In the Horn of Africa, solid U.S.-Ethiopia relations have been one constant in a region often beset by turmoil. The country is typically described as being a solid ally located in a “bad neighborhood.” We talk with current and former U.S. ambassadors to Ethiopia about the deep ties to the U.S., and where the two countries sometimes agree to disagree.

Guests

  • Patricia Haslach U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
  • David Shinn Former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia; Co-Editor of "The Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia"; and Adjunct Professor, Elliot School of International Affairs, George Washington University

Patricia Haslach On U.S.-Ethiopia Diplomacy###

U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Patricia Haslach on U.S.-Ethiopian relations and the role of women and girls in reaching development goals.

Transcript

  • 12:06:40

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. Later in the broadcast, it's Food Wednesday. We talk cocktails minus the alcohol. But, first, every relationship has its ups and downs and one that has lasted over a century, withstood foreign occupations, and exists between two countries with differences that range from language to how they tell time is bound to have its moments of disagreement.

  • 12:07:22

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIBut on balance, U.S.-Ethiopia relations have been steady since the start, though concerns about Democratic transparency and freedom of the press in the East African nation remain. Here to give us some insight into how the U.S. navigates the relationship with a solid ally in a region often beset by turmoil is David Shinn.

  • 12:07:42

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIHe served in the U.S. Foreign Service for 37 years, including assignments as ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. He's currently a professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University and is author of several books, including "The Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia." David Shinn, welcome. Thank you for joining us.

  • 12:08:02

    PROF. DAVID SHINNThank you, Kojo.

  • 12:08:03

    NNAMDIYou, too, can join the conversation. Give us a call at 800-433-8850. You can send email to kojo@wamu.org. Or send us a tweet, @kojoshow. Can we start with the Ethiopian Airlines flight that took a detour Sunday into Monday when it was hijacked by a copilot seeking asylum in Switzerland? What do you make of that story based on what we know so far?

  • 12:08:25

    SHINNI find this to be a very curious story. I think there's a lot we don't know about this particular individual yet. If you're the copilot of the plane and you want to, in effect, defect from the country or you have a problem with a country, it seems to me like you wait until the plane alights in Rome. You get out, go to the hotel, and you don't show up the next morning to return to Ethiopia.

  • 12:08:45

    SHINNSo I don't know why you terrorize the entire crew and passengers of the airplane in the process of taking the plane to Geneva. So I think we need to know an awful lot more about the personal issues involving the copilot and the background of the copilot. And I just don't have that information.

  • 12:09:04

    NNAMDIYou think it could have anything to do with their differences in perception of Italy and Switzerland?

  • 12:09:12

    SHINNIt may. The copilot may have decided that he would have a better luck at getting asylum in Switzerland than in Italy. But, quite frankly, if that was his rationale, I think he really made a big mistake. I don't think he's going to do any better in Switzerland than he is -- than he would have done in Italy.

  • 12:09:30

    NNAMDIAs you mention, we don't know the pilot's reasons for seeking asylum, but he is not alone. How would you rate Ethiopia's human rights and Democratic transparency record and its current practices?

  • 12:09:42

    SHINNIt has a long ways to go yet. I think there was some thought that, following the arrival of a new prime minister, Hailemariam, after the death of Meles Zenawi in 2012, that there might be a fairly noticeable change in how Ethiopia deals with the democratization process. I think there had been a few slight positive -- small positive steps.

  • 12:10:07

    SHINNBut, by and large, we're seeing a continuation of the practices of the previous government. And as a result, I think that there's a lot of progress to be made yet. There's area for criticism. The political space is still lacking in many areas. But their hope still reigns supreme.

  • 12:10:28

    NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to call if you'd like to ask a question or make a comment. Where do you think the U.S. should make allowances in its relationship with Ethiopia or, for that matter, any foreign country? And what, in your mind, is absolutely non-negotiable? 800-433-8850. You can send email to kojo@wamu.org.

  • 12:10:50

    NNAMDIDavid Shinn, we might think of Russia or China as apt to spy on U.S. interests using tech tools. But Craig Timberg of The Washington Post has recently reported on increasing evidence that Ethiopia is deploying spyware in the U.S. What do you make of those reports? And how do you think the U.S. is apt to react?

  • 12:11:07

    SHINNWell, I saw the article in The Washington Post this morning. And I certainly have no inside information on this particular case. I suspect, quite frankly, that most countries around the world are now in the business of spying on their own nationals or persons who they deem to be critics of the government. And I doubt, frankly, that Ethiopia's any exception to that.

  • 12:11:30

    SHINNSo in that sense, it doesn't particularly surprise me. Anyone can virtually buy this spyware now on the open market. The fact is that Ethiopia relies very heavily on China for its telecommunications infrastructure. And they may very well have gotten some advice or help with these kinds of things from China. But, as I say, virtually all governments, I think, are probably doing this.

  • 12:11:56

    NNAMDIYes, of course. One can't have the irony of us talking about this in the wake of reports about what we're learning about what the NSA is doing. Our guest is David Shinn. He served in the U.S. Foreign Service for 37 years, including assignment as ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. He's currently a professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University and author of several books, including "The Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia."

  • 12:12:23

    NNAMDILast month, I traveled to Ethiopia with two show producers, Taylor Bernie and Michael Martinez. And while we there, we sat down with the current U.S. Ambassador Patricia Haslach. We talked about a wide range of issues, including development, democracy, and how the regional geopolitics Ethiopia has to navigate all affect U.S. relations. We start there with the ambassador sharing which issue areas she is most focused on at the moment.

  • 12:12:52

    AMB. PATRICIA HASLACHSecurity is one area. And, of course, it's a dangerous neighborhood with al-Shabaab and Somalia and what we've seen with what happened with Westgate.

  • 12:12:56

    NNAMDIMm hmm.

  • 12:13:02

    HASLACHAnd then there was even an attempted bombing here in October.

  • 12:13:06

    NNAMDIMm hmm.

  • 12:13:07

    HASLACHAnd you mentioned a soccer match. This was around the Nigeria-Ethiopian soccer match. Unfortunately, you know, they were not successful. But it's just a reminder that Ethiopia lives in a dangerous neighborhood. The other area that we focus on, of course, is on the economic and the development. And, traditionally, Ethiopia has been a recipient of U.S. development assistance.

  • 12:13:35

    HASLACHAnd, initially, most of it was focused on humanitarian side. But, increasingly, we've been shifting to coincide with their growth plan. And it's focusing on agriculture, health, and education. And it's really a bridge now we're hoping to them -- they hope to become a middle income country by 2025, and this -- all of our programs are sort of geared in that direction. They're also geared at trying to shift off into the private sector.

  • 12:14:05

    HASLACHAnd, really, they recognize that all of their -- all the achievements that they hope to make cannot succeed without, you know, the private sector playing a very active role here. And then, finally, the area where we sometimes don't always agree is in the area of democracy, governance, human rights, and issues related to freedom of the press. But that's an area where we have a good dialogue with the government, and -- but sometimes we don't see eye to eye on every aspect of that. So sometimes that's a little challenging.

  • 12:14:41

    NNAMDIOne of your specialties within the State Department is working with developing countries in transition.

  • 12:14:48

    HASLACHYes.

  • 12:14:48

    NNAMDIWhere would you place Ethiopia along the spectrum of development that we're now seeing across the African continent?

  • 12:14:54

    HASLACHWell, they're certainly aiming to become a middle income country, which I said, by 2025. But still, a lot of the indicators still show that there are challenges. I mean, their population growth rate, their per capita GDP, all of sort of these types of statistics still show that Ethiopia has a lot of work to do to bring their population into sort of the middle income arena. So we are working with them. They're very committed, for example, to education. They've opened up something well over 30 universities now.

  • 12:15:31

    HASLACHSo they're very much focused on both training their people and then providing jobs for them. But it's a challenge with what's still a large portion of the population devoted to agriculture, living in the rural areas. In fact, they have one of the smallest percentages of urban populations in Africa. So that indicates how important agriculture is to the Ethiopian economy. So we work very actively with them actually in agriculture. And I first worked on Ethiopia back in the 1980s when I started my career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  • 12:16:08

    NNAMDIMm hmm.

  • 12:16:09

    HASLACHAnd that was one of their -- the mid-'80s -- a few will remember Live Aid and the drought that occurred then.

  • 12:16:13

    NNAMDIYep.

  • 12:16:14

    HASLACHAnd I think everyone has that image of Ethiopia in their minds.

  • 12:16:18

    NNAMDIMm hmm.

  • 12:16:18

    HASLACHI came back in 2010 under the Feed the Future initiative. And the progress that we -- I saw here in agriculture has been phenomenal. And last -- in 2011, the Horn of Africa suffered the worst drought in 60 years. And the fact that Ethiopia was able to weather that drought -- of course, there was assistance was given on the humanitarian side. But they were much better prepared. And so I think that just shows how far the country has progressed.

  • 12:16:48

    NNAMDIWant to get back to an issue that you raised earlier, the regional geopolitics, where Ethiopia has been front and center in the peace process within South Sudan. What was your -- or what has your impression of that process been? And what role has the U.S. had in it?

  • 12:17:05

    HASLACHWell, of course, we currently have our special envoy here for South Sudan. Amb. Don Booth, my predecessor, and he's here working actually with the Ethiopians and the other African countries, Kenya, Uganda, and others, to try to find the solution to the -- working, of course, with the two parties in South Sudan to try to find a solution to this crisis. Also, Ethiopia, as I mentioned, will be joining AMISOM.

  • 12:17:33

    HASLACHAnd so we will -- we are working very closely with them and with the other two contributing countries in Somalia. Ethiopia has a tradition of being involved in trying to reach peaceful solutions. They were very much involved in the Sudan -- South Sudan engagement. So they play a very positive role. I find them to be extremely professional, extremely knowledgeable. They know the situation on the ground better than most countries (unintelligible) here. But it can be a challenge.

  • 12:18:09

    NNAMDIOur guest is Amb. Patricia Haslach. She was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia in August of 2013, previously serving as principal deputy assistant secretary in the Department of State's newest bureau, the Bureau of Conflict of Stabilization Operations. We are interviewing her inside the U.S. embassy in Ethiopia. You mentioned earlier that the U.S. and Ethiopia have been very closely related on issues having to do with the region but that there are some differences on issues having to do with the path towards democracy.

  • 12:18:44

    NNAMDIAs members of the media, we're interested in the freedom of the press. We've talked previously to journalists from Ethiopia who have fled the country for fear of persecution on their anti-terrorism laws, and apparently with good reason as several have been jailed under those same laws. What position, if any, does the U.S. take on this issue? And how are you working to help Ethiopians enjoy a more transparent democracy?

  • 12:19:07

    HASLACHThis is one of the areas I mentioned that we sometimes always -- we sometimes don't agree 100 percent, Ethiopia and the United States. We've been very clear about the need -- our recommendation keeping the political space open, respecting freedom of the press, you know, very, very important to Americans. It's actually also in Ethiopia's constitution. So we constantly raise this issue with them. We've raised it publicly, but we also raise it privately. This is, like I said, an area that we work very hard on.

  • 12:19:49

    NNAMDIWell, you're particularly suited to deal with this issue in this region because, as you pointed out earlier, this is a pretty dangerous area. You have worked in dangerous areas before. And I suspect that the Ethiopian government feels and probably assessed the Americans, this is a dangerous neighborhood. And we have to be very careful about how we allow freedom of the press because very often freedom of the press can be used as an avenue for subterfuge, as an avenue for terrorism. What do you say? I mean it is a dangerous region.

  • 12:20:20

    HASLACHWell, that's in fact the case that the government makes with regard to some of these particular journalists saying that, in fact, they had violated what they call their anti-terrorist proclamation. And I guess in those cases what we're looking for is a transparent process, actually examining, you know, the facts behind these cases. Yes. That is what Ethiopia says. We, I think, we'd like to see a little bit more space opened up in this area.

  • 12:21:00

    NNAMDIWashington is home to a large segment, as I mentioned earlier, the Ethiopian Diaspora population. What influence, official or not, does that population have on relations between the countries?

  • 12:21:10

    HASLACHI think it has a lot of influence. And in fact, a lot of it is positive in the area. We do a lot of education exchanges. We get a lot of Ethiopian Americans coming back to Ethiopia looking at investing. Many of them have come back to set up NGOs. So we work very, very closely with the Ethiopian Diaspora. I think they make a major contribution.

  • 12:21:34

    NNAMDIAnd I can anticipate that when we return a significant part of that Diaspora, which identifies as anti-Ethiopian government, will say, "Kojo, there are elections coming up in Ethiopia soon.

  • 12:21:45

    HASLACHYes.

  • 12:21:46

    NNAMDI"Did you ask the Ambassador what the U.S. government is doing to make sure those elections are free and fair?"

  • 12:21:52

    HASLACHWell, the elections are coming up in 2015. They have an election commission. We've offered, you know, support in any way that we can to support these elections. We, of course, hope they will be open and transparent and free and fair. And we are dialoging with the government about that.

  • 12:22:13

    NNAMDIThat was our conversation in Addis Ababa with U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, Patricia Haslach. You can hear the entirety of that conversation at our website, kojoshow.org. David Shinn joins us in studio. He served as the U.S. ambassador both to Burkina Faso and to Ethiopia during his 37 years in the Foreign Service.

  • 12:22:33

    NNAMDIWe're going to get his reactions to some of what he heard in that interview and more in this conversation about Ethiopia after we take this short break. But if you have called 800-433-8850 stay on the line. We'll try to get to your calls. You can send us email to kojo@wamu.org. What questions do you have about how the U.S. is navigating the changing dynamics in Ethiopia, or Africa more broadly, as nations develop? 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:24:41

    NNAMDIWelcome back to our conversation on U.S. ties with Ethiopia. We're talking with David Shinn. He's a professor at the Elliot School of International Affairs, at George Washington University, and author of several books, among which is "The Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia." He served in the U.S. Foreign Service for 37 years, including assignments as ambassador to Burkina Faso and to Ethiopia. Interested in hearing your observations about the conversation we had with Patricia Haslach.

  • 12:25:11

    SHINNSure. I certainly don't take any exception to the comments that she made in that 10-minute segment. I would point out that her comments about the Ethiopian Diaspora reflected the views of those in the Diaspora who are engaged positively with the country, who are involved in investing, for example. And there's a very significant group that is doing that.

  • 12:25:35

    SHINNAt the same time, I think it's only fair to say that there is another element in the Diaspora that is quite critical of the government and in many ways they're actually more vocal than those who are engaged positively. But I just wanted to make that point, that there are two poles out there in the American Diaspora.

  • 12:25:53

    NNAMDII want to get away from Ethiopia itself for a second. I'll get back to that, but it's interesting that you served 37 years in the Foreign Service and Patricia Haslach, the current ambassador, has quite a while, both in the government in general and in the Foreign Service in particular. Last week a number of nominees put forward by the Obama administration for appointments as ambassador, to countries ranging from China to Hungary, made some serious gaffes in the midst of the approval process. You, I guess, can see -- maybe a bit biased -- but how important is experience going into the job of ambassador?

  • 12:26:27

    SHINNWell, I must be honest, I'm very biased on that question. I think experience is absolutely critical. And indeed I would be critical of any nomination, whether that person is from the career service or a political appointee who is not properly prepared for a particular country. And there have been cases in the past where career people have also been mis-assigned in my view. I think the instances are far less numerous than in the case of political appointees.

  • 12:26:55

    SHINNI think the objection of the career service is simply that if you affectively buy your way into an ambassadorship that immediately raises serious concerns. All administrations have done it historically. The percentage of political appointees in the Obama administration is a little bit higher than average. It's running at about 37 percent. The average is more around 33, 34 percent for earlier presidents. So that is a bit of a concern. But clearly, the nominee must be qualified for the job and I don't care if that person is career or political.

  • 12:27:32

    NNAMDII guess I share that bias. One of the things -- back to Ethiopia -- we heard on our trip, when we raised questions about whether there was room for improvement in the Democratic process, was that our view of civil society is very Western and decidedly different than Ethiopians'. For instance, they would point at the Ministry of Agriculture that -- look at how many members of the agricultural population participate and buy into the program sponsored by the government.

  • 12:27:58

    NNAMDILook at their cooperation with the aid and development initiatives that the government is involved in. To what extent is that true and to what extent does or should it matter?

  • 12:28:10

    SHINNWell, one, it should matter. And two, there's an element of truth to it. I think where the problem comes is the degree to which the rural population, which is the overwhelming percentage of population in Ethiopia. It's probably around the 84, 83 percent level today. That population obviously should count for a great deal. And in the voting process it does.

  • 12:28:35

    SHINNThe degree to which they make their decisions on how they vote is the real issue. And is it done as a result, for example, of the government extending fertilizer, the ability to buy fertilizer to them, or is it done because they simply believe in the policies of the ruling party? And that we don't really know because we don't have public opinion polls that will allow us to get to the bottom of it. But it's very true that in recent elections the rural population has voted significantly in favor of the ruling government party.

  • 12:29:09

    NNAMDIBut you have known political opposition figures in Ethiopia for a long time. I think the last time we talked we talked about Beyene Petros, if I'm pronouncing his name…

  • 12:29:18

    SHINNYes.

  • 12:29:19

    NNAMDI…correctly, who has been there for a long time. And so I guess you have people there who are also telling you that, well, it's not the same picture the government is painting it to be.

  • 12:29:30

    SHINNWell, and it's not exactly as the government paints it to be. I don't think there's any question about that. When you hold virtually all of the cards in the political process, it's not too difficult to maneuver the system in a direction you want it maneuvered. And if you're in the opposition -- and also it tends to be a very divided opposition. Really, only in 2005 elections did the opposition come together with a truly meaningful umbrella organization.

  • 12:29:58

    SHINNAnd they had a lot of success in that election, winning about almost a third of the seats in parliament. They've never done that before or since and that's partly the problem of the opposition itself. It's really only united on one thing, defeat the ruling party. And once that happens, if it happens, they tend to go their separate direction. And they haven't even been able to unite on that after 2005. But of course they're dealing with a playing field that is clearly not level.

  • 12:30:28

    NNAMDIWhat issues or groups would you be keeping an eye on ahead of this 2015 election?

  • 12:30:35

    SHINNGood question. There is a new party that's come along called the Blue Party, the English translation of an Amharic word. That party doesn't seem to have yet sort of generated critical mass. Although, it's a party that's worth watching. I think what I would really watch would be where the Oromo community goes with these elections. Will, for example, the new Oromo Democratic Front be allowed to organize as a political party? Which it is trying to do. That could be a significant factor.

  • 12:31:12

    NNAMDIAnd the Oromo's are the largest ethnic group in the country.

  • 12:31:14

    SHINNThey are the largest ethnic group, probably about 40 percent of the population of the country. There are different Oromo parties. The group I just mentioned is basically a faction breaking off from the Oromo Liberation Front, which has been on rather hard times in the last year or so. And there are a couple of other small Oromo parties in Ethiopia. But I think where the Oromo's take their efforts will determine a lot in terms of the 2015 election. And, of course, also the Amhara.

  • 12:31:47

    NNAMDIOnto the telephones. Here is Michael, in Washington, D.C., underscoring a point that you made earlier David Shinn. Michael, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:31:55

    MICHAELThank you for having me on your call, Kojo. You know my question is continually this government has continued to subvert the democracy, has persecuted its free press, you know, as American citizens, as concerned American citizens, why are we supporting a regime (unintelligible) when we are fighting these kind of regimes all around the world?

  • 12:32:18

    MICHAELBut, you know, in terms of one thing that I like, Ambassador Shinn, that you made was, you know, you said (unintelligible) are contributing politically while others are fighting for the rights of their brothers and sisters. Why would you say it's a positive thing to help prop up this regime with investments? Thank you.

  • 12:32:41

    NNAMDIAs I said, Michael, you underscore one of the points the ambassador made earlier about the opposition to the government in the Diaspora population. But his specific question, why would the U.S. continue to support this government?

  • 12:32:53

    SHINNWell, there are really a couple of questions there. One why does the -- why would the United -- why would I comment that it's a positive thing for the Ethiopian Diaspora to invest in Ethiopia, and indirectly, presumably support the Ethiopian regime? Well, I suppose you're right. It does have the impact of indirectly supporting the Ethiopian government, but it also has the impact of creating jobs for the Ethiopian people. And I think that's very positive and I think it's very hard to deny that.

  • 12:33:21

    SHINNI'm very much involved with a non-governmental organization in Ethiopia, People to People, which is involved in the medical area of trying to arrange for doctors and medical personnel in the Diaspora to go to Ethiopia. I think it's a very positive organization. I think it directly benefits the Ethiopian people. And I'm not ashamed at all to say that I'm supportive of that kind of organization. So there are important positive elements here. And sometimes I think you have to separate the degree of support for what is better for the Ethiopian people and what directly supports a particular government in power.

  • 12:33:57

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Michael. We move on now to Aaron (sp?) , in Washington, D.C. Aaron, your turn. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:34:07

    AARONHi. Thank you for answering my question, Kojo. You are my favorite. I just love your show. Besides your great show, you are really good person to work with from what I've heard one your colleagues. I really, really appreciate your show. Let me get to my point.

  • 12:34:27

    NNAMDIGo right ahead.

  • 12:34:29

    AARONOkay. My question is regarding when he was talking about Ethiopian and their democratic principles. I'm talking about Eritrea. Eritrea, has been in -- since it's known as a nation it has been over 20 years, since '91. And there is not any constitution yet in Eritrea and there is no election. At least in Ethiopia there has been election, regardless of how it was, if it was fair or not.

  • 12:35:05

    AARONSo the reason there is no constitution, democracy in Eritrea is because the government or the dictator claims that it's in war with Ethiopia. Is it really? Since '97 they tried to amend the constitution, but then they reclaim it saying that there is war. And they're…

  • 12:35:24

    NNAMDIAnd your question?

  • 12:35:25

    AARON…fooling the people, yet they are in war with Ethiopia. So how do you see it? Would you please emphasize in this point? Thank you.

  • 12:35:33

    NNAMDIDavid Shinn, how do you see what's going on in Eritrea and it's relation with Ethiopia or lack of relationship? It's a very hostile relationship. They're on virtually a war footing.

  • 12:35:43

    SHINNWell, it is a poor relationship and it has been since war broke out between the two countries in 1998. And unfortunately I don't see any significant change in that situation since the war ended in the year 2000. I mean it's true that Eritrea has no constitution. And it's true that they have not had elections. And as a result of the fact that they don't have these things, it tends to get less attention than Ethiopia does, which does have elections.

  • 12:36:10

    SHINNAlthough, one can sometimes be critical of them. And it does have a constitution, which it has observed. So in that sense I think a lot of Ethiopians get very upset that there is this sort of comparison that is not made between Ethiopia and Eritrea. But we're not talking about Eritrea. We're talking about Ethiopia. And, you know, Ethiopia has to stand on its own. It can't compare itself with a neighbor who may be even doing less well.

  • 12:36:38

    NNAMDIChina seems to be asserting itself more directly in countries like Ethiopia of late, more broadly. How do China/Africa relations affect U.S./Africa relations?

  • 12:36:49

    SHINNYou know, interestingly I don't think that China/Africa relations have that much impact on U.S./Africa relations or U.S./China relations. There are a lot of other commentators who would disagree with me on that, but I've recently -- two of us finished a book on China/Africa relations. And I've looked at this in great depth and have studied it across Africa.

  • 12:37:12

    SHINNI think there actually are areas where China and the U.S. can collaborate in Africa. And I think we have been doing that in some instances where we have worked together in trying to help resolve the problem in Darfur, in Sudan, in south Sudan, the current problems in south Sudan, where we both support U.N. peacekeeping operations. We both support stability in Africa.

  • 12:37:35

    SHINNNow, there will be people who argue with both of us that we may be creating stable or helping to create stable countries in countries that are not fully democratic. And there's truth to that, but the fact is that the U.S. and China often collaborate in that regard. So we compete commercially, that's true. But the United States competes with Germany and the U.K. and France and everyone else commercially. And that will continue.

  • 12:37:59

    NNAMDISo the relationship doesn't have to be antagonistic.

  • 12:38:01

    SHINNNo, it does not have to be. And in fact, I would argue, in the case of Africa, there is more reason to collaborate than to compete.

  • 12:38:09

    NNAMDIInteresting. Shelly, in Bethesda, Md., your turn.

  • 12:38:13

    SHELLYWell, I have a couple factoids about Ethiopia. One is that Washington has the largest Ethiopian immigrant group in the country, over 22,000. I think was…

  • 12:38:28

    NNAMDIIt's larger than that, actually, but go ahead.

  • 12:38:30

    SHELLYAll right. Well, that was my last census number. And Montgomery County has a sister relationship with Gondar, Ethiopia, the state, the area of Gondar. And especially in relationship to its college.

  • 12:38:47

    NNAMDIYes. That's something we were reminded of when we were there by Ethiopians who live in Montgomery County, but happen to be working in Ethiopia right now. Thank you for sharing that with us, Shelly. We have time for one more and that would be Jacob, in Washington, D.C. Jacob, you are now on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:39:07

    JACOBOkay. Kojo, thank you very much for giving me this great opportunity to be the first caller myself here on your show. And very quick, I'm from Ethiopia, as you can tell from my accent. I know my country and my society very well. I completely disagree with your guest. That picture in, you know, the Diaspora.

  • 12:39:37

    JACOBWhat percentage of Diaspora is in this and what percentage Diaspora is opposing the regime in Ethiopia because, anyway, the Diaspora beyond, you know, the Ethiopia's border, it is very negligible number of people. Anyway, back home in Ethiopia, I think you have seen it on your eyes and you can be very good witness. The rampant corruption in the country, the gross human rights violation (unintelligible) picture it because there is only -- the economy controlled by very few, ruling class people and there is no national army, there is only an army there that's serving the private security guard. And it's as almost either keep this very...

  • 12:40:34

    NNAMDIWe're running out of time.

  • 12:40:36

    JACOB...all the power.

  • 12:40:37

    NNAMDIWe're running out of time very quickly, Jacob. So allow me to have David Shinn respond. I think Jacob says he wants to speak for what he thinks is the majority of the Diaspora. That would be very difficult to determine where the majority of the Diaspora stands. But the criticism he is making of Ethiopia is a criticism made by other people opposed to the government

  • 12:40:57

    SHINNWell, obviously it's impossible to know where the majority of the Diaspora stands, not only in the United States but around the world. And, frankly, I would argue that most Ethiopians in the Diaspora are not political. They do not have strong political, one way or the other, as far as the government is concerned in Ethiopia. I would just post a question to Jacob. When were you last in Ethiopia? When did you last visit there?

  • 12:41:22

    SHINNAnd what you see are not exactly what I see. I can be critical of Ethiopia too and I often am. But you described an economic situation that I think is not what I have seen, in spite of the continuing poverty that exists in the country.

  • 12:41:37

    NNAMDIAnd I'm afraid that's all the time we have. David Shinn, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:41:40

    SHINNMy pleasure.

  • 12:41:41

    NNAMDIDavid Shinn served in the U.S. Foreign Service for 37 years. He had assignments as ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. Today, he's a professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University and author of several books, including "The Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia." We'll be taking a short break. When we come back, Food Wednesday. Cocktails but without the alcohol. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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