Sunday, March 9

something funny happened on the way to the kibaki coronation

The first instinct of the U.S. State Department when presented with the Kenyan government's election chicanery was familiar to Ethiopians - Foggy Bottom (somehow, strangely, that term seems more than just geographic, right?) decided to go with 'our s.o.b.' and to congratulate the 'victors' already in place.

Then something funny happened on the way to the Kibaki coronation.

Even amidst tribal / ethnic bloodletting (much planned) that fed the "go with us or have chaos in East Africa" rap from the Kenyan Presidential Palace - the U.S. stood firm and along with the U.N., the E.U. (and no doubt gentle warnings from the World Bank & IMF) insisted that the will of the Kenyan people be respected to some degree at least.

Eventually - ferenji pressure forced a political power sharing deal in Nairobi that is not perfect but that will serve the Kenyan people far better than ferenji sponsored and financed dictatorship. You know, we should be careful using the word 'dictatorship' in this context shouldn't we?

The Kenyan elite, however corrupt it is and however it plays reflexively nasty tribal / ethnic games is not in the same category of dictatorship as Meles Inc. is. Sorry to put it this way - but the Kenyan political system, for all of its faults, is inherently more civilized than that in Ethiopia.

Dealing with an opposition that never uttered an tribal insult and that never traded in ethnic hatred - Meles Inc. could not stop shouting about the Rwandan genocide and how that is what the opposition had in plan. No one believed it of course just as no one in Ethiopia believes anything that Meles has to say.

The opposition won among every region, tribe, religion, and ethnicity where election observers were present. Everywhere. Where no observers were present (most of the country) - the vote was not counted and still not released. Meles knew he was despised but simply had no idea how much in enough time to properly fake even a fake election.

More people were killed in tribal / ethnic fighting in Kenya than have ever been killed in Ethiopia. That is unless you count the Ethiopian government - which has a body count that machete wielding toughs could not dream of. The tribal / ethnic killers in Ethiopia were not only sponsored by the government - they are the government.

The only group the minions of Meles Inc. believe in or are loyal to is a revolutionary feudal aristocracy that is not defined by anything but greed and the willingness to be brutal. They feel amazingly entitled to billions in aid from ferenji taxpayers and essentially hold their own people and the stability of the Horn of Africa hostage for that purpose.

Meles has never felt an urgent threat to the gravy train the way Kibaki did. Kibaki made kind of nice in the end because he had no choice. The social contract in Kenya apparently has some place for actual Kenyans.

Meles has always had a choice because the social contract in Ethiopia is between ferenjis and Meles himself. Ethiopians just don't matter. There is always a convenient excuse for why Ethiopian human rights and governmental decency can wait.

We wonder sometimes if there is something different about Ethiopian DNA and that of the rest of the world. During the 1970s and 1980s Ethiopians under the control of Mengistu's Soviet sponsored Dergue and Meles's EPLF sponsored TPLF all had far less human rights and dignity than South African blacks under Apartheid.

We are delighted that South African blacks are free today. We are delighted that in their hour of need the world, or at least much of it, would have no more of such a system.

How many people out there know that Ethiopia's constitution, laws, and government are today based upon tribal / ethnic bantustans? That tribal / ethnic / regional / religious divide and rule is at the heart of all political discourse and participation in civil society?

That Ethiopia has one of the most corrupt & brutal governments on earth? No worries - apparently the Boers were expected to now better but since Ethiopia's tormentors look just like all other Ethiopians - it all seems to be just O.K.

After all - this is Africa and Africans we are talking about - and most particularly Ethiopians. Kenyans? Well maybe Kenyans have some rights but definitely not Ethiopians.

Today, the world gets worked up about Darfur and Mugabe - Chad and Kibaki and the US is proud to be on the right side of history and human rights there. But ... Ethiopian suffering is like a tree falling in the forest ... screams and death beyond the diplomatic compounds of Addis simply are not an issue and are sounds that are embarrassing and actively avoided.

This remains so no matter how many opposition figures not known to ferenji diplomats are dead, tortured, or in jail. This remains so no matter how many hundreds of thousands of other faceless and nameless Ethiopians are in mass graves or prison camps.

So ferenjis do matter.

They keep Africa's dictators in business and when ferenjis act like they have had enough things seem to happen and thugs seem to discover a warm and fuzzy side. Ferenjis pay the bills for Kibaki and Meles. It is just that when it comes to Meles absolutely no return is expected on the investment except that he not make things worse than usual.

And then there is the Vicki Huddleston Meles as Great Black Hope vision
By singling out Ethiopia for public embarrassment, the bill puts Congress unwittingly on the side of Islamic jihadists and insurgents.
Nonsense. The embarrassment will be for Meles Inc. not Ethiopia - and Vicki knows it. Vicki is equating the interests of Meles with those of Ethiopia when they clearly are not the same thing.

Her plea not to turn on Ethiopia is a plea to stick with Meles personally and should be understood just so. What should we expect to see next? Meles eating apple pie with the Stars and Stripes fluttering in the breeze? Even better would be Meles defending Western Civilization against hordes of orcs a la Lord of the Rings.

Well Vicki ... to 70 million or so Ethiopians - Meles is Sauron himself and you keep him and his orc army going. For real - just say that it is in the interests of the USA as interpreted by policy makers who can't see past next weekend that Meles is the devil you know and you would rather have him around no matter what happens to all those Ethis.

How about these lines from Vicki's opus?
Sadly, Congress is poised to fuel the march toward war by passing a bill that threatens to cut off technical assistance to Ethiopia, one of our closest allies, if it does not, among other things, release political prisoners, ensure that the judiciary operates independently and permit the news media to operate freely. Ethiopia has already freed opposition leaders, reformed parliamentary rules to give opposition parties greater legislative responsibility and approved a new media law that meets international standards.
Each of these statements is so demonstrably false or at the very best put forth with such an absolutely sincere disingenuous spin that even the least knowledgeable reader must amazed at the sheer daring of it all.

The Human Rights Bill is in Senate Hearings now after unanimously getting through the House. Senator Inhofe, perfectly placed with 1) Ethiopian relatives 2) no Ethiopian-American constituents and most of all 3) with a secure seat not beholden to the press or anyone else, is carrying the water for the administration on this one.

Along with an army of lobbyists and lawyers bought and paid for with siphoned aid money, Meles Inc. is going to fight hard to 'keep Ethiopia from embarrassment' in Vicki's words. What this really means is that Meles is terrified that his money may no longer be secure in American real estate and stocks if his inhumane policies finally catch up with him.

Senator Russ Feingold seems to be having none of this
Mr. President, I rise today to discuss the political situation in Ethiopia. The US-Ethiopian partnership is an incredibly important one – perhaps one of the more significant on the continent given not only our longstanding history but also the increasingly strategic nature of our cooperation in recent years.

Ethiopia sits on the Horn of Africa – perhaps one of the roughest neighborhoods in the world, with Somalia a failed state and likely safe haven for terrorists, Eritrea an inaccessible authoritarian regime that exacerbates conflicts throughout the region, Sudan a genocidal regime, and now Kenya descending into crisis.

By contrast, Ethiopia seems relatively stable with its growing economy and robust poverty reduction programs.
Great right, but see the problem outlined in bold? Senator Feingold like Representatives Payne & Smith and so many others is a friend of Ethiopia and of human rights ... but he has taken the spin about the economy and poverty reduction a bit too far or perhaps he is just trying to soften the blow.

This sounds to us, as we have said before, like a 'he made the trains run on time' justification for dictatorship.

The truth of the matter is that neither Mussolini not Meles made the trains run on time anyway. Remember that all economic statistics about Ethiopia come from the Ethiopian government itself. Like pronouncements on laws, parliament, courts, elections, commodity exchanges or anything else - it is all a tissue of lies supported by complicit ignorance.

Senator Feingold is a man we admire and decidedly not in that category but those who should be providing he world with the truth certainly are. International and national aid bureaucracies simply have no interest in rocking the boat by not going along with the local dictator. Indeed, his interests in having no accountability for ever increasing amounts of aid fit the interests of the aid bureaucracies perfectly.

Most journalists are too lazy to check statements such as the one a year or so ago that a fake 7% rate of economic growth would give Ethiopia the lifestyle of middle income countries in twenty years. Meles actually lets agencies and reporters into places such as the Ethipian Darfur in the Ogaden if they promise to remain silent on anything he wants.

It seems to work too.

Now the economic growth lie is now wrapped around a fake 10% or more economic growth rate that depends on the statistics of one of the most lying and corrupt governments in the world. A number of supposedly critical and analytical PDF articles have appeared in the last months on the subject.

They are well written in a glib occasionally dazzling style. They are critical of the government for uneven economic growth but curiously the reader has to accept the notion that massive 10%+ economic growth is occurring to begin with.

The slickness of the effort is what is really curious and goes along with the general theme of 'the trains are running on time'. They aren't and Ethiopia's poverty is deepening. Last November The Economist had this to say
The government claims that the economy has been growing at an impressive 10% a year since 2003-04, but the real figure is probably more like 5-6%, which is little more than the average for sub-Saharan Africa. And even that modestly improved rate, with a small building boom in Addis Ababa, for instance, has led to the overheating of the economy, with inflation moving up to 19% earlier this year before the government took remedial action.

The reasons for this economic crawl are not hard to find. Beyond the government-directed state, funded substantially by foreign aid, there is—almost uniquely in Africa—virtually no private-sector business at all. The IMF estimates that in 2005-06 the share of private investment in the country was just 11%, nearly unchanged since Mr Zenawi took over in the early 1990s. That is partly a reflection of the fact that, despite some privatisation since the centralised Marxist days of the Derg, large areas of the economy remain government monopolies, closed off to private business.
We don't buy the 5% figure either and given population growth and inflation it is far too less to keep pace. The building boom in Addis is based upon remittances from countries with economic and political freedom. It is also based on the corruption that siphons billions in aid to party businesses, cronies, and government monopolies.

Most importantly - as the article says there is no private economy beyond that owned by Meles Inc. From peasant plots in a country with no private property rights to grain boards to banks to regulatory agencies to aid recipients at every level to the tourist business to foreign investments (in the US and Europe that is) Meles and his aristocracy control the whole Ethiopian economy as though it was their own private piggy bank.

No country has ever grown and no country every will under those circumstances. And what is poverty reduction anyway. Isn't economic growth the ultimate form of poverty reduction? Letting a small fraction of ferenji aid actually build some things to and feed people to prime the aid pump instead of just stealing all of it is not a poverty reduction program.

Given the corrupt outflows of money from Meles Inc. into foreign accounts and investments Ethiopia actually has a negative (we prefer the term subterranean) rate of foreign direct investment.

A older Kenyan friend who lived in Ethiopia on and off from the 1970s always commented that however corrupt Kenya was at least somethings got done sometimes - and most importantly folks just didn't get killed right and left.

The Ethiopia he knew as a young man in the early 70s was little different from Kenya economically but by the 80s the difference was obvious and by this millennium absolutely manifest. Politically, he was saddened that "Ethiopians were always afraid of their government while we were usually just disgusted with ours".

Why? Let us face it - little things matter. However bad the Kenyan government it did in reality and was expected in reality by others to treat Kenyans with some measure of decency. For almost 33 now there have been no such expectations about Ethiopian government.

The standards have been set so low that the notion that at least Ethiopians aren't eating each other seems to be enough to have the whole world ignoring the crimes of Meles or helping him along because no better can be expected.

This blog is quite determined on the matter of the War Against Terror. Fighting it, however, should not mean that the likes of Meles Zenawi thinks that it is open season on Ethiopians. Senator Feingold continued
Indeed, one look at the deteriorating situation on the Horn of Africa and it is clear just how essential our relationship with Ethiopia really is. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration’s approach to strengthening and building bilateral ties with Ethiopia has been short-sighted and narrow. As in other parts of the world, the Administration’s counter-terrorism agenda dominates the relationship, while poor governance and human rights concerns get a pass.
The Senior State Department Official said to Human Rights Watch once with stunning honesty that
Ethiopia's human rights record is 'not a factor' in the bilateral relationship.
Whatever happened to the President's
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.
What happened on the way to the Kibaki coronation? Ferenji enablers decided to make him accept the essential humanity of Kenyans. The absurdity is not just a ferenji matter. Get this - election observers from the Ethiopian government are supposed to supervise the elections in Zimbabwe.

It would all be funny if it wasn't.


ethiopundit's partial catalog of the economic lies and corruption of meles ... or why probably anything you here about economic growth is a lie

Ethiopians are not poor even by the standards of Biblical suffering and they are not oppressed even by the standards of familiar African dictatorship by accident or fate. It is all about government and policies that many of the posts below investigate in depth.

The authors of these policies are the ones that aid donors and other development partners embraced and continue to value after a decade and a half of economic and social de-evolution masked by tens of billions of aid to one of the most corrupt, poorly governing and brutal governments on earth.

The height of absurdity - a commodity exchange: Field Of Screams

Some of the intellectual justifications for Meles Inc. rule:
Hypnotize, Intellectuals and Their Discontents, Jeffersonian Economics.

Mau-Mauing Ferenjis: Scavengers of the Horn, Leveraging Poverty.

The 7% Maskirovka details how claims of economic growth are lies carried out with the complicity of willingly gullible partners in the international media and aid organizations. The 7% Solution looks into the particular origins of the claims to 7% growth - that is what is supposed to happen to get MDG money so by pretending it is not needed the flow of money is assured.

Economic Absurdities details how all accounts of Ethiopia's economic performance must not be considered at face value and that the economy is in fact a stagnant mess utterly dependent of foreign aid and remittances.

lies, damn lies & statistics re-examines false claims of high Foreign Direct Investment that are part of the ongoing and defining propaganda campaign that the Ethiopian government runs instead of governing the country.

The Tragedy of the Commons discusses how common or far worse government ownership of land has always been a plan for disaster.

Cargo Cult Economics Pretense of freedom and a free market is alive and well in Ethiopia with absolutely no attention given to the institutions and accountability necessary for free and prosperous nations. The whole edifice of the massive money transfer to Swiss banks (aka MDGs) is like the Pacific Cargo Cults based on the idea that prosperity comes from rituals.

Cargo Cult Economics 2 - All About the Benjamins? Development is about more than cash - it is about institutions. In fact any money in the absence of reason and rationality will hurt more than help by breeding corruption and the destruction of needed institutions.

Cargo Cult Economics 3 - Structural Corruption Corrupt and unaccountable party and government owned businesses and monopoly service providers in an effectively single party state do not provide a setting where you can expect freedom and prosperity or accountability.

Cargo Cult Economics 4 - Short Term Memory Recent African history from the era of independence in the late 50s and 60s on is full of the serial discovery of visionary rennaissance leaders that the world has fallen in love but whose policies have only bought tragedy for their people.

Cargo Cult Economics 5 - Cheerleaders and Cargo Cult Economics 6 - Sachs & Violence Intellectuals and academics who give cover and encouragement to third world despots and their bound to fail economic schemes imagine that it is OK for some to live under different rules than they would expect for themselves. That is an example of the vile sentiment of actual romance and purpose that is found by some in other people's suffering.

The World Is Yours Is an introduction to anothers 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:. Basically, the Ethiopian government at present is difficult to distinguish from an organized crime network. 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

'Zenawinomics' and the Aztec gods, let the ferenjis feed 'em again and let the ferenjis feed 'em take a look at the game of 'bumper crops' and 'looming famine' that is played out regularly with the result that taking care of Ethiopians or even allowing them to take care of themselves has been abandoned in preference for letting aid donors take care of it all.

The Birth of Plenty, Do the Right Thing and Luck and the Idea Trap show exactly how other nations have escaped destitution and tyranny, why Ethiopia as currently governed never will and how such horrible decisions are purposefully made by governments.

On Borrowed Time focuses on the agricultural economy and how all present trends given current policies point downwards. Malthus, Hobbes and the Red Queen looks to the future and further finds that without changes Ethiopia is heading for a horrible appointment with destiny so that a few can remain powerful and rich.

The Politburo Knows Best series looked at the prospects for liberal democracy and found them poor indeed. Almost all of the same factors predict prosperity as well and they have all been abandoned in favor of eternal power for a few. The following provide clues to the ideological undperpinnings of Ethiopia's current suffering and the policies that define it. Basically, the controls provided for below explain why the trade-off was made for eternal beggar status vs actual development.

Politburo Knows Best III - Revolutionary Democracy The national guiding ideology is still Marxist-Leninist-Maoism - so you can assume there aren't great prospects for freedom and prosperity. Since about the time this seminal essay ;-) was posted the government has not mentioned Revolutionary Democracy aloud again but it still defines their world view exactly.

Politburo Knows Best IV - Revolutionary Feudalism There are no rights to own private property whose protection is essential to all prosperity and personal & political rights worldwide throughout any period of history.

Politburo Knows Best V - The Wretched of the Earth Ethiopia's system of tribal divide and rule 'bantustans' has more in common with medieval feudalism than anything modern or decent for humans to live under.

Politburo Knows Best VI - Defending the Revolution An intense system of of control inherited from the Communist Dergue of Mengistu (known in Cuba as 'Committees to Defend the Revolution') exert absolute government control and fear at the lowest (neighborhood or block) level in unseen rural areas (85% of the people) and urban lives as well.

A Bodyguard of Lies looks at the art of untruth and Ethiopian government in the bloody aftermath of the 'election'.