because he is incompetent and incapable of healing hemispheric divisions, minimizing acrimony and finger pointing in the region resulting in a high degree of polarization and diminishing American influence.
In May 2022, Iran defiantly switched off surveillance cameras around its nuclear plant as resumption of negotiations hit a dead end. Blinken said, “it will complicate things.” That was all.
On May 18, 2022, Blinken hosted a conversation today with visiting African leaders in New York and told them their people are going hungry because of the “global impact of the Kremlin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”
They laughed at him.
Truth be told, Blinken is useless!
Blinken is all hat and no cattle. He talks gibberish. He is a pretender.
In the Ethiopian crisis, Blinken was a broken record.
All he did was bark out orders about “unfettered humanitarian access,” etc.
He could not come up with a single — not one — creative idea to help resolve the crisis.
“Shadow US Secretary of State” Susan Rice
Susan Rice, whom I have dubbed the “Princess of Darkness” is one longtime US foreign policy maker upfront or in the shadows who has earned universal contempt.
Rice could not make Secretary of State because of intense opposition in the Senate, so she puppet masters Blinken, Power, Sullivan and the rest.
I have locked horns with Susan Rice for over a decade.
As I have demonstrated in my numerous commentaries, Rice is the paragon of the soulless, cutthroat, ruthless and calculating politician-cum-political appointee in recent American history.
Rice is a longtime supporter of the terrorist TPLF and the first to cry out to save that terror group in November 2021.
Rice is the architect of US policy in Ethiopia.
Blinken, Power and the rest are her gofers in implementing her policy to restore the terrorist TPLF to power.
Rice is a Shakespearean villain “who smiles as she murders and murders as she smiled.”
Rice shamelessly She declared an election supposedly won by 100 percent by the ruling party in Ethiopia “democratic.”
The real-life “Ugly American” Jeffrey Feltman
Susan Rice arranged the appointment of Jeffrey Feltman to be Biden’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa.
During his first visit as special envoy to Ethiopia, Feltman’s primary mission was to deliver the letter of “five senators” commanding the Ethiopian Government to cancel the June 5, 2021 election and threaten crippling sanctions.
The strategy was simple. If there is no election, the terrorist TPLF can buy time and seize power by force.
Before travelling to the Horn in early May 2021, Feltman was talking trash. “Authoritarian leaders in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia draw closer at the expense of the wider collective.”
“Authoritarian” is a kinder, gentler word for “dictator,” “despots, autocrats etc. The same people Power talked about in her June 7 speech.
Feltman spoke about Ethiopia and the Horn region in the eschatological terms of a diplomatic simpleton.
Days before his first visit, Feltman predicted that if Ethiopia’s leaders did not follow his advice and commands, they will find themselves plunged in a civil war that will make Syria’s civil war “child’s play.”
It was a case of art imitating life.
In his various visits to Ethiopia, Feltman bullied, threatened and tried to intimidate Ethiopian officials. He even tried to scare PM Abiy Ahmed with all sorts of economic and military threats.
Little did Feltman know PM Abiy does not scare easy. PM Abiy nicely told him to go to hell.
Feltman proved to be the real life version of the fictional Ambassador Louis Sears depicted in the 1958 Eugene Burdick and William Lederer novel “The Ugly American”.
That book begins with Sears bemoaning the fact that the people of the fictional country of Sarkhan are “strange little monkeys.”
The fact is Sears is the real monkey. He is completely clueless about Sarkhanese history, politics or society.
On the weekend of October 24, 2021, Jeffrey Feltman held “high-stakes diplomatic meetings in Sudan to shore up the country’s shaky transitional government.”
However, “only an hour after Feltman’s flight took off, Burhan made his move and ordered the sweeping arrest of civilian leaders, including Hamdok, the prime minister, and dissolved the transitional government to take power.”
Burhan ultimately made a monkey out of Feltman.
I shall always remember Feltman as the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge.
On Ethiopian Christmas (Genna) Eve 2022, Feltman showed in Ethiopia bearing gifts of “peace talks” at the very moment hundreds of thousands of super low-wage factory workers lose their jobs because Feltman and his friends cut off Ethiopia from benefits under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Feltman resigned after 9 months in January 2022 in total ignominy.
Samantha Power, USAID administrator and Susan Rice’s gofer
Rice got Power the USAID job.
Power has been a mouthpiece for propaganda and disinformation for the terrorist TPLF.
Power has been crying wolf and perpetuating mythology/disinformation about famine and starvation in the northern Ethiopian province of Tigray for the past year.
Power is a doggone liar who will crucify the truth to help out a bunch of bloodthirsty terrorists.
On May 11, 2022, Power testified (actually testiLIED) before Congress that the Ethiopian government is withholding “warehouses of food” from starving people in Tigray.
May 17, 2022, USAID Ethiopia tweeted:
As #Ethiopia faces its worst #drought in 40 years, @USAID is surging our support with over $152 million in aid. We’re helping thousands of health extensions workers like Ferhiya (pic’d here) to screen hundreds of thousands of children for severe malnutrition in all regions. (Italics added.)
Was Ethiopia facing “famine,” “drought” or “severe malnutrition”?
Power has been systematically feeding the world lies, damned lies and disinformation on cutoff/blockage of delivery of humanitarian aid and crying wolf about famine and starvation in Tigray for the last year beginning in May 2021.
On May 19, 2021, Power tweeted, “WARNING: Conflict causing extreme hunger in #Tigray; 5M+ people need humanitarian aid. Our early warning system now detects category 5 food emergency. THERE IS NO CATEGORY 6.” There was no extreme hunger.
On June 2, 2021, Power tweeted, “Ethiopia has seen famine of disastrous proportions before & could see it again within months.” There was no famine.
On June 9, 2021, Power issued a statement announcing she “held an urgent meeting on famine and atrocities in Tigray.” There was no famine!
On July 31, 2021, Power announced, “Over 100,000 children could face extreme starvation in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.” There was no extreme starvation!
On August 21, 2021, Power issued a statement, “In Tigray, where hundreds of thousands are facing famine, food warehouses are virtually empty.” There was no famine!
Power has been crying wolf about a famine that does not exist in order to weaponize the myth of famine to mobilize Western public opinion, demonize Ethiopia, impose sanctions and in the process restore the terrorist TPLF to power in Ethiopia.
On July 16, 2022, the World Food Program announced, “famine has been averted in Ethiopia.”
A famine that never existed!
On July 18, 2022, Power announced she is going to the Horn of Africa to coordinate efforts to avert famine.
It is a publicity stunt to show Power as the savior of starving Africans.
Case in point: Contrasting the Biden and the Trump administrations
For over a year and half, the Biden administration coddled and did everything to restore the terrorist TPLF to power in Ethiopia.
But the Trump administration remained principled and advanced a US foreign policy which generated considerable respect among the Ethiopian people.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy called a spade a spade. Or a terrorist, a terrorist.
On November 4, 2020, the day after the TPLF attack on the Ethiopian Northern Command, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the U.S. position clear:
The United States is deeply concerned by reports that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front carried out attacks on Ethiopian National Defense Force bases in Ethiopia’s Tigray region on November 3… The United States stands with the people of Ethiopia and will work with all who are committed to peace, prosperity, democracy, and the rule of law.
Pompeo and the Trump administration were demonstrably principled and unequivocal. No U.S. support for terrorists!
On November 15, 2020, Assistant Secretary Tibor Nagy tweeted,
The United States strongly condemns the TPLF’s unjustifiable attacks against Eritrea on November 14 and its efforts to internationalize the conflict in Tigray.
For the Biden administration, there was moral equivalency between the legitimate government of Ethiopia and the terrorist TPLF.
It would be the same moral equivalency between the U.S. government and the Proud Boys terrorist that attacked Congress on January 6, 2021.
Except to issue in terrorem commands and pronouncements that flow from the arrogance of imperial power, the Biden administration never acknowledged Ethiopian sovereignty, unity or dignity in the current conflict.
On December 1, 2020, Nagy gave an interview to the BBC and laid it all out:
It is important to remember here there is not equivalency. There are not two states which have been belligerent with each other. You have a sovereign government on the one hand Ethiopia, and on the other you have a region of Ethiopia the leadership of which basically started a conflict against the government. And interestingly enough, the Ethiopian Constitution has provisions for a region to secede from Ethiopia but, you know, the best evidence is that the Tigrean leadership did not want to secede from Ethiopia. They wanted to use the opportunity basically to overthrow the prime minister and return to the type of privilege that they had enjoyed within the Ethiopian state for the last 27 years…
Practice foreign policy aimed at changing hearts and minds in the New Pax (Peace) /Pact Americana
For US foreign policy to be successful and not arouse opposition and defiance, it must appeal to the hearts and minds of the target nation/population.
The US must not be seen as a bully and an imperial power commanding its will on the world.
For the US to be on the side of terrorists and criminals in a conflict does not endear it to the majority of the population.
In Ethiopia, for instance, the US under the Biden administration has no credibility with the vast segment of the population.
Among a large segment of the elites, the Biden administration is held in utter contempt and hatred.
That contempt and utter distaste for the Biden administration is widely shared among Ethiopian Americans in the United States who are toiling day and night to make sure the democrats suffer a stinging, crushing and total defeat in the 2022 midterm election.
Regardless of what the Biden administration does or does not do, it has lost the trust of the people of Ethiopia and its government and Ethiopian Americans.
The Biden administration stood with terrorist killers that destroyed the lives and living of hundreds of thousands in Ethiopia.
The lesson is simple. The Biden administration should not underestimate the intelligence or sheer determination of people just because they are Africans, Asians or Latin Americans.
It is not the size of the nation in the fight but the size of the fight in a nation that determines the outcome.
Behold Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam.
The US should realize that more nations in the world will openly defy and resist it regardless of crippling sanctions.
As the old saying goes, “It is easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar.”
Practice a foreign policy that appeals and connects with youth in the New Pax (Peace) /Pact Americana
It has been said, “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”
In Africa, it is clear China “owns” the youth.
A poll reported on June 29, 2022 showed China “owns” Africa’s youth. Hands down!
China is by far the most influential foreign power in Africa, according to a recent poll of African youth from the Ichikowitz Family Foundation. The survey also found that China’s influence is widely viewed as a good thing, with 76 percent of respondents saying Beijing has a positive effect on the region.
Perceptions of U.S. influence in Africa were lower at 67 percent — 10 points fewer than China and seven points fewer than Washington earned in 2020. And 72 percent of respondents said the United States has a positive influence in Africa, a steep drop from the previous score of 83 percent.
On July 15, 2022, the US Embassy in Ethiopia showed the world what it is doing to connect with Ethiopia’s youth.
There was time in my lifetime when the US sought to advance its national interest by appealing to the youth.
It was the Peace Corps program.
Peace Corps volunteers, though few in number, had an outsize impact on perception of America and Americans in many developing countries.
They not only engaged in teaching and related activities in rural areas, they also engaged the local youth creating such a good impression of American life, society and culture that most local young people dreamt of coming to America for their education.
Practice foreign policy that makes friends in the New Pax (Peace) /Pact Americana
There is an old misguided maxim which proclaims, “There are no permanent enemies, and no permanent friends, only permanent interests.”
In March 2022, 35 members out of 193 countries abstained on the UN General Assembly Resolution deploring Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine.”
Among African countries, 17 abstained and 6 recorded no votes, for total of 23/54 countries (or 43% of all African countries) who refused to line up with the U.S.
Because of the Biden administration’s duplicity and support for the terrorist TPLF, even Ethiopia, America’s long-enduring friend with diplomatic relations dating back nearly 125 years recorded no vote on the Russia resolution.
Blinken lost two-thirds of African countries on an issue of supreme importance for the US.
Why did so many African countries refuse to join the US bandwagon and condemn Russia’s “military operation” in Ukraine?
Could it be that a friend in need is a friend indeed?
The Soviet Union’s support for African liberation and anti-colonial movements has left an indelible impression on many African leaders.
Africans also do not forget US support for the white minority barbaric apartheid regime in South Africa or other colonial powers in Africa.
Africans do not view Russia antagonistically nor do they view Russia as a neocolonial power.
Many African leaders and African peoples believe U.S. democracy and “human rights ” promotion as covert efforts to impose neocolonialism.
But China is making friends not just money in Africa!
The first rule of making friends among nation is not to interfere in the internal affairs of the befriended nation. That means mutual respect of each other’s sovereignty, dignity and equality.
The fact of the matter is that Chinese infrastructure projects are visible all over Africa.
Can the US point to any comparable infrastructure projects in Africa?
The so-called Chinese debt trap does not resonate much with African peoples.
On the subject of “debt trap” and predatory lending practices, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank take the cake almost always stipulating structural adjustment programs (e.g. opening local economies for predatory Western investments, forcing government to abandon the poor as a condition of receiving loans, etc.)
The fact of the matter is that there are permanent friends, permanent enemies and permanent interests.
The Biden administration should know that the terrorist TPLF will always be Ethiopia’s permanent enemy and never America’s permanent friend!
Practice a foreign policy that lets countries build their own democracies and nations in the New Pax (Peace) /Pact Americana
In August 2021, Biden said:
Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation building. It was never supposed to be creating a unified, centralized democracy. Our only vital national interest in Afghanistan remains today what it has always been: preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland.
In February 2003, Biden said (begin at 10:24), “With war clouds gathering around Iraq, public attention has shifted away from our unfinished business in Afghanistan. In some parts of the administration, nation-building is a dirty phrase. The alternative to nation-building is chaos, chaos that turn out bloodthirsty warlords, drug traffickers and terrorists…”
In 2002, President George Bush II said:
We know that true peace will only be achieved when we give the Afghan people the means to achieve their own aspirations. Peace will be achieved by helping Afghanistan develop its own stable government. Peace will be achieved by helping Afghanistan train and develop its own national army. And peace will be achieved through an education system for boys and girls which works.
Since 2001, the U.S. has spent $2.3 trillion (with T) in Afghanistan.
Was that money spent on nation-building or fighting terrorists?
Should we believe Bush or Biden?
Did the US succeed in its democratizing and nation-building in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Vietnam?
The cumulative effect has been the exact opposite. Total failure.
US involvement in these countries has resulted in death, destruction, turmoil and strife.
The idea of nation-building and democratization smacks of neocolonialism.
Indeed, both ideas have proved to be excuses for military intervention and rapacious imperial adventures.
There is much nation-building and democratization to be done in America.
In America today, we live in an age of austerity, strife and polarization.
Inflation is eating away the meagre incomes of working Americans.
The American government needs to do a whole lot more at home and a hell of a lot less abroad.
We must take care of our urban and rural poor, our homeless, our senior citizens, our veterans, our students, our workers and farmers.
We must take care of our roads and bridges, our rail and port systems, our electrical grids, our waterways and air transport and our internet infrastructure.
We must build and rebuild America first before we build other countries.
That is the true meaning of an AMERICA FIRST foreign policy!
I have no idea what a “foreign policy for American workers and their families” is or means!
To be continued…