Saturday, January 31

Enabling Dictatorship

"One hundred years from now, your grandchildren and mine will look back and say: this was the beginning of a new African renaissance"

Bill Clinton speaking of Ethiopia and her neighbors on his six-nation tour of Africa, March 1998

Albright pays up.

"Enable: to make possible or effective; specifically, to make possible or support dysfunctional behavior of someone by denying it exists or compensating for it in some way."


People have a visceral need to hear a story and to define heroes and villains / saviors and victims. This probably springs from a deep seated cultural or even genetically determined need to appreciate reality according to certain rules. A common feature of those rules, to no one's surprise, is seeing one's own self and interests projected onto any situation as 'right'.

Folks are also quite adept at quite knowingly convincing themselves to see the opposite what they know.

So what happens when a story has no moral center at all? Let us take a look at some very popular Mafia stories. Who are the heroes in the Godfather or the Sopranos? There aren't any - but sheer exposure to one side of an argument has viewers wanting Michael and Tony to win.

As though one Mob family is any different from another - they aren't. Pacino, Caan, and DeNiro did not play Tataglias or Barzinis and we didn't get to see any of their weddings either. That is the only difference between them and the Corleones.

The suspension of morals required to follow the Corleone family and not just wish they would all just die would certainly have collapsed by Godfather XII. The Sopranos pulled off the sheer banality of so many numbing years of evil without consequence with the slick literary device of his psychiatrist.

That was the 'hook' for this show as it was being pitched somewhere in NYC of LA a decade ago. The psychiatrist, beyond providing a very few 'mob bosses have emotional issues too' moments, served to give a ready avenue for moral accommodation not only with the mob boss but themselves for watching. The thin veneer of clinical curiosity doesn't go far to cover up the fact that Tony was simply an evil man - no matter what a nutcase his mother was.

Obviously the writers knew this too because at the end of the series they dealt with the issue. They had already done so in a few end of season montages for those to blind too notice what the show was about. There were images of warm Soprano family get-togethers mixed in with images of the suffering they had caused in people's lives all around them.

The psychiatrist who got quite a thrill out of being privy to Tony's sewer of a mind finally is confronted with the pointlessness of her task in the final episodes. Although all of her parts of the show were the ones that folks were most likely to fast forward through - toward the end they got momentarily interesting.

She came to realize that medicine and psychotherapy don't work with psychopaths and that trying to understand someone like Tony actually made him better at being a psychopath.

All those years she had been enabling evil.

"Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets. Completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please..."

Robert Hare

According to an excellent New Yorker article psychopathy has been described as a condition of moral emptiness whose "main defect, what psychologists call 'severe emotional detachment' — a total lack of empathy and remorse, is concealed"

Psychiatrists used such phrases "for a general mixture of violent and antisocial characteristics found in irredeemable criminals, who appeared to lack a conscience". One, Cleckley, isolated
sixteen traits exhibited by patients he called “primary” psychopaths; these included being charming and intelligent, unreliable, dishonest, irresponsible, self-centered, emotionally shallow, and lacking in empathy and insight.

“Beauty and ugliness, except in a very superficial sense, goodness, evil, love, horror, and humor have no actual meaning, no power to move him,” Cleckley wrote of the psychopath in his 1941 book, “The Mask of Sanity,” which became the foundation of the modern science. The psychopath talks “entertainingly,” Cleckley explained, and is “brilliant and charming,” but nonetheless “carries disaster lightly in each hand.”

Cleckley emphasized his subjects’ deceptive, predatory nature, writing that the psychopath is capable of “concealing behind a perfect mimicry of normal emotion, fine intelligence, and social responsibility a grossly disabled and irresponsible personality.” This mimicry allows psychopaths to function, and even thrive, in normal society.
Doesn't the above description have 'cadre' and Meles written all over it? Yes. We'll get back to that later.

One outlet for that pathology in politics is doing what is normally morally unacceptable in 'the name of the people' or of 'God' - thus making it all alright. From slave societies of the Ancient Persia to those of the Antebellum South onto those of Mao's China, some form of perfect vision revealed to a few has justified barbarism and taken hundreds of millions of lives while ruining billions more.

You see, certain political philosophies go that extra step and make vicious oppressive government an aura of purpose and nobility. They make evil nice. Let us take a look at Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's dictator and his works. And don't forget that in him along with visceral greed, tribalism, and ruthlessness running through veins beats a heart in rhythm with the echoes of Albania's Enver Hoxha, Pol Pot, Mao, and Stalin.

Ethiopia has today one of the most corrupt governments on the planet. There are no rights to private property. Indeed, the absence of such rights, done in the name of the people, is used to control the population who are no more than serfs. They owe their temporary possession of land to the whim of local party / government / and business bosses who all represent the national party / government/ and businesses bosses on high.

The rulers no matter the hat they wear are actually the same people. Ethiopia's ruling party is actually a party no democrat would recognize. It is a bloody minded terrorist organization built on greed, fear, and deceit. It owns businesses, runs government monopolies, and regulates all of them. The whole rule is enforced by armies of tribal militias, espionage agents, spies, agents provocateurs, torturers, and gulag managers.

There are also branch offices of all the above all over the U.S.A.

Ethiopia's serfs are in debt for fertilizer and depend on the government for basic commodities of life and for getting what little of their product is not taxed to market. That market too is owned at every level by the party wearing either its government or business mask.

Ethiopia's serfs need permission from local security officials to walk to the next community and in some cases the next farm. Down the household level there is a nasty network of official enforcers making sure they don't do the wrong things -all in the name of the people themselves.

The penalties are harsh. For success one can have his productive farm taken away and given to the relative of a party official. Or he can end up homeless. For dissent or resistance the choices are starvation or death. Far from prying ferenji eyes Ethiopia's serfs die by their tens of thousand - since only other Ethiopians know about it - it does not matter.

Land is taken away and we hear headlines of great flower businesses and foreign companies running vast tracts of fertile land - no one talks about who lived there before. The whole Ethiopian economy is actually a web of criminal relations with Meles at the top.

Even Ethiopian suffering has a dollar, euro, and yen value because ferenjis are willing to pay up to make sure that the policies of the Meles government don't actually starve too many natives to bring their policies into question.

"As a person, I have never been discourteous or nasty to anybody. I may have stood my ground a bit too directly, a bit too firmly, and I believe I have over a number of years learned to be a little less direct."

Meles Zenawi

When it serves him there are bumper crops and first world prosperity just a few years away - the next week when it serves him there is desperate poverty and a yawning everlasting need for aid to be administered by himself. Of course it all passes through his hands and of course his cronies at every level get the fattest cuts of every aid project and grant.

That way the enforced policy of Ethiopian suffering doesn't mean his finances have to suffer - his greed and the machine for keeping the serfs in place are fed by taxpayers from countries where wealth creation and its normal friend freedom are on the loose.

There is no press freedom in Ethiopia or any degree of freedom of expression. There are fake elections, courts, parliament, commodities exchanges, election boards, and other ersatz institutions of civilized governments everywhere. They mean nothing and are worth about as much as the constitution which promises everything imaginable good.

Meles has decided that (why is it that anyone ever bothers to report that parliament voted on anything? does a pack of hyenas vote on which corpse they will gnaw on?) that all NGO's sponsored by ferenji money would have to close recently. Since all labor unions, domestic rights and advocacy groups, or any other parts of normal domestic civil society had already been crushed and starved of resources those NGO's with foreign money just had to go sometime.

The ferenji presence gave them an illusion of life for some time but ferenji eyes is why they existed. Without them Meles has not only the actual playing field in his hands but also the appearance of no longer having to even pretend opposition at all exists now. The people who actually won the election a few years ago (Meles was so hated he couldn't even win a fake election - no results have been released as yet) were threatened with charges of treason for supporting a Rwandan type genocide.

Nevermind that the whole rule of Meles is based on an vile and atavistic (the word primitive is too nice here) tribalism spiced with regional and religious hatred and that no part of any opposition has ever been so based. Tigrayans especially dare not be anything but obeisant. Meles sees the fears he stokes of tribal war as his ace. Tigrayans have to be with him in his mind and he accuses his liberal democratic opponents of having the same tribal mind he so prizes in himself that folks seem to believe it after a while.

Only ferenji interest got the prisoners out alive - but how about the tens of thousands arrested along with them and the equal number killed all over the country? No one knows because none of them were personally known to ferenjis.

It is a wonder that ferenjis in Ethiopia don't actually run away rather than be introduced to the natives because an inconvenient 'disappearance' or death might actually make them have to consider the human cost of dealing with and supporting murderous thugs.

“No regime that terrorizes its own citizens can be a reliable ally in the war on terror."

Congressman Chris Smith

The opposition members are now only loose in a larger prison and one of the most important, Birtukan Mideksa is now back in. Only ferenjis keep her alive - and they seem satisfied with just that much. Meanwhile the 'elders' who negotiated the propaganda victory for Meles are sitting pretty on their laurels. For that matter, why don't ferenji nations decide who will rule, who has to submit to dictatorship etc. using committees of deeply serious scholars and between endorsement super athletes?

How about the rule of law? What do laws matter when the despot can do whatever he wants and find a judge to tell ferenjis it is all legal? For that matter slavery and mass murder have been perfectly legal in the past in various countries.

Ethiopia today has one of the most oppressive governments on planet earth. There are no freedoms in Ethiopia today that would be remotely recognizable to the ferenjis who keep Meles in business. And they do keep him in business. Ethiopia today is in a position like she was in the 1930's when Mussolini invaded.

Ethiopia, despite bravery and motivation, could not protect herself independence sufficiently well. Benito was intent on destroying her, and the only people who could help were other ferenjis. As we know they punted and let Fascist Italy have her way. Ethiopia independent for thousands of years based on stubborn resistance and natural talent looked to ferenjis and got nothing.

What does Ethiopia get today? Ferenjis feed millions of Ethiopians and ferenji aid is what makes the whole perverted economy and government function. Ferenjis have no problem with a system that produces zero or negative economic growth beyond lies. They have no problem with laws and practices that have never produced anything beyond oppression and misery anywhere else.

But ... give them a chance to sponsor a new miracle health or agricultural grant or even HD TV's in rural classrooms - they will jump on it and feel real good about themselves too. That their money keeps Meles in business is not a problem because the same money gives their careers a boost too.

They just have to hold their noses around Meles at cocktail parties and avoid the dead every now and then if there chauffeur goes the wrong way - that is all.

Now the problem is that the taxpayers back home paying for the whole dysfunctional mess may hear about it in all it horrors - that is the real threat. That is when Meles is begged and threatened to treat Ethiopians with some degree of minimal decency - at least in front of ferenjis.

So ... Meles helps advance the careers and philosophies of armies of national and international bureaucrats while making them feel important back home as daring global adventurers in the dark continent, altruistic helpers of the poor, bearers of fantastic expense accounts, and masters of legions of native servants.

“All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you".

George W. Bush's second inaugural speech, January 2005

Rice pays up.

Meles is blessed from his point of view by proximity to Somalia and Sudan. That gives him an absolute pass in Western capitals. It is a wonder that the opposition who won the last even minimally marginally free elections that they weren't burned alive in Meskel Square.

All Meles would have had to do while piling up the wood would be to point out that there were Islamists next door - Washington and Brussels would have airlifted the wood and gasoline right away along with a nice billion dollar check for Meles to buy a book of matches with. Keep the change please.

If you don't get the point being made here - ferenjis are keeping Meles in business. The Ethiopian social contract is between Meles and ferenjis - Ethiopians have nothing to do with it but to have blood, sweat, and tears squeezed out of them.

Meles actually rules with blackmail: the joint threat to hurt Western strategic interests and to kill Ethiopians if he doesn't get paid regularly and doesn't get ridiculous tragi-comic invitations to G-8 summits as though he wasn't a thug.

The success of the whole business is based on low expectations. Low expectations for bureaucrats in government and aid agencies, no expectations for economists and academics, and above all an absolute dearth of any expectation that Ethiopians can be more or do more or deserve more than Meles.

All of the Secretaries of State seen here know Meles to the degree they have paid attention to Ethiopia - which means paying attention to him since he owns Ethiopia. They are disgusted by him and know that no good can come from him but they have all been perfectly willing to play along rather than rock the boat by in their mind "expecting Africans not to be like Africans - especially Ethiopians."

The ability of Meles to schmooze with and seduce ferenjis has been a principal reason for his rise in the murderous totalitarian revolution from which he sprung. Sure his ruthlessness and willingness to kill Ethiopians in general and Tigrayans in particular played a part in his G-8 invitations - but - he has been singularly successful in getting ferenjis - be they conservative or liberal to see in him exactly what they want to see in him.

"If he was a resident of any of the countries that enable, excuse, and finance Ethiopia's dictatorship, Meles would be in jail as an irredeemable sociopath."


One of the principal points of Hare's work with psychopaths was that psychotherapy did not work with them and actually made them into better killers or criminals. The talking cure of psychiatry presumes some minimal degree of sincerity. When that is utterly absent the practitioner tends to imagine or project civilized norms in and onto the patient.

Not only because they want to see it there but because they can't imagine that it isn't. Tony Soprano was really concerned about people hurting small animals but thought nothing of personally murdering or ordering so many deaths.

What have Ethiopians gotten out of ferenjis talking to Meles for decades now? Well - he is a much better liar and he knows how to get what he wants from them. This psychopath discussed war strategy with 'Mr. Human Rights' himself, Jimmy Carter on a map unfolded in a hotel room in London and got Carter's blessing for his dictatorship and killing years later.

At the time he was no battlefield leader but schemed against those doing the actual leading and fighting. From the salons of Khartoum, Mogadisu, and London Meles decided how best to serve the interests of the EPLF and how to completely purge the TPLF of any Ethiopian national sentiment.

This same psychopath got Blair to be his temporary BFF forever with the Commission for Africa nonsense - nonsense because it had nothing to do with honest government and decent policies but instead the flash of Meles's ready smile and the need to be seen as 'doing something' about Africa.

The thrill of hanging out with a former guerrilla leader turned M.B.A.'ed free marketer went to Blair's head for a while until even he couldn't ignore who Meles was.

What has Meles's M.B.A. meant to his rule? Nothing. His personal business empire in Ethiopia don't require business sense - he can just 'disappear, arrest, or kill the competition. And anyway they are his cronies. Perhaps his vast holdings abroad need management.

Actually the degree just gave him the chance to learn the language of the ferenjis who kept him in business and taught him how to sound like a perfect little pseudo-intellectual. One story we heard has an aid agency bureaucrat giving Meles some sort of economic analysis report about third world development and a particular project in Ethiopia.

Meles skimmed through it while carrying on a conversation and was immediately conversant with all the points. This was taken as proof of his fitness for rule. Nonsense. First of all if you have read one development report from the IMF or the World Bank you have read them all.

"Ethiopia's human rights record is 'not a factor' in the bilateral relationship."

Senior U.S. State Department Official

The same ideas the same theories the same justifications. Only the dates and names are changed to protect the not so innocent. Meles just knew how to play with ferenjis. There is also the distinct possibility that he knew what it said before the bearer walked in the room.

An army of spies and intercepted communications have entirely infected the ferenji communities of Ethiopia. And they seem to love it. The M.B.A. reveals no appreciation of business or commerce beyond the Mafia kind.

The same thug got Bush and Clinton to go to extremes to keep him in power no matter how many Ethiopians he killed or how much money he stole. He got no constant photo-ops with them but as much support as he could handle. When Meles had to start mass killings in the streets of Addis to stay in power the lights stayed on late at the U.S. Embassy to find ways to make sure he stayed in power and it all looked good.

Clinton even willingly paid the bill for the 1998-2000 war after Eritrea invaded Ethiopia. Described by some as 'two bald men fighting over a comb' the war was won by Ethiopia on the battlefield and in a stunning turnaround at the arbitration table won by Eritrea. Everyone from outside paid up and kept doing so.

The war was actually Meles's declaration of independence from the EPLF - Ethiopians are still waiting for him to look out for their interests.

At the time there was some multi-tens of millions of dollars grant going out from the U.S. to resettle Ethiopian veterans. Does anyone believe a single veteran got a single cent? this was a way to pay Meles off in a nice peaceful sounding responsible way.

"We must stop pretending that Ethiopia is run by a respectable government when in fact it has a murderous and oppressive regime."

Ana Gomes, E.U. Parliamentarian

It would have been more honest if the money just went straight into Meles's account while the remainder went to buy weapons to defeat Meles's newest enemies after the EPLF was dealt with - namely Ethiopians who though for a second that he had found nationalist sentiment in their leader.

What else has ferenji talking to Meles accomplished? He is very careful about having a fake institution around for every purpose and season to cover up the rule of his revolutionary tribal nobility. He knows how to properly fake an election now and just when to insult ferenjis and when to praise them.

How many aid agency bureaucrats would have kept their jobs if ultimately they did not get along with Meles? None. That is how the aid game works. Cadres have even weaseled their way into the World Bank. Their jobs clearly did not depend on Ethiopian economic growth or self sufficiency or even the development of such factors.

All they had was Meles and when they kept the money flowing everyone back at the home office was happy so the bureaucrat could move onto bigger postings in say India on the way to a corner office in D.C. or Brussels.

Meles knows how to play with ferenjis and be what they want him to be. He doesn't really have to try very hard. No one wants to be lied to more.

To justify themselves they pretend to be doing right. Meles has or had enthusiastic cheerleaders from all ranges of the ferenji world - Bono and Geldoff / Blair and Bush / Sachs and Stiglitz / Clinton and Rice (Condoleeza and Susan) / Armey and Gephardt - there is no shortage of ferenjis just 'doing good' in the name of the interests of 'the people'. Just randomly throw a dart at a map to see which people's good is in mind and you will always miss.

"Defending Meles has always been an enthusiastic bipartisan business in Washington."


Does anyone imagine for a second that Clinton really thought Meles was part of any good kind of renaissance when he uncritically financed and covered for him? Does anyone imagine that Bush thought he was defending human freedom by enthusiastically striving to keep Meles and power? ... and does anyone really imagine that things are going to be that much different now?

President Obama did not mention international democracy and human rights along with America's mission in that regard in his inaugural speech - this has been almost a requirement for generations of Presidents. The only mention of any core values of the kind of the international scene were expressed in terms of the Muslim world.

We hope this doesn't mean everyone else out there hurting their own people just gets a pass. We hope this one will be different but won't hold our breaths in anticipation. Just talking to Meles, not rocking the boat, and not expecting too much from the natives is a whole is a whole lot more tempting than actually doing what is actually in America's and the West's long term interests.

Those interests are in an Ethiopia that is not a failed or nearly failed state forever. Ethiopians have everything it takes to develop and be free. Only their government and its enablers are in the way.

Ferenjis who hold the fate of Ethiopia in their hands should be clear in their minds by now that talking to thugs does no good. They should know that looking desperately for someone to side with when their self chosen protagonist has killed or silenced all others is no decent choice.

Ferenjis - your governments that dole out your power and prestige as well as the agencies that hand out your money - all for no discernible purpose but to keep criminals in power. You are tight with the bad guys here. It is your choice- given the contract between you and Meles we can only hope that there will be change.

But ... folks are also quite adept at quite knowingly convincing themselves to believe the opposite of what they are seeing. In Ethiopia there is a dictator and there are elected democrats in fear for their lives - and it is not a movie or TV show.

Meles is not only Ethiopia's greatest living enemy but he is an existential threat to a polity and culture that is among the oldest in the world. But - ferenjis are more likely to wait around until the "Ethiopia Show" gets canceled. They will debate too late about who helped to ruin a people.

You have to make moral choices and eventually be judged on them. As far as Ethiopians are concerned they are ruled by a psychopath and you in the West are his best friends. Call the cash supporting Meles what it really is - it is about money laundering. Why not just deposit it into his foreign accounts or real estate directly.

“To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history"

Barack Obama's inaugural address. This part seems to be directed to the Muslim World only ...

Clinton pays up?

Wait a moment you may think. What kind of political discourse relies on insulting your opponent? Well - these are insults here and not even an attempt to understand. There is an old saying "by their acts ye shall know them." Meles has caused such deep and irreparable harm to so many that the species of beings he represents beg for definition.

Meles is beyond the saying about how "absolute power corrupts absolutely." He was corrupt from the beginning. Imagine if Pablo Escobar had managed to seize the Colombian state itself. That kind of bloodthirsty mindset rules Ethiopia today.

So we are just calling a spade a spade. Meles is probably a very intelligent man. But so was Mao. Of what use is intelligence in an evil cause? And we don't use the word evil lightly. But what else do you call someone who hates the nation he rules?

Don't imagine that Ethiopians willingly look to ferenjis for salvation. But what choice do they have when they can play no role in making decisions in their own society? Normal men simply do not do what is routine for Meles.

"He may be an SOB but he's our SOB."

President Franklin Roosevelt.


In the coming weeks these posts: Clueless (about international news coverage of Somalia & Ethiopia); Li'l Sammy's Secret (about the absurdity of a Dictatorial Ethiopian Embassy Inauguration Party for a democratically elected U.S. President); After the Revolution series continues; Where have All the Shimageles Gone?


Here are some other excellent sources for commentary and opinion:




Ethiopian Politics

Anuak Justice Council

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