Steven Walker: A Failed and Disgruntled Diplomat

Written by: E-SMART TEAM

The failed “Diplomat” Steve Walker wrote to the people of Eritrea on his farewell message, July 16, 2022:

“I have learned so much from you and have been inspired by how you persevere in the current difficult conditions – which have left many of you feeling you had no other choice but to flee your country – and maintain hope for a better future. I share your hope and urge the government to implement the political and economic reforms that would unlock the magnificent potential that exists here.”

The condescending statement above is truly offensive to most Eritreans. We do not believe Mr. Walker was well equipped, as a diplomat, when he accepted the position of Chief of Mission to Eritrea. At the very least, his knowledge of the history of Eritrea is questionable. In other words, he did not do his homework that would have permitted him to have a successful mission in dealing with the government and leaders of Eritrea. He lacks the diplomatic astuteness that comes with the job, and it has become noticeable with his tirade against the government coupled with his belittling attitude toward the people and the State of Eritrea. The people of Eritrea have the utmost respect for their leaders and they do not need to hear baseless allegations from a so-called diplomat who neither speaks their language, nor appreciates their culture, a white man who doesn’t respect their religions, in short, an arrogant man with an agenda to settle scores with the Government of Eritrea. Reading his article, “Totalitarianism is Still with Us’ ‘ posted on September 5, 2022, led us to believe that Mr. Walker failed on his mission, and subsequently became resentful. Before he discharged his hatred for the leadership of Eritrea, he should have looked in the mirror and asked himself “what went wrong?” Mr. Walker portrayed himself as a peacemaker between the United States and Eritrea and created the perception that he is an independent party whose mission was to bring the two countries closer. Of course, impartiality was not what the Government of Eritrea anticipated from Mr. Walker and his predecessors, and rightfully so! In the same article, he wrote:

Many a diplomat accredited to Eritrea has arrived brimming with energy and ambition only to depart a few years later frustrated, exhausted, and with little to show in terms of tangible achievements.”

 One should not assume Mr. Walker and his predecessors to be impartial when their mission was to advance the agenda of their employers. Mr. Walker’s “group thinking” mentality was evident when he wrote the above statement. As the saying goes: “Insanity is to do the same thing repeatedly and expect a different outcome.”

The ceaseless transgression committed against Eritrea for over 80 years (since the end of Italian colonialism in Eritrea during World War II) was the main reason that these two countries could not improve their relationship. If the outdated American policy towards Eritrea remains the same, no enthusiastic diplomat will succeed to improve the current impasse. Improving the relationship with Eritrea remains in the hands of the policy makers inside the State Department in Washington’s Foggy Bottom. Those who failed to have tangible results should take comfort knowing that neither them nor the Government of Eritrea was at fault for not achieving the desired outcome. However, blindly faulting the leaders of Eritrea knowing well that the United States’ policy was crafted from the statement made below by the late former Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, and denying the fact that the policy was fundamentally wrong is a bit hypocritical.

Here is what John Foster Dulles wrote:

“From the point of view of justice, the opinions of the Eritrean people must receive consideration. Nevertheless, the strategic interests of the United States in the Red Sea Basin and considerations of security and world peace make it necessary that the country be linked with our ally, Ethiopia.” —John Foster Dulles, 1952.

After Eritrea achieved its independence in 1991, the United State policy remained hostile to Eritrea. “Be linked with our ally Ethiopia” was replaced with “Containing Eritrea.”  It was the West that denied Eritrea its independence when all African countries were granted their independence, one after the other, at the end of WWII. Unfortunately, the hostile American policy that had denied Eritrea its independence in the mid 1940s continued after Eritrea single-handedly won its independence in 1991. While the West was merely responsible for the delayed independence of Eritrea, the people of Eritrea were the only ones to be credited for achieving their independence even though the entire world (except a handful of friends of Eritrea) was against their desire for independence.

Despite being colonized, self-governing was something Eritrea was familiar with. If only Mr. Walker took the time to learn about Eritrea, he would have learned that the democracy he is preaching was in fact exercised in Eritrea until it was taken away by US and allies.

What Mr. Walker also failed to understand was that it was not the Eritrean government’s fault that his predecessors failed in their mission to produce an agreeable working relationship between these two countries. Better yet, the current diplomatic standoff was caused by the United States’ policy in the aftermath of WWII that robbed two generations of Eritreans their independence and the misguided US policy that continued to sabotage Eritrea after independence. This ill-advised policy, unless it is rethought, will remain an obstacle to a mutually positive relationship between Eritrea and the US for generations to come. Do not be surprised if the Eritrean government is dearly protecting Eritrea from falling into a trap. As they say, history repeats itself!! No Eritrean in his/her right mind allows history to repeat itself! At the same time Mr. Walker should not be surprised for not getting a favorable response from Eritreans for the patronizing “master-slave” attitude he might have been used elsewhere.

John Foster Dulles’ opening statement clearly articulated that the United States’ policy was unjust from the very beginning and the damage done to Eritrea is immeasurable. Fast forward, our failed diplomat Walker, including his predecessors, would like to maintain the same policy instituted after WWII. Luckily, Eritrea is in a better position, with strong people led by a strong government, to fight any injustice that may linger until the West changes its attitude towards Eritrea. Mr. Walker should be reminded that, for Eritrea, the alternative is not attractive!

The containment of Eritrea

For over a quarter of century, Eritrea’s enemies were heard saying repeatedly that Eritrea or the government of Eritrea must be controlled. The birthplace for this policy was nowhere other than the United Nations where the federation agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia was drawn. One needs to keep in mind that, when the UN was formed, it was the West that drafted the UN Charter in its effort to control the world and “containing Eritrea” was a code word frequently used before and after 1991.

Mr. Walker, who is one of the latest apprentices of the “containing Eritrea” school of policy wrote:

“The U.S., like-minded countries, and the UN should continue to deal with Eritrea, and even cooperate on issues of mutual interest, but this should be tactical interaction subordinate to a strategic appreciation that the regime is inimical, if not hostile, to our interests and values.”  

Again, it is never about the interest of the Eritrean people and their values, but as Walker put it “our [the West’s] interests and values” and everybody knows what those interests and values are. Interests: hegemony, exploitation, neocolonialism, wars, and perpetual conflicts. Values: racism, bigotry, and xenophobia.  

Containment is the only option left for the West to use as a weapon against Eritrea. Reversing the independence of Eritrea is unthinkable. Nonetheless, the West continues to create false narratives to accuse Eritrea and sabotage the nation’s economy, be it through UN sanctions orchestrated by the US or unilateral US Sanctions. Either way the evil plan is to weaken Eritrea economically, militarily, and politically. To bolster their bogus allegations against Eritrea, Mr. Walker and his likes continue to spew outright disinformation repeatedly.

 Mr. Walker also wrote:

“Totalitarian states are inherently destabilizing and should be isolated and contained. Totalitarian regimes are cancers in the international body politic. It is in their DNA to metastasize. Eritrea is a regional menace. Its decades of destabilizing belligerence—including the Hanish Islands dispute with Yemen in 1995; interference in the Second Sudanese Civil War in 1996–98; the border war with Ethiopia in 1998–2000; border skirmishes with Djibouti in 2008; and alleged assistance to the terrorist al-Shabaab group in Somalia in the mid-2000s—led to UN sanctions in 2009 and 2011.”

Mr. Walker didn’t offer any evidence on his unfounded allegations other than repeating what was said before by his predecessors as well as TPLF officials that are now declared terrorists by the Ethiopian Parliament. His mission was no different than those he followed. It is for that matter that his accomplishments were no different than those who happened to be his mentors. In the past, Eritrea’s neighbors (Djibouti, Ethiopia, the Sudan, and Yemen) subservient to the West were directed and ordered to play a negative role in framing and demonizing Eritrea for over twenty years. Ironically, three out of the four subservient leaders are no longer in power, and a breeze of fresh air of cooperation and friendly neighborliness is blowing in the region.

Mr. Walker’s statement below clearly shows that he has no regard for democratic process he has been preaching about. He left Eritrea with a bruised ego with his mission in Eritrea producing no tangible result. His diplomatic score card will forever show a fat “F”. Additionally, his farewell letter to the people of Eritrea was as phony as a $3.00 bill.

The failed diplomat wrote:

“There was only one surprise in the vote tally for a United Nations General Assembly resolution in March condemning Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. As an owned Vladimir Putin subsidiary, Belarus naturally followed instructions from headquarters; Syria’s “no” vote was repayment to the capo dei capi in Moscow for his regime-saving military support; and of course, North Korea voted no. But Eritrea? Why would a little country in the Horn of Africa with no significant ties or obligations to Russia choose, at such a highly charged geopolitical moment, to give the finger to established norms of international behavior, in the process incurring irreversible reputational damage while gaining nothing?”

Unlike the Security Council, which has been the playground of the US, the General Assembly is one organ in the United Nations that is perceived to be democratic. Every single country’s vote carries equal weight. His hate for the government of Eritrea truly clouded his judgment and did not allow him to recognize that all members of the United Nations have the right to vote without any influence from any country and exercise their right given by the UN Charter.

Referring to Eritrea as “a little country in the Horn of Africa ” also showed his true racist colors and what he thinks of the people of Eritrea! Eritrea is more than five times bigger than Israel, but he will never say “little Israel,” unless he wants to commit professional sucide. At the same time, Eritrea is bigger than 36 European nations, and we know he will never use the phrase “little” on even the tiniest of them.  The United States constitution also afforded each state equal power when it comes to voting in the Senate. No matter how big or small a state is, two senators represent each state. Most importantly, their vote is counted equally. California with nearly 40 million population and Hawaii, Walker’s birthplace, with about 1.5 million, or Wyoming with about 0.6 million have the same vote! Area-wise, the smallest Rhode Island and behemoth Alaska are afforded equal senate votes. We have a piece of advice for Mr. Walker: behave like a diplomat; please don’t offend the people of Hawaii! Hawaii is part of the United States of America! Equally, Eritrea is a member of the UN, and its independent vote, if for nothing else shows that Eritrea is not into herd mentality and can’t be kowtowed.

An emerging dynamic

World politics is changing, and the West is currently challenged by what is coming from its old enemies. The political dynamics in the troubled region of the Horn of Africa is shaping up for the better. More challenges are forthcoming as the entire continent of Africa is pushing back on the West’s continued influence. Perhaps forcing the West to revise its old and ineffective policies as the status quo is no longer acceptable! What we have witnessed in the last two years is an indication of the West’s power being battered.

Back to Mr. Walker, though we were not impressed with his article as it lacks the diplomatic propensity, we were able to find something interesting in his writing. Here is what Mr. Walker wrote quoting the Late Maya Angelou:

When someone shows you who they are, Maya Angelou once warned, believe them the first time.” We could not agree more! We believe the US policy towards Eritrea is neither about Justice nor democracy! It is all about US interest! Eritreans believed it the first time! They knew Mr. Walker’s mission in Eritrea was not to spread democracy but to divide Eritreans and the people of the Horn of Africa! His article speaks for itself.

Finally here is what Mr. Walker wrote in his ill-intended mission to Eritrea:

In fact, Eritrea is a human-rights-abusing geriatric dictatorship dominated by Tigrigna Orthodox Christians that is totally dependent on borrowing from foreigners. The U.S. may not be able to rescue the Eritrean people, or any other people living under totalitarian dictatorships, but by providing accurate information and diverse views, it can empower them by thwarting regime efforts to control perception. Many Eritreans have told American diplomats that our human-rights advocacy has given a voice to the voiceless”.

We find it disturbing that Steven Walker chose to wallow in age-discrimination. Let’s remind him that 56% of US Senators, with sole power of advice and consent on diplomatic nominations are at or above the usual US retirement age, we also hope the octogenarians like Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Grassley, Richard Shelby, Jim Inhofe, Patrick Leahy, Bernie Sanders, Mitch McConnell, or his boss Joe Biden would get notice of his childish cheap shot at old people, that Africans respect as wise. 

All Eritreans had to do was read his diatribe on FaceBook to see how shallow he was and what his mission was all about. There is wisdom in the land of Eritrea. The people and government of Eritrea were two steps ahead of him! That’s why all the vitriol against them. All others can read his exit blabbering and judge for themselves

Posted in: Editorial