Wednesday, March 28

Nothing To Offer But Fear Itself

Revolutionary Rap

I am a nightmare walking, psychopath talking,
King of my jungle, just a gangster stalking

Red or blue, cuz or blood, it just don't matter
Sucker die for your life when my shotgun scatters

My game ain't knowledge my game's fear
I've no remorse so squares beware

But my true mission is just revenge
You ain't in my sect, you ain't my friend

Wear the wrong color your life could end
Homicide's my favorite binge

Lyrics from Ice T via Colors


In the article Do we really know Meles Zenawi?, Ethiomedia reports on an interview between Ethiopia's dictator and the Ambassadors' Donors Group who met on May 9, 2005. The donors (by design the most important constituency of the regime) wanted to know why "there are some words being spoken with reference to Rwanda and the Interhamwe. What was the basis to push the government to use these harsh languages?"

Here is the response of Meles, "[t]hank you Ambassadors for the indiscreet questions, and I'll also start by responding to them: We believe the opposition have two fundamental, intrinsic natural problems". To start with, according to the dictionary an indiscreet question is one that in NOT 'respectful of privacy or secrecy; quiet; diplomatic'. So ... either Meles was smiling inwardly and displaying a serious attitude towards the hands that actually support his power, or ...

Anyway, he went on to say that the issue was that the opposition was trying to change the constitution by unconstitutional means. In the PM's words,
[t]hat in my view can pose a threat to stability in Ethiopia. So long as these groups are on the fringes, they add color and spice. But in the long run, they will create a problem. If we do not have a loyal opposition, loyal to the constitutional order, then the choice for the people will be the EPRDF or chaos.

And this is not a good choice, and not good for democracy. But this for me is not the main weakness of the opposition. It is a weakness, but it is not the major one. The main weakness of the opposition is that they have identified a number of scapegoats. These scape goats are not Jews because most of them have left. These are not Tutsis because we do not have Tutsis here.

Despite what the Interhamwes used to say, Tutsis are Rwandans. The scapegoats here are primarily Tigrayans, the Muslims and minority ethnic groups. Even in the very successful demonstration we had yesterday, some of the statements of the opposition was in coded language. What they said yesterday was - "We will send the EPRDF to where it came from." The EPRDF is tantamount to the TPLF, which is tantamount to the Tigrayans.
Besides being a litany of lies, the above statements are very revealing. For any other leader they would be quite indiscreet. However, for Meles Inc. this is business as usual and usually swallowed whole by observers.

A loyal opposition is needed for the sake of 'color and spice'. Translate this bit into the reality that the 'election' was meant to be a Potemkin Coronation of Meles by foreigners and no contest of any kind. The rewards were not to be a display of support from Ethiopians but rather the blessing of the Donors Group in the form of piles of cold hard cash and permanent political support.

Also notice that without 'a loyal opposition' "then the choice for the people will be the EPRDF or chaos." This is a frequent theme in the regime's politics. In the past Meles said that "Ethiopia will have to be ruled through Revolutionary Democracy. Otherwise because of the extraordinary circumstance relating to nationalities, it will face disintegration in no time."

What this all means is that as far as the journey of Ethiopian politics goes there are only two possible destinations - !Melesian Revolution or Death!. The rather silly but equally murderous ideological underpinnings of the regime vary all the way from the subtle demented worship of Albania's Hoxha to the double barrelled intellectual tour de force of Revolutionary Democracy and The New Paradigm.

The common theme of each justification for tyranny is the same as Mao's words that "power grows out of the barrel of a gun." Because nations loyal to such ideas (without an adequate capitalist interlude to actually bring about economic growth to exploit) are by necessity beggar nations, the 'barrel of a gun' concept has simply been updated with the belief that "power grows out of the pockets of Western taxpayers."

For Ethiopians, to be loyal to the constitution implies submission and subjugation to dictatorship. Because the document can't be taken seriously as a means of governing a nation it serves as a simalcrum of the laws of actually civilized governments. For that matter, dictators, above all, have affection for constitutions authored by themselves which guarantee their personal power.

The constitution enshrines tribal divide and rule, the absence of private property, unaccountable rule and no assurance of any democratic freedoms. These in turn assure eternal poverty and dictatorship.

Nevertheless, Ethiopia's opposition took political space afforded by the government's arrogance seriously enough to go beyond 'color and spice' to win election in every district where observers where present. Even after frantic manipulation of results and further years to make numbers up no final tally has been released because it would simply not be believed.

The PM says that the opposition is looking for scapegoats. Of course, the entire history of the PM's vanguard party is defined by vicious purges against traditional or unsubmissive Tigrayans, anyone opposed to the EPLF, anyone loyal to Ethiopia, anyone who did not keep up with the revolutionary god of the moment, and above all anyone who did not accept Meles as their personal savior.

Ethiopian government is defined by the definition of scapegoats and the absolute regional master of manipulating every community along tribal, regional, religious, ethnic, and ideological lines is Meles himself.

Professor Theodore Vestal points out that "Indeed, one aspect of the ethnic federalism of the FDRE is but a thinly disguised license to encourage hatred of the Amharas." This in time with actual genocidal acts against the Anuak and according to Human Rights Watch where Oromos are to be found
New quasi-governmental structures have been set up throughout the region and are being used to monitor and control the rural population down to the level of individual households.

These 'gott and garee' structures have been employed to gather information, monitor and harass outspoken individuals, control and restrict the movement of the rural population and disseminate political propaganda on behalf of the ruling OPDO.
Sadly, the structures in question are not really that new and are native to every communist tyranny in history from Castro's Cuba to Maoist China, HRW goes on to say that
Oromia’s gott and garee are not entirely new innovations. The gott are reportedly modeled on rural administrative structures that were put in place in rural Tigray by the TPLF during the war against the Derg. In addition, a similar set of structures has existed for some time in the Amhara and Southern Peoples, Nations and Nationalities Regional States, although it is not clear whether they are being used for the same purposes [ btw, they are.

In most of Oromia, however, the gott and garee are very new. According to some regional officials, the gott and garee have been in place for over a year in some parts of the region, but in all of the areas visited by Human Rights Watch the structures have been in place only since roughly September 2004.

Officials placed in charge of the gott and garee have been implicated in numerous violations of human rights. These include imposing fines and even imprisonment without due process, forced or compulsory labor, and restrictions on the rights to freedom of association, movement and expression.
Add to this list that there are no private property rights in Ethiopia and that most Ethiopians are serfs of the state and therefore serfs of Meles Inc. Folks can be forced off of their land at the whim of local party/government officials, permanently in debt for fertilizer and other essential to the Meles Inc. party/government monopolies that take their harvests and rakes in billions from abroad in their name.

Mengistu began the kebeles or 'committees for the defense of the revolution' that took so many lives and ruined so many others. Meles refined the concept of such absolute control in Tigray before inheriting and strengthening the kebeles of Ethiopia in general.

As we often say Tigrayans are the first victims of Meles Inc. Defining all Ethiopian politics in terms of genocidal threats serves Meles and his perverse, frankly evil, desire that Tigrayans be isolated from all other Ethiopians while looking to him for life itself. No Ethiopian reality has ever justified such a point of view and no one believes it.

Actually, no one is expected to believe it. What all are supposed to take note of is that for Meles politics is war and defeat means absolute victory or absolute destruction and given the stakes that he defines with his words that he is willing to do anything to stay in power. All the talk of genocide is actually a threat by Meles against all, particularly Tigrayans, that Ethiopian life means either "Melesian Revolution or Death."

Quite evidently keeping with this theme is the words of Meles to the Donors Group that
The EPRDF is tantamount to the TPLF, which is tantamount to the Tigrayans.
See the vile but clear logic of hate there? You see according to Meles, to be against Meles is to be against Tigrayans. We repeat this is more of a threat by Meles against Tigrayans than against anyone else.

Mengistu made similiar threats to Ethiopians and Tigrayans in particular in his day and carried them out. The only difference today is that Meles faces no opposition like his own and that the Soviet Union cared even less about simulated human rights than the Donors Group.

Meles and Mengistu along with the alphabet soup of revolutionary or revolutionary tribal organizations born with them share the essentials for disaster from control of the economy in fewer hands than ever before, to the absence of private property, to tribalism onto a belief that any means justified revolutionary ends.

Just in the very early days of his vanguard party purges and mass murder took the lives of tens of thousands of Tigrayans. One concerned observer pointed this out and was told "[s]o what, Red China had to kill a million people [actually 70 million by the 1970s] in order to become victorious.". By the early 1980s, even the Soviets were forced to ask Mengistu's diplomats why they did not stop purges and mass killings. The response was "we are jonly doing what Lenin did."

One of our favorite quotes, very familiar to our readers, is from the BBC
Observers used to joke that when the TPLF captured towns from Mengistu's Marxist regime, they would take down the ubiquitous portraits of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Lenin in government offices, and replace them with even larger ones.
Tigrayans have always been on the front lines of Ethiopian history. They are the most direct descendants of Axum, a history that does have meaning to all Ethiopians. The battles of Adwa and Maichew were fought there just as most invaders were first fought there. Tigrayans were always the most or among the most committed to a united Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Politics recently quoted the Indian Ocean Newsletter about a recent visit to the US by a central figure close to the PM. "An executive of the Endowment Fund For the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), a consortium of companies supporting the government, and a member of the central committee of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front" met with a few diaspora Tigrayans.

He warned them about “dangers which face the TPLF and the Tigrayans”. The
overall message was to call the expatriate Tigrayans not to be duped by the “chauvinistic” Amhara, citing the name of the owner of the web site.

Justifying Meles Zenawi’s policies, he told his audience that he considered that letting the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUPD, opposition) win the election in 2005 would have come down to letting the partisans of the old regime come back to the surface, which would have led to a massacre of Tigrayans.

He reiterated that “enemies like the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Party” should be neutralised “by all possible means” and did not hide that he was personally in favour of condemning Hailu Shawel and the other opposition leaders imprisoned.
Simply amazing, right?

Tribal communism is like a zombie in one of the George Romero movies. Especially note the bits about 'chauvanistic Amharas', the genocide canard, and the insistence on 'neutralising enemies by all possible means'.

Once again all of this is actually a threat, and an unbelievably crude one, by Meles against all, particularly Tigrayans, that Ethiopian life means either "Melesian Revolution or Death."

We have no illusions that all of history between Ethiopian ethnic groups was all a Disney movie. We also know very well how many sincere members of the TPLF have gone through dangerous journeys to oppose to any degree, the all encompassing organization that has captured their country.

However, the insidious level of tribal hatred foisted on Ethiopians by Meles and Mengistu is an entirely new and destructive factor in Ethiopian history suited to the personal power and ambitions of a few men.

The horror visited upon the Tigrayan people by absurd ideologies and atavistic hatreds should make us wonder who in the end caused more sufferng, and who killed more people there, Mengistu or Meles? Ultimately one must wonder if it matters.

All of the blood, sweat and tears caused by the Scientific Socialist or the Revolutionary Democratic versions of Tribal Communism over the past thirty years have only served the cause of greedy, grasping killers at the top of a heap of bodies.

FDR once said that Americans had "nothing to fear but fear itself". Ethiopia's dictatorships have had "nothing to offer anyone but fear itself".

Even if no one believes a shred of the genocidal fears on parade, observers should be certain of the sincere belief of minds that communicate such fears of the efficacy of killing.

Meles and Mengistu are nothing but gangsters with seats in the United Nations. They have far more in common with each other than anyone else but fellow revolutionary leaders.


Below are more posts on the ideological origins of and the grim price paid for tribal divide and rule:

In Whose Name?
The Killing Fields
The Butcher's Bill for the Closing of the Ethiopian Mind
On the Pitfalls of Ethnic Politics
New Jack Country
On the Origins of the TPLF
Blood, Oil and Ethnic Rule in Gambella
Don't Believe The Hype
Ethnicity, Poverty and War
War Makes Folks Poor

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