Saturday, September 03, 2005

Excavating the Excavator

Do you get the feeling that the people at “The Society of Lunatic African Leaders” are rapidly going crazy trying to pin down the nominations for the 2005 “Idi Amin Award for Africa’s Most Retarded Leader”? I do.

Well, there are the usual mainstays—Mugabe, Obasanjo, Mengistu (he is perpetually on the list and, well, no award show is complete without an honorable mention)… But then, Ato Isayas Afewerqi and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi seem to be vying fiercely for the title this year.

Former Ethiopian and ragamuffin-turned-metrosexual despot Isayas Afewerqi had, in my limited estimation, made a valiant effort to catch up with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who, it should be noted, has triple overlapped his competition, when Ato Issayas spent his summer impounding UN cars and blocking food aid at the port until the donor nation paid tax on the donated food.

Nice try. Great effort. But, sorry. No cigar. Ato Meles has a patent on crazy these days.

To prove that he ain’t kidding around, Ato Meles spent most of his summer vacation obfuscating, vituperating and enforcing the constitution that constituted 42 people out of their lives. Most observers in the political arena had thought that he had surely clinched this year’s award, but Ato Meles looked up North and decided on a “in yo’ face!” one–upmanship.


The latest assault unleashed by Ato Meles came in the form of a three-part “You are not my friend anymore, and I hate you!” letter, an unbelievably infantile and intellectually puerile riposte to the EU-EOM Preliminary Statement on the Ethiopian elections.

Oh, Ato Meles. You make the “Society of Lunatic African Leaders” proud.

Yes, a three-part letter constituting of shrill “how dare you”s, “Well, I never!”s and “if I am that, then what are you”s that succeeded in causing more havoc on the intellectual community than Katrina did in
Louisiana.

In law school we used to call the kind of arguments put forward by Ato Meles as a “Shitless Wonder”… (Can also be used as an adjective: “He tried to shitless wonder me.”) That’s when opposing counsel who knows he has nothing to defend his client with bombards the jury with an endless tirade of ‘evidence’ and disparate anecdotes in hopes that the jury gets so disoriented and/or bored that one knucklehead amongst them concludes that if the defense can so ably talk this long about a slam dunk case, then surely there is room for reasonable doubt.

The trick is to drone on and on, quoting and misquoting witnesses, swaggering back and forth with gaudy bravado and slamming the jury with superfluous intellect. Those are the basic tenets of Shitless Wondering a jury and Ato Meles’ 13,287-word response to a preliminary statement has all the makings of a worthy S.W.

In one particularly memorable moot court a classmate of mine actually ended a case with, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, look into my client’s eyes… If you've ever wondered what the color of pain is, look into my client's eyes. My client is in pain. And you, you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, YOU have the power to end his pain.” (His client was accused of bludgeoning his wife to death with a sledgehammer.) The client got off, and my classmate now runs a tobacco lobbying firm.

Of course the person who has perfected the “shitless wonder” style is the inimitable Jerry Spence, who still self-effacingly calls himself a “country lawyer”. Mr. Spence has mesmerized juries into awarding his clients millions of dollars, sometimes based on nothing more than his famous “Bird in the hand" story.

Short version of the ‘bird in the hand’ story:

Once there was a wise old man and a smart-aleck boy. The boy was driven by a single desire--to expose the wise old man as a fool. The smart aleck had a plan. He had captured a small and fragile bird in the forest. With the bird cupped in his hands so that the old man could not see it, the boy's scheme was to approach the old man and ask, "Old man, what do I have in my hand?" To which the wise old man would reply, "You have a bird, my son."

Then the boy would ask, "Old man, is the bird alive or dead?" If the old man replied that it was dead, the boy would open his hands and allow the bird to fly off into the forest. But if the old man replied that the bird was alive, the boy would crush the bird inside his cupped hands until it was dead. Then the boy would open his hands and say, "See, the bird is dead!"

And so, the smart-aleck boy went to the old man, and he said, as planned, “Old man, what do I have in my hands?”

The old man, as predicted, replied, "You have a bird, my son."

"Old man," the boy then said with disdain, "is the bird alive or is it dead?"

Whereupon the old man looked at the boy with his kindly old eyes and
replied, "The bird is in your hands, my son."

Jerry then would then march up to the jury box, lean in and whisper to the jury, "And so, too, ladies and gentlemen, the life of my client is in yours."

Ridiculously pointless as that story seems, in Jerry’s hands it works. Unfortunately for Ato Meles, his version of “bird in the hand” has rendered him… well, a shitless wonder.

The response to the beleaguered prime minister’s intellectual debris is not a paragraph-by- paragraph refute which I usually get into. That would, honestly, mean elevating his multi-page temper tantrum to scholarship.

After all, the best comeback to a sub-standard “bird in the hand story” has always been: “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, do you wonder if the defendant thought about the bird as he bludgeoned his wife to death with a sledgehammer?”

Dagmawi does that superbly.

But me… I have a weakness.

So, here’s one of my favorite quotes—this is from Part One: Easy to remove the garbage that has covered lumps of truth.

As it turned out, the statement has some big, really big, lumps of truth in it, and it is relatively easy to remove the garbage that has covered those lumps of truth. While I was expecting a huge garbage damp all I got was newly started garbage damp that was unable to bury the truth.


(Hmm. I see that the
Walta Disinformation Center grammar Ombudsman has been helping the Prime Minister pen his thoughts.)

Okay. No need to re-read that paragraph. It’s of no use. Even the latest EPRDF Bullshit-to-Normal-Bullshit dictionary was unable to translate that kernel of scholarly wreckage.
And then it’s all downhill from there. Part one ends with:

The rest of the contextual factors have no relevance, whatsoever, to the
investigative process. Indeed, they remind me of the famous Tina Turner
song. What has love got to do with it?

Oh, as if! If that is not the worst use of pop culture reference-ever! It reminded me of that skin crawling-ly uncomfortable scene in an episode of "The Larry Sanders Show" when the Jewish, middle-aged Hank Kingsley, worried that he was on the verge of being replaced by a more hip second fiddle, tried to “get down” with RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan.

“Hey, where’s Ol’ Dirty Bitch?” he seriously asks a confounded RZA.

Jon Stewart, who was guest hosting for Larry, is mortified by Hank’s obsequiousness. When Hank finally leaves, Jon looks up at the RZA. "On behalf of all of my people I'd like to apologize for that...”

So, me too. Tina, if you are reading this, please accept my apologies on behalf of all sane Ethiopians. (Can’t you just imagine the first draft of that line? “In conclusion, I say unto thee, EU, I am reminded verily of that rock and rock song by the black American and great singer, that of Mrs. Tina Turner when she sang unto us: “So, this love. What has it got to do with anything?” The EPRDF must have an intern that watchesVH1.

Sigh. One more thing the EPRDF is bad at: nuance. Let’s just stick to petulance, Mr. Prime Minister. At least you do that well.

What could have rankled the Prime Minister so much that he was forced to this level of discomfited tragedy? Well, apparently the EU was not impressed with his much touted elections. Uh-oh.

And so, to summarize Part One, the Prime Minster’s basically said, “What’s democracy got to do with elections?”

Hmm.

My second favorite part was when the Prime Minister had a near orgasm about item #2 in the EU-EOM’s statement:

In many occasions, the EU observers reported that opposition parties presented their cases based on poor evidence, inconsistent testimonies or weak arguing.

And the Prime Minister rejoiced.

That the opposition parties' cases were based on poor evidence, that the
testimony of their witnesses was "inconsistent," to put it mildly, and that
their arguments were weak is a matter of record, and I fully agree with the
EU-EOM on the matter… No wonder the EPRDF won most of the cases!

And the halls of the EPRDF offices reverberated with songs of victory. “Viva the revolution!” they cried. “Viva our exalted leader!" they shouted. He shall march us to victory! Oh, and What's love got to do with it? Nothing!”

Alas, the next paragraph was a buzz kill. (Surprisingly, Ato Meles ignores it. )

Significant numbers of opposition members and activists were arrested in early June and remained in prison during the complaints process.

Hel-lo!

Let’s see. How do you get your evidence to seem “more substantiated”; your CIPs representatives “better prepared”; and your “witnesses (often members of the local administration) more impressive”? Simple. You arrest the opposition’s witnesses (Mr. Werku Dulecha of Shasemene), assassinate some of the newly elected opposition MP’s (Ato Wudu Amelegn, in Meragna Constituency), and THEN you have the investigation process. Heck, even the EPRDF can win against a dead opponent!

Opines the EU-EOM:

This context undermined the opposition’s ability to participate in the process freely and effectively.

Gee, you think?

If only Dubya thought to imprison half of the Gore campaign operatives. The country would have been saved all that indignity.

And thus the Prime Minister goes on… and on.. and on… dragging the “bird in the hand story” to such extreme lengths that one’s mind wonders off, and pretty images of Tim Clarke playing Santa Clause at the British Embassy Christmas party soon drown out the Prime Minister's voice.

You see? You see how he does us like that?

In Part Two: Guilty Until Proven Innocent, (yes, an overworked cliché for a title, but at least it’s not “I want to be your Private Dancer”) the Prime Minister attempts to deconstruct the EU-EOM’s two major findings, which are:

However, the overall process has not satisfied the state’s obligation to
provide an effective remedy for complaints, for two main reasons:

Numero uno:

The complaints investigation process took place in the context of serious
violations of human rights and freedoms, namely of opposition leaders and suspected supporters.

... aaaannnnndddd… numero two-oh:

Questionable CIP’s impartial arbitration.

The Prime Minister was having none of that. His comeback, which was vengefully fustian, was that everyone had a level playing field.

Well, if the opposition had an equal chance of mass arresting EPRDF cadres and didn’t, well, I am going to be very upset!

Here’s my favorite quote from Part Two, which was the most bereft of content and logic but the most nauseatingly plump full of shitless wonder, despite what Mesqel Square thinks. (“ …he makes some pretty targeted attacks on the EU reasoning, most devastatingly in Part II when he takes on specific allegations of fraud during the election complaints procedure.”) With all due respect, Andrew! No more caffeine for you! For three months! No caffeine! (Said in the 'Soup Nazi' accent.)

Anyway, my favorite quote from Part Duh!:

Those who were involved with the CIPs were the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) and the parties. The government was not a party to the
process.

Laughter permitted.

You know, here’s the mistake the EPRDF makes so often: It always thinks it is talking to four-year-olds. Either that or it is so used to congenital untruths that it’s lost its bearings. I prefer the former explanation.

You know how you try to explain away the concept of the Easter Bunny even though your precocious four-year-old kid is looking at you with utter disparagement? “But mommy, I saw that the man behind the bunny costume!” The only answer is, of course, “No, you didn’t honey. You are upsetting mommy.”

That’s what the Prime Minister is saying to us when he tries to sell us the idea that the EPRDF is just another party and not the government. To the Prime Minister, we are perpetual four-year-olds.

Us: But… but… how can you say that the government is NOT the EPRDF? Isn’t that what Revolutionary Democracy is all about?

PMM: You are upsetting meeee!

Ato Meles recounts his “bird in the hand” story with such verve that someone... somewhere… (ehem, Andrew) is bound to eventually say, “Well, maybe there is room for reasonable doubt.” It’s gone on for 14 years and the Prime Minister always thinks that he has gotten away with convincing able-minded adults that the Easter Bunny exists. This is why during his interview with the BBC’s Hardtalk he honestly thought no one would ever question his utterance that “All international observers have said that this was the freest election ever, ever, ever!…”

Unfortunately, the interviewer knew that there is no Easter Bunny. Not only that, but to the Prime Ministers ire, he also knew that the Easter Bunny has nothing to do with Easter.

There, there, Mr. Prime Minister. (Or, if he prefers in Amharic, “Inday! Beqa, beqa… y’qir.”)

Oh, an interesting point: you gotta love the way that Ato Meles tries to intermittently lecture the EU on the machinations of democracy.

“In all democracies…blah blah blah.”
“In some of the oldest democracies… blah blah blah..”
“The practice of established democracies blah… blah.. blah.”
“The author must know that judges in all democracies blah… blah.. blah…"

Very, very cute. You have to give the new and improved Marxists mad props. They have even managed to get on a democracy soapbox.

By the time the Prime Minister concludes Part Two with:

In disproving the allegations of the EU-EOM, I am not at all trying to prove that there is no case of violation of human rights in Ethiopia. I know no country on earth can say that. I recognize that such violations do occur in our country and we are trying our best to change that…

you are left thinking that not only is he trying to convince us that there is an Easter Bunny, but that Santa Claus lives in Bugna, Wello. There are still no investigations into the 42 who were shot to death on June 8, some of them with as many as three bullets to the head.

Still, no one in the EPRDF has the balls to let the Prime Minister know how ridiculous he sounds.

Part Three of Ato Meles’ tirade is incongruously titled, The Grapes are Sour…and I am betting that not-so-pretty-boy Disinformation Minister Ato Bereket Simon came up with that not-so-clever title. That waskly wabbit!

Here’s how Ato Meles uses the sour grapes metaphor:

I think it is pretty obvious that the list of “negative developments” is merely a matter of the EU-EOM declaring the grapes are sour and could thus be simply dismissed.

Fortunately for humanity, so can Part Three.

Okay, so I have some favorite parts.

On the possibility that the presence of armed goons at polling stations might have hampered voting in the Somali Region, the Prime Minister says:

There is also the more important issue of whether they were behaving in a
threatening and intimidating manner or whether they were simply present. Their very presence does not cast any shadow on the fair and free nature of the elections. It seems however that the EU-EOM are incapable of making the distinction between the presence of armed elements and intimidation of voters.

Sure thing. The Prime Minister then quickly asserted that the armed goons, who have never, ever misbehaved and are in fact the pillars of civil society, had smiley t-shirts on to take the edge off of their menacing looks. How can anyone be intimidated by a guy wielding an AK-47 that has a “I heart democracy” sticker pasted on the trigger?

The Prime Minister might as well be pacing furiously back and forth in the courtroom, swathed with moral indignation, arguing, “Yes, Exhibit A is my client’s sledgehammer; and yes, his fingerprints are on it; and yes, he might have let the sledgehammer, um, connect with the deceased’s head… a few times; but how do we know that it was he who dealt the fatal blow? Isn’t it a possibility that he hit the deceased once, as a joke, and then he went into shock… at which time my client’s mistress came in and finished the job? Isn’t that a possibility? Can we honestly rule that out, ladies and gentlemen of the jury?”

Similarly, armed goons with a history of shooting into an unarmed crowd? Pffffffff! What? Why would that automatically lead you to conclude that it was detrimental to democracy? Huh? Huh?
Onward Christian soldiers.

Ato Meles then attempts to ‘splain how his Information Minister, or, as he affectionately refers to Ato Bereket-- “Mini-Me” won back Bugna in the “re-election.” Needless to say, the Prime Minister was shocked, shocked by some of the happenings in Bugna. Dagmawi busts that bird in his amazingly succinct post, “Meles Zenawi Analyzes Turnout Patterns.” (I am sure he meant ‘analyzes’ sardonically.)

But the penultimate in cuteness:

I challenge anyone to show me an investigation process that was more transparent than ours…

Hmm. Where can we find an election that was challenged in which the government did NOT arrest the opposition en masse? And has there ever been an election where, let’s saaaayyyy, people were NOT killed for having challenged the transparency of the election process? Head-scratcher.

The Prime Minister finally gets totally unhinged at the conclusion of Part Three, and it was about damn time. One sub-heading of his is, “Why, Why, Why?”

Lawdy L’or. That boy done g'on crazy.

The EU-EOM, in Ethiopia, has become part of the problem rather than the solution beginning with the highly speculative report they leaked, a report that I believe significantly contributed to the June events.

Remember, boys and girls, the olden days of yore when it was the opposition that made the government kill the people on June 8? Well, scratch that. Until further notice it was the EU. And let’s all remember, government guns don’t kill people, leaked reports do.

Damn the EU and its murdering bastards. No wonder they can’t get their constitution together! They’re busy murdering Ethiopians.

Okay.

Then the Prime Minister goes into a “she said, I said” accusation about Ana Gomes which, until today, I’d have thought was beneath even his dignity. Alas, the Prime Minister reduces himself to a cheeky schoolboy. It was an embarrassment not just for him, but for Ethiopians and Africans at large.

I know it’s too much to ask, but please, can someone in the EPRDF’s Office of Protocol and Stuffs (staff: one, duty: make the PM look “edumucated”) please remind the Prime Minister to elevate his rhetoric from the diplomatic ghetto in which he seems perfectly at home?

T’ssss…aaaang!

Ato Meles underscores his vehement condemnation of the EU statement that dared say that little things like the monopolization of the media by the government, the EPRDF’s new legislation rendering the opposition’s gain in parliament useless, and the NEBE’s overall impartiality all had a deleterious effect on the investigations process, and hell, on the whole electoral process.

Oh, it's so on, bee-yotch!

To the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who is still finding his way through the very concept of democracy, the fact that the government (which, I kindly remind you, is NOT the EPRDF) denying the opposition any air time while bombarding the airwaves with crass accusations has NOTHING to do with fostering a hostile environment that might, just might, have had a negative impact on the investigations. Arresting people? What has that got to do with their ability to present their case? De facto saying that if you don't have a 51% majority you can't bring up an agenda in the new parliament? Sooo?

Maybe it’s a “new democracy thing” and we just don’t understand.

But everybody’s favorite part:

The good lady [yep, that’s how he refers to Ana Gomes] apparently does not know her Ethiopian history, or her EPRDF’s.

Huh?

Shhh. Maybe if we stay vay-wee, vay-wee still the profundity of that sentence will overwhelm our senses, and its wisdom shall engulf us. Everybody, assume the Zen position and... 'ummmmmm'. No? Nope. Oh well.

She apparently does not understand that as soon as these merely bad ideas become tainted by association with an election observer turned self-appointed colonial viceroy hell-bent on twisting the arms of the government to force it to accept her dictates, merely discussing the ideas, let alone accepting them, becomes unthinkable.

Ah say-ah... Ah say-ah... didn'ah t’hay’yl you he becomes unhinged.

Okay, so here’s how he concludes this whole exercise in churlishness.

Whenever I am faced with difficult challenges, challenges that could potentially be of existential significance, the first question I ask is what would the average Ethiopian peasant do under such circumstances?

Right. So, to all of you out there who have demurred that the Prime Minister is never wrought with existential angst, least of all when he is thinking about Ethiopian peasants (15 million of whom were on the verge of starvation because of circumstances that have nothing to do with the Prime Minister or his policies), I hope you see the error of your ways and apologize to Ato Meles right this minute! He feels their pain.

Wait. I’ve heard of “What would Jesus do?” but this whole “What would the average Ethiopian peasant do?” business…? I dunno.

So listen to this… the final thoughts of the Prime Minister who loves the peasants so much that he does not allow any of them to own the land on which they toil.

The peasant hates injustice like no other abomination. You can therefore bet your life that plan A of the peasant in such circumstances would be to fight the injustice tooth and nail, with no holds barred, with the view to correcting the injustices. But your average peasant would not be the sage of facing existential challenges if he/she only had one plan. Again you can bet your life that there would at least be a plan B just in case the perpetrator of the injustice was able to get away with murder.

Phew! Just in case there are Meles–converts out there who have been “shitless wondered” into thinking that he has the makings of a democrat, he is quick to unveil his true nature.

“The peasant” that Ato Meles refers to in that loutish paragraph is code word for his government, which has shown nothing but contempt for the real peasants. Sadly, it is a warning to the international community: “Leave me alone or my wrath shall envelop the land.” Nothing new here. Prime Minister Meles is quite famous in the “beggar nations” circle for his astute methods of blackmailing the donor community into feeding his people. “Gimme money or people will die.” (For further elaboration on that see, The Sopranos-Ethiopian Style.)

In the end, Ato Meles knows that brute force is the only way the EPRDF can stay in power because the Ethiopian people, peasants and otherwise, have told this government that enough is enough. Ato Meles staked his reputation on these elections, and he lost. He’ll probably be able to stay in power for a few more months, but his fate is sealed.

Ethiopundit brilliantly analyzes this concept here.

So, the “Ladies and gentlemen, ask yourselves if the defendant was thinking about the bird while he was bludgeoning his wife to death with a sledgehammer” equivalent to Ato Meles’ acid trip is, simply, to lean in and whisper, “You forget, Mr. Prime Minister. You invited the EU to observe the elections. And you did say you were going to cede to its conclusion.”

Right now, the EU is concluding that these elections were deeply flawed.

I am sincerely hoping that the EU and the international community is not really surprised by Ato Meles’ cerebral vulgarity because if nothing else, the Prime Minister has been very consistent about the way he deals with contrariness: he destroys it. Oh no. Was that news to the EU? (“But he was so niiiice to us. What happened?”)

The venom of a snake is still venom. (Okay, I’m trying out Melesisms, ah’iight? How about, “When one lies with the fleas, one can’t pretend one is DDT”? Or, “A junta by any other name is still a junta”? Any of those work for you? No? Nada? Note to self: work on facileness.)

No example of Ato Meles’ vengefulness to those who dare cross him is starker than the way he dealt with
Eritrea. Those of us who were in Addis in 1991 had front row center seats to the havoc caused by the TPLF/EPLF on Ethiopia and the Ethiopian psyche. I have often cited those days in my writings and I hope that I will have it in me to eventually write a book about those days as an epitaph to Mr. Meles’ reign.

Anyway, remember those days? Eritreans were the new “ferenjies” of
Ethiopia. My uncle’s tenant, to his utter surprise, turned out to be a closet Eritrean, and refused to pay him rent. Furthermore, she announced, she’s report him to the “Eritrean embassy” if he brought up the subject again. Ah, those days. (For a refresher listen to Ato Meles’ rousing speech delivered at a rally celebrating Eritrea’s independence. Sorry, non-Amharic speakers.)

And then all hell broke loose, and the former best friends, alas, thought it better to start a war than separate amicably. Ato Meles’ government deported the former Ethiopians tritely saying, “We will deport them. If we don’t like the color of your eyes we can deport you.” There you go. That’s what passes for bravery in EPRDF politick.

Eventually, tens of thousands had to die, and now nothing makes the EPRDF bristle more than the Eritrean issue—at least on the outset.

So, same deal with the EU, which until now tolerated Ato Meles and his crabbiness at the considerable expense of the Ethiopian people. I hope the EU is not going to feign surprise that its golden boy was really a cheap alloy. To Ato Meles, donor nations never had a status higher than a sugar daddy. He tolerated their whimsical fantasies and he gussied himself up for their visits, but that was it. He would go as far as holding elections, but he was not going to lose power, no matter what.

In the fight between the EU and the EPRDF, as was the case with the fight between
Eritrea and Ethiopia, the ones who will inevitably pay the price will be the Ethiopian people.

Hopefully, Ato Meles’ saucy outburst will compel the EU to not beat around the bush when it comes to issuing its final report. It seems apparent that the Prime Minister has dared the EU into taking a moral stance. Will the EU do so unequivocally, or will it cave to Ato Meles’ threats and do whatever it takes to shove
Ethiopia into the “Problem Solved” column?

It is important to me that people understand that my sun does not rise and set with every EU proclamation. But it is very important to me that the EU, Tony Blair and Jimmy Carter clean up their mess and own up to tolerating the likes of Ato Meles. (The titillating anticipation of reading another 30,000-word treatise hurriedly coughed up by the Prime Minister excoriating his former Johns? That’s just icing on the cake.)

Ato Meles very impudently noted that Ana Gomes “does not know her Ethiopian history.” Well, neither does he.

This is not the first time that the government of Ethiopia had to stand up to Europeans. Emperor Haile Selassie did it in 1936 at the League of Nations. There he warned Europe of the calamity that would befall it if it ignored Italy’s aggression against Ethiopia. The speech was so crushingly eloquent, erudite and forceful that even intellectual snobs across the Atlantic were stunned into admiration.

The venerable TIME Magazine saw in the Emperor what his opponents couldn’t or wouldn’t see, and in a move that portended things to come, it named him Man of the Year… in 1936
America!

In 1935 there was just one man who rose out of murky obscurity and carried his country with him up and up into brilliant focus before a pop-eyed world.

Hmm.

If by some unhappy chance the Italo-Ethiopian war should now spread into a world conflagration, Power of Trinity I, the King of Kings, the Conquering Lion of Judah, will have a place in history as secure as Woodrow Wilson's. If it ends in the fall of Mussolini and the collapse of Fascism, His Majesty can plume himself on one of the greatest feats ever credited to blackamoors.

Hello.

Without quibble or qualification the best and wisest ruler ancient Ethiopia has ever had is the present Man of the Year.

Well, I never.

It was sheer genius for Haile Selassie to deny that Italians used dumdum bullets instead of charging them with that military offense. It was again genius for him to cable out that in Ethiopia the local press had been ordered by the Emperor never to apply discourteous epithets to Benito Mussolini.

In those days, diplomacy and ingenuity were actually considered an art.

Emperor Haile Selassie finished his famous speech with this:

"Apart from the Kingdom of the Lord, there is not on this earth any nation
superior to any other. Are the States going to set up the terrible precedent of bowing before force? ... It is international morality which is at stake! ...
Representatives of the world, I have come to
Geneva to discharge in your midst the most painful of duties for the head of a State. What reply have I to take back to my people?"

(Read TIME magazine’s report on the speech here.)

Fast forward a hundred years and here is Ato Meles’ version of the Haile Selassie speech:

The statement has come as a great surprise to me. I had expected that the
statement would have very few if any nuggets of truth, and, if any, that these would be buried under so much garbage that it would be virtually impossible to excavate them. As it turned out, the statement has some big, really big, lumps of truth in it, and it is relatively easy to remove the garbage that has covered those lumps of truth. While I was expecting a huge garbage damp all I got was newly started garbage damp that was unable to bury the truth. The letter cannot but therefore start by identifying and highlighting the lumps of truth in the
statement.

And then, of course…

The good lady was not convinced, for as late as the eve of her press conference, she was trying to sell these ideas [unity government] to some senior EPRDF officials. … The good lady can apparently not take NO for an answer from the natives … with an election observer turned self-appointed colonial viceroy hell-bent on twisting the arms of the government … The good lady does not appear to understand that what her action succeeded in doing is put the last nail on the coffin of her “recommendations.”

It was made abundantly clear to her and to all concerned that she has no
business making recommendations, and that her mandate was to observe and report.

Goodness! No one can do maladroit like Prime Minister Meles. How we Ethiopians descended to this should forever haunt us.

Ato Meles, at the end of Part Three, was not at all evasive about what he would unleash on
Ethiopia and Ethiopians if the EU does not stand down. He quixotically calls it “Plan B.”

You can take the boy out of the jungle, but never the jungle out of the boy.

The best the Prime Minister can do is win a permanent spot on the ever-growing list of African despots, right next to his buddy Mengistu and his soon-to-be-buddy-again Isayas Aferweqi. Supporters of the EPRDF will always have Ato Meles’ three-part letter as their legacy. How long before Ato Meles turns his sword against them? 3…2…1…

Tell me if I am imagining this, but there was a time in history when Ethiopia was globally venerated, right? We were always poor, but we had gravity and moral certitude. Right?

After reading Ato Meles’ response, those days seem not a hundred years ago but a thousand. Perhaps it is true that it is darkest right before dawn. Poor Prime Minister Meles. No matter how hard and how desperately he tries, he is slowly realizing that even he can’t suffocate dawn. Ethiopians are remembering who we have always been, and not who we have been told we are at the point of a gun. (ethiopundit.)

Ato Meles’ response to the EU was his obituary, and just like all crazed despots, he had to write it himself.

God speed.

***

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17 Comments:

Anonymous OhMyEyesHurt said...

I'm a fan, Mz Wonkette, but your posts are just too lonnnnng. Please try to be succinct. Or post an accompanying management summary for us buzy folks!!!

8:35 AM, September 03, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hands down your best blog EVER! Meles is Toast.

amenamenamenamen.

10:08 AM, September 03, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanx; but the articles can't be printed easily for their shape and format requires many pages. They don't also have a printer-friendly version. Can't ogle the screen with these weak eyes. Do some. . .

1:38 PM, September 03, 2005  
Anonymous ye filwiha said...

AMEN!!!!!!!

says a guy whose religiousness is limited to wearing a St. Mary's pendant from his mother - nothing more!

ohh can I say something about the comments though - everybody knows it's not my blog, but, goddamn it, stop complaining about the posts being long -- I just think it's UNFAIR to ask someone to give less when the person offers so much -- that too without any "shitless wonder"

A "fan" asking for a precis??!! "buzy folks"??!! who isn't busy, except perhaps, me? When Wonki was away for a while, my friend who was so tired of checking the site wrote a short script that logs on his geek squad member's computer at his home, checks for a new entry every three hours, and sends him a text message to his cell when it finds one - now that is a fan! It may be understandable for most people back home who depend on dial up, but I think the "buzy folks" and "printer-friendly" version seekers are somewhere in N. America where a simple online search can help them find suitable solution - technical that is! As to the "managment summary", how about minding your busy schedule once your reading ration for the day is reached at paragraph # 5 or something? Can people be kind enough to ask themselves how much effort would it take to write this kind of posting? Or, is it only me who's taking the polite "..your posts are longgggg.." reminders to mean "...I care less however long it takes you to write, but I can only read shorter posts..." arrogant impositions?

7:38 PM, September 03, 2005  
Anonymous the shitless wonderer said...

please, mr. pm, can we talk you into writing part 4, 'coz you bring out the best in WonqittE.

suggested topic: revolutionary democracy: it is neither revolutionary, nor democracy... discuss amongst yerselves.

10:21 AM, September 04, 2005  
Anonymous not anonymous said...

Wonq! “An unbelievably infantile and intellectually puerile riposte?”
How ‘bout:
A strange mix of paranoia, bravado, anger, contempt and hate complete with a flash of awkwardly veiled threat couched in abusive language? No?
Ok, how ‘bout this?
A semi-literate attempt at self-preservation that lays bare the author’s astounding blindness to his own flaws? The temper-tantrum of a man in need of a trauma-counseling?

I tell ya, you got to give it to Ana Viagra Gomez for getting a rise out of this man that lasted THREE days and climaxed all over the pages of no less than THREE issues of the ET-Herald. I always knew that some day, someone would put the ET-Herald to good use.
Yikes! What a mess?!!

2:04 PM, September 04, 2005  
Anonymous WSM said...

yaaaaaaaawwwwzer!!! not anonymous!! no you DID'DN just put the "sticky pages" spin on Ato Meles' hatetta!

You da man!

and i thought my quip about the "meSihaff maTeb" the PM was enjaged in was gonna be clever.

egggggzzzzziiiiioooooooooooooooo!

9:10 PM, September 04, 2005  
Anonymous birdie in my hand said...

Not Anonymous,

Bessssssmeabbbbbbbbbb! LOL :) Now the Ethiopian Herald has TWO uses.

Can someone who is in Ethiopia tell me... when was the last time PMM went anywhere near peasants?? --- not that that will stop him from existentially thinking about them. yeeeahh. but when was he PHYSICALLY among them?

Seriously, I tried googling, but I can't find the info. Are there any journalists in Ethiopia who can elaborate?

11:00 PM, September 04, 2005  
Blogger kuchiye said...

"...dam'n these bloggers, Wonk, dagmawi and scores of others" despaired Meles

" told you we should not write a rebutal until the opposition & bloggsphere fed us with better ammunition" Abdul retorted.

" don't blame Meles, blame the "Mirkana" we should seriously consider passing bye-law forbidding rebutal writing to EU reports while under the influence of "Chat". lamented Andreas

Bereket Simone nodded with approval.

11:40 AM, September 05, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have the answer... me.. me.. teacher Wonq, me!

Last time our PM was with the peasants... Sept 3 in Oslo. Before that, in Gleneagles Scotland.

he loves the peasants. especially when they are fortified.

1:54 PM, September 05, 2005  
Anonymous not anonymous said...

Birdie In My Hand!
"When is the last time PMM was anywhere near peasants?"
Good Lady, you apparently don't know your Revolutionary Democrats!
Them folks ain't got no mo' bidness with them peasants than a hog done got with a holiday, as they might say Down South.

With due respect to Ethiopundit, here's a working definition of a Revolutionary Democrat for your future reference: A MONKEY! The higher he climbs, the more he shows his ass. (Again, from the Southern Peoples . . .oh, whatever!)

3:55 PM, September 05, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re the issue of length. There is no denying that the posting is looong. But I am marveled at how Wonqi get the time between practicing law, raising a child, playing nice to a hubby, socializing AND taking care of the house! No, I don't know Wonqi but I picked these bits from her blogs. Loyal fan. It sounds like she has more dedication in her to give it all she has. We should celebrate all the TIME she dedicates to reading all these materials and writing her opinion. She has her priorities straight. So hats off to you, Wonqi

8:46 AM, September 06, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm... Meles, eh? You are right that he probably made a fatal mistake in writing such a publicly damning letter to the "Good Lady". I cannot disagree with the presumption of superiority borne by most Westerners serving at an official capacity in Africa. Meles has a point there (although I know nothing of the specfic case). I find it disturbing, however, that the opposition has not taken the opportunity to hammer him. Would you say that there is a bit of lethargy in the cerebral department (within the opposition, I mean)?
Hizbun Afqari

5:08 PM, September 06, 2005  
Anonymous mannewsimwa said...

seriously, when WAS the last time that Meles travelled outside of the fortified walls of the palace in Addis to venture forth to the other regions? ....? (besides the time he went to Adwa to vote for himself in an ...ummm... uncontested election?) Or is thinking about them existentially when you are in trouble enough? any journalists out there who can tell us?

to paraphrase him, 'when? when? when?'

10:53 PM, September 06, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey,you shoud publish this blog. Even Meles the archaic menace will wet his pants, not with laughter, lady (AG) and gents, but with convulsive epileptic episode that comes with being caught with your hands in someon else's pocket.

1:43 AM, September 07, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonq:

Deeds not words that count for us Ethiopians. You are the dumbest of all diaspora internet politicians, and have no clue about Ethiopia. You would do well if you do good to yourself than add garbage upon garbage on the internet.

EPRDF will prevail and shame on you and the likes when Ethiopia march to the level of middle income countries .... Kitil!

9:53 AM, September 07, 2005  
Anonymous enaseb said...

ene yemelew....was it just me or was there some subconscious (albeit GLARIN') infatuation with legs in Meles's letter? quoting Tina cinched it for me! definitely something to be researched. might be of good use, aydel?

4:35 AM, September 12, 2005  

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