Tuesday, December 20

Modus Operandi

Modus Operandi (often used in the abbreviated form MO) is a Latin phrase, approximately translated as "mode of operation." It is used in police work to describe a criminal's characteristic patterns and style of work.

This post is concerned with the M.O. of the Ethiopian regime and is a cautionary tale from the 1990s for observers of despotism and resistance in Ethiopia today

Nothing has changed


Professor Asrat
20 June 1928 - 14 May 1999


The New York Times of May 17, 1999 (sorry no link available) reported this news; Asrat Woldeyes of Ethiopia, Doctor and Dissenter, Dies within months of his arrival for medical care in the US. This was no act of God but it was an act of murder by the current Ethiopian government.

Dr. Asrat was the principal leader of the opposition in Ethiopia and a political prisoner since 1994 (and intermittently before) to whom decent medical care was not allowed until his very last days. Heart failure, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and other problems were not treated while brutal prison conditions were the rule - so the apparently quite treatable expected course of disease was accelerated and aggravated as a matter of state policy.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science - Human Rights Action Network had this to say about the Professor and the circumstances of his death
Dr. Woldeyes Asrat, a renowned surgeon from Ethiopia and a former professor and dean of the medical faculty at Addis Abada University, was sentenced to a five-and-a-half prison term in July 1994 for allegedly inciting violence for political ends. There is well-documented evidence that demonstrated Dr. Asrat's commitment to non-violent activity.

The charges against him appear to have been politically motivated. Dr. Asrat was released from prison in December 1998. His health significantly worsened during detention. He suffered from a heart condition and diabetes, conditions that were worsened by delays in providing him with adequate medical attention. Dr. Asrat Woldeyes died on 14 May 1999.
Arrested and imprisoned on false charges the Doctor was kept until it was assured that he was no longer a threat to Meles Inc. A new set of charges and a trial was postponed when it was realized that a slow sentence of death had actually already been carried out.

This was painfully obvious to all observers at the time but in a now familiar manner the usual suspects participated in the charade of celebrating Africa's Democratic Rennaissance Man Meles
When Dr. Asrat was released, the British Foreign Minister, Tony Lloyd, said, "I believe this signals a clear commitment by the Ethiopian Government to uphold their human rights obligations."
Fast forward six years to the aftermath of the fake 2005 election and the BBC tells us that Treason charges filed in Ethiopia
Prosecutors in Ethiopia have charged 131 jailed opposition leaders, reporters and aid workers with crimes ranging from treason to "genocide".
Under Ethiopian law, some of the crimes carry the death penalty.

A visiting UK minister had talks with Prime Minister Melez Zenawi who assured him the arrests had been prompted by the threat of violence.

Minister for Africa Lord Triesman told the BBC he had had a "very useful exchange" on both the border situation with Eritrea and the political process in Ethiopia since the election.
There you have it. The entire opposition in an election where no seats were won by the goverment where observers were present has been arrested along with most of the non-government or non-crony media and the representatives of civil society.

They are all being threatened with death and the UK has 'very useful exchanges' on the political process. At least there were no calls on the opposition to know their proper place and respect the constitution laws and rules of a society designed to ensure the eternal rule of the regime forever.

The whole issue of Eritrea and war is a Red Herring anyway.

The West wants to forget about the fake election and move onto business as usual. Ethiopia desperately wants the subject changed from its naked despotism to the interests the West has in regional security that the government itself plays to advantage. Eritrea is totally ignored by the world and just plain wants attention.

Both want plenty of cold hard cash to stay in power astride parallel columns of piled up human misery. Rumours of war serve all three sets of purposes rather neatly don't they?

Apparently, how a corrupt tribal divide and rule despotism generating strife and the perfect conditions of a failed state can ever do anyone any good is a problem for 70 million Ethiopian hostages and the next administrations in Washington and various European capitals to deal with.

Back to the good Doctor. According to the Washington Post of May 17, 1999 (sorry no link), Physician Asrat Woldeyes Dies
His troubles began in 1992 after he met with Rep. Harry A. Johnston II (D-Fla.) and made critical remarks about Ethiopia's left-wing strongman Meles Zenawi, pointing out that the leader had broken promises to bring democracy to Ethiopia.

Three days after the meeting, Dr. Woldeyes was arrested for "inciting rebellion."

His trial was something of a farce. Witnesses against the surgeon recanted their stories, claiming government authorities had pressured them to lie. Despite this, Dr. Woldeyes was sent to jail after refusing to stop speaking out for democracy.

While in jail, he became what one Washington Post op-ed piece called "Ethiopia's most popular public figure and its symbol of democracy." The 1996 piece, by David E. Steinman, went on to say that Dr. Woldeyes would "probably be president of Ethiopia today had not Meles imprisoned him before the election."

Amnesty International championed Dr. Woldeyes's cause, calling him "a prisoner of conscience who should be released immediately."
So then ... Who Was Asrat Woldeyes? The Ethiopian Human Rights Council gives a detailed history of the facts of his life and places them in the setting of Ethiopia's recent history.

Asrat Woldeyes: an extraordary life by Jonathan Steele, an assistant editor of The Guardian, tells of several private encounters with the Doctor that left a very favorable impression on him and this as well
His supporters said Asrat was a victim of serial injustice, aimed at keeping him in prison for ever by adding new charges every time his previous sentence approached its end.

According to Amnesty, his prison conditions were worse than those of any other detainee. His gaolers feared his powers of argument and refused to let him speak to other prisoners.

He was not held in solitary confinement in the physical sense. He slept on a mat on the floor in a barracks-type hall with scores of other detainees. But they were told not to communicate with him, or he with them.
In Prof. Asrat Woldeyes Speaks from Prison Wendy Belcher, a Contributing Editor of Ethiopian Review Magazine tells of a similiar set of encounters with him and had a rare and fascinating interview
Q. Isn't your prison sentence also coming to an end?

A. Well, I have multiple sentences. All those three charges... for which I have been sentenced, those sentences I have finished legally. In actual fact, given the date of parole, I have finished my prison sentence according to the law. I finished it about four months ago, five months ago.

But I now have a fourth case, which is still going on after over two-and-a-half years. I am waiting for that sentence. That is why I am in prison. Because I have got a pending charge and because it is considered serious, I am not allowed to be out. The parole is given by the court and is dependent only on behavior in prison, not obeying rules and regulation, so nobody can deny me.

Simply, politically, I am refused. All of my charges are the same charge, that I have opposed the government.
Q. Tell me about the contempt of court charge.
A. I got the contempt of court charge simply because I said to the court that the court should not waste it's valuable time on having me come every month to the court and make an appearance as though there was a real legal case, when it was very well-known that at the end of all of the proceedings, that I was going to be found guilty and sentenced.

Therefore, I requested of the court to save its valuable time and to sentence me now. This would also allow me to have physical rest in prison. So this was considered contempt of court, so I was sentenced for six months.
Q. There are many questions I could ask you, but I'm not confident that the questions I would ask you are the ones that would elicit what is most on your mind. What are you thinking about here?
A. That's a very broad question. Of course I think. I have nothing else to do here, since it is only the last few weeks that I am able to read. I think the great punishment has been that, because I cannot read, I cannot see anybody, I cannot talk to anybody.

Nevertheless, because mentally and psychologically I understand the situation, I have been able to cope with it. And I am lucky, over the last month now I have improved and I am reading, so, although I don't read as before, as fast, at least I can read now. For this reason, I am improving and I am accepting the situation. Not accepting the situation you are in, you only hurt yourself. Therefore, I accept. Not because they are correct, but I accept because I cannot do anything about it; it is beyond my power.

Time will be the better judge than human beings. Therefore, I am comforted by these things. My only crime is that I have all my life served my people and my country. My crime is simply my dedication to this country. Because of that, I consider any punishment as acceptable. There is nothing that I've done to a single human being, let alone to my people or this country.
Amnesty International - Urgent Action Notes had this to say about the Professor that
He thanked Amnesty International for campaigning on his behalf, and particularly for publicising the seriousness of his health complaints. This had not been fully understood by diplomats and others visiting him and had been under-played by the security officials guarding him in hospital.

The relief of the stress of being in custody immediately improved his condition and bodes well for his recovery. He will now benefit from medical facilities not available in Ethiopia and from medical care without interference. In Ethiopia he had never been allowed confidential access to doctors while in custody.
The current leader of the main opposition group to the Ethiopan government is currently on a hunger strike along with other opposition leaders and human rights leaders. From the BBC Ethiopia prisoners' hunger strike
Three opposition leaders and a human rights activist in Ethiopia say they will go on hunger strike from Monday in protest against their detention.
CUD leader Hailu Shawel and two top party officials say their detention is politically-motivated.

"We have decided to go on hunger strike indefinitely beginning Monday, 28 November 2005 - we will take only liquids," said top CUD (Coalition for Unity and Democracy) official and mayor-elect of Addis Ababa, Berhanu Nega, speaking to journalists at Ethiopia's central investigation centre.

"This is a political case, not a criminal one," said Mr Hailu.
Mr. Hailu, the principal leader of the opposition, is reported to be ill and in the hospital at present. The carefully managed illness and release of Dr. Asrat let the government off the hook in 1998 just as good relations with the West were needed when there was conflict with Eritrea. Is this deja vu all over again?


Character assassination is an essential element of the Ethiopian regime's approach to humanity and reality. All those who submit carry it out and are aware they may be next if they don't behave. All those who resist suffer it as a matter of routine. You see, it is a matter of definition that all well meaning people everywhere on earth support the eternal rule of the Ethiopian politburo and of Meles.

Not to do so and not to believe every utterance, spin and inanity from the halls of power directly or as handed down by assorted cadres is a sign that one or many are quite obviously biased, Eritrean agents, Dergue supporters, agents of Rwandan genocide, kulaks, cheats, terrorists, rent seekers, chauvanists, liars, thieves and anything other label that the talking points out of the halls of Ethiopian power come up with on any given day.

All of a sudden one day one or many sources will state some lie as fact and it will be repeated as such and even become the subject of false debates. The hope is that unquestioning minds will internalize such lies or at least create an internal null zone on the subject of confusion to accompany the general sense of dread all humans are supposed to have on the subject of Ethiopian politics.

The option to support or not to support the government is seen as a mortal threat to its existence because if there is an option people can change their minds. That is why there is a default setting of aggressive intimidation of anyone out there who could be even possibly thinking of questioning the government's version of reality and it various theories of creation and original sin.

Supporters know better than anyone the threats they live under and that they are only as good as the last time they betrayed their souls in submission - willingly in pursuit of place and property or by force out of fear. Either way their beings become someone's property and cling to the government with the slippery, bloody grip of guilty hands.

A heap of lies and loss of historical memory should not be the fate of Ethiopians like Professor Asrat. Only honest memory can preserve Ethiopia's present and her history. Indeed, the whole country has suffered the same process of character assassination that individual opponents go through routinely.

Unless it is inconvenient to do so the core values of the current government hold that all of Ethiopian history before 1975 is a litany of crime and that Tigrayan history in particular is illegitimate, unless re-writing it somehow serves to give the government legitimacy.

Actual assassination is also an even more vital element of the Ethiopian regime's rule. Hundreds if not thousands were killed in 'election' violence this year while tens of thousands are currently in camps. From the Daily Telegraph Protesters killed and 40,000 jailed as Blair's friend quells 'insurrection'
The city's jail overflowed and prisoners were held in its compound. As that became crammed, detainees were held in the National Exhibition Centre. Even that overflowed, so government offices were used as temporary prisons.

Detainees were beaten, stripped of their shoes then driven to an old military camp at Dedesa, 250 miles west of Addis Ababa. There they survive in disused barracks on daily rations of four slices of bread.

Western diplomats have reports of executions at Dedesa and of a body being hung on the camp's gates. The best estimate for the total detained is 40,000.

The European Union Parliament seems to appreciate the government's M.O. and we wait for the same sense of common sense and morality to sweep through the other capitals of Europe and across the Atlantic. MEPs condemn violence in Ethiopia from the EU is simultaneously unimaginable from the perspective of last year and long overdue as well.

(By the way, ethiopundit was all over this issue of targeted sanctions, Cotonou and targeted aid many moons ago.)

The treason charges were filed against the opposition, journalists and civil society leades after the EU resolution so there is a definite spit in the face to Europe going on here and a warning that no silly ideas about democracy and human rights will ever change the course of Ethiopian governance.

One coalition of American Civil Rights Organizations seem to see the regime's M.O. clearly as well. The Coalition for the People's Agenda passed a recent Resolution (beware pdf file) indicating their displeasure at events in Ethiopia.

In the US Senate Senator Patrick Leahy's Violence and repression in Ethiopia reveals further appreciation for the M.O. of the Ethiopian government and the toll it takes on Ethiopians.

HR 4423 is in play in the US House where it was introduced by Congressman Christopher Smith and it's passage is actively encouraged by Ethio-American PACs like the Ethiopian-Americans Council.

Trouble is that even as international common wisdom is coming to terms with the reality of Meles Inc and its M.O. that in the past bills like HR 5321 sponsored by Congresssmen Mike Honda, Donald Payne and Ed Royce to monitor elections in Ethiopia were silently killed in a spectacular misunderstanding of American interest, probably by the State Department so that business as usual could proceed in Ethiopia.

As this very recent EMF interview with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto shows, the US is still in a state of putting out really reasonable and nice sounding rhetoric mixed with support of the regime in fact.

While the efforts of Ethio-Americans (government translation = Eritrean agents, no surprise there, at least they weren't called anti-Enver Hoxha elements) can't approach the heroism, courage sacrifices of Ethiopians in the belly of the beast, the diaspora's roll is crucial in pressuring all concerned to do the right thing.

70 million Ethiopians in Africa can be shut up by a bloody despot, even if only temporarily, so others must try to speak for them and put forth tirelessly the enduring message that liberal democracy and the free market are gifts for all of mankind among which Ethiopians are also to be counted.

Once again, Ethiopians don't want a Marine or Airborne division to get rid of their government. They just want foreigners who have set themselves up as the sole constituency of the regime to get out of the way.

Beyond the naturally destabilizing policies of the current government there is no other eventuality in which mutual interest would not find friends of Ethiopia in the West and friends of the West in Ethiopia.

How many Ethiopians will have to die before and how many lives will be ruined and how many years will be lost before this is clear? Isn't the government M.O. glaringly evident? It certainly is to Ethiopians.


Those Who Forget History Are Condemned To Repeat It


For commentary and news (if you are expecting ethiopundit to be timely you are certain to be disappointed) check out these 'Election' & Aftermath links

  • Dagmawi

  • Ethio Media.Com

  • Ethiopian Review Magazine

  • Weichegud! ET Politics

  • Thursday, December 15

    The World According to Ordell & Meles

    In Tarantino's Jackie Brown, Ordell schools Louis on the fine art of gun running. Like Meles, he is fond of the AK-47
    When you absolutely, positively, gotta kill every motherf****** in the room, accept no substitute.

    That there is the Chinese one. I pay eight-fifty and double my money.
    While he is a fine actor overall, Samuel Jackson's forte really seems to be playing criminal psycopaths. As the crackhead son of a preacher he did that demonic dance in Jungle Fever begging his brother for drug money lest he have to rob 'some old lady'
    I'll do it, I'll do it, you know I'll do it.
    Later on as a cool demon let loose from hell itself in Pulp Fiction he perverted a Bible passage to terrorize his victims, later waxing all philosophical-like that
    I been sayin' that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, it meant your ass. I never really questioned what it meant.

    I thought it was just a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherf***er before you popped a cap in his ass
    (See our post Cadres 'n ze Hood)

    Basically, entertaining and genuinely disturbingly portraits of evil are how we really remember the actor. We've met him in real life and he was quite charming, did not threaten or actually kill anyone nor did he even curse, so we really must assume he is just a good actor.

    As you can imagine dear reader we are about to relate the previous paragraph to the villiany of the current Ethiopian government any minute now so be patient ... but first, a word about Jackie Brown. It is one of those movies we have seen in whole and in part too many times to count that like the Godfather or Groundhog Day, never gets tiring.

    In the movie Pam Grier's Jackie Brown has been bailed out of jail by Samuel Jackson's (not) criminal mastermind Ordell Robie. Fearing that she will turn into a witness against him, he wants to buy her silence with her death. So he shows up at her apartment.

    Now for a quote from a BBC article about the post-'election' violence in Ethiopia, also known as one of a series of Addis Ababa Massacres. Really, this will make sense in the end.

    Ethiopia blames EU for protests
    The Ethiopian government has accused EU observers of contributing to post-election violence during which about 40 people died.

    It said the EU mission "illegally and secretly leaked information" to the opposition, prompting protests in June
    Get the perverse logic? Ethiopia is run by a bloody dictatorship that put on a fake election to impress foreigners so that they could continue to finance its dictatorship and so that foreigners could earn the right to take care of 70 million hostages who are not allowed to take care of themselves.

    When the government, as naturally as the scorpion who stings the frog in the old fable, starts killing ... it is the fault of the foreigners who stopped cheering long enough to notice the election was a fraud.

    What about the 70 million hostages?

    Well, they were all loyal to the government or were Rwanda type genocide perpetrators or Dergue loyalists or Eritrean agents or kulaks or supporters of Lord Voldemort or victims of the West depending on whichever set of talking points the Gibee had sent out any particular day.

    Basically like the official responses to academic criticism from the West and governmental criticism in the form of the EU election report, silly overheated rhetoric, wild implausible charges, pretentious bouts of reason and simple insults rule the day to day of the government's information war efforts.

    Ethiopians can simply be killed, if they are in Ethiopia. Ethiopians abroad? Well, they might just have relatives back home who can be threatened or attempts can be made to intimidate them with intelligence (as in spying not high IQ) networks run out of Ethiopian Embassies abroad. (RICO anyone?)

    Foreigners are a more difficult. Essentially, making them feel like there is no distinction between getting into an argument with a vicious drunk and discussing Ethiopian politics is used to get them to shut up.

    Or as in a classic mob racket, foreigners are informed that if they don't play along with respect and protection money for the government that all those Ethiopians will just have to suffer ... and it is all the foreigner's fault not the government's.

    So lets visit with Jackie Brown and Ordell Robie. Remember, he is there to kill her. He keeps turning down the lights and places his leather glove hands at her throat. But Jackie has anticipated this, Ordell stops, nervous all of a sudden
    ORDELL Is that what I think it is?

    JACKIE What do you think it is?

    ORDELL I think it's a gun pressing against my d***.

    JACKIE You thought right.. Now take your hands from around my throat, n****.
    Ordell flashes his hustler's smile and lets go. Jackie turns Ordell around, gun firmly in his back, and pushes him against the wall.
    ORDELL What the hell you doin'?

    JACKIE Shut your ass up and grab the wall!
    Jackie has Ordell against the wall and is frisking him the way a cop would. She finds the .22 pistol in his pocket.
    ORDELL Now, baby, that's got nothin' to do with you. I just carry that. You been listenin' to them cops too much.

    JACKIE The cops didn't try and strangle my ass.

    ORDELL Damn, Jackie, I was just playin' with you.

    JACKIE Well, I ain't playin with you. I'm gonna unload both these motherf******, you don't do what I tell you. Understand what I'm saying?

    ORDELL Baby, I ain't come here - -
    She shoves both guns in Ordell's back.
    JACKIE I said, you understand what I'm saying

    ORDELL I understand woman, damn!

    JACKIE Go sit over in that chair.
    Ordell moves over to a chair across from the couch. Ordell still tries bullsh** ...
    ORDELL I'm tellin' you, those cops been f*****' wit your mind. They turn black against black, that's how they do.
    That last is the money quote of the whole scene: cops ... pit black against black. Now take a look at the BBC quote above once more. Isn't that exactly what the Ethiopian government is saying that EU pits Ethiopian against Ethiopian

    The obvious point is of course that like the cops in the movie, the EU is far more interested in defending the helpless of any kind than Ordell or Meles are. If you think we are stretching this point take a look at another scene from the movie.

    Ordell has just killed Beaumont, whom he bailed out before Jackie and he is driving around with a body in his trunk (that got in there willingly to begin with!) to show his mentally challenged former roomie and fellow criminal, Louis.

    Once again we will give you the whole scene. Obviously, if you wanted short posts you wouldn't be reading this blog. Anyway, Ordell's big, black Oldsmobile is parked outside at night and Lois approaches while the power window on the driver's side comes down, revealing a comfortable Ordell sitting back in his seat looking up at Louis.
    ORDELL You know what your problem is, Louis?
    Louis doesn't say anything, he just puts his hands in his pockets.
    ORDELL You think you're a good guy. When you go into a deal you don't go in prepared to take that motherf***** all the way. You go in looking for a way out. And it ain't cause you're scared neither. It's cause you think you're a good guy, and you think there's certain things a good guy won't do.

    That's where we're different, me and you. Cause me, once I decide I want something, aint a goddam motherf******* thing gonna stop me from gittin' it. I gotta use a gun get what I want, I'm gonna use a gun. N**** gets in my way, n**** gonna get removed.

    Understand what I'm saying?
    Ordell opens the car trunk. Trunk opens showing Beaumont shot in the chest with half his head blown off. Louis looks inside, see Beaumont, looks at Ordell, then back to Beaumont.Ordell closes the trunk.
    LOUIS Who was that?

    ORDELL That was Beaumont.

    LOUIS Who was Beaumont?

    ORDELL An employee I had to let go.

    LOUIS What did he do?

    ORDELL He put himself in a situation where he was gonna have to do ten years in the penetentiary, that's what he did. (taking out a Viceroy and lighting it up) And if you know Beaumont, you know there aint no way in hell he can do no ten years.

    And if you know that, you know Beaumont's gonna go any goddam thing Beaumont can to keep from doin' those ten years including telling the Federal government everything they want to know about my ass. Now that, my friend, is a clear case of him or me.

    And you best believe it aint gonna be me. You know what I'm sayin'? You gonna come in on this with me, you gotta be prepared to go all the way. I got me so far over a half-a-million dollars sittin' in lockboxes in a bank in Cabo San Lucas. Me and Mr. Walker make us one more delivery, I'm gonna have me over a million.

    You think I'm gonna let this little cheese eatin' n**** here f*** that up? Shit, you better think again. Before I let this deal get f***** up, I'll shoot that n**** in the head, and ten n*****look just like 'em.

    Understand what I'm sayin'?

    LOUIS Yeah.

    ORDELL So we on the same page then?
    While the folks at the EU or in Washington aren't as intellectually challenged as Louis, their ongoing support of Meles makes them every bit as morally challenged.

    Just as Louis knew then they know now (and since the beginning really) exactly what Meles Inc. is about. There is no more pretending about 'rennaisance leaders' or any such nonsense. It is clear to all that to have his way ...

    Meles will shoot any Ethiopian, and a thousand more Ethiopians look just like 'em to stay in power. Meles will use a gun and remove anyone stopping him from having absolute power ...

    ... and just like Louis, we all understand.

    Billions in unaccounted aid for and fawning uncritical cooperation at the Ethiopian dictatorship has produced a bloody political system where Western aid donors are the only constituency of the regime and its support system.

    You could put Ordell in a Saville Row suit and Versace shades, he could become best friends forever with a real live British Prime Minister, visit the Oval Office (not alone though) and even get invited to a G-8 summit.

    Ultimately, though, it would still be all about who he killed to arrive at that curious and absurd place of international respectability where one is treated well for ostensibly representing the millions whom one mistreats in turn.

    It is far too late to pretend otherwise ... Are Meles & Brussels & Washington watching the same movie or not? 70 million Ethiopians can't just change the channel when it all gets too ugly.

    Monday, December 12

    The Greatest Story Ever Mistold

    Why not in Ethiopia?

    After 72 years of communism,
    Russia is once again a grain exporter ...
    while in Ethiopia food insecurity is policy

    David Boaz, the executive vice president of the Cato Institute wrote the article "The Greatest Story Ever Mistold" about a recent Wall Street Journal report. Titled in part "New Farm Powers Sow the Seeds Of America's Agricultural Woes", (no link available) the WSJ article detailed changes in the worldwide food market while noting potential threats to the American pre-eminence as a producer of wheat. Mr. Boaz felt that the positive implications of the changes and of the article were being ignored. Here are some of the points he made

    This article is the latest chapter in the greatest story ever told: the struggle to produce enough food. From time immemorial, humans have endured back-breaking labor just to get enough to live on. Starvation was a constant threat. Now, thanks to free trade, free markets, and the green revolution, starvation is becoming a thing of the past. The world can support six billion people.

    Part of the problem is the misguided notion of trade as a competition, or even a war. Note the terms like "economic clout," "wheat powerhouse," "economic might." But trade is not a zero-sum game. Everybody wins when more goods are produced. The story of economic progress is the tendency toward increasing specialization and division of labor.

    China, in a drive for self-sufficiency, has become the world's top wheat producer and is nurturing a sophisticated biotechnology program. India, a land long-associated with hunger, became an important exporter three years ago when it released part of its huge wheat reserves onto the world market.

    And Russia! After 72 years of communism, Russia (along with its former internal colonies) is once again a grain exporter. We hear lots of bad news out of Moscow these days, as President Vladimir Putin arrests and intimidates political opponents and journalists. But this news probably matters more to the Russian people. There's food aplenty, and you don't have to stand in line for it. And why? A newly privatized Russian farmer tells the Journal:

    "Freedom," he says, inhaling deeply on a cool spring day. "You're working for yourself."

    (S)tarting with Deng Xiaoping's reforms after the death of Mao, Chinese agricultural production soared -- so much so that peasants began leaving the farms, going to the cities, looking for jobs, and setting up enterprises. Despite his Communist Party years, Deng may have done more good for more people than anybody else in history. Thanks to his reforms, over a billion people can now not only feed themselves but export food and shift labor to more productive uses.

    The positive-sum character of trade is the very foundation of the liberal world order, the underpinning of expanding trade, international harmony, and peace. If one country's success was another's woe, then the socialists and nationalists would be right: World trade would be a war of all against all. Thankfully, they're wrong. The growing productivity of China, Russia, and India is wonderful news for their two billion citizens and good news for everyone else in the world economy as well.
    Througout the Soviet and Maoist periods in Russia (and her satellites) and in China, food insecurity and even famine were the normal state of affairs. Some Soviet agriculture reforms after a disastrous harvest in 1963
    Prices paid for the procurement of agricultural products have been raised, restrictions on the use of private plots liberalized, taxes reduced' and pensions and cash payments in advance of the harvest authorized for the agricultural population.

    Such measures have given the kolkhozniki new incentives to supply Russian towns with the vegetables, fruit, meat, butter. and eggs needed to feed the working population. The productivity of Russian agriculture, however, remains on a low level in comparison with that of many other countries and requires an agricultural labor force six times larger than that of the United States to produce a smaller total agricultural output. Furthermore, much of this output comes from private plots, which in 1964 accounted for 3% of the area under cultivation but produced more than 40% of the milk and meat output, 60% of the potato crop, and 73% of the egg production.
    The Soviet system clearly appreciated the role that the even minimal enfranchisement could play in increasing production. They turned to it in 1963 just as Lenin did with capitalism in the form of the NEP (New Economic Policy) to save his infant revolution.

    The inherent contradictions of their own Marxist - Leninist - Stalinist system forced them to make a choice. Reform the system or let millions starve. Stalin made the latter choice and even encouraged starvation as policy. His heirs tinkered with reform because genocide was no longer an option, even for them.

    To feed itself the Soviet Union had to become dependent not only on the profit motive of its farmers but in the end on grain imports from the West. Both of these solutions were bitter pills to swallow for the Soviet leaders because quite clearly - communism wasn't working.

    They stuck with it though because the purity of communism wasn't at issue. Dicatorial power was their alpha and omega. Communism was important to them because it guaranteed their power while justifying it as effectively as a Medieval lord tortured his people with a sense of divine right.

    Why is this important today? We all generally accept that knowing history will help prevent us from repeating it. More to the point, there are 70 million long suffering Ethiopians living under a variation of the Soviet system today.

    Ethiopians live with food insecurity so that their rulers won't experience political insecurity.


    The following are all excellent blogs:
    Weichegud, Meskel Square, Booker Rising, Gateway Pundit, African Bullets and Honey, Publius Pundit, Foreign Dispatches, Global Voices, Ethan Zuckerman, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    Wednesday, December 7

    The World Is Yours

    In this country, you gotta make the money first.
    Then when you get the money, you get the power.

    Tony Montana in Scarface


    Opposition leader Merera Gudina on the 'election':
    "The EPRDF would not give into defeat because without the power all its investments and luxurious life would be at risk."

    One of the distinctions between a Fascist and Communist state is supposed to be who owns the means of production - the state or private interests. Both states are murderous and any private interests in a Fascist state are totally creatures of the Totalitarian state that defines both anyway so the distinction is of little importance in real terms.

    Another distinction between Communist and Fascist states is supposed to be how they justify themselves. Communist states are imagined to have an internationalist perspective and Fascist states a national one. Again, this difference can not withstand scrutiny because what it really means is that one directs violence based on class hatred while the other does so based on ethnic / religious hatred.

    Indeed Communists never refer to German Fascists as Nazis instead preferring the term Hitlerites because Nazi is short for National Socialist. Neither shied away from creating states defined by brutality within and without. Both attempted to take over the world and both committed genocide for similiar class / ethnic / religious motives.

    Fascism of the Left or Communism of the Right are two sides of a Totalitarian coin that when tossed means bad luck for humanity however it may land. Both make people suffer for the interests of a few in the end and the ruling party of Ethiopia has recently seen the creation of a perverse new fusion of the two.

    It is a Totalitarian Party with roots in Albanian Communism that governs by tribal divide and rule while pretending to be a fount of Liberal Democracy and Free Enterprise. At the same time it actually owns the economy of an entire country through a corrupt web of state and pseudo- private interest that are themselves owned by the Party Politburo in question.

    This series of posts named for the criminal vision of Paul Muni's and Al Pacino's Scarface, defined by the slogan "The World Is Yours." It will take a look at the massive and ruthless corporate / totalitarian empire also know as the ruling party of Ethiopia. From owning every square centimenter of land in a nation of 70 million onto control of billions in aid annually and total dominance of the commanding heights of a whole national economy, the Politburo's holdings represent the greatest concentration of wealth under unitary control from Cairo to the Cape.

    Here are some initial points for consideration:

    --The ruling party directly and through various shells owns large chunks of the economy and numerous enterprises at every level while it refuses to privatize and to allow competition for itself to exist

    --Control of government and party (the same thing) owned businesses is more often than not directly in the hands of government and party officials themselves who serve both as government officials and the chairman of businesses or other shell enterprises

    --There is absolutely no record or expectation of audits of the whole incestuous mess by any institution at all. Even if it existed it would certainly have at its top someone from the higher reaches of the party / government who was also a board member or chairman of a party / government / crony enterprise

    --Crony status of the government and party or involuntary but absolute political subservience is needed to successfully participate in the remaining parts of the economy with any hope of success

    --There is no private ownership of land and as Trotsky said "“opposition where the state is everyone’s landlord means death by slow starvation." Along with eternal destitution for all but a few, the absence of ownership means that the best guarantor of the rights of man is lost

    --The government owns all of the land and thus those who own the government ultimately own all of the power and wealth

    --Indeed, to an exceptional degree by international or historical standards, political and economic power and wealth are inseperable in a most direct manner and held by an exceedingly small number of people

    --That is why we refer to those who run the party / government as the ultimate revolutionary feudal aristocracy. Such a state is not a breeding ground for accountable and honest government

    --Despite the fact that most people in government and most citizens and even most ruling party members are decent and honorable people ... it is not only impossible for a nation to prosper in the current circumstances it is impossible for society and particularly government to be defined as anything but totally and utterly corrupt

    --that the massive corporate empire controlled by those who own the government and and the economy at every level represents the greatest concentration of wealth in Africa under unitary control from Cairo to the Cape

    --that has despite billions in aid made Ethiopia get poorer every year, more aid dependent and less able to feed itself while the suffering of Ethiopians translates into cold hard cash for a tiny elite to play with and invest abroad

    --Ethiopian government is corrupt by the express design and wishes of those who structured it. The whole apparatus is built that way and it is lovingly maintained despite every failure of national growth and health, by those who benefit from its essentially corrupt nature


    The rest of this series will go about proving the assertions made above. It was all too much to put in one post so in the interests of ethiopundit and our readers we will break it up.

    Most of the information is already available in books, documents, and websites from a variety of popular and little known but always reliable sources. Some of it is already buried in this blog.

    Bringing it all together seemed worthwhile since Ethiopia's governance represents a concentration of power and wealth unprecedented in the nation's history and unseen outside of frankly Totalitarian societies anywhere.

    Only miserable poverty dictated by policy for use as a defense against popular accountability along with a resulting necessary dependence on the West provides for a veneer of civilization over what is frank barbarism.

    Ethiopia's rulers literally own everything in the country directly or through shells under a variety of guises in government, the ruling party or through cronies. The current rule of Ethiopia is best described as an Ongoing Criminal Enterprise.

    In addition to power it is not appreciated how much of what happens in Ethiopia is simply all about money - getting it and keeping it.


    The Prime Minister on economics:
    "Unlike in [Western Style] Liberal Democracy, in [Ethiopia’s] “Revolutionary Democracy,” there is no economic area that is outside its preserve. Only available capital and procurable management can limit its investment capacity.
    This will be another long series from numerous sources detailing the essentially corrupt system that Ethiopians suffer under. A system that simultaneously wastes billions in aid dollars and euros while impoverishing millions:

    The World Is Yours I
    The World Is Yours II - The Syndicate
    The World Is Yours III - The Commission
    The World Is Yours IV - "An Offer They Can't Refuse"
    The World Is Yours V - Capo di tutti Capi
    The World Is Yours VI - Our Thing
    The World Is Yours VII - Wise Guys
    The World Is Yours VIII - Friends of Ours

    Sunday, December 4

    Washington's Lethal Delusions of Stability

    Sniper training courtesy of the US Army in September, 2003 & Sniper from the Prime Minister's private special forces deploying against civilians in June 2005. A Dragunov sniper rifle is in both photos.


    From CNN
    Ethiopian special forces armed with heavy machine guns and sniper rifles patrolled Addis Ababa in Humvees and armored personnel carriers."
    This year the Ethiopian regime put on an election show for the benefit of Western donors who were to give their applause in the form of extra billions of dollars in aid. The ruling party's show failed with bad reviews when all voting districts with observers present voted for the opposition.

    Subsequently a massive effort to rig the results was only matched by mass repression of which we only know a fraction of the resulting suffering and bloodshed in urban areas. All the illusory human rights have ended and tens of thousands are subject to disappearance, immprisonment, torture and further destitution for their refusal to accept the eternal rule of the politburo.

    The opposition has resorted to only peaceful means of defiance. Western nations seeing a general interest in the status quo have pressured the opposition to 'obey the constitution' and to pray for better next time when all will likely be far worse.

    While the opposition would have been killed in its entirety years before without Western interest, the response of the West this time has been one of espousing an infamous moral equivalence between a bloody dictatorship and a victorious democratic opposition. From Le Monde (English translation)
    Despite this situation, international donors have accepted that their aid, amounting to a quarter of gross domestic product and with Ethiopia being the primary recipient in Africa, is not under their control. They also chose to ignore that the regime’s authoritarianism neutralizes their development assistance and brought emergency aid under political control.

    The diplomatic community has supported the power play of Ethiopia’s “strong man” without any sharp question. It has acknowledged the “unprecedented openness” of the electoral campaign which signified “an important step” towards democracy. It has endorsed the official electoral verdict, while accepting that the process was tarnished with “irregularities”—as if judgment about expressions of democracy had double standards.

    It has only been the observers in the mission of the European Union who considered that the ballot “failed to meet international standards”. Finally, the mediation led by the United States and the United Kingdom to defuse the crisis only played into Meles’ hands. On the pretext of the scrupulous respect of legality, it obliged the opposition to accept the one-sided arbitration of so-called “independent” institutions, such as the National Electoral Board.

    The mediators then urged the opposition to take up their seats in parliament. At no stage have the mediators obtained the least concession on the part of the regime, nor played their master card: the volume of aid or at least the ways it is used. The G8 Summit in Gleneagles in July, to which Meles Zenawi had been invited alongside five other leaders from Black African countries, linked an increase in aid to respect for “good governance, democracy and transparency”.

    Nevertheless, the donor countries immediately promised to double their aid to match the “democratization” of Ethiopia. In their eyes, nothing matters so much as the stability of Ethiopia in the turmoil taking place in the Horn of Africa. In reality, they consider the present leadership to be a better guarantor of stability, all the more so because Meles has firmly decided to stay in power at all costs and when his replacement by the opposition would be hazardous undertaking given the evident weakness of its leadership.

    When foreign protests against the “excessive” repression, as well as the calls for “dialogue”, became more energetic, Meles responded to them by declaring that the leaders of the Coalition would be charged with “treason” and could face the death penalty for having called for an “insurrection”. Nothing can dissuade him from the conviction that he still has a green light from the international community. But, at the same time, the ultimate hope of the Ethiopian democrats lies on this same community.


    Humvee and .50 Caliber Heavy Machine Gun


    From BBC
    Hundreds of heavily armed police and troops deployed across the city as the sounds of heavy machine guns and loud explosions reverberated.
    Here is the initial craven State Department response to the massacres of early November. An American 'ally' is in the midst of a massacre of innocents and to its eternal shame the US government blames the victims in a manner that would make one nostalgic for simple moral equivalence instead of this outright support for the regime.
    We call on all parties to immediately show restraint to step back from the current environment of heightened political tension and call on the Ethiopian Government to establish an independent commission to investigate today's public demonstration and those of June 8th, in which dozens of demonstrators were killed.

    We deplore the use of violence and deliberate attempts to provoke violence in a misguided attempt to resolve political differences. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives as a result of this senseless violence. We call on the Ethiopian Government to release all political detainees, including the many opposition supporters arrested in recent weeks. Senior opposition leaders arrested today should be treated humanely, and if charged, assured of a just and timely trial before an impartial court of law.

    We call on the opposition to refrain from inciting civil disobedience during this time of heightened tension, while the ability to protest peacefully is a legitimate right in a democracy, violent demonstrations pose a substantial threat to public safety and do nothing to advance democracy. The United States believes that the best way forward for Ethiopia is through full participation of all political groups in the democratic process, including for elected members of the opposition to take their seats in parliament and to assume the administration of the city of Addis Ababa.
    The spin from Washington has it then that the long suffering government was PROVOKED into killing scores of innocent civilians by their wrong headed demands for democratic behavior from a government that ignores the very concept with a wink and a nod from Foggy Bottom.

    They know quite well that the very idea of an independent investigation of events is like waiting for O.J. to find the real killers. Human Rights Watch breaks down the essentials of American foreign policy in Ethiopia as they were in 2002 - little has change since.
    The newly designated U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia told Human Rights Watch that human rights and the "war on terror" are both important objectives for the United States.

    But a senior State Department official told Human Rights Watch that Ethiopia's cooperation in gathering intelligence from Sudan and Somalia and in other matters he was not at liberty to discuss is so important to U.S. interests that the U.S. effectively wields little if any leverage over the Ethiopian government.

    He said that, although the U.S. is aware that Ethiopia's interests do not always coincide with its own and listens to its partner "with a jaundiced ear," the country's human rights record is "not a factor" in the bilateral relationship "as a point of fact.
    The following passage is from a 2005 Human Rights Watch Report on human rights abuses by the revolutionary government against the Oromo people, it also reflects the status of all Ethiopians.
    Despite its dependence on outside assistance, the Ethiopian government has loudly rejected even measured criticism of its human rights record with sweeping, contemptuous denials. When the U.S. State Department released its annual Human Rights Report on Ethiopia in February 2005, for example, the Ethiopian government denounced the entire report as “baseless,” “frivolous,” and based entirely on “rumors” and “lies.”

    Despite the donor community’s enormous investments of aid, donor governments have generally appeared reluctant to challenge the Ethiopian government’s near-total refusal to engage in constructive dialogue about the government’s many human rights-related failings. Western governments have generally appeared too timid to challenge the government publicly.

    Western diplomatic sources have told Human Rights Watch that precisely because the Ethiopian government reacts so angrily to criticism, the only option is to engage the government on human rights issues quietly and behind the scenes. United States policy is also influenced by Ethiopia’s perceived status as the most stable country in the Horn of Africa and by its cooperation in Washington’s “global war on terror.”

    This “quiet” approach does not appear to be bringing about any change in the Ethiopian government’s refusal to engage in constructive dialogue about human rights issues. Recent events seem to indicate that the Ethiopian government may be becoming bolder in its willingness to ignore international criticism of its human rights record.
    The War on Terror must be fought with vigor and determination but Ethiopia seems to have slipped through the cracks. The Ethiopian government slickly uses the threat of terror to manipulate Washington in particular, and its policies of aid dependent economic stagnation and tribal divide and rule will ultimately lead to another failed state.

    No one in the West wants to be called upon to intervene in and take care of that problem when sensible policies today can nip such tragedy in the bud. Gladly, American interests also involve doing the right thing for all concerned.


    President Bush welcomes the Prime Minister to the Oval Office in December 2002 & the Black Lion Hospital morgue in Addis in November 2005.


    It is to France and Le Monde (English translation) that we must turn again for a rational Western view of events leading up to the most recent massacre and of the heavy handed Anglo-American demands on the opposition to just shut up and know its place.
    To every concession agreed by the Coalition, even including its tacit acceptance of the official results, to every request to launch a true dialogue, to its calls simply for “civil disobedience” as the only way of protesting, the regime’s only reaction was to blacken and repress the opposition.

    Meles Zenawi could not have done otherwise if he wanted that the outcome of his rejection in the ballot boxes to be a popular explosion that the opposition parties would be unable to contain—but for which they were made responsible—and which could be crushed in the name of maintaining public order.
    Indeed, the violence by the victims referred to by the State Department as the starting point of the massacre they only brought on themselves, was an opposition call to beep car horns in the morning during sessions of the African Union. No other responsible party has come forward to even allege that civilians used any type of deadly force during any protests at all.

    Le Monde either understands the obvious or is obviously more honest than the State Department. In the interests of illusory stability Washington is propping up and making excuses for a corrupt tyrant whose policies by every bit of logic and historical memory will lead to nothing but disaster for all concerned.

    Perhaps it is all meant to be a problem for another administration down the line to deal with. It is exactly that opportunistic and short sighted approach to foreign policy by administrations of decades past that has caused 150,000 American soldiers in Iraq and thousands more in Afghanistan to be placed in harm's way today.

    The horrors of September 11, 2001 made Washington wake up and face the fact that a new World War was on against terror and its natural allies in tyranny everywhere. Thousands of Americans died that day and thousands more have perished in Afghanistan and Iraq to secure American interests.

    Surely, a natural American response to its new international challenges and responsibilities can not be to repeat mistakes of coddling and humouring despots of any stripe that only harm American interests in the end. From the very words of President Bush such a notion would seem to be an impossibility.
    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.
    It seems clear that the civilian protestors against the Meles regime where heeding the President's words in their actions. By the logic of American foreign policy in Ethiopia, African-Americans in 1960s Mississippi, Ukranians in 2000s Kiev, Chinese in 1980s Tianeman Square and Germans at the 1960s Berlin Wall were also just provoking authority and deserved what they got.

    Speaking of other countries, the President closed off all of his own moral loopholes regarding Ethiopia in the following elaboration of the original commitment to liberty above.
    Time after time, observers have questioned whether this country, or that people, or this group, are "ready" for democracy -- as if freedom were a prize you win for meeting our own Western standards of progress.

    In fact, the daily work of democracy itself is the path of progress. It teaches cooperation, the free exchange of ideas, and the peaceful resolution of differences. As men and women are showing, from Bangladesh to Botswana, to Mongolia, it is the practice of democracy that makes a nation ready for democracy, and every nation can start on this path….

    Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe -- because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty.
    The former American Ambassador to Ethiopia in her farewell speech made it clear that Ethiopians were not included in that or other calls for liberty in the world. Instead, on behalf of Washington, she made a call for the opposition to just go along with the government at all costs and for Ethiopians to just know their proper place at the feet of their politburo betters. If they gave up on their dreams, somehow, someday all would be well, you see. This vile sentiment was wrapped up in expressions of affection for Ethiopians but its intent is not in keeping with the interests and morals of the American people.


    The Prime Ministers in October 2004 & Ordinary Mortal beaten with rifle butt in June 2005


    Statements like the Ambassador's and those of recent US / EU statements that include any element of calls for all parties to be peaceful and obey the constitution are absurd and contemptuous. The ruling party has always had an absolute monopoly on violence, just like it does in the business world, and it is offensive to ask Ethiopians to obey the laws and a constitutions that they did not consent to be ruled by and whose purpose is the eternal rule of their oppressors.

    When bipartisan American election observers where expelled by the Ethiopian government as part of an alleged CIA plot to overthrow the Ethiopian regime, Washington was silent. A Congressional bill for free and fair elections in Ethiopia was scuttled beforehand as well.

    CENTCOM has even helpfully put out press releases on Al Quaeda infiltration in Somalia to coincide with the election and outbreaks of government violence as though reminding folks to keep their eye on he stability ball and not to take Ethiopian democracy too seriously.

    While the EU has been critical of the election and of abuses in Ethiopia, the US has generally avoided comment in all but extreme situations. Even then , the status quo is not to be touched - it is more like there are routine things that need saying that Washington does not expect to ever see through.

    Ethiopians are not asking for the United States to make everything better for them. It is clear that is exactly what they want to do for themselves. At least the US must get out of their way. By supporting the current Ethiopian government and its doomed policies the US has accepted the long term guarantee of destitution, anarchy and bloodshed in exchange for having 'an African we can deal with' for a few years.

    This is not the default or natural policy of the US or the American people. It is only the massive error of those who want others to face tomorrow what they do not want to deal with today. One must wonder how many Americans, Democratic or Republican or Independent know that billions of their tax dollars and their country's good name is spent on behalf of a government:

    --that is a brutal, vengeful and highly disciplined Marxist-Lenininst-Maoist party masquerading all at once as a liberal democratic parliament, election board, supreme court and assorted tribal 'federal' divide and rule bantustans

    --that it has held no real elections ever and denies its people every manner of basic human rights from assembly to press as though they were serfs and not citizens

    --that directly owns massive government monopolies, party and crony owned businesses and the slavish devotion of all others who want to survive in a structurally corrupt web of enterprises subject to no other authority and that swallows the lion's share of foreign aid

    --that the massive corporate empire controlled by those who own the government and and the economy at every level represents the greatest concentration of wealth in Africa under unitary control from Cairo to the Cape

    --that no one has a right to own private property while land posession, sharecropper style indebtedness and the threat of ruin and starvation are instruments of essential government policy

    --that has exchanged the consent and support of Western governments for that of its own people as the base of its power over 70 million destitute and disenfranchised people who only want the same chance of liberal democracy and capitalism their government has denied them but that made the West prosperous and free

    --that mourns the Western victory in the Cold War because it created a political setting where they would have to depend only on the 'imperialist camp'

    --that has vigorously endorsed the invasion of Taiwan

    --that has despite billions in aid made Ethiopia get poorer every year, more aid dependent and less able to feed itself while the suffering of Ethiopians translates into cold hard cash for a tiny elite to play with and invest abroad

    The kind of calculation that Washington has accepted in deaing with Ethiopia stems from the time Clinton crowned Meles a part of an 'African Renaissance' and then shut up quickly when Meles warned him "don't tell me how to govern my country" while swallowing billions in US aid.

    Bush has been less effusive but just as supportive toward the author of Ethiopia's suffering and a 'poor, brutish, nasty and short life' for tens of millions. It is time for Americans to remember who they are, namely a nation that by calling and conviction is naturally opposed to regimes like Ethiopia's.

    Then Ethiopians will have a better chance of fulfilling their potential that the blood, sweat and tears of the past bloody century has earned them. Surely Americans can not find an easy alliance with a despot whose main source of power and foreign exchange is the display of his own people suffering.


    The Dragunov is a symbol of sorts for us in the nasty calculus of American support for Meles Inc. Some bloody combination of inhuman tragedy and historical irony has it that Ethiopia's current Marxist-Leninist dictatorship is using a Soviet sniper rifle inherited from Mengistu's Dergue and American training to kill innocent civilians in the name of democracy and its alleged stability as an ally in the war on terror.
    The Sniper Rifle Dragunov (SVD) is a gas-operated, semiautomatic weapon. It fires the Soviet 7.62 x 54R cartridge and uses a detachable 10-round box magazine.
    The SVD fires approximately 30 rounds per minute in the semiautomatic mode. It has a maximum effective range of 1,300 meters with the 4-power telescope or 800 meters without it. The PSO-1 optical sight has a 6-degree field of view. It contains an integral, infrared detection aid and an illuminated rangefinder recticle.

    Thus, the SVD is effective in daylight against point targets or at night against active infrared emitters, such as night driving aids and weapon sights. It can fire light ball, heavy ball, steel core, tracer and anti-tank incendiary ammunition.
    The Soviets developed the SVD in 1965. It entered service in 1967 and is the standard Soviet sniper weapon. One squad in each motorized rifle platoon has an SVD; selected riflemen receive regular, centralized sniper training on it.
    Clearly, this is a weapon of war and not one for use by any civilized government to quell civilian disturbances of any kind. Those who used this weapon against innocents drove arrived at their lairs in US dontated Humvees while he who gave the orders to kill is part of the new generation of "Africans we can talk to."

    The other weapons carried on the Humvees, the heavy or .50 caliber machine guns, were designed during World War I as anti-aircraft weapons that were found to be able to penetrate light armoured vehicles. They continue in service today with little to no changes in design as do Soviet versions which the Ethiopian government owns as well and which it also uses against civilians.

    The bullet fired by the .50 caliber machine gun at 600 per minute is so large and travels so fast it has been said that there is little on the average city block that could stop it besides the engine block of a heavy truck. Your average wall, particularly one in Addis Ababa would not hinder this bullet at all.

    This includes its ability to remain lethal at distances well over two kilometers. Now imagine what a .50 caliber machine gun could do to a single human being or a crowd. Do you still believe the official reports that only a few dozen people died? What kind of a government would fire these weapons in a crowded city as the BBC describes?

    The American people simply do not know what is being done by the Marxist-Leninist dictatorship that their foreign policy has embraced in their good name over two administrations - if they knew they could not tolerate such infamy being carried out with their aid and tax dollars.

    Meles Inc. is as much a creation of short sighted American diplomacy under Clinton and Bush as Mengistu was a creation of the defunct Soviet Union. This issue has nothing to do with Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican. This alliance is harming the interests of the United States by supporting a government that rules by terror and that will generate only more instability and the certainty of chaos in the future.

    Above all Americans should know that while their sons and daughters are thousands of miles away dealing with the aftermath of old dictatorships and the threat of new ones, that their tax dollars and moral authority is being used to defend a bloody Ethiopian dictatorship that will eventually destabilize the whole Horn of Africa.

    Ethiopians only ask that the US stop supporting the despotism over them - they will take care of the rest peacefully.


    Some sound advice from Dagmawi for Ethiopians and Friends of Ethiopia on this subject is below.
    Ethiopians should try not to react emotionally and with anger. Try not to lash out at the US State Dept. and any others who may be mistaken in their assessment of the situation. We just need to calmly lobby them (and not insult them) and point out how far the ideology of the Meles regime differs from the principles of the USA/EU.
    Washington clearly has other options beyond the immoral status quo. Mugabe's henchman in Zimbabwe have had their American assets frozen and there are a whole host of other EU / US sanctions in place against individuals responsible for corruption and violence. No More Appeasement lays out the history and reasoning for such policies as well as a blueprint for their implementation.

    Every nation has a foreign policy based on the national interest. It would be ridiculous to expect otherwise. While it is clear that nations like the US care more for Ethiopians than their own government does it is up to Ethiopians and Friends of Ethiopia to decouple the convenience of the status quo in Washington's eyes from the current dictatorship to the possibilities of an entirely democratic and stable ally.

    There is no reason for the US to think that its own interests would be threatened, in any way, by the appearance of a democratic society in Ethiopia. The most sustained period of peace and relative prosperity in modern history was had by Ethiopia under the aegis of an American alliance and such should be welcomed in the future as well.

    The US needs only to stop supporting the government which is the midwife of terror and instability and to let Ethiopian history take its natural course. Nothing more than that is being demanded.


    The Prime Minister at the G-8 Summit in July 2005 & Ordinary Mortals mourn the dead of the June 2005 Massacre