Monday, November 27

it is well that war is so terrible ...

Do not fall into the trap set up by the EPRDF to make us fail.

Following reports of Christian - Muslim violence, the Anuak Justice Council gave the this warning, Beware of the EPRDF Hate Plan to Divide Muslims and Christians!. Below are a few excerpts:
Ethiopians are urged to exercise extreme caution as this conflict may not be about religion at all, but be about the EPRDF ... Do not fall into the trap set up by the EPRDF to make us fail.


When the Anuaks were massacred in Gambella in 2003, no one grieved with us but our own people. Many people have since shared with us their guilt and regret for not doing more for the Anuak. You have another chance now to be different.


The AJC has been alerted to a seriously misunderstood issue affecting Christians and Muslims in the Oromiya area of Ethiopia, about 350K west of the capital city, Addis Ababa. In the last weeks, international news has provided reports of inter-religious conflict in the region.

Reports allege that Christians were murdered by Muslims and that their homes and churches were burned, with threats of more to come. Muslims report that some Muslims were also killed by Christians. Such conflict comes as a shock to most Ethiopians who, despite ethnic and political divisions, have not seen serious religious conflict.

Historically, Muslims, Christians, Jews, traditionalists and non-believers in Ethiopia have been able to live peaceably, side by side in this country of about half Christians and half Muslims.

What is happening? Is a more radical form of Islam emerging in Ethiopia that will threaten the religious tolerance that Ethiopians have enjoyed for many years?

Well, in a more sinister direction, information reported to the AJC in the last three weeks points out a different possibility--that the conflict has been created by agents of the EPRDF-- the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), who have incited local militias, made up of pro-EPDRF government Muslims and allegedly, even some Christians, to kill Christians and burn their homes. The common factor between the militants is their allegiance not to Allah, but to the EPRDF.


[The] political survival of the EPRDF is at stake. Decreasing international support and increasing inter-ethnic unity amongst Ethiopians is causing increased difficulties to the current regime. An old strategy of fomenting conflict between ethnic groups has now come to the forefront to break down the historical religious tolerance between Christians and Muslims as Mr. Meles attempts to convince the West that the terrorists are here in Ethiopia.

Such violent conflict may strike deeply enough at the hearts of those in the West, especially the United States and the United Kingdom, to convince them that more is needed now than ever before to prevent the spread of radical Islam, associated with terrorism, in this strategic country in the Horn of Africa.

It will be a further indication--although untrue-- that Mr. Meles Zenawi, their partner in the War on Terror, is the answer to that need, despite the opposition from his own people who accuse him of a magnitude of human rights crimes, repression, corruption and terror tactics.
The folks at the Anuak Justice Council are absolutely right in our opinion.

Ethiopia's corrupt dictatorship is financed by the West because of the poverty it causes and perpetuates for its own people and the quite purposeful potential of Meles Inc. to destabilize not only Ethiopia but the entire Horn of Africa if protection money is not paid.

The Ethiopian government has to be begged and threatened to treat their own people decently - with no apparent result but an attempt to hide crimes against humanity that Mengistu would have been openly proud of. The creation and manipulation of ethnic hatred is the regime's bread and butter.

Like, the Anuak Justice Council, we were suspicious of the reports of religious based violence based on the government's most fundamental modus operandi: a long history of brutality and lies. The Anuak Justice Council knows exactly what they are talking about.


The section below is from Blood, Oil and Ethnic Rule in Gambela, an early 2005 post.

Often when the West questions the Human Rights practices of other countries the reaction is official protest at the ‘interference in internal affairs‘ or just plain denial. Sometimes foreign pressure can make a bit of a difference.

In situations like that detailed below a profound respect for all parties is evident in the ‘foreign interference‘. Simply put, it is reassuringly being assumed that third world governments ‘do know better’ than to hurt their own people and should be held accountable for it when they do.

One point to keep in mind when taking in the tragic events below is that the Ethiopian Consitution is based on ethnic and regional seperation with the dishonest and unworkable legal right for any 'nation, nationality or people' to become independent at will. All participation in political life is based on tribalism.

The ruling party, which is inseperable from government, uses brute force as well as local and national divide and rule - all for the sake of absolute control. The fate of the Anuak is a natural consequence of current Ethiopian governance and ethnic manipulation.

Ethiopians and interested foreigners are fed up.

[or so it seemed at the time]
The US on Tuesday [February 3, 2005] called on Ethiopia to punish those responsible for violence in its western Gambella region that claimed hundreds of lives last year.
[US Ambassador Aurelia Brazeal], whose comments came after a visit to the region, also called for greater protection of human rights by the security services in Gambella. She said the region, which is rich in oil and gold reserves, was "the conscience of Ethiopia".

Gambella’s population of 228,000 is multi-ethnic. In addition to people from the Nuer, Anyuak, Majanger, Komo and Opo ethnic groups, it includes an estimated 60,000 people from other parts of Ethiopia, who are known locally as highlanders.
The attention of the Ambassador is of critical importance for the wellbeing of the Anuak and of Ethiopians in general. We have pointed out on several occasions that without the interest of Western aid donors, even the current Potemkin Village of democracy and human rights as well as the Cargo Cult ersatz market economy in Ethiopia would be absent.

Usually there is the stunning omission in reporting on the Anuak issue that. the entire system of governance in Ethiopia today is based upon the manipulation of ethnicity at the pleasure of her rulers. It is to be expected that such ethnic violence occurs and a surprise it does not happen more. Or perhaps it does, out of the purview of dedicated Ethiopians who pursue such issues at great risk and far from the protection of Western Embassies no one really knows what is happening.

The highlanders mentioned above are ethnic Amharas and Tigrayans who have over the past two decades been resettled in Anuak territory in ill conceived resettlement schemes - all are victims of government policy such as the absence of property rights that can further inflame all manner of rivalries.

'No, we want to talk about the oil now.'

The Anuak were under the radar of government enmity until a new factor appeared in Gambela to cause state mandated violence - oil.
On June 13, 2003, Malaysia's state-owned petroleum corporation, PETRONAS, [with two Chinese subcontractors] announced the signing of an exclusive 25-year oil exploration and production sharing agreement with the EPRDF government to exploit the Ogaden Basin and the "Gambella Block" or "Block G" concession. On February 17, 2004, the Ethiopian Minister of Mines announced that Malaysia's PETRONAS will launch a natural gas exploration project in the Gambella region. Block G covers an area of 15,356 square kilometers within the Gambella Basin.

According to Anuak sources, the Ethiopian government held a public meeting in Gambella in February, even as violence against Anuak in rural areas was continuing to rise. One witness testified: "They told people about the oil and how it would benefit everyone. But the Anuak said: 'How can you talk to us about oil when people are still being killed? We don't want to talk about the oil.' But the government said, 'No, we want to talk about the oil now.'"
This all sounds distressingly like what happened in Central and Southern Sudan when oil was discovered. Trouble began
[i]n July 2002, the regional government accused the central government in Addis Ababa of flagrant interference in the day to day affairs of the Gambella region, an act which contradicts the commitment to regional autonomy and devolution of power to the regions.

In November 2002, the central government in Addis Ababa reacted swiftly and severely by overthrowing and virtually disbanding all democratically elected regional institutions in the Gambella region, including the Regional council.

The former Regional President and other council members were arrested and transferred to federal prison in Addis Ababa and remain in detention without being charged of any crime.
This despite the Constitutional mandate for decentralization of power and the right of all ‘nations, nationalities, and peoples’ to seccede at will. At a UN Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva on April 8, 2004 the Anuak Survival Organization representative said
I speak to you as the representative of a forgotten people, the Anuak (or Anywaa) of Ethiopia. We number only 100,000 persons in the Gambella province of south-western Ethiopia. Our province is the tongue of fertile land, rich with natural resources such as oil, gold and other minerals that extends into southern Sudan. In the past four months, over 1137 Anuak have been murdered by the Ethiopian defense forces and some others from the highland.
He described how thousands have fled to Sudan and blamed government incitement of some highlanders following an ambush of eight officials by parties other than Anuaks. Over three days hundreds were killed in placed in mass graves. Noting that although
The Ethiopian government claims that ‘only’ 57 Anuak were killed and blames the murders on ‘ethnic conflict’ between Nuers and Anuak but the Nuers had nothing to do with the killings. In fact, it was Nuers and the majority of Ethiopian civilians from the highlands who helped save thousands of Anuak lives by hiding them under their beds. This is not an ethnic conflict between Nuers and Anuak or between highlanders and Anuaks.

killings and mass rape

In May of 2004, the International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and Genocide Watch reported that killings and other acts of ethnic cleansing were ongoing
“We have interviewed numerous victims and eyewitnesses from the minority Anuak ethnic group who fled south-western Ethiopia in the wake of massive and unprovoked violence against unarmed men, women and children,” said Genocide Watch/SRI researcher Keith Harmon Snow.

“We have collected detailed testimony suggesting that acts of genocide and crimes against humanity were committed against unarmed civilians by Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Defense Forces (EPRDF) and ‘highlander’ militias.”

“There is irrefutable evidence of atrocities against thousands of civilians, and we continue to receive reports of killings and mass rape,” Mr. Snow said. “We are very concerned about rural areas where communications and access to civilians are prevented by isolation and a heavy military presence
The Ethiopian government asserted that the military presence was preventing further violence and
dismissed reports that the Ethiopian army targeted and killed Anuaks as ‘fiction’ and said that at the most 200 people had been killed in clashes in the region. He stated that the “only people who had been killed by the military in the area were armed Anuak insurgents who had staged cross-border raids from Sudan.”
However, unlike Sudan, the relative aid dependence of the Ethiopian government has made it more amenable to early Western intervention. The government appears to appreciate the need for action on the issue so the attention may already be working.

[but ... the Ethiopian government is if anything more willing to kill its own people today despite any Western threats or criticism]
The Ethiopian government has apologised to various ethnic groups in the western Gambella region for failing to avert clashes which claimed more than 300 lives since December, reports said on Saturday.
The Reporter says that a Parliamentary Commission found that some members of the Ministry of Defense were involved in killings. However, the numbers of victims seem to be deflated from other accounts and only “some "unidentified" troops from the defence ministry had murdered 13 people“ is reported. Of the above reported population of 228,000 up to 51,000 are still displaced.

a litany of crimes ... ongoing

Cultural Survival Quarterly details some of the history of Anuak exploitation at the hands of Ethiopian government that has grown ever more brutal with time.

Historically, the Anuak were victims of slave trading. From the 1980s on the frankly murderous Dergue used every means at the disposal of its totalitarian state from helicopter gunships to brutal local rule to abuse the Anuak as the process of resettling highlanders from the north began.

Those highlanders themselves were moved involuntarily and remain victims of government policy. In the 1980s the Dergue was then conducting a campaign of death and destruction against the people of Tigray, among others, and moved thousands south in poorly planned resettlement schemes. One aim was to isolate potential supporters of Tigrayan rebel forces, who have now become the government of Ethiopia.

Amnesty International reports that Oromos, Amharas and Tigrayans were among the resettled highlanders who were incited to act against the Anuak by government officials. Next time if it serves the purposes of power and ethnic divide and rule - any number of combinations of tribes will be made to fight each other countrywide.

The Ambassador’s recent statement seems to be made in encouragement for the admission of error accompanied by pressure against the minimization of the problem. There is also an growing sense of American and E.U. wariness of and weariness with the Ethiopian government, its pronouncements and unmistakable reality. Given the parts of the American President’s State of the Union speech that touched on human rights, more of this type of pressure should be expected - and should be welcomed by all observers.

[wishful thinking that was, it seems the speech wasn't meant to apply to Ethiopia]

“The Minnesota media is an early warning system for this African genocide” according to the McGill Report run by Doug McGill, a journalist close to the Anuak Community of Minnesota. Anuak Genocide Watch, is a dormant blog from Bethel University whose archives and links are of value. Genocide Watch, is also following developments closely.

Events are detailed here from Genocide Watch and Survivors’ Rights International in a report titled “Today is the Day of Killing Anuaks”.

Testimony to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations, “The Anuak Massacre of 2003”.


when Somali politics becomes an excuse for eternal Ethiopian dictatorship

Almost two years since the writing of the above post it is safe to assume that foreign involvement from donor governments and private citizens, especially the Anuak diaspora, have saved the lives of countless people. Just like every other silly and alleged parliamentary investigation on any issue of note once the ink is dry in press reports all is forgotten.

What else could one expect?

Even the Anuak killings were carried out amid a massive public relations effort to simulate democracy and civilized government that collapsed in the wake of a poorly managed 'election' and the loss of every area where observers where present.

Since then it is widely accepted that tens of thousands have been placed in prison camps and hundreds murdered while it is known hundreds of opposition, human rights and free press leaders are in prison on trial for their lives.

Remember, even the new figures for dead account for Addis Ababa only and remain official figures. Believing any official figures out of Ethiopia is a mistake and puts one in the dubious company of self interested aid agencies and 'too lazy to fact check' reporters who believed a few months ago that lies about 7% economic growth would make Ethipia become part of the first world in a decade or two.

The numbers of dead may not have come to light without defections but the true numbers are likely to be far higher nationwide where there were no ferenji eyeballs to keep Ethiopia's own government from brutalizing its own people. Actually they serve an odd purpose of sorts on the government's behalf: no one believed that only a few dozen were killed so the big show of a number approaching two hundred brings a momentary relief as though there is nothing more to discover.

One defector recently compared Meles to Mengistu saying something like the following: "Mengistu boasted about his killings while Meles kills and has an investigation." Meles is different principally in being far more intelligent and shrewd than Mengistu.

Beyond that Mengistu and Meles share the essential basics of hostility to the legitimacy of Ethiopia's existence, politics of eternal war and ethnic divide and rule, Marxist-Leninism and foreign aid to rule over their own people with only the consent of masters in Moscow and Washington / Brussels respectively.

Today the ruling aristocracy, the ruling party, the government, the corrupt party / crony businesses and government monopolies that command the peaks and valleys of the economy,, the secret police, the 'courts', the private militias, the 'parliament' and the press are all venomous heads of the same hydra headed monster.

We are thankful to the former American Ambassador on behalf of the Anuak but in her valedictory speech after the 'election' she had retreated to the old foreign policy dead end / stand by of "sure he's and S.O.B. but at least he's our S.O.B." when she called on Ethiopians to just accept the regime as is and rest in appreciative silence for the privilege of being ruled by Meles.

Her successor encouraged the jailed opposition leaders to just give up because Somali society was again imploding - as though an Islamist takeover in Somalia was reason for Ethiopians to live in subjugation.

That conflict has become a blessing from hell for Meles Inc. Just the right enemy has appeared at just the right time with all the usual suspects present - Al Quada, Iran, Hezbollah, Eritrea etc. amid shouts of Jihad against Ethiopia.

The US has asked for non intervention from all but with a wink and a nod towards Meles and his invasion of Somalia on behalf of a non existent government in internal exile. Issues raised by these events and intense US Administration and Ethiopian government lobbying were amongst the principal reasons why HR 5680 did not advance in Congress and in Europe why the Cotonou Agreement on human rights and aid is being ignored.

But wait a minute - aren't national interests such as Ethiopia's eternal regardless of who runs the government?

Yes - but it is not that simple. Since Somali indpendence the whole raison d'etre of the country was the conquest of Djibouti, Eastern Ethiopia and North-Eastern Kenya. The five points of the star on the national flag represented those areas belonging to neighboring countries with a minority of Southern and Northern Somalia actually at hand.

Like Eritrea today, Somalia did everything it could to harm Ethiopia just as a matter of basic government principle and regardless of the cost to any party. When Mengistu had weakened Ethiopia sufficiently Siad Barre saw his chance and invaded in 1977 setting into motion the chain of events that destroyed Somalia just over a decade later.

Was the war against Somalia justified even though bloody Mengistu ruled? Of course it was even though national feeling manipulated by the Dergue allowed for the solidification of Mengistu's then shaky rule for years to come and even though it was his policies of encouraging internal hatreds like tribalism that made Ethiopia seem like an inviting target to Mogadishu to begin with.

Was the war against Eritrea from 1998 justified even though bloody Meles ruled? Obviously, even though like Mengistu, Meles conveniently first manipulated and then forgot national feeling. Just like Siad Barre, Issias in Asmara was encouraged by official tribalism in Ethiopia and the weakness such policies promised.

In the end, the Ethiopian people rose above the expectations and practices of Mengistu, Siad Barre, Issias and Meles and kept their country together.

So the question then becomes - if a ruler has invited war by making his country weak as though he were a parasite requiring a weak host - what credit does he deserve for convenient last minute recognition of always obvious long term interests?

In our opinion the answer is none at all.

Especially when there is literally money to be made and security to be found for the regime in crisis and instability. Just like the forgotten Anuak investigations there have been numerous alleged acts of terror since the 'election' that were blamed on the target of the moment with arrests announced and ... nothing ever comes of it until the lies are repeated a few weeks later with another target of blame.

In Gambela and elsewhere the government has shown a pattern of and propensity towards fomenting tribal / religious hatred for momentary tactical gain. The strategic aspect of the behaviour is the generals sense of danger, chaos and suspicion that is encouraged whether it exists or not.

So ... the new Islamist government in Somalia will be hostile to Ethiopia - so ... what else is new? Actually compared to the past and to history the balance of forces on the Horn has never been more favorable to Ethiopia in terms of the realpolitik world view that is being encouraged to support the Melesian adventure in Somalia.

Somalia does not support the Islamists and is anyway chronically weak and divided. Islamism is guaranteed to keep it that way. Ethiopia's military superiority is absolute. Ethiopians have not shown for a long long time any interest in that type of religious adventurism.

Ethiopia's only potential weakness in the face of the facts is its own government.

The potential profit for Meles Inc. in encouraging violence between Ethiopians, encouraging Somali Jihadist hostility (as if it needed encouragement anyway) and encouraging Western insecurity and moral blindness in the just War on Terror is far too lucrative an enterprise for Meles to resist.

There is always a great danger in warfare however simple or necessary it seems. Look what has happened to Somalia and Eritrea after they started wars just as easily and confidently as Meles marched into Somalia. Both governments told the truth just about as often as Meles does.

And ... remember the shared excuse for why Eritrea and Somalia could not develop and become democratic - both Siad and Issias said because they were to busy fighting the permanent Ethiopian enemy in a crisis whose end would bring days of milk and honey. Sound familiar?

There is an old saying from an old general that goes something like this "It is well that war is so terrible or we should grow too fond of it." Meles has displayed an inordinate fondness for war: he has already been at war with the people of Tigray for more than thirty years and at war with all other Ethiopians for almost sixteen years.

The threat of war, chaos and the harm he may do to Ethiopians is what has kept him in power so far. In this first voluntary foreign war the interests being served are the corporate ones of Meles Inc. - we should expect that the most obvious interests of Ethiopia won't be served at all regardless of whoever makes whichever excuses.

All of the myriad legitimate national and international interests against Islamism will be harmed because for Meles to rule, Ethiopia must always be weak - especially when Somali politics becomes an excuse for eternal Ethiopian dictatorship.


We got an email within minutes of posting the above to let us know that the quote is from Robert E. Lee from sometime during or after the Battle of Fredericksburg on the 13th of December 1862. Lee was a vile traitor to the Union who used his abundant talents to keep alive the evil cause of slavery at the cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives. It is appropriate that Arlington National Cemetery was once the Lee ancestral estate and also appropriate that this bit of his thoughts is remembered here.

Monday, November 13

Fear of a Female Planet

Fear of A Black Planet is the name of an old Public Enemy album. Keep reading, it will make sense soon. Over the past week or so we heard from a usually sane friend of ours, an impassioned defense of the 'tradition' of female genital mutilation. Said traditionalist would of course never let such a thing happen to his own children but thinks that such 'traditions' are just fine for OTHER people.

Here is one of the headlines that started that most ridiculous debate: Dad sentenced in first female genital cutting trial in U.S.. The guilty party
was found guilty of aggravated battery and cruelty to children. Prosecutors said he used scissors to remove his daughter's clitoris in his family's Atlanta-area apartment in 2001.
During her father's trial, the girl, now 7, clutched a teddy bear as she testified on videotape that her father "cut me on my private part."
Imagine a two year old girl being held down by a loved and trusted parent armed with a pair of scissors or a knife who cuts off a perfectly normal and functional part of her anatomy. Obviously no anesthetic is used, there is no treatment with antibiotics but even more threatening than the threat of physical pain and infection is the violence caused to such an innocent soul.

We are talking about barbarism here which is just as vile when wrapped up in tradition as it is wrapped up in religion or patriotism. As one would expect mutilating millions of young girls is a subject that moral relativism and misplaced pride often hesitate and fear to define. We use the term barbarism without hesitation - sometimes you just have to call a thing what it is.

The press and scholars refer to female genital cutting while supporters or moral relativists use the term circumcision. A bit on the labelling debate from Wikipedia which also has a good brief on the subject along with appropriate links.
The use of the word “mutilation” reinforces the idea that this practice is a violation of the human rights of girls and women, and thereby helps promote national and international advocacy towards its abandonment.

At the community level, however, the term can be problematic. Local languages generally use the less judgmental “cutting” to describe the practice; parents understandably resent the suggestion that they are “mutilating” their daughters.

In this spirit, in 1999, the UN called for tact and patience regarding activities in this area and drew attention to the risk of “demonizing” certain cultures, religions and communities. As a result, the term “cutting” has increasingly come to be used to avoid alienating communities.
So get this dear reader ... millions of little girls are being mutilated in Africa and the Arab world, such practices are being exported around the world ... but it all must be treated carefully because because of the risk of 'demonizing' some people.

The issue is not demonizing cultures, communities or religions - the issue is taking a civilized and humane approach to their practices. In the antebellum American South, slavery was a tradition and often branding slaves was too. Southerners certainly felt demonized by the unkind way Unionists and Abolitionists described their peculiar institution and we are sure that attacks on slavery hurt the feelings of the Confederacy in ways we can't imagine today.

So what? It took the Civil War and a bloody century of Reconstruction and Jim Crow to make the South see the light. Does that past tradition of slavery justified by scripture and culture somehow make slavery and its aftermath less ugly? We don't think so.

Slavery in Africa and the slave trade with the Arab world was a fact countless centuries before anyone ever heard of the Confederacy. That was also a matter of tradition and culture and certainly there were many communities very sensitive about the subject who did not want to be demonized about it. As you can imagine the slaves themselves weren't allowed to have much to say and no one considered their feelings.

Traditionally or culturally, or what have you, in Polynesia babies with any defect and all pairs of twins were thrown into the waves or volcanos. Such barbarity is as tragically human as laughter and mourning - but until we defined it as wrong we could not go forward.

Traditionally and culturally people from the wrong place or with the wrong beliefs or even the wrong hair color have been subject to oppression and even genocide. Do the labels traditional and cultural make any of it OK? Believe it for sure - every bit of human horror from the mass slaughter of slaves and captives atop ancient Incan pyramids all the way through to the execution of gays in modern Iran can be defended from the point of view of tradition, religion and culture.

Moral and cultural relativism are just fine when you are talking about spices and dances and clothes but when the subject turns to violence against other, especially helpless, human beings it it just time to call a thing what it is.

Female Genital Mutilation is barbaric. The quicker everyone is made to understand that fact and to stop making polite excuses for it, the quicker shame and fear of the law will save millions of girls and women from a perverse worldview centered on their own essential 'sin' of being born female.

For countless centuries, countless widows in South Asia were forced psycologically or physically to join their dead husbands on the flaming funeral pyre while still alive. That was certainly traditional and cultural. When the British Raj outlawed the practice a group of elders complained to that notorious arch-colonialist Sir Charles Napier.

His rather politically incorrect response follows
You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom. When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows.

You may follow your custom. And then we shall follow ours
Was Napier culturally insensitive? Certainly. Was he a racist? Most probabaly. Did he have a right to be there to begin with? Nope. Was he arrogant and did he demonize the communities he dealt with? Obviously.

But outlawing the burning of widows was a good thing. No notion of respect for tradition or culture or proud resentment can make us pretend that burning widows is a good thing.

Men are often enough brutal towards other men but it is for women that men reserve their very ugliest nature. Usually it is in the name of protecting women that men visit every manner of violence against women. The very same men deeply resent and fight when other men try the same things on them. Fear of other men makes men desperate for absolute control of women.

Biologically this stems from the need of men or their genes to make copies of themselves. Lions who take over a new pride kill all the cubs they did not father so that only their own genes survive. Such control also requires killing or keeping off all adult male rivals lest some alien genes catch a free ride and get an edge in the battle for survival.

Your average lioness doesn't fight this. In the universe defined by her instinct that is just the way things are to her and about as much a matter for worry as the price of tea in China. The lion is stronger than she is, sure, but the reproductive strategy of the male of her species has become internalized in her own programming so deeply that she accepts it like she accepts the rain.

In any other situation a lioness would fight to the death to protect her cubs. The same is true of the women who would defend their children with their lives but who turn around and demand that their little girls become victims of genital mutilation.

Actually, fathers themselves doing the deed is a remarkable rarity. Usually women define the ceremonies and the practice of that inter-sexual barbarism while acting all proud and solemn about their crimes. In the universe defined by such traditions and culture those women believe they are doing the right thing.

What they are actually doing is getting revenge on their daughters for what was done to them in a long line of suffering and pain going back generations. To justify the horror done to them as girls, women feel doing it to children in the name of tradition and culture makes it all somehow alright. Taking up the knife to cut their daughters is like a slave taking up the overseer's whip.

Like countless other wrongs, the general idea that suffering (even to no purpose) is somehow character building is like the dated idea that medicine should taste bad, a piece of traditional idiocy. Women of genital mutilating cultures turn their own powerlessness before their men into victimization of those weaker than themselves.

Why the clitoris anyway? How has a clitoris ever hurt anybody? For sure though, men who have made up the rules are scared to death of it. Once you get far past the Freudian business about vaginal and clitoral orgasms it remains true that the clitoris is very helpful although not essential to the female orgasm while remaining overall a genuinely fun thing to have.

For the sick minded men who first decided that severing the clitoris was a good idea - the real target was the female orgasm or the idea that women could enjoy sex or even seek it out independent of the desires and whims of the particular men who own them. By demonizing female sexuality, men were getting revenge on other men who they feared by taking control of the bodies of their own women.

Like the murderous lion, such men though they were getting extra bits of assurance about paternity as well as submission for the price of mutilation. Male circumcision on the other hand is thought to have a neutral result on sexual pleasure and if recent reports are to be believed a positive result regarding sexually transmitted diseases.

Would men have put up with a traditional or cultural or community practice that denied them any sexual pleasure at all or that left them more tuned to the basic act of insemmination alone without regard to their will or pleasure? Hell no.

If sex did not feel good none of us would be here. Without that pleasure and the cocktail of brain chemistry that turns such intimacy into the reality of romantic love not a one of us would be here either. An intellectual understanding that something had to be done to simply procreate would never have been enough.

Mother nature knows exactly what she is doing but it is up to mankind to take progress a step further than the natural world.

By taking away even part of the pleasure that women feel from the process, men and collaborating women have been engaged under cover of religion, culture and tradition in unspeakable horrors whose sole purpose is ultimately to make insecure men feel better about themselves.

The 'tradition' can range from a symbolic cut on the hood of the clitoris all the way to the removal of the clitoris and labia. In some places the butchered labia are then sewn together leaving only an opening large enough for menstruation and urination.

The value placed on virginity is similiar as symbolized by the red sheet waved about after weddings. Mensturating women aren't even officially welcome in traditional churches. Tradition and culture too often leads us to believe that there is something generally 'dirty' about being a women. Ultimately the whole point is that female sexuality is the property of men and men alone while being only an object of potential shame for women.

An extension of this whole concept is the larger cultural world where the always brittle honor of men is wrapped up in the behavior of all women they are related to. Actually, related to is not the operative concept here - when it comes to 'honor' and women what is really meant is not family or relative but a relationship of real ownership.

Lions don't know better but to kill as their insecurities and instincts tell them to. Humans should no better but too often don't. Women apparently can't be trusted with men and men can't be trusted with women without the necessity of sex.

What if they want to though? No society can survive without some constraints on sexual behavior but denying half of humanity any rights at all while limiting the subject to the sphere of violence for the other half is not a good thing.

Do the wrong thing around that subject in certain cultures and traditions and folks get killed for not only marrying without male permission but even for flirting or any kind of disobedience.

Are honor killings OK? No, and it is evident that all such practices are all wrapped up together with every manner of violence towards women from beatings to genital mutilation. All because men are afraid of women because they are first terrified of other men.

We remember a bitter cartoon from years ago that pictured a man on a donkey dreaming of owning a car one day while his wife walking behind him dreamed only of not being beaten.

That so many women embrace practices that take away their human rights and humanity only shows that victimization can be so deeply internalized that everyone thinks or imagines that wrong is being done for their own good. People, communities and cultures should be ashamed for crimes like genital mutilation and governments should take the responsibility to make them stop.

We deeply thank any world government that outlaws such mutilations and we thank that jury in Atlanta, that just like Napier, was not having any of that traditional and cultural nonsensical justifications for wrong.

When little girls are getting hurt in the name of the insecurities and psychoses of their parents the fact that those insecurities and psychoses have been shared by millions of others for a long time does not make them proper in even the most vanishing sense.

The crime of female genital mutilation cuts across all of Ethiopia's religions, regions and ethnicities. It is a matter of collective shame and deserved guilt that should no longer be tolerated in any form anywhere. It is good that it is no longer a dirty little secret in at least one corner of the globe.

Ethiopia certainly has far far to go before there is equality between the sexes but it is frankly odd that female mutilation has such a place in Ethiopia. Compared to her cultural neighbors to the south if Africa and to the north in the Arab world, Ethiopian women are remarkably liberated overall and Ethiopians in general are notably more comfortable with the (albeit usually unspoken) subject of sex.

Hopefully that will mean that mutilation will be that much easier to get rid of. Just imagine how many little girls will be spared trauma and who will experience every joy of life just because one mother and one prosecutor and one jury said NO.

In a universe where right and wrong aren't always considerations or where morality is perverted or where judgement is relative - fear of the law can work wonders.

Where the 'traditionalists' sharpen their knives against little girls all societies should build gallows right next to them as real threats and symbols of civilized progress.

The issue here is but not only an issue of women's value and rights. Any man who has ever respected, loved and valued a woman in any way - she may have been a mother, a sister, a friend, a wife or a lover - should not want to see any of them mutilated for any reason.


For more on Female Genital Mutilation, the Wikipedia entry is quite good particularly including the list of links towards the end. This map from that page shows high rates of female genital mutilation throughout Ethiopia.

Friday, November 3

Technically At War

From Indonesia to India to Iraq to Israel, radical Islamists are engaged in a bloody struggle to ... well, why not just say it ... they want to take over the world just as much as Hitler, Stalin or Dr. Doom ever did. They are every bit as nasty as the first two mentioned and not at all as entertaining, although certainly as absurd, as the last.

Despite the appearances of group anger, opinion polls and emotional demonstrations - Islamic societies have already quite soundly and roundly rejected the practitioners of Islamism. Utter failure at achieving even the smallest successes at home is what brought them to carry their fight to the rest of the world in search of better luck.

Islamism is the harnessing of one of mankind's great religions to the personal whims of a 'revolutionary vanguard' (sadly familiar to Ethiopians in the guise of the vanguard of Scientific Socialism and Revolutionary Democracy) who feel that their personal will to power and extremism gives them the right to define human reality.

In the end the whole modern range of barbarism from from Fascism to Communism to Islamism is the story of that revolutionary vanguard dedicated to their own personal power. Their justifications only amount to an unacceptable and frankly evil reason why they are chosen by criminal re-writings of history, a curious but silly dialectic or an inhuman supreme being of their own imagination to make every other human be what they demand or have her think and live according to their dictates ... or die.

The next passage is part of what we had to say more than once on the anniversary to September 11 about the foes of human civilization,
The enemies were first engaged with (often simultaneous) policies based upon wishful thinking and frank appeasement that were nurtured by civilization's own self doubts, denial and fears. Peace only came when enough people had the final bitter realization that like it or not there was a war going on that was worth winning.
Unfortunately, such an ill defined war in comparison to wars of the past is particularly subject to abuse by competing forms of totalitarianism. For example, the loathsome odor of mendacity is to Ethiopia's government what the smell of rot is to carrion ... which is to say that government is so shady it gives even the righteous concept of fighting terror a bad name.

Let us run through the litany of the Meles Inc. crimes against Ethiopia once more: Ethiopia is among the poorest, least agriculturally productive, least attractive to foreign investment, slowest growing economically, officially ethnically divided countries on earth because its government is the among the most corrupt and most brutal on earth.

All of the above did not just happen - it was a matter of policy.

The feudal revolutionary nobility and business aristocracy with Meles at its head owns either directly, through party conglomerates or government monopolies and licensing scams owns the entire economy of a country. The same incestous infernal machine also uses its ownership of every square inch of land to control tens of millions and manipulates their engineered misery into hard cash to sustain the designed failure of a state run for the purposes of a few.

For many long years the world pretended that was not the case while any hope for popular Ethiopian decisions on the national fate became a matter of enablement and policy between 'development partners' and the regime. Today all such pretense has been laid bare and in the words of Ana Gomes
We must stop pretending that Ethiopia is run by a respectable government when in fact it has a murderous and oppressive regime
Aside from the ever more obvious rejection by all Ethiopians of their government, little has practically changed between the real players in Ethiopian politics: Western donors with money and low expectations and Meles Inc. with a readiness to kill and an absolute commitment to rule.

The newest partnership in all of this is that between Somalia's Islamist Courts Union and Meles Zenawi. Neither gives a damn for their own people and both want absolute power. They only seem to be in the way of each other. They give eachother the perfect set of mutual excuses for countless crimes against humanity - past, present and future.

Meles sent his forces into Somalia and was delighted that a jihad was declared against Ethiopia. Europeans had become stingy with cash once he massacred a 'deductibles' worth of Ethiopians before the world's eyes. The US in the name of the War on Terror and the World Bank, in the interests of the US directly and Europe once removed, quickly picked up the tab for Meles Inc. with billions in aid never to be accounted for and billions in loans never to be paid back.

There were clouds on the horizon for Meles though. Troublesome Congressmen and Ethiopian-Americans who thought America had, by definition, a commitment to human rights brought a sanctions bill against Meles Inc. to the Senate for his murderous ways. Despite millions invested legally and illegally in the US to change opinions and influence politics - the very possibility of defeat loomed so something had to be done.

Thus the invitation extended to the Somalia Islamists so congenially for a jihad. The US governemtn had little to be disappointed about when Meles showed his murderous true face since no one outside of Congress had ever imagined he had a democratic bone in his body. The War on Terror provided a perfect, realpolitik excuse to defend the Ethiopian regime in Washington in the interest of the War on Terror.

As Ethiopians have known for over thirty years though, Meles is a reliable partner for no decent or civilized company. Part of the 'charm' that has endeared him to successive generations of Western bureaucrats, do-gooders and intellectuals is his capacity to be exactly what they want him to be at any given moment.

Where the one to one act was insufficient, Ethiopia's regime has used constitutionally determined tribal divide and rule to project an image of instability so too much should not be demanded in the form of good governance. Religious divide and rule has always been an element of this public relations effort but it has become more of an issue of late.

Ethiopian history in general and modern history in particular do not show any sort of permanent religious honeymoon but do show an utter absence of the type of religious strife in recent headlines. On several occasions since Meles made the decision to push the potential of a Somali conflict to leverage American behavior, there have been reports of Ethiopian Muslims assaulting Ethiopian Christians and churches.

We have absolutely no doubt that all such reports are either lies or the direct and exagerated results of government incitement within communities where people have gotten along together for generations with an absence of such clashes. Since the fake election that he lost, Meles has blamed a succession of supposed terrorist acts and alleged terrorist plans on the 'genocidal' opposition, revanchist imperial forces, dergue remanants, Amhara local imperialists, Oromo narrow nationalists, Eritrean agents or hooligans to name a few.

There is never an explanation or follow up on any charge and aside from a general and carefully cultivated sense of coming anarchy there is no attempt at logic either. The most convenient target of the moment is simply blamed for all acts and plans that month whose existence either sprung whole from the imagination of regime propagandists or from regime bombmakers.

The headlines of the moment and wider tactical political needs to discredit or encourage legitimate opponents or absent minded cash cows determined who was blamed. Now according to Meles
We believe they've [Islamist Courts] been preparing terrorist outrages. They're very close to our border. The indications are not that encouraging. But we've been patient so far and we'll continue to be patient.
The jihadist elements within the Islamic Court movement are spoiling for a fight. They've been declaring jihad against Ethiopia almost every other week
Technically we are at war.
How convenient ... especially when the truth is that Meles has been already been at war with 70 million Ethiopians for the past fifteen years. Lies and bloodletting have always worked for Meles. Now when even manipulating the stability of the Horn of Africa was not working any more, the Islamist Courts Union appeared on the table like a welcome Joker in a deck of cards allowing him once more to be seen as indespensible to and exactly what some jaded or gullible ferenjis wanted him to be.

The Islamist Courts Union is a very nasty bunch certainly, but Meles simply invaded Somalia allegedly in support ofthe non-entity of a Somali government in Internal Exile, long before any anti-Ethiopian action was taken by anyone. There are reports now of thousands of Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers in Somalia along with who knows how many other forces, arms dealers and financiers of anarchy will crawl out of the woodwork.

It is this kind of thinking that sees invasion and war between peoples as a manageable distraction from reality or a minor political maneuver. That is why Idi Amin invaded Tanzania, Galtieri invaded the Falklands, Musssolini invaded Ethioipia and Mengistu savored every moment of war that gave him an excuse to fail in every policy while committing with justification whatever crimes he desired.

The War on Terror is a just war wherever it is being fought. Ethiopia's own War on Terror is being fought on two fronts:

70 million Ethiopians, both Christian and Muslim are fighting one war along with the rest of humanity's nations and religions against the newest modern incarnation of totalitarianism in the form of Islamism.

Ethiopians are also fighting a War on Terror against their own government and its commitment to older nationally / tribally / class / dialectic based totalitarianism of divide and rule and targeted hatred.

There is no potential fissure or fault line that regime will not exploit and no crime against humanity it will not committ and no lie it will not tell to weaken Ethiopia - like a parasite needing its host just alive enough to provide sustenance while keeping that host to weak to reject it.

Those in Washington who think they are committed to the War on Terror by finding 'a strategic partnership' with Meles Inc. should realize that their partnership is with a vanishingly small and unreliable aristocracy and not with an actual country.

In its own way their attempts at realpolitik are just as much a product of their own wishful thinking and appeasement of dictatorship as the matching set of self doubts, denial and fears that drive others to blame everyone but the Islamists for Islamist terror.

The sophistication and maturity that lobbying for Meles Inc. is imagined to represent in Washington is a surrender to the purposeful engineering of chaos and instability by their supposed ally. Ethiopia is not a setting of any chaos or instability that is endemic or that is independent of her government and its policies.

One tragic part in all of this is the desperate need for ferenji support by the good and the bad. For Ethiopians who have valued and fought for their independence for countless centuries it seems that instead of the temporary weakness of circumstance, that the policies of her government have made Ethiopian a willing victim of foreign whims more than ever before.

All so that Ethiopians themselves could be cut out of their own social contract. The following defines the new Ethiopian social contract: Meles can't keep ruling Ethiopians against their will without that support and Ethiopians can't hope to peacefully get rid of Meles with that suppport intact.

The government wildly spins the news and grabs at straws that indicate foreign support as eagerly as Meles Inc. cashes checks from abroad and sends it right back there into private accounts.

Withough even fitful foreign interest Meles would be doing openly in the streets of Addis and against the imprisoned opposition exactly what he is doing in other cities, hidden prison camps and the countryside right now - proudly committing mass murder instead of pretending to hide it.

Ethiopians aren't just techinically at war with Somalia's self proclaimed rulers - they had actual war declared against them long ago by their own self proclaimed rulers.