19 May 2007 04:14


  • Title: [SW Country] (The State Hornet via U-WIRE) David Shinn, Former ambassador of Ethiopia speaks at Cal State-Sacramento on US Vital Interests on the Horn of Africa
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  • Date :[20 March 2000]

David Shinn on Uncle Sam's Vital Interests on the Horn

Former ambassador of Ethiopia speaks at Cal State-Sacramento
Updated 12:00 PM ET March 14, 2000
By Elizabeth Martin-Burk
The State Hornet
California State U.-Sacramento

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Horn of Africa is going to make a big
impact on the world in the coming decades, and the US is ignoring it to its
peril, said Former Ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn in a presentation to
Sacramento State students and faculty Friday.
Shinn, who is currently Ambassador in Residence at the University of
California Los Angeles School of Public Policy, made his statements backed
by 35 years in the diplomatic service for the United States, most of those
years spent in Ethiopia, Erithrea, Somalia, Sudan, and Djibouti ? the five
countries which make up the Horn of Africa.
Shinn, after being introduced by Bill Dorman, a government professor, gave a
short abbreviated history of the countries, which make up the Horn. Decades
of civil conflict, famines and the AIDS epidemic are taking their toll on
the people of Africa, Shinn said.

Sudan, the largest country geographically in Africa, with a population of 34
million, has been in conflict since winning independence, because of a
population of Christians and Muslims fighting for authority.
"It has been one of the most debilitating conflicts in the world. Since it
has broken out, about two million people have died," Shinn said, citing not
just the fighting, but the forced evacaution into non-friendly areas and

Ethiopia is expected to become one of the most populated countries in the
next decade, Shinn said, surpassing Egypt, unless the HIV-AIDS epidemic
continues to take its toll.
Shinn believes Ethiopia has had more than its share of conflict and
turbulence for the past three decades.

Somalia is fighting a long-term famine, which the United States and the
United Nations have tried unsuccessfully to alleviate. The well-intentioned
efforts of the Us and the United Nations to reestablish the government led
to a complete breakdown of the government, forcing the Western humanitarian
force out of the country in 1995.
"Somalia is a failed state," Shinn said. It only functions because of the
actions of the Somali businessmen, but there are no roads, no social
services, and no functioning government or tax system nation-wide. "And
failed states create a vacuum usually filled by interests hostile to the
US," Shinn said.

The US has two vital interests in this region, Shinn said. The first is the
potential for conflict created by this vacuum. "We don't want any region
overcome with terrorists," he said.
The second is humanitarian. "The United States is not willing to have
millions of people die if there's something wee can do to prevent it," Shinn
But, as Samiea Ouardi, one of the students in the audience, pointed out, if
we only throw food at the problem, and don't teach the countries how to fend
for themselves, we create a dependent country. "What other measures can be
taken?" she asked
Shinn pointed with great pride to the Greater Horn of Africa Initiative,
passed by the Clinton Administration which has a two-step process: "To help
the countries increase their food output, and to stay ahead of conflict." He
used Ethiopia and Somalia as examples. "Somalis will probably never be able
to grow enough food to support their population," Shinn said, "because of
the lack of arable land. But Ethiopia should be able to produce more than
enough food for its people." 

Shinn said the main economic interest in this area of the world is not so
much political or humanitarian, as it is economic.
"Right now only one to two percent of our trade is with Africa," Shinn said.
"It's more about bringing Africa into the global economy and making it an
integral part of the world."

(C) 2000 The State Hornet via U-WIRE

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