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As a Top Secret National Security Council (NSC) briefing put it in 1954, “the Near East is of great strategic, political, and economic importance,” as it “contains the greatest petroleum resources in the world” as well as “essential locations for strategic military bases in any world conflict.”Continued and in some cases increased foreign assistance following the September 11th attacks had the benefit of giving “the United States leverage on key foreign policy issues, since it can make assistance contingent on cooperation,” notes a recent RAND report.

But these assistance programs “can have a negative effect on democratic development by strengthening a state’s capacity for repression,” and as one study concluded “the more foreign police aid given [to repressive states], the more brutal and less democratic the police institutions and their governments become.”With the arguable exception of Portugal, France stands unique in modern political annals in the powerful and seemingly inseparable synergy between itself and its former African empire.

US: While the end result of the dramatic political transitions presently underway in the Middle East and Africa remains unclear, it is crucial to understand that these events have not occurred in a vacuum, and contrary to the belief of many, history did not begin yesterday.

All these occurrences, to one degree or another, are the result (intended or otherwise) of the convergent and cumulative manipulations of myriad domestic and extra-regional players, in frequently brutal pursuit of their individually perceived regional (and personal) interests.

Although the stated intention of political leaders and economic policymakers is to stabilize the system by inhibiting fluctuations, the result tends to be the opposite.

Fundamentally, while various powerful elements of U. influence have been attempting to promote a wave of democratic revolutions in the regions, at the same time, equally powerful elements of Washington policy have worked to maintain regional status quo by providing substantial support for anti-democratic, albeit politically pliable, autocrats.Considerations for Africa’s rapidly evolving future must now include a new element that we have not seen before on the continent: a younger, globally aware generation, with increasing social expectations and demands, and a willingness to militantly take matters forcefully into their own hands.The recent events of the revolutions of the so-called Arab Spring graphically demonstrated the inspiring and sometimes tragic spectacle of youthful activist willing to suffer grievous injury and even death for their social aspirations.My wish for Africa and Ethiopia in particular, is a more stable, participative, prosperous and tranquil future.Previously during the Cold War period — Russia and America’s brutal African proxy wars more pointedly — if an African sought to remove himself from the horrors of war, conflict, poverty, etc.