Friday, July 28

Icebergs & Pink Elephants

Most of the iceberg may be out of sight but you can't miss a pink elephant unless you want to. You just have to pay attention or to stop pretending.



Ethiopian Review links to Meles regime lobbying in the US: Tip of the iceberg? from the 'H.R. 5680 Task Force'. A fantastic summary of the issues revolving around Meles Inc. lobbying, part of the 'Washington Update' series, can be found at this Ethiomedia link Zenawi's lobbying firm campaigns to derail HR 5680.

Below are a few bits from 'iceberg' above
According to the Indian Ocean Newsletter (ION) of June 17, 2006, “Samuel Assefa had hardly been inaugurated as Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States when he embarked on a lobbying campaign. A Washington based firm of lawyers, DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, has just signed a contract for $50,000 a month to provide services to the Ethiopian government on legislative and public relations matters.”


Between 30%-50% of the Ethiopian Government’s budget is supported by Western economic aid in any given year. In the past 15 years, the Meles’ government in Ethiopia has spent substantial portion of the billions of dollars in aid it has received from Western donor nations and lending institutions on lobbying and other political purposes unrelated to the country’s economic development or social welfare.


DLA Piper Rudnick will receive a minimum of one-half million dollars for its work to defeat one single human rights bill, H.R. 5680 (Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2006 ). Overall lobbying expenditures in the U.S. by the Meles government this year are expected to run into the millions of dollars.
We share the writer's horror that Meles Inc. has "spent substantial portion of the billions of dollars in aid it has received from Western donor nations and lending institutions on lobbying and other political purposes unrelated to the country’s economic development or social welfare."

One must realize that this is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of lobbying - it is likely that there is far more that has not become general knowledge. Legal agents of foreign governments have to register with the U.S. government by American law.

The US Department of Justice website links to a FAQ page about the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) which requires registration. The same link has towards the bottom of the FARA FAQ, a list of other relevant American laws and the crimes they define.

The DoJ site also has this page, 2062 Foreign Agents Registration Act Enforcement which further defines what is legal and not as well as what the FARA means. The Criminal Division of the DoJ has a page that can provide means of accessing FARA data.

After all, activities that are legal should be registered and those that aren't registered are illegal.

pink elephants

Which leads us to another vital aspect of this business is information that is not readily accessible. Filings under the Freedom of Information Act can lead to a blizzard of stuff that is hidden in plain sight or just plain hidden.
The U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law ensuring public access to U.S. government records. FOIA carries a presumption of disclosure; the burden is on the government - not the public - to substantiate why information may not be released.

Upon written request, agencies of the United States government are required to disclose those records, unless they can be lawfully withheld from disclosure under one of nine specific exemptions in the FOIA. This right of access is ultimately enforceable in federal court.
Who else is on the payroll of Meles Inc. with funds taken from Ethioipan and American taxpayers? The FOIA may be a way to find out but ultimately it will all come out one way or another, most likely as well meaning folks from within Meles Inc. and those too proud to keep such secrets let it out.

Ethiomedia and Addis Voice link to the following articles about the Meles Inc. espionage (definitely illegal agents and unregistered ones this time around!):

1) TPLF - the control freak and Diaspora Ethiopians

2) Is the “unity camp” destined not to ever get it right? aka the Triple B Plan

3) Attack on Ethiopian diaspora planned

4) ‘Minister’ demands 20,000 USD for names and photos of protesters

5) TPLF's Overseas Misadventures

Beyond how brutally it treats Ethiopians at home, the Ethiopian government has been using its diplomatic missions to quite openly run networks of agents, illegal by every diplomatic convention and by American law, with the purpose of intimidating and controlling American citizens and residents.

Those American citizens and residents have rights and America has sovereignity at home that is essential to its most basic values, dignity and identity. They are not subject to calculations of expediency. That subject is now present like a rogue pink elephant in someone's living room and can't be accepted as is.

We have written about this over the years most recently in the posts 21 months and counting ... and Consent?.

Most Ethiopian and Ethiopian-American readers can't really be too surprised at this ugly business and as for our ferenji readers - yes - a foreign dictatorship is using American taxapayer money not only to lobby in the US but also to run an espionage service in the US directed against American citizens and legal residents.

If only a known fraction of legal lobbying is as expensive as described at the beginning of this post, imagine the amount involved with every manner of illegal espionage activity.

Which brings to mind another government acronym, namely R.I.C.O. aka the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and a whole host of other diplomatic and criminal laws.

Participating in and prospering from the illegal activities of Meles Inc. is not a good idea in general and can certainly fit such definitions as racketering while easily fitting within the overall realm of federally and locally defined criminality.

The various material leaked out of Meles Inc. diplomatic venues by some very courageous individuals (groups?) that are mentioned in the links above such as this laundry list of 'diplomatic' behaviour and this blueprint for setting up criminal extortion rackets in North America and Europe. They must be translated into English and later into other languages and made available to every potentially interested source.

Appropriate committees of both Houses of Congress, the State Department, the ACLU, the media, bloggers and the Justice Department and anyone else who comes to mind should have copies on hand yesterday.

This all matters a great deal to those concerned with the interests of America and Ethiopia.


The very notion that a foreign dictatorship can use the institutions and aid of a free society to serve its own purposes either legally and illegally, is quite frankly repulsive to us as it is to Ethiopian-Americans ... and as it will be to all Americans - when they hear about it.

For the sake of the 70 million voiceless hostages of Meles Inc., for the sake of the privileged hundreds of thousands in the diaspora, for the sake of history and for ourselves - it must be made clear to all concerned that Ethiopian-Americans, American freedoms and Ethiopian lives are not for sale at any price.

Because ultimately that is what is at stake. As for the cadres and agents of Meles Inc. - the laws of a free society also protect you from Meles Inc. Free yourself from mental slavery - indeed, nothing but the truth and courage can set us all free wherever we are.

Monday, July 17

Re-Ups, the World Stash and Meles Inc.

When a drug dealer has sold all of his product, he needs a 'Re-Up', which is simply an urban drug culture term for re-stocking. In the same vernacular the 'stash' is where the drugs are hidden and guarded. Don't try to read too much into our vocabulary though - we just like to watch 'The Wire' and the occasional rap video.

You already know what 'Meles Inc.' means, it is Ethiopia's own, bloody dictatorship, sole national feudal landlord, kleptocratic crony monopolist business empire, ruling party aristocracy and constitutionally sanctioned ongoing criminal enterprise.

Al Capone was satisfied with Chicago and Pablo Escobar never dreamed of having a seat at the U.N. - but with a little help from the World Bank, Meles Inc. is set to go much further.

Here are some choice comments from The World Bank via Reuters and Ethiomedia. Accepting any premise that these statements is based upon requires a suspension of disbelief far beyond what it takes to sit through the Superman or the X-Men movies.

In other words welcome to the Twilight Zone of international politics and government finance ...
The World Bank and other donors cut off direct aid to Ethiopia last year in response to a crackdown on dissidents and a treason trial against opposition leaders criticised by the West as politically motivated.
Well, this statement is fairly accurate - although we can all be certain that any part of Meles Inc. never missed a meal or lost a numbered Swiss Bank deposit slip. The regime pretended to be a democracy for the sake of more money - precisely because their brand of rule generates eternal poverty.

The donors were willing to go along for good vibes all around and to justify the expenses to their legislators and taxpayers. That is until the democracy show got out of hand and was really revealed to be a re-run of the same old dictatorship show.

So donors kept pretending but only after being "shocked, shocked to find out" there was dictatorship going on in Ethiopia - so they acted slightly annoyed about it. When Meles convinced them that he was willing to stay in power until the last drop of Ethiopian blood - the protection racket that defined the regime's relationship with its development partners was reinstated in full.
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz on Wednesday called the bank's resumption of aid to Ethiopia a sign of improved confidence in the country since donors cut direct support over political turmoil last year.
'Renewed confidence' is code for Somalia is being taken over by radical Islamists and no one in Washington ever expected Meles to be a democrat anyhow. Literally nothing has changed for the better in Ethiopia with the exception that already low standards for the regime's behavior have been lowered further.
But Wolfowitz, on a seven-nation African tour, said the World Bank's re-engagement in Ethiopia under a new aid initiative must be followed by government action to correct the problems that sparked deadly election violence.

"I think there is more reason to feel confident that people are learning the right lessons from the experiences of last year," Wolfowitz said.

The World Bank "can only go so far in creating confidence by talking confidently. If the underlying situation doesn't support that then at some point you not only lose credibility but you accomplish nothing," he added.
If the horrible behavior of the regime which has to be begged and threatened, usually with no result, to treat its own people decently is met with new handouts of cash what possible reason is there to expect different behavior in the future?

The right lesson to be learned is that no matter what the Ethiopian dictatorship does to Ethiopians - the donor community represented by the World Bank will continue to finance that repression.

The World Bank is literally doing the same thing over and over somehow expecting a different result - well, at least rhetorically. Actually this is all about the fact that the Bank has absolutely no confidence in Meles and Ethiopians in general.

That suits Meles just fine. The worst anyone, especially Ethiopians think of Ethiopians, the less is expected from him in terms of civilized behavior and the longer he collects souls and gold.

The Bank is doing the same thing over and over because this is simply the best that can be expected of and from Ethiopians. This is about an unpleasant mixture of highly refined contempt and realpolitik.
Private sector representatives he met said they were more confident in Ethiopia's prospects since a crackdown on opposition supporters after May 2005 polls, and urged more help from the bank -- the country's largest investor.
What 'private sector representatives' could that be? They aren't international since Ethiopia is one of the least favorite places on planet Earth for foreign investment.

If they are national one must wonder if the obvious truth that the Ethiopian economy at every level is dominated or outright owned by Meles Inc. is known. Actually, the folks at the World Bank know this all very well.
"My impression is that in the last few months there have been compromises made by both the government and the opposition and I would encourage people to continue to do that," he added.
After winning election and not playing along with the regime's game plan and donor insistence that they just go along for the ride, the opposition is in jail on charges of treason and genocide under horrible conditions.

Tens of thousands are in detention camps under far worse conditions, millions more are facing collective punishment for how they voted, all freedom of speech and expression has been shut down, no one knows how many have died where Western reporters weren't present ... but the World Bank sees encouraging comprimises.

Perhaps they are talking about the pet opposition in the rubber stamp parliament that operates under the name of the imprisoned leadership. When the regime felt heat from the Ethiopian Teachers Association in the past they just repressed the leadership brutally and created their own pet ETA.

Back when Meles Inc. first took power they created their own opposition to discredit the concept and to justify repression ... and on and on.

No one in the West believes a word that the regime has to say and they expect so little that they just play along with it hoping that Meles Inc. won't force their hand by tearing Ethiopia apart any time soon or that he won't kill too many of his own people where donor citizens have to notice.

What this is all about is, as we have said so many times, is the regime's civil contract that excludes Ethiopians in favor of foreigners. The only constituency that Meles has is Western donors and Ethiopians that he has bought or terrified.

The West knows this and just wishes he had managed the fake election better so that they would not have to beg and threaten on behalf of Ethiopians while they pay Meles protection money not to kill too many of them.

Foreign aid and actual budget support doesn't work and hurts growth and democracy. Everyone concerned knows this as well. Yet it goes on because subsistence welfare is easier to justify than insisting on economic systems that actually create wealth just the way so many others have.

If the aim is a path to escape from poverty for tens of millions, Meles Inc. is doing everything wrong. If the aim is power and wealth for a few, they are doing everything right. Again, this is no secret in Washington or Brussels or anywhere else but nice words have to cover up ugly reality.

The World Bank describes itself as
a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. We are not a bank in the common sense.
International Development Association (IDA) ... focuses on the poorest countries in the world. Together we provide low-interest loans, interest-free credit and grants to developing countries for education, health, infrastructure, communications and many other purposes.
Sounds great right? Too bad part of the unwritten purpose is to keep dictators in business, that loans to such dictatorships are not paid back and that loans, credits & grants end up feeding the voracious appetites of the local strongmen more than anything else.

At least that is the World Bank - Ethiopian experience in a nutshell. For the privilege of access to Ethiopians the World Bank basically forgets their interests in catering to their government.

Countries that have become rich or that are no longer poor or who are in anyway on the move in the right direction don't have governments / ruling parties that own all of the land to use as a source of wealth and a weapon of control, that are the most structurally corrupt governments on earth, the most brutal, the most afraid of the free flow of information, the most ...

The list goes on and on. You know it as well as we do and so does the donor community. The World Bank with its altruistic mission statement is really serving the policy interests of Europe and America.

The Europeans indirectly because they have Uncle Sam to take care of life and death issues for them so they can afford to speak more about right and wrong - unless there is oil or trade in it for them. They would prefer for Ethiopia to be silent enough that they don't have to bother because they won't ever be bothered enough to do much anyway.

Europeans also recognize that they share American interests in the War on Terror where purposeful Meles Inc. destabilization of the Horn or non-cooperation in Somalia would create headaches for them as well.

The Americans directly because the unpleasant, though noble, task of keeping the lid on the planet's potential for barbarism has become an American responsibility by default.

While Congress is affirming American revulsion with the Ethiopian regime and the EU Parliament has done the same it was just better politics all around for the World Bank to hand out Western protection money to Meles Inc. than doing it directly which may have seemed to be in bad taste.

Equally absurdly, in turn the World Bank in the past indicated that it would send money to lower levels of government rather than the top reaches of the regime as a form of punishment or expression of displeasure.

So ... having disappointed every decent expectation ever placed in it by Ethiopians or anyone else, the regime is being rewarded with yet more billions in unaccountable cash and pats on the back for its atrocities.

The World Bank is the World Stash and Meles Inc. has just re-upped itself into planting its boot ever more firmly on the collective Ethiopian neck. Castro in Cuba has sexual tourism, Kim Jong Il in North Korea has nuclear blackmail and the Ayatollahs in Iran have oil.

What Meles has is his widely acknowledged willingness to make Ethiopians suffer. He then capitalizes on the suffering he has caused to beg for money in the name of his victims.

As the New Economics Foundation reports (again via Ethiomedia) during the past year when the World Bank was experiencing so much confidence in Ethiopian government,
Money flowing into UK bank accounts from developing countries has surged in the past few years ...

The scale of the exodus of capital from countries with major social problems will raise fears of massive corruption and money laundering that will hurt the welfare of the world's most vulnerable people.

The New Economics Foundation said deposits had risen noticeably over the past five years, with inflows from ... Ethiopia rising 103 per cent.
Remember, this is the little that one organization knows about.

By the end of next year, this newest World Bank re-up will join much of the previous ones after having been stolen, laundered and ultimately invested back in societies that actually allow for secure growth, wealth and property ... while financing the very opposite abroad.

Other 'grants and loans' will make a more circuitous route home having passed through the hands of arms dealers on every continent and the Washington lobbying firms that do the bidding of Meles Inc.

One of the most tragic bits of all of this is that without even the most cynical interest of the West that Meles Inc. would think nothing of cutting out the hearts of the real oppositon leaders in Meskel Square while selling Ethiopian slaves abroad to make a few dollars and stay in power another day.

At the end of the day, Ethiopians don't want to be taken care of or to be anyone's responsibility - they just want a chance to take care of their own interests in that very successful liberal democratic free market way that seems to have worked for so much of the rest of humanity.

Thursday, July 6

Booker Rising's '10 Reasons Why I'm Proud To Be American'

This list of 10 Reasons Why I'm Proud To Be American is lifted straight out of one of our favorite blogs, Booker Rising, and presented as our belated July 4th post. Here comes the power Yankee Doodleism, colored girl's style ... to school us on the aspect of America ...


Today marks the 230th birthday of the United States. As folks turn up the barbecue grills, march in Independence Day parades, and watch firework shows, I thought that I'd discuss why I - the great-great granddaughter of G.W.C., born a slave in Mississippi in 1856 and later became a sawmill worker - would be proud of our relatively young nation. Pictured courtesy of Bright Photography is Ted Hayes, the "Rasta Republican", dressed as Uncle Sam. Here comes Yankee Doodleism, colored girl's style:

1. No other country provides more freedom, opportunity, and economic progress for black folks. Where can all of the world's only self-made black billionaires be found? Which country is the only one on the planet where most of its black population is now middle-class and owns their own homes? Which country has the best-educated black population? Highest per capita GDP? Where the black population has the lowest poverty rate (26%). That would be America, despite its history. These and other statistics plus the voting of feet - more blacks have now immigrated to America than were forcibly brought here during the slave trade - backs me up. And no damn monarchy that drains the national treasury here.

2. Our optimism, entrepreneurial spirit, and willingness to adapt to changing conditions. We Americans believe that we can do anything, which is a key strength of America.

3. Ability to self-critique. Just ask those Arab countries if they are critiquing their role in the slave trade, and historical treatment of black folks. You'll be waiting forever. How about Latin America, with its "racial democracy" talk but yet its black population lives so poorly? Heck, even France just got around to highlighting its history re: black folks. While there is certainly room for improvement, America - far more than most countr4ies - is willing to critique itself and rectify its practices.

4. I can say what I want and not end up in jail, dead, or missing. Americans often take this fact for granted, but it is important to people like a Sudanese reader who once emailed me and had to use various email addresses because he was critiquing the Sudanese government in his message to me.

5. Technological innovation. We love to seek out the new and big.

6. Kick-ass music tradition. Gospel, blues, jazz, soul, rock & roll, rap (before it went to pot), etc. are popular around the world. And all created by black Americans.

7. The world's first televised human rights movement. Drawing from American ideals (which were not being lived up to at the time), black Americans rocked it during the Civil Rights Movement and these activities have served as inspiration for folks around the world. A rich tradition of human rights and democracy promotion of which black Americans should be especially proud.

8. America as an idea. Unlike in some countries, nationality is not based on blood.

9. Our superpower status. Yeah, others are envious but that's because they ain't on top right now.

10. Our work ethic. We account for only about 5% of the world's population, but about 1/4 of global productivity. While we may work too hard and could play more, at least Americans ain't a lazy bunch.

Monday, July 3

The House Does the Right Thing

U.S. Representatives Donald Payne (D) & Chris Smith (R) - both represent New Jersey, the finest state in the Union.


It only seems like a century ago that we wrote about H.R. 5321, the "Free and Fair Elections in Ethiopia Act of 2004" that simply disappeared into the prevailing political winds. Now the House of Representatives is back in full and surprising effect with the "Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2006" H. R. 5680.

We are rather pleasantly stunned (but not speechless) that Ethiopia showed up on the bipartisan radar screen (the very best place) of American government recognized as something far beyond the usual assumptions. It seems that to Washington, Ethiopia may not be an already failed hopeless place from which no good is expected. It also may not be a problem for the next Congress and Administration to deal with when Ethiopia's own government finally was done eating out its core.

Ethiopians have been given a great deal of respect and consideration by the progress of this bill to date. Ethiopians apparently have the same rights and duties as the rest of the human family beyond wretched aid finaced subsistence and aid financed dictatorship. That is a big change - if there is a follow through that is not by any means likely or assured in any way.

Despite the fact that the regime in Addis used millions stolen from Ethiopians or diverted from US taxpayers in lawyer and lobbyist fees in the US, spilled hidden oceans of blood to silence dissent in Ethiopia, expanded years of effort to silence diaspora critics abroad with an illegal espionage network directed by diplomats ... and above all despite holding the Horn of Africa hostage to its vicious whims - the government failed to stop the US House from doing the right thing for American and Ethiopian interests.

Why don't we take a walk through a few of the bill's most noteworthy statements. To those familiar with Ethiopian affairs nothing below is in the least bit surprising, indeed it is a generally mild critique but a big deal by virtue of its existence to
The 1995 and 2000 elections were largely boycotted and judged to be neither free nor fair.
Despite apparent improvement in the electoral process, preliminary election results announced by the Government of Ethiopia shortly after the May 15, 2005, elections were seen by observers as questionable.
Human rights conditions deteriorated significantly after the May 15, 2005, elections in Ethiopia and overall human rights conditions in the country remain poor. The Department of State, in its 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, noted a myriad of human rights abuses by the Government of Ethiopia.
Tens of thousands of people suspected of being opposition supporters were detained over the past months, although many of these detainees were released. Nonetheless, government security forces continue to abuse opposition leaders, supporters, and family members.
[Opposition members and human rights leaders] were imprisoned and charged with treason and genocide. These measures were deliberately taken to stifle and criminalize opposition party activity in the country. The measures also were intended to intimidate and silence independent press and civil society, raising serious question about the Ethiopian Government's commitment to democracy and good governance.
The Representatives are just getting started up to here. The words above are in an unusually strong tongue for government, one that is usually reserved for the TPLF's sister dictatorships worldwide who all equally deserve them.

The real question becomes what should be done by the world's most powerful, richest and frankly most moral, country to right the wrongs defined above - or more accurately and crucially, how to help Ethiopians right those wrongs themselves.

The US President clearly expressed his own nation's spirit when he said in an echo of so many American leaders before him that
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.
On another occasion he added
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.
That plan seemed to have left out some 70 million folks we happen to have a particular concern for but things may be changing. So back to the bill ... There are to be restrictions in security aid but not with
with respect to peacekeeping or counter-terrorism assistance. Peacekeeping or counter-terrorism assistance provided to Ethiopia shall not be used for any other security-related purpose or to provide training to security personnel or units accused of human rights violations against civilians.
This is the real meat of the matter. The issue was never that successive US administrations thought well of the TPLF in any way (except for those momentary and giddy 'African Rennaisance' hopes) but that they expected so little decent behavior from Meles Inc. that they thought pressing for decency was simply a losing game.

Given very legitimate American interests it was decided to leave well, or as the case was perceived, bad enough alone. This is what Human Rights Watch had to say in years past about US efforts to make the Ethiopian government treat its own citizens decently
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.
HRW quotes a 'senior State Department official who says 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.
Having written all of the hopeful nice sounding words and having thought the fancy ideas here we realize that the House may have done the right thing but it is far from certain and maybe unlikely that the Senate will let this become policy.

Right now Southern Somalia is almost in the hands of a group that seems rather proto-Talibanish to say the least. The US doesn't want to send Marines to do something about it and Meles is eager to act as a proxy to deal with a common enemy.

It is unlikely that Washington could have ever done anything about events in Somalia but containing the danger there is seen as necessary. You had better believe when this bill hits the Senate that CENTCOM, Foggy Bottom, Langley and the White House will go to great lengths to remind the 'sober' Senators that the exuberant, though well meaning, House really doesn't get the great game of international politics at all.

That pitch, delivered quietly in offices, restaurants and even gyms to aides and Senators alike (don't expect the American media to even notice) will go a little something like this:

Initially: "Of course Senator XYZ we are very serious about the interests our country has in human rights and democracy but [insert frown here] we are concerned that this may not be the right time to proceed with the House bill in its current form."

Any astute questions on that front will be met with this bit of disarming comradely candor: "Of course Senator XYZ, our aid is mainly paying protection money for our interests to a thug - but the guy at least stays bought some of the time - and what's the problem with a few billion dollars being lost if it keeps the lid on in a complicated region like that."

With any more legislative doubts will come this rejoinder - delivered with a deep sincerity and knowing intensity: "A great woman / man like you who rose to selflessly serve their country and the great Americans of the great State of ABC surely understand that our hands are full right now and that we need to be realistic here about our hopes."

Only in the most intimate settings this will be heard: "Look here Senator XYZ, it is not like Ethiopia can ever do any better. Frankly, we're lucky those people aren't eating each other over there so let's leave things alone - the regime is likely to do just about anything if we pressure them anyway."

Finally, with a jovial smile and a handshake on the way out it will be time to quote FDR: "Sure the guy is an S.O.B. but he's our S.O.B."

Will the good women and men of the Senate even pay attention not to mention step up to the proverbial plate to do the right thing?

That remains to be seen - but we are genuinely hopeful that within the Senate, CENTCOM, Foggy Bottom, Langley and the White House - that America's interests can ultimately be served with imagination and recognition of what America is by folks in place right now.

The House may have realized the value of core American values and the interests and policies that they mandate are not in silence and just getting along with dictators but in the right here and now it is hard for too many politicians to see past tomorrow when Meles Inc. will bring down the Horn like a demented Samson.

Imagine for a moment that Washington knew the Ethiopian government was playing both sides in Somalia just for the sake of making its current incarnation seem indespensible to the US. The timing of Somali events is just too convenient to the Gibee. Given a policy of dealing with only today and leaving problems for future Administrations, the US may just go along.

After all, no one in Washington has any illusions about the TPLF. That non-Tigrayan, non-Popular, non-Liberating Front is the diametric opposite of every defining element of American across the political spectrum.

Rather, those defining elements of America are in doing the right thing worldwide for, as corny as it may sound at times, freedom. It has long been one of our core beliefs that the most fundamental interests of billions across the globe are not coincidentally in tune with American interests but rather that they are naturally shared.

For example, looking back at our collective historical memory we shudder at the the thought of what would have happened if the rebels had lost after 1776, if the Confederacy had won the Civil War, if Germany had won after 1917 and together with Japan during World War II or if the Soviet Union had prevailed during the Cold War.

It seems to us that this bill begins to show that the American government is remembering who Americans are as much as noting that Ethiopians are around too. Alright then, again back to the bill in question. It proposes that
the President shall deny a visa and entry into the United States to ... any official of the Government of Ethiopia who ... has been involved in giving orders to use lethal force against peaceful demonstrators in Ethiopia; or has been accused of gross human rights violations; [and] security personnel of the Government of Ethiopia who were involved in the June or November 2005 shootings of demonstrators
If applied this would mean that very very few members of Ethiopia's hydra headed greedy and brutal aristocracy aka Meles Inc. / ruling party / government would ever have a chance of seeing Disneyland in addition to not having any state visits - or for that matter, visiting their bank accounts or properties in the US.

That is one big missing piece from this bill, financial sanctions against the regime whose policies make it akin to a network of organized crime. A few people profit from and command the economy at every level from its international hard currency heights to its peasant farmer crops.

They own all the land, trade, control government monopolies, party and crony businesses while regulating the same. The whole rotten business is inseperable from the government's brutality so this should have been addressed in the bill.

Finally the bill asks that the President certify to Congress that
the Government of Ethiopia is making credible, quantifiable efforts to ensure that--

(A) all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia have been released, their civil and political rights restored, and their property returned;

(B) prisoners held without charge or kept in detention without fair trial in violation of the Constitution of Ethiopia are released or receive a fair and speedy trial, and prisoners whose charges have been dismissed or acquitted and are still being held are released without delay;

(C) the Ethiopian judiciary is able to function independently and allowed to uphold the Ethiopian Constitution and international human rights standards;

(D) the investigation of the killing of civilian protesters by Ethiopian security forces is credible, transparent, and those involved in the unlawful killing are punished;

(E) family members, legal counsel, and others have unfettered access to visit detainees in Ethiopian prisons;

(F) print and broadcast media in Ethiopia are able to operate free from undue interference and laws restricting media freedom, including sections of the Ethiopian Federal Criminal Code, are revised;

(G) licensing of independent radio and television in Ethiopia is open and transparent;

(H) access in Ethiopia is provided to the Internet and the ability of citizens to freely send and receive electronic mail and otherwise obtain information is guaranteed;

(I) the National Election Board (NEB) includes representatives of political parties with seats in the Ethiopian Parliament and guarantees independence for the NEB in its decision-making;

(J) representatives of international human rights organizations engaged in human rights monitoring work in Ethiopia are admitted to Ethiopia without undue restriction; and

(K) Ethiopian human rights organizations are able to operate in an environment free of harassment, intimidation, and persecution.
If Meles Inc. does all of the above or even a fraction of it - the democratic space opened up will free 70 million captives who will necessarily depose the regime. There is simply no other option - if it all comes true. But of course it won't happen that simply.

From what we have seen Meles and his politburo will hang on until the last dead Ethiopian or the last Birr - so unless this is just a first step little will change. Yet it still matters.

The bill also brings up for future consideration other fundamental aspects of Ethiopian government, or rather misgovernment, showing that the Representatives know quite well what Meles Inc. is up to in so many ways
the President shall assist the Government of Ethiopia in developing policies that will address key economic obstacles, including in such areas as budgeting, taxation, debt management, bank supervision, anti-money laundering, and land title security that inhibit private sector development and limit participation in donor programs such as the United States Millennium Challenge Account.
It seems that the sincerely corrupt plan of Ethiopian government to stifle economic growth in favor of keeping all of the money and power while begging for subsistence aid and lying about free markets is no secret.

One fascinating part of the bill is laid out below - apparently not everyone shares ethiopundit's view of ethnic politics
encourage the Government of Ethiopia to enter into discussions with the Oromo Liberation Front to bring them into full participation in the political and economic affairs of Ethiopia, including their legalization as a political party
We really hope that our judgement of the OLF is wrong.

The simple words of a powerful democracy can have great results even if they don't make it all the way through to law. Refuseniks, dissidents, political prisoners as well as the masses of suffering peasants and workers throughout the Soviet Empire heard the words of America in decades past.

Those words emboldened them and gave them the hope to change their own lives. Unlike the war that destroyed National Socialism, the one that eventually brought down International Socialism and the vast prison camp of totalitarian states that defined it was the simple chance that American resistance gave simple people.

Now back to the worm in the apple. The provisions above may be waived if the Ethiopian government does the right thing (don't wait up all night for that one) or if
such a waiver is in the national interests of the United States
To state the obvious the US is a sovereign state responsible to the interests of its own citizens above all. Like we said we think those interests match those of Ethiopians rather neatly but this bit is just the way of the world and as it should be.

It is most important that the US not let its interests be defined by a regime that would sponsor instability at home and abroad to rule and find American favor. Determinations of interest made after passage of such a bill would occur in a more healthy environment than now obtains.

One thing the House has realized that other parts of the US government may forget is that however bloody regimes such as Meles Inc. are that they are also fundamentally weak beyond measure. The Ethiopian government is not stealing and killing because it is strong but because it is terrified of the human consequences of its own rule.

Like true psycopaths only their personal existence matters to them and other humans are simply animate objects. When such governments fall after they have done their will they often take whole countries with them.

It is in America's interests to deal with Ethiopian now. Ethiopians need all the help that they can get and it appears that some maybe on the way. All they have ever asked for is a little help to do for themselves what their government won't let them do.


A wonderful analysis of the bill and its progress can be found on this link from Ethiomedia, A comparative analysis of two substitute amendments on HR 4423. It is by Al Mariam, Ph.D., J.D.(Esq.)


We have known, for years (along with so many others) and have often written about one inescable fact whose appreciation is an idea whose time has come.

Beyond how brutally it treated Ethiopians at home, that the Ethiopian government has been using its diplomatic missions to quite openly run networks of agents, illegal by every diplomatic convention and by American law, with the purpose of intimidating and controlling American citizens and residents.

Those American citizens and residents have rights and America has sovereignity at home that is essential to its most basic values, dignity and identity. They are not subject to calculations of expediency. That subject for future Congressional hearings is now present like a rogue pink elephant in someone's living room and can't be accepted.

After all, in America, it is still America ... right?

Sunday, July 2

The Butcher's Bill for the Closing of the Ethiopian Mind

The meaning of peace is the absence of opposition to socialism.

Karl Marx on peace in a future heaven of his design

The scientific concept, dictatorship, means neither more nor less than unlimited power resting directly on force, not limited by anything, not restrained by any laws or any absolute rules.

Vladimir Ilich Lenin on the path to heaven and the dictatorship of the proletariat to guide us all


Ethiomedia has posted a fascinating article, Tigrai vs Kinijit, A dialogue with Prof. Donald Levine. It is based on a heretofore unpublished interview of the editor of Ethiomedia.

The editor does us all the welcome favor of presenting it fully and lays bare the bloody opportunism and apocalyptic tribalism at the core of Ethiopia's brutal and greedy aristocracy, Meles Inc. (Formerly known as the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray.)

A companion piece of sorts and one whose next installments will hopefully consider the interview above, is in the Ethiopian Review by Professor Levine, Tigrayawinet wonders if
[i]t is possible that accusations of genocide against Mesfin Wolde Mariam and other defendants by the TPLF may reflect something else. They may represent a wish to disavow the crimes against Tigrayans which the TPLF in its days of struggle felt it had to commit
The butcher's bill for shares in Meles Inc. was first paid by the Tigrayans three decades ago ... and in their own good name. Worldwide, tribal divide and rule had its deepest roots in elites angling for any advantage and finding some in a vile hatred whose purpose is to make 'their own' group serve as captive wardens of a prison nation.

Normal Marxist-Leninist (International Socialism), practice with regard to 'nations, nationalities and peoples' has become the highest expression of tribalism, which along with class hatred serves to create a hated alien other to excuse inhumanity.

In this Communism is unmistakably bound in unholy kinship to National Socialism. The unifying purpose of both is of course absolute power with every other competing human, religious, historical or unifying power physically eliminated or cowed beyond any measure but eternal rule.

Levine says of the 1970s ideological and real battles to see who would enslave Tigrayans most firmly that was fought between various groups (including the Dergue) that
the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray ... conjoined the principle of class struggle with that of self-determination of nationalities. Like other radicals of the day, they appropriated the myth that Ethiopia was the invention of Minelik in order to legitimate the independence of Eritrea, and the principle of self-determination within Ethiopia.

This ethno-Marxist sentiment drove the most ambitious elements of the TPLF movement. It led those who took political control of the TPLF to turn against Tigrayan political elements who did not support Eritrean independence. Before long that led, evidence suggests, to a policy of liquidating those elements.

Tigray became, survivors of those horrific years aver, a "killing field." According to many reports, which must be investigated further by future historians, Tigrayan civilians were slaughtered right and left–in many cases following gruesome torture, according to eye witnesses.
Convenient ideology, no religion is the better word, that could neatly replace morality and a fearsome will to power
became a heady brew that induced the committed TPLF ethno-Marxists to murder great numbers of civilians and to perpetrate slanders against Amharas and Ethiopian patriots.

One veteran of those killings confesses that when he told another, early in the fighting "the number of people we have killed thus far has reached 10,000," his comrade replied: "So what, Red China had to kill a million people in order to become victorious."

Attitudes of that sort, be it noted, were shared by other Ethiopian revolutionaries of the time.
The word religion was more appropriate for this vile spirit because that is what it was.

When the 19th and 20th Centuries challenged many of the traditional certainties of life for Ethiopians, many thought to adapt the best of the modern world to the country's own reality and interests. Others thought the modern would go away if they pretended it wasn't there.

However, as it turned out most influential was a pitiful and selfish core of her allegedly 'modern and educated' children. They stumbled about in a childish, self-loathing fit in search of new improved certainties and found them in the morally and intellectually unchallenging catechism of Marx and Lenin.

Aside from the struggle to gain and keep absolute power there is nothing to ever think about there - all is answered forever. Basically, anything the winner does is right because he is doing it for the sake of the 'people'.

In Guilt And Atonement: the Genesis of Revolutionary Spirit in Ethiopia, Messay Kebede makes his point clearly
In what sense was Marxism-Leninism a substitute for the loss of religious feeling? First of all, as the theory denounces all the religions of the world as the opium of the people, it prohibits the switch to Western religious views.

In thus throwing all religions, including Western ones, in the garbage of history, the theory greatly reduced the sense of betrayal by allowing Ethiopians to turn their back on their legacy without becoming proselytes. Again, what the radical generation liked most in Marxism was its defiance of the West: the defiance flattered its nationalism even as it was debunking Ethiopian values.

But there is more to the matter than this. So distressing is the loss of religious feeling that nothing less than the eruption of revolutionary spirit is liable to assuage it. Who can deny that the best substitute for that loss is a theory that claims to be scientific and modern while preserving the promises of Christian religions?

Such is precisely the case of Marxism with its theory of class struggle and the advent of the just and equal society after the overthrow of exploiting classes. What else was this happy end of history reproducing but the eschatological promises of religion?
There is vanishingly little that is admirable but much that is tragic about the politics of Ethiopia's lost generation of radicals. They took their first steps to 'heaven' hand in hand with their barely literate surrogate Mengistu.

He, in his canny thug nature was really far more of an accomplished Marxist-Leninist Player than they were. After all he crowned himself the 'King of Scientific Socialism' and lasted for 17 years or so. 15 years of the new 'King of Revolutionary Democracy' is little different - except for the hardship of having to verbally forsake his own prophets because the imperialists won the Cold War.

You see, dear reader, in the end for such men it is all only about winning - the rest is foolish bourgeoise morality and opiate religion which like the tragic lives and fortunes of tens of millions of victims, is just part of the butcher's bill the 'people' have to pay for the privilege of being ruled by such men.

Back when we started this blog two years ago we had this to say
Lost in a veritable supermarket of Traditional, Western and other ideas much of a generation of educated Ethiopians never found their way past the ideological crap aisle.

It is tragic and terrifying that a glib catechism, itself the detritus of the West, could make so many otherwise bright people become utterly delusional.

Ultimately, even opposition to the post-1974 Marxist-Leninist military dictatorship was largely an argument over who the 'true communists' were.
Ethiopia has had countless Great Generations throughout her history. The generation with the most promise and those heir to countless centuries of bitterly won victories for plain survival as well as for greatness ended up destroying more than Gragn or Mussolini ...

... and they haven't stopped yet.

Ever since that moment in 1960 when the Neway brothers decided that massacring their hostages was the way to deal with the defeat of their own Communist fantasies, the hands of too many of Ethiopia's educated sons and daughters have been stained by the continued acceptance of easy ideological dogma and soul destroying corruption that so many readily embraced.

In the Piazza cafe where the TPLF was founded there were probably other radicals at the surrounding tables forming their own groups to join the veritable alphabet soup of Marxist-Leninist fronts and parties - all with equally dedication to a 'glorious' future for the 'people'.

Some chose to advise the Dergue on how to set up a communist state in Ethiopia. All the politically potent forces of that deluded generation shared the basics of ethnic division, absence of private property and the concentration of all power in the hands of a 'vanguard party'.

Also two years ago in the post On the Origins of the TPLF we looked at Aregawi Berhe's great contribution to scholarship and history, 'The Origins of the TPLF.' The author noted that
The experiences of the Bolsheviks’ Russia, Maoist China, Ho Chi Minh’s Vietnam and Che Guevera’s internationalism were espoused as guiding precedents to redeem Ethiopia from its predicament.

The revolutionary student generation of that time was, as it later proved, ready to make any sacrifice to undo the grip of imperialism and feudalism in the country.

This revolutionary fervour was part of the international wave of the 1960s. Marxist revolutionary ideals were thought to be impeccable, the only appropriate guiding tenets through which the country was to be transformed from its backwardness.
How could those men at that table in piazza in 1974 or any even casual student of history not have known about the genocidal human cost of the Soviet gulag and Stalin's collectivization, of his purges, Mao's mass murder under the guise of the great leap forward that continued under his failed cultural revolution, of Ho Chi Minh's bloody North Vietnamese land reform or even of Che's lonely death in a Bolivian 'people's revolution' that the people wanted no part of?

Why would eternal state feudalism and eternal serfdom be better? At a minimum did they not see the obvious fact that streams of refugees never headed into Communist countries but rather out of them and that their might be some lessons to be learned from that reality? Didn't they notice that Communist countries were always poor and the people miserable?

A short answer is that reality, suffering and history did not matter as much as their collective vision of paradise and the role that they, as the vanguard of the anointed revolutionary class, would have in mankind's march to perfection .

That such a scenario would guarantee absolute power to those who managed to survive the brutal Darwinian jungle of revolutionary politics must have been attractive as well.

Occam's Razor is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar that said in simple terms that
The simplest answer is usually the correct answer
Ethiopia's lost generation of pseudo intellectuals and feral leaders gave the 'simple-minded' answer to the question in their time - not the simple one.

The real question is then, why are Ethiopians so poor, oppressed and in the grip of a government whose interests lie in keeping them that way - right now?

Because of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist thought and resulting policies that is why. The horrors that most of humanity managed to escape by this new millenium still haunt Ethiopians.

The nightmare won't end and the final nod from providence to fulfill the dreams of 3,000 years and counting won't happen until all of that lethal nonsense is exorcised.

Ethiopia has finally chosen leaders who have a way out of this trap but they are all in jail charged with crimes they would never commit by a government that cherishes those very crimes as policy.

Saturday, July 1

A Statement by the Crown Council

Press Release
June 27, 2006

The Crown Council of Ethiopia has been informed that the “Haile Selassie International Development Foundation”, that also refers to itself as the “Haile Selassie I Foundation”, (which confuses it with the Foundation established by the Crown Council, and also with the Haile Selassie I Memorial Foundation, that is well known in Ethiopia), has organized an event on June 27th, 2006, at Debre Haile Kedus Gebriel Cathedral. The Guest Speakers at the gathering include Ms Ana Gomes, Member of the European Parliament; US Congressman, Mr. Christopher Smith; and Mr. Obang Metho of the Anuak Justice Council. The co-sponsors of the event are the Gambella Development Agency, and Anuak Justice Council.

In 2004, the Crown Council had publicly announced that it had changed direction to become a non political organ of the Ethiopian Crown, and will henceforth focus on humanitarian, development, and historical preservation. Thus, the Council does not sponsor or participate in any political forum. The same applies to the Haile Selassie I Memorial Foundation of which I am also a member. Therefore, the Haile Selassie International Development Foundation should be recognized as a separate entity, without confusion with the work of either the Crown Council, or that of the Memorial Foundation.

With all due respect to the Administrators of the Debre Haile Kedus Gebriel Cathedral, where the event will be held, to the co-sponsors the Anuak Justice Council and the Gambella Development Agency, as well as to all the guest speakers, it is my duty as the Chairman of the Ethiopian Crown Council to inform them, and the public at large, that, the Crown Council, in 2004, had publicly disassociated itself from the Haile Selassie International Development Foundation. The Council was forced to take this action because it does not agree with their method of work which is designed to confuse them with already existing well established organizations, and also because we feel that their objectives do not accurately reflect the legacy of Emperor Haile Selassie I. Our Statement of disassociation could be found on the Crown Council website. The Haile Selassie I Memorial Foundation has also disassociated itself from the work of the Haile Selassie I International Development Foundation, and has posted a Statement to this effect on its website.

Thus, it must be recognized that Mr. Bekele Molla, President of the Haile Selassie International Development Foundation, Ms. Sosinna Tesfa, the General Secretary, and their supporters, have no association with either the Crown Council of Ethiopia, or with the Haile Selassie I Memorial Foundation.

Members of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, like all Ethiopians, have been, and will continue to be deeply concerned with developments in our country that followed the May 2005 elections. In this regard, the Crown Council had issued two Statements - the first on June 10th, 2005, and the second on November 11th 2005. These Statements were publicly announced, and widely circulated by both the Ethiopian, and the International Media. As the unity, equality, and peaceful development of our country is our sincere desire, similar public Statements of concern will be issued by the Crown Council, if and when needed. May Peace based on Equality and Justice descend upon Ethiopia.