Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Political Kitfo


Kitfo is a specialty dish in Ethiopian cuisine. It is made from the leanest meat, hand minced in qorerima (cardamom), miTmiTa (powdered chili peppers) and a soupcon of salt. It is traditionally served rare, warmed only by melted Ethiopian clarified spiced butter.

Awright awreddi.

Work’s been killing me softly. Will be back soon. In the meantime:

Didja see ethiopundit’s supreme punditrocracy Washington's Lethal Delusions of Stability? Didja? Awww. Grab your mittens, boys and girls.

His Punditricity basically transformed himself into an ET-Edward Scissorhands and clawed, sniped, sliced, chopped, hacked, poked, stabbed and excised all theories that have thus far excused Washington’s and donor nations’ lethargy in ixnaying Ato Meles’ government.

It is political kitfo at its best:

There’s the slicing of the meat:

The War on Terror must be fought with vigor and determination but Ethiopia seems to have slipped through the cracks. The Ethiopian government slickly uses the threat of terror to manipulate Washington in particular, and its policies of aid dependent economic stagnation and tribal divide and rule will ultimately lead to another failed state.


There’s the hacking off of the bone:

In the interests of illusory stability Washington is propping up and making excuses for a corrupt tyrant whose policies by every bit of logic and historical memory will lead to nothing but disaster for all concerned.

There’s the trimming of the lifaCH:

The former American Ambassador to Ethiopia in her farewell speech made it clear that Ethiopians were not included in that or other calls for liberty in the world. Instead, on behalf of Washington, she made a call for the opposition to just go along with the government at all costs and for Ethiopians to just know their proper place at the feet of their politburo betters. If they gave up on their dreams, somehow, someday all would be well, you see. This vile sentiment was wrapped up in expressions of affection for Ethiopians but its intent is not in keeping with the interests and morals of the American people.

There’s the slicing:

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

There’s the dicing:

Ethiopians are not asking for the United States to make everything better for them. It is clear that is exactly what they want to do for themselves. At least the US must get out of their way.

There’s the mincing:

One must wonder how many Americans, Democratic or Republican or Independent know that billions of their tax dollars and their country's good name is spent on behalf of a government:

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

There’s the adding of the miTmiTa:

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

(That’s also the Lewinskying.)

There’s the powdering of qorerima:

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

There’s the dash of salt:

The American people simply do not know what is being done by the Marxist-Leninist dictatorship that their foreign policy has embraced in their good name over two administrations

There’s the generous dousing of lega qibE (spiced butter):

This issue has nothing to do with Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican. This alliance is harming the interests of the United States by supporting a government that rules by terror and that will generate only more instability and the certainty of chaos in the future.

There’s the qarya (chili pepper) garnish:

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

There’s the dollop of aiyb (homemade cottage cheese):

While it is clear that nations like the US care more for Ethiopians than their own government does it is up to Ethiopians and Friends of Ethiopia to decouple the convenience of the status quo in Washington's eyes from the current dictatorship to the possibilities of an entirely democratic and stable ally.

Cover with injera:

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

Bon appétit!

Next stop: Tony Blair! (Anyone in London wanna take up the baton?)

Say g’night, Gracie.

(Here’s a list of Ethiopian restaurants worldwide, lest your appetite has whetted.)

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Saddamification of Meles Zenawi

Saddam Hussein is playing cutesy about democratic rights and how he’s being “mishandled”. Hm.

Approaching the microphone in the dock, he said he had been deprived of his notes and a pen before entering the court, and roughly treated by American guards who had taken his Koran from his manacled hands as they ascended the stairs to the court.

He was bitter about having to climb up four flights of stairs because the elevator was on the blink.

In the kind of borderline adorable, psych ward belligerence reminiscent of… who does that remind me of…? Mr. Hussein continued his rabid inanity.

…Mr. Hussein invoked a verse from the Koran, on this occasion one that seemed intended to suggest that the ultimate judgment on the events that occurred during Mr. Hussein's 24-year rule in Iraq would rest with God, not with the court. "Do you think that you will enter paradise without Allah judging those among you who fought hard in his cause, and remained steadfast?", Mr. Hussein said, reciting the verse from memory.

I ain’t no Qoran expert, but I am sure it must say something in there about not gassing people to death.

And back in October,

When presiding judge Rizgar Amin asked for his full name, Hussein refused to give it. "You know me," Hussein said at one point. "If you're an Iraqi, then you know."

Okay… everybody together … awwwww.

Back in July 2004, Mr. Hussein made his first court appearance.

Saddam Hussein, described by reporters at the hearing as both defiant and downcast, denounced the proceedings as "theatre" and questioned the validity of the law he was to be tried under.

"I am Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq," he replied when asked to confirm his identity at the hearing…

This… it just sounds so familiar… I just can’t pinpoint who it reminds me of…

Hearing the charge relating to Halabja, where about 5,000 Kurdish civilians died in a single day, Saddam Hussein said, "Yes, I heard about that."

He became most agitated when he was accused of invading Kuwait in 1990.

"How can you, as an Iraqi, say the 'invasion of Kuwait' when Kuwait is part of Iraq?" he asked the judge, whose face was not shown on the film and whose identity is being kept secret for security reasons.

He said he invaded Kuwait "for the Iraqi people" and referred to Kuwaitis as "dogs", for which he was rebuked by the judge.

Ahhh… delusion of unsung proportions, regressive, lethargic logic… yes… it’s coming to me…

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Wednesday that opposition leaders and newspaper editors under detention will face treason charges, which carry the death penalty in Ethiopia, for their alleged roles in protests last week in which at least 46 people were killed.

I knew it reminded me of someone! And then comes the Saddamification of Ato Meles:

"I don't know what the prosecution will ask for but the death penalty is still legal in Ethiopia. On a personal note that is not the penalty I would like to see applied," Meles said. "It is for the prosecution and courts to decide, but if I have any say on it I would prefer prison sentences rather than death sentences."

Never mind that in a normal society it would be the prosecutor that brings up charges. Here, Prime Minister Meles has brought the charges, already convicted his opponents and then quibbles about the punishment.

The way Mr. Hussein talks about civil rights is the way Ato Meles talks about democracy and due process: they both pepper their rhetoric with that certain brand of deranged ignominy exclusive to autocrats.

It gets better when Prime Minister Meles tries to live up to his “enlightened African leader” lore.

Ato Meles was lobbed softball questions at the conclusion of something called the German-Africa Partnership Forum on November 7, which the prime minister saw fit to attend despite the heightened tension in Addis after government forces gunned down another 46 unarmed people.

Asked for an update on the situation back home…

In addition to the answers that President Mbeki gave which is that I talked to President Koehler even when he was the Managing Director of IMF for only one reason, not for the colour of his eye.


Oh. He’s being cute. I get it. Not that discussing the color of President Koehler’s eyes is necessarily off topic in meetings like this with Africa’s “enlightened leaders.”

We have very frank discussions. He told me I was wrong. I told him he was wrong on one specific issue and that we agreed on remaining issues and he told me as no IMF Managing Director has told me before that we shall agree to disagree on the points of disagreement and proceed together on the points of agreement. That principle for me was a very important principle and I couldn’t under any circumstance allow myself to be absent from the meeting whether there is a room to agree and proceed together on the points of agreement and rooms to disagree and agree to disagree.

Of course. This is the kind of obfuscation that makes Jeffrey Sachs’ handy gauge for “one of the most brilliant leaders in the world” get a hard on.

I wanted to discuss the problems on my country with two of my senior and very close friends, big brother Obasanjo, very broad shoulders and of course, President Thabo Mbeki. And we did discuss the disturbances in Addis.

At which point I am sure Mbeki was offended that his shoulders were not referred to as “broad.”

Here’s an idea… how about talking to, I don’t know, opposition leaders about what was happening in Ethiopia? Oh, yeah. They’re all in jail.

So, we said let’s have dialogue to resolve these practical issues and also address the root causes.

Ahh… before you get all excited that this refers to domestic turmoil Ato Meles finds himself in these days…

Our cousins in Eritrea have not yet been prepared to engage in the dialogue. That is the problem we face. We have a peace plan, the five-point peace plan that I share with both President Obasanjo and President Mbeki which was supported by them and many others and still is on the table.

And so on… and so on.

Prime Minister Meles is not aware that the jig is up. His attempts to sound reasonable only resonate as the ragged cogitation of a desperate man, shrill and revisionist as he attempts to shove the toothpaste back in the tube. Just like Saddam Hussein, whose newfound religiosity strikes no one as a genuine connection to the Almighty, Ato Meles’ frail attempt at playing “enlightened leader” on TV (even as his thugs shoot a wailing mother in front of her children) sound more and more like the utterances of a schizophrenic warlord.

In Ethiopia today, thousands of mothers and fathers roam the city holding pictures of their missing sons and daughters.

Many have already searched the hospital morgues. Often the Red Cross visit proves fruitless. Inundated each day by hundreds of people, the Red Cross has to turn some away, telling them to return later.

But soon, stories and pictures of teens and pre-teens dumped in disease-infested camps will come to light. Ato Meles’ western supporters (read: Tony Blair) will trample all over themselves to dissociate themselves from him.

And Ato Meles will keep on giving interviews echoing Saddam Hussein’s wretched babbling.

“How can you say I am not a democrat?” a flustered Ato Meles will say. “I allowed those dogs their day in court and it was the prosecutor who asked for the death penalty. How can you say I am not a democrat? I released 8,200 prisoners.”

And people will look at him and shake their heads. The jig is truly up.

Hmm… The New York Times actually opined on Ato Meles.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Wonqville Classified Ads

Not that I have any business helping out Prime Minister Meles, but I figure he’s busy these days packing and attending to every-day details such as how many people to imprison in the name of upholding Ethiopia’s constitution. A despot’s work is never done. Besides, I am sure his PR machinery, ineptly led by Bereket “Darth Vader” Simon, is working overtime these days trying to keep the ferenjies from getting amnesia—“Meles who?”

So, in the spirit of expediting the good Prime Minister’s hightailing to Zimbabwe-like destinations, here is a draft of the classified ad he will want to run once he realizes Ethiopia is no longer hospitable to his… democracy.

No. Please. You’re welcome.


Modern Day Machiavellian Looking for Paradise “Retreat”

One of Africa’s “most enlightened leaders” seeking new place to call home.

After introducing a new brand of democracy to one ancient but deserving country, this award-winning enlightened leader is looking to…retire in style.


Accommodation must be large enough to lodge large entourage of fawning underlings

Environment must be devoid of reality and hostile to coherent thought process of any kind

Premium security (“fortified fortress”) and high secrecy a must. Will provide own private army trained in drop-kicking bystanders

Neighbors must not mind occasional rounds of AK-47s ringing through the pristine air

Must allow pets and/or Ministers of Information

Host state must guarantee non-extradition (will pay extra)

Will be available for the lecture circuit: “How to get the West to feed your people”

Host state’s political milieu and government-owned media must accommodate occasional, bellicose tempter tantrums geared towards “enlightening” and “educating” the unwashed masses

Enlightened leader also willing to trade considerable “vote counting” talents for access to Tina Turner CDs

Host country must have experience hosting previous, um, strong-minded African leaders who have been moved to seek a new home because they were unappreciated by an ingrate population who just can’t seem to comprehend the enlightened leader’s wisdom, democratic inclinations and overall paternal love—bastards, one and all!


Jimmy Carter- best friend and long-time admirer
Jeffrey Sachs- world-renowned economist and bone fide groupie
Tony Blair- non-judgmental friend and generous funder
The entire AU- most effective organization Africa has had
Robert Mugabe- friend and fellow misunderstood autocrat
Mengistu Haile Mariam- fellow champion of “emerging democracies”

Interested states please contact Menelik Palace, West Wing, Addis Abeba. Please keep all inquires confidential. Money no object.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I Wear my Sunglasses at Night

Here’s the thing:

There is no lack of potential for Ethiopia to flourish, to rise up and to finally matter to the world. Ethiopia is surrounded by immeasurable talent and beauty, yet her leaders of late have treated her either like a one-night stand or an abused wife. What a predicament!

I have no doubt that the Ethiopian Renaissance has started and it will be full-fledged in gear soon. Despite what Ato Meles is trying to do to her, Ethiopia shall rise again because the moral stewards of the country have said, “enough.”

I talked to my “world events in seven words or less” uncle a few days ago. I asked him what his assessment was of the situation on ground zero. “sew ke tarik aymarim inday?” (“Doesn’t one learn from history?”) Not everybody does.

It takes a special fortressing of the mind to think that people who have seen freedom will fold back up and wither. Only China has been able to do that, and even China realized things would never be the same again after the Tienanmen Square drama. Fear is a commodity in Ethiopia that has been reduced to junk bond status. If instilling fear in people worked, Mengitu Haile Mariam would still be in power. How is it that the EPRDF does not see that?

Teddy Afro’s song “Yasteseriyal” has a great line… “qirb new ye Ethiopia tnassaye…” It is. The opposition should start getting ready to open a new chapter in Ethiopian history. It is important that the new leaders charter a moral course that is not vengeful. Opposition supporters should start seeing Ethiopia’s future without their “Meles is a fascist” lens, and we in the Diaspora should start owing up to what we owe Ethiopia, and to solemnly swear never to fall prey of apathy again. We are entitled nothing. And Ato Meles and Co. should start redying themselves psychologically to assume the title of “Last Tyrants of Ethiopia.” The manifestations of that, even if they don’t know it yet, are devastating.

Ethiopia’s future is so bright. That’s why we should all stay in this for the long run.
Here is one of my favorite songs, “Balageru 2.” (The sound is a little scratchy, but listen to the lyrics.)

That, my friends, is the future of an Ethiopia that will once again rise.

Monday, November 14, 2005

"I'm in the Mood.... for War..."

Fellow sociopath guerilla fighters turned knighted “enlightened African leaders”, and two generally los loco compadres had a good thing going: for the better part of the past few weeks they had the UN and especially Secretary General Kofi Annan twittering about nervously like a blonde who's running out of lipstick. Anan was paniky about an impending war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The press went along with the frenzy, and so we were subjected to saber rattling that often sounded like the vapid posturing of two malcontent schoolboys.

The plan was to get the world to divert its attention from Ato Issayas “not so” Afewerqi and Ato Meles Zenawi’s mounting domestic problems. PM Meles, of course, is in the last throes of his reign and has decided the best way to leave his mark on Mother Earth is by getting completely unhinged and blanketing the land with terror. His counterpart up north… well, he’s long been ticking the wrong way for a while now. Pick a neurosis he's had a double dose of it.

So the world bought it. (Well, not all the world. Just those who wanted to buy it, and those who needed to buy it. Ethiopundit does his thang in “Rumors of War.") Some fretted what a new war would mean. Conjecture was rampant about how Ethiopians and Eritreans would rally behind their leaders out of nationalism and bury the hatchet until the time was ripe to dig up the hatchet and bury it in the backs of Atos Meles and Issayas.

The western world would be obligated to get off Ato Meles’ back about this whole democracy-gone-haywire thing, which also serves as a great relief for PM Meles’ donor nations, who have been increasingly embarrassed by their Golden Boy’s killing spree. They, too, wanted a little distraction.

And until Friday everything was working according to plan.

But like the world-class boobs that they are, Ato Meles and his buddy could not leave a good thing alone. They just had to up the crazy one more notch and the whole deck of cards came tumbling down.

Eritrea has condemned neighbouring Ethiopia for "bloody suppression and
atrocities" during a recent crackdown on unrest which left more than 40 dead and
stirred fears of instability in the region's dominant power.


A statement from Eritrea's Information Ministry also lambasted Ethiopian Prime
Minister Meles Zenawi for "farcical" recent elections where he won another
five-year term.

You see what I mean? After all the hard sell on a war of convenience, they just had to fan the flames a little too earnestly, and now it’s all gone.

In a statement sure to sting Meles, Eritrea said his government was to blame for
fanning tensions that led to the recent bloody confrontations in Addis Ababa
between police and crowds protesting against a May poll the opposition says was

And a quote? You got yourself a crazy ass quote to seal the deal?

"The recent elections had only been a farcical drama acted by the TPLF regime
for gaining more time," said the editorial on the [Eritrean] Information
Ministry's Web site …

Yes, they have a Ministry of Information, too.

"So we don't find it strange in the ethical code of the regime the acts of
stealing, perjury and falsification of the people's will and attempting to
silence the peaceful opposition by the barrels of the guns.

Oh, boys. You were just so close. So close.

It had probably taken Ato Issayas and Ato Meles months to hatch up this plan. They propably had to work through surrogates ; they probably had to use code words… “Operation What the Hell Do We Do?”… all for naught. Making it look like you are perpetually on the brink of war is a lot of work.

Well, maybe people were just not buying it, or maybe the world did not come buckling to its knees fast enough to “prevent another senseless war”, or just maybe the domestic front was not abating like it was supposed to, but the “enlightened Africans” thought ‘twas time to engage in a juvenile verbal back and forth.

Let’s guess what’ll happen next… Ato Meles will say something equally creepy back, and then Ato Issayas will volley back a “nee’ner nee’ner” rejoinder, and then Ato Meles will pretend he is offended and then Ato Isayas will pretend he is more offended, and then… another round of “Tension between Ethiopia and Eritrea is at an all time high. Annan says he is “highly anxious” about another war….” Blah, blah, blah.

We get it, boys. We get it. Except now the whole world gets it and you both look like madmen who think nothing of using war as a cheap PR stunt. If you ever needed proof that these two are working together on this cockmamie scheme, then this is it, because we know Isu is a few marbles short of a bag, but he ain’t that stupid.

Now you have to go back to the board and find another way to scare us. Bad boys! Bad, bad boys.

Now, the pernicious part two of this story on the part of Ato Meles is to whip up the frenzy about how the “chauvinists” do not care if the country is being invaded by the godless Shabia, therefore leaving the north to languish at the hands of the enemy. Tribalists will promptly be up in arms about the negtegNas yadda yadda… and maybe Professor Sachs will find another revanchist era to zero in on. We know the drill.

Nice try, boys.

Meanwhile, finally, finally, supporters of the EPRDF in the Diaspora are a comin’ out to be heard in a rally at the State Department tomorrow to voice their displeasure at the way VOA is covering events in Ethiopia, and to, um, “encourage the Government of Ethiopia to further intensify its efforts in the democratization process…”

Intensify its democratization process? So that’s what the Ethiopian government has been up to these past five months. To think some of us thought it was on a... what’s that thing called when you aim a gun at an unarmed person and shoot… no… wait… it’ll come to me…

And then Tuesday will be another rally, also at the State Department by another segment of the Diaspora that will be asking the Ethiopian government to... stop its brand of “intensifying democratization in Ethiopia.”

I have a feeling that if Ato Meles intensifies any more democracy on us we might end up over-democratized. Just like the UK. And Canada. And Germany.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Melesization of Jeffrey Sachs

When I was growing up in Ethiopia, our neighbors were Brits. The father worked for some NGO, although our zebegNa always looked at the man with unrelenting suspicion and never let an opportunity pass to mutter disgruntled missives that our shiny, happy neighbor was in fact a lecherous “C.I.D.”

My interest in my neighbors was more urgent: they had a tennis court. It took several staged happenstance meetings to befriend the kids. Bonus: one of the girls had a seemingly endless access to glossy fashion magazines, so there was also a little idolatry in there as well.

So, Nancy (I forget her real name) and I became friends. I played tennis. She taught me the words to Cat Stevens’ songs. I taught her how to braid hair. She showed me how to put on lipstick. We were the ebony and ivory of friends. She was preternaturally kind to me, although my mother made me return a used sweater Nancy had said I could have. We frolicked in the Addis sun. She said she loved Ethiopia, but missed London, and she’d regale me with stories of life in the UK.

One summer Nancy’s cousin came to Addis and the three of us went on with life as usual. The cousin was just as charming as Nancy. Wow, I thought, they are all so swell. They’d occasional allude to life in Ethiopia and the poverty, but hey, any discomfort I had was assuaged by continued access to the tennis court and embroidered stories from the other side of the Iron Curtain.

One day, sitting idly in Nancy’s expansive living room, the two cousins got to talking about stuff that went straight over my head. Besides, we were listening to Michael Jackson’s latest album. That kept me content. Ms. Thang cousin then effortlessly transitioned to complaining about all the beggars in Addis. Nancy tried to be polite, the first ever politically correct teenager in recorded history. The cousin would not stop. Finally I looked up at her and said, “Well, why don’t you leave if you are not happy?” Or something smart alecky like that. Nancy turned bright red. “She’s only saying what’s true!”

I felt sucker punched. My Nancy? The girl who gave the little shoe shine boy a whole birr? The girl who shared her croissants and chocolates with straggly street urchins?

But even then, at that tender age, Ethiopian yilungNta checked my instinct to bitch slap the cousin and “zeraff” my way out of the living room with a modicum of dignity. Well, that and we were going to watch a movie on a shiny new gadget called a VCR.

The cousin, encouraged by signs that Nancy had not morphed into the complete bohemian, “one with the natives” flower child, continued her bellyaching. I couldn’t take it any more. “Hey, wench,” I said with all the fury my little body could muster. (Well, I don’t think I said wench. Exactly.) “Hey! It’s rude to come to peoples’ country and insult it. If you don’t like my country, you can go back to England!”

That was the last straw for Nancy. “Oy!” she shrieked at me. “My father is here helping your stinking, starving country. You should be grateful.”

I can’t say I was not stunned even though I recovered very well. I flung her magazine across the room and stormed out, but not before I flashed both of them my best, home-spun, withering g’lmicha. “No one comes to my country and insults it!” I glowered. “Go back to England.”

My father eventually coaxed out of me why I had stopped going to Nancy’s house. “ItiyoPiyan sedebech,” (“She insulted Ethiopia”) I told him, fully expecting him to laugh at me. Instead, he nodded knowingly and we never talked about Nancy again. On the few occasions I saw her after that, I’d dart her a defiant glint- in a commendable imitation of our zebegNa’s.

It my first experience with superficial liberal guilt and the liberty that allows its practitioners to assume that occasional insults hurled at natives was acceptable as long as one was “helping their stinking, starving country.” I also learned that if you call them on it, you are relegated to the “ingrate” status, a Neanderthal incognizant of what it takes to help your stinking, starving ass.

Which brings me to Professor Sachs.

In response to Ethiopians writing to him about his love affair with Prime Minister Meles, Sachs wrote back thus:

If you read on in my statement that you quote, you will indeed see that I denounced the violence of last spring, and you would of course have noticed that I could not have denounced the recent violence since I made the statement that you quote more than two months ago -- and on that occasion spoke at length about the growing dangers in Ethiopia from extremism on many fronts.

When I quoted Sach’s partial speech in Melesocracy in Trouble, I made sure to include the paragraph where he addresses the June 8 killings.

Here is what he also said after praising PM Meles for “last years’ remarkable growth rate of more than 10 percent” (I’ll leave it to economists to honestly asses that claim):

I especially admire, Mr. Prime Minister, your deep commitment to Ethiopia’s rural communities and to Ethiopia’s Green Revolution, the very commitment that we recognize today with this award.


Ethiopia is a much divided society, as shown by the recent contested elections and the controversies that swirl around them. Political divisions are natural, indeed healthy. They are part and parcel of democracy. But the hate and distrust that are on view in Ethiopia’s multi-ethnic society are beyond normal. They are social ills that need mending. Few countries in the world have been able to make multi-ethnic societies work peacefully for all. Grievances and distrust in Ethiopia are deep and have deep historic roots. Many of the attacks on the current government reflect revanchist sentiments from an earlier era of Imperial domination of a former elite. But others reflect real and deep grievances about the present day. Still others are simply a byproduct of the suffering of extreme poverty.

First of all, what more can Ato Meles possibly do to let the world know that he does not believe that “political divisions are natural, indeed healthy.” All the top leaders of the main opposition are in jail, soon to be charged with treason… which is punishable by… death. I hope Professor Sachs looked at Prime Minister Meles sternly when he said that.

Secondly, perhaps it is because Professor Sachs is dealing with the scrubbed up, cuff-linked Prime Minister that he has a fuzzy idea of how come the “hate and distrust that are on view in Ethiopia’s multi-ethnic society are beyond normal.”

Those of us who experienced the Ethiopia of the early 90s, when the avariciousness of Meles and Co. was not even remotely disguised for modesty’s sake, saw how Ato Meles treated Ethiopians. People lost their jobs because they did not belong to the right ethnic group. “Ethiopian” was no longer an acceptable form of identity. Business licenses were revoked and monopolies were awarded to Meles and his bantuized boys. Ethiopians who dared speak up against tribalization were labeled chauvinists and, hm, perhaps even proprietors of “revanchist sentiments from an earlier era of Imperial domination of a former elite.”

It is beyond belief that Sachs actually uttered those words. He has swallowed the spoon-fed EPRDF bullshit, and then he wants to lecture us, us who have felt the brunt of Ato Meles’ malicious ethnic policies on the genesis of “abnormal hate”? One commentor on the last blog hit the nail square on the head: Liberals do jerk off to anyone who fits their perception of the ‘underdog.’

Ato Meles’ policy of tribalization had nothing to do with healing the wounds of Ethiopia’s past. He came of political age during the last days of the monarchy, and became a full-fledged guerrilla fighter for the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front in the Mengistu era, and Professor Sachs should probably read up on what Mengistu felt about “imperial domination of a former elite.” Mengistu was an equal opportunity tyrant. Ato Meles was not fighting to bring democracy to the Ethiopian people. He was in a liberation front which I assume wanted to be liberated from Ethiopia.

Like all dictators, Ato Meles zeroed in on Ethiopia’s wounds, and instead of being a leader who heals his peoples’ wounds, he went about to make sure the wounds were permanent. If Sachs thinks that Meles’ ethnic policies are based on a sincere effort to right past wrongs instead of a pernicious, cynical way to divide people further, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell him. One thing we should do is dig up some of Ato Meles’ typical speeches which are often punctuated with unreserved contempt for the Ethiopian people, and translate them for Sachs. Or maybe we can get him into a conference call with EU’s Ana Gomes who got a taste of what Ethiopians have been going through for 14 years when she dared say that something was fishy about the Ethiopian elections. (A state run newspaper editorial ran an “Opinion piece” suggesting that she was being promised 20% of the money coming in from the Diaspora.) Whatever it takes to makeProfessor Sachs understand that Ato Meles is one of the chief architects of ethnic hatred in Ethiopia today.

Most Ethiopians don’t despise Ato Meles because of his ethnic background. We deride him because he is a deranged sociopath who is willing to do anything to stay in power. He has managed to play the “poor me against the chauvinists” card, and Sachs has bought it hook, line and sinker. To Ato Meles, Ethiopia was never a priority. He made that very clear when he denigrated the Ethiopian flag and Ethiopia’s history. He could be from Mars for all I care. The man is not honorable. And Sachs brings dishonor to himself when he regurgitates what he’s been fed.

So, the order of your talking point, Professor Sachs, should be: Many of the attacks on the current government primarily reflect a byproduct of the suffering of extreme poverty, real and deep grievances about the present day and maybe some revanchist sentiments from an earlier era of Imperial domination of a former elite. (You can eventual segue that into “Most of the attacks on the current government reflect a byproduct of the suffering of extreme poverty, real and deep grievances about the present day, over-hyped ethnic differences from a government who has no mandate.” You can still keep the “revanchist sentiments from an earlier era of Imperial domination of a former elite” because it seems to make you happy. But, baby steps.)

If Professor Sachs cared to learn about Ato Meles’ policy on ethnicity, the real one not the one packaged for the ears of well-meaning developmental wonks, he’d discover that Ato Meles’ carefully constructed boogieman, “the-earth-is-shattering” and “if-it-were-not-for-me-Ethiopia-will-be-Rwanda” speechifying is less based on reality and more as a scheme to divide and rule. But sure, why take precious time to learn about all that? It’s so much easier to perpetuate the “oh those silly Africans and their tribal silliness” stereotype even against evidence to the contrary. Most of what Ato Meles has been telling anyone who cares to listen is exaggerated to serve his own purposes. I know that’s hard to swallow and I won’t ever expect Professor Sachs to admit that, but that’s the truth. Unfortunately, nothing makes people like Professor Sachs go “shiver me timbres” than the stereotyped African country in perpetual mess stemming from tribal wars. Like all stereotypes it is highly embellished, but it fits tidily into a preconceived pigeonhole.

Also, if Ato Meles is bitching about ethnic hatred, it is because he fostered it. Meticulously. He went as far as to say that the opposition harbored dreams of an Interwhame. Ask yourself, what was that based on? What are the opposition’s views on ethnicity?

The truth is, most of Ethiopia has moved on from the ethnic question. Debilitating poverty has a way refocusing things. It is Ato Meles who is hanging on to the Imperial times.

One of the most intriguing essays on the ethnic question I’ve read is by a Professor Berhanu Abegaz who teaches economics at Williams and Mary. (A forgivable offense.) The essay, Ethiopia: A Model Nation of Minorities, starts off with this quote from E.B. White:

"Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts."


The history of mutual invasion and assimilation among its cultural

communities has, contrary to the premises of the current Constitution, precluded the emergence of exclusivist political enclaves based on ethnicity. The strength of multiple and fluid identities have, unlike many African countries with a long colonial experience, made it difficult to classify the residents of highland Ethiopian society by ethnicity.

You don’t say?

Professor Berhanu bases his writing on… what do you call them, facts… from the latest available Ethiopian census, 1994. Instead of enshrining himself in cobbled layers of myth a la Ato Meles whenever he gets ready to meet donors for the express purpose of extending his tin can, Dr. Berhanu Abegaz starts adding up figures and percentages. He concludes,

Why care about these numbers? It would suffice to mention two implications: First, these numbers underscore the incredibly high and ever-changing nature of Ethiopian diversity. The Ethiopian genius for creatively synthesizing different traditions into a national mosaic is a product of this reality. With the emergence of a strong multiethnic state and an economic system that permits high mobility, Ethiopia has a great potential to build an egalitarian democratic society.

Ah. But, wait a minute. That’s gonna make Prime Minister Meles a vay-wee vay-wee unhappy man.

Second, this potential can be realized only if the intelligentsia shows respect for objective reality. For a nation of minorities, cultivating a tradition of coalition building is paramount for avoiding costly political and economic strategies based on mythologies or imagined communities. It is long overdue for the real Ethiopia to stand up and be (accurately) counted.

I know you have worked real hard in our country, Professor Sachs, but don’t venture to insult our intelligence. The “brilliant leader” who keeps you scintillated and tickled with cerebral heft is a spiteful, petty, warmongering warlord who has played up his hand. How you deal with that is up to you. But don’t lecture us on how bad the ethnic question is in Ethiopia. You may want to read up on how Ato Meles quashes dissent based on ethnicity. Ask the Anuaks. Ask the Oromos. Ask the Amharas. Ask the Tigrayans.

The truth is, because Prime Minister Meles’ politics are so debased and quilted awkwardly from tattered remnants of Marxist ideologies, the only thing he can do is play the ethnic card. Dividing people and encouraging hate politics comes naturally to him. And that’s not a sign of a brilliant mind. It is a sign of a severely underdeveloped mind.

So, Professor Sachs, the kids who are throwing stones at the bullet-hailing EPRDF Special Forces are teenagers who I can assure you do not possess revanchist sentiments from an earlier era of Imperial domination of a former elite. They are not triggered by the ethnic doctrine. They are poor, they are sick of being poor and they are sickened that their votes did not count. You go to them and tell them that they hate Ato Meles because he is from a certain ethnic group.

But why are we talking about ethnicity? Weren’t we just asking the good professor to denounce the killings and disassociate himself from a government that is going down faster than Monica Lewinsky on hormones?

It’s a very interesting question.

Here’s how responds to one letter writer(and it’s a two-parter, so forgive me if I am combining the two):

I have certainly said nothing of the sort that you believe I said. I do
wish that you had simply asked me first.

Wow. I am hoping that Professor Sachs is not denying that he said all those lovely things about Ato Meles. Surely not.

But moving on.

I deplore the violence the same as you.

Last month I said publicly that I "pay my respects to those who have lost their lives in the struggle for democracy, both the fighters for freedom who toppled a despicable regime 14 years ago, and also the dozens of students and innocent bystanders who tragically and unnecessarily lost their lives several weeks ago when they were shot by security forces during protests in the nation's capital. There is no excuse for such loss of life; security
forces must be equipped with non-lethal means for riot and crowd control. And our students anywhere are our future."

Okay. This was a few weeks after the June 8 killings. Notice how Professor Sachs puts it:

I pay my respects to those who have lost their lives in the struggle for democracy, both the fighters for freedom who toppled a despicable regime 14 years ago, and also the dozens of students and innocent bystanders who tragically and unnecessarily lost their lives several weeks ago…

It’s what we call “buttressing a hostile witness.” A few weeks after the government led by Ato Meles gunned down 42 people, Professor Sachs is paying tribute to those in the TPLF who died toppling Mengistu, and the unarmed, defenseless people who were shot at point blank. I know, I know. It’s diplomatic. But it’s also bullshit.

Okay. So we have to make provisions for the fact that Professor Sachs couldn’t well tear Ato Meles a new one during a fancy, white-tie affair. Whatever. Fine.

But I am sure he’ll condemn the government now, non?

The fact that security forces have shot again into the crowds is not acceptable. Aside from the heated charges and counter-charges of who has done what to whom and who has or has not provoked the violence, the government and its security forces should have been much better prepared with non-lethal means to control unhappy crowds.

You think? You think that’s the only problem with this picture: that the government didn’t use non-lethal weapons? There might be a reason why people are protesting in the first place. But, anyway.

Ummm. I still don’t quite get condemnation from what Professor Sachs said but… going to the first part of what the professor said, the government’s biggest excuse IS that it killed people because “the opposition started it.” And yes, since the government failed to use tear gas and water canons the first time, and since it once again resorted to live ammunition, wouldn’t you think Professor Sachs would be more pissed off than “it is not acceptable”?

But, so here’s what’s bugging me.

Sachs had to be badgered into deploring this latest round of killings by busy-body ETs who sent him emails. How long do you think it would have taken him to say something had we not written to him? Are any of us convinced that he would have “deplored the killings” if we never said anything? Read carefully what he says:

If you read on in my statement that you quote, you will indeed see that I denounced the violence of last spring, and you would of course have noticed that I could not have denounced the recent violence since I made the statement that you quote more than two months ago

What does that mean? Seriously. What does it mean? Why exactly didn’t he denounce the killings (I assure him it was just not just “loss of life”) all on his own? Do we have to wait until Professor Sachs is presented with another “I Heart Meles” speech in which he tacks on a “I ache for those who died on November 1-7, June 8 and 14 years ago”?

You would think that that’s all he said to get hysterical about. Oh but wait ‘till you see what’s behind door number 3.

The opposition leaders too should have been speaking out much more to keep their own followers peaceful and unarmed. There are many reports that people in the crowds fired upon the police. I do not know whether those reports are accurate, and as far as I know there has been no independent assessment to date.

Undoubtedly, though, there is responsibility required on all sides in a tense confrontation such as this, and more that both government and opposition can and should be doing much more to secure the peace.

Hold up, sailor.

So the opposition, whose leaders are in jail being held longer than is allowed by the constitution, who are facing the death penalty on treason charges, they have the same culpability as an armed-to-the-teeth government who, um, sprays bystanders and 14-year-olds with live ammunition? Did Professor Sachs really try to sell us that logic? I mean, does the EPRDF have compromising pictures of Sachs with a dead prostitute or a live boy? It is unbelievable! It is so anti-intellectual and so garishly idiotic that I am hoping that he was on a lethal combination of downers when he wrote that.

Just so we are clear, EPRDF’s thugs didn’t just kill opposition supporters. They killed kids going to school, wives protecting their husbands and little boys playing soccer. So I guess the opposition should have warned all citizens to, I dunno, stay at home for a week?

This is a quote we should be sending to every outlet we know. Agitated as it makes me, I can almost understand when the EU/State Department tries on that “everyone is responsible for preserving the peace” line; but even they are backing off that. But a professor who is a well-respected humanitarian? A learned man? For him to try to pull off the “both government and opposition can and should be doing much more to secure the peace” absurdity on us? It would be embarrassing if it were not so wretched.

In case the professor has forgotten: the opposition is unarmed. Not a single gun was found. Not one. Even Ato Meles admitted that the first time around. (This time the EPRDF was a little more sophisticated and took pictures of grenades that were “thrown at police.”)

I am no fan of all the oppositions leaders, and I am irked by some of their supporters who are royal pains in the ass, but opposition leaders have been filing habeas corpus; demanding talks; squabbling over 8-point demands; signing “code of conduct” agreements time and time again, even after the EPRDF put some of them in jail before the ink dried; canceling planned rallies when denied permits from the government(even though the Ethiopian constitution allows for freedom assembly); some in the opposition even joined the parliament to work from the inside, even though new legislation basically renders any opposition useless; all acts majorly pissing off a good percentage of the opposition’s constituents who were ready to storm the palace. Ex-squeeze me very much, Professor Sachs, but what is it exactly that the opposition did that makes it equally culpable as the EPRDF for the latest killings? Usually, people on the left think that a group that throws stones at armed goons in response to oppression is a group battling deep-rooted desperation. They are almost never blamed for throwing stones. So what the hell happened to Jeffrey Sachs? When did he become such a hack?

Someone tranquilize me.

So we’re talking about Professor Sachs condemning the Meles government. Okay. It’s pretty obvious by now that ain’t happenin’.

I also explained why, in my view, the politics need to become
inclusive, rather than winner-take-all. Now having said that then, and having written to you just a few hours ago that I shared your deploring the recent violence, I will say it again. And again if necessary.

Yeah, Professor Sachs, why does the EPRDF think this is an all-or-nothing battle? Why did it summarily dismiss the opposition’s call for a unity government? Why is an opposition that calls for something like a unity government excoriated for being an ethnic-baiting, peace-hating, bloodthirsty assembly? Because the greatest threat to the EPRDF is anyone who preaches Ethiopian unity. Ethiopian unity means the unmasking of the EPRDF, and so unity advocators are called chauvinists. Or they are made to be out-of-touch malcontents who have no idea just how the level of ethnic hatred in Ethiopia is alarmingly “abnormal”.

Also, while it’s great that the Professor deplores violence, I am inclined to believe that most people generally eschew it, with the exception of former EPRDF Minister of Information and present Meles Special Minion/abominable PR strategist/certified Robo Cop, Bereket Simon. But nevertheless, thank you Professor Sachs for deploring the violence unleashed on people like Tsige Mariam Tesfaye’s brother.

Tsige was interviewed on VOA Amharic on Wednesday. Her 18-year-old brother was coming back from school. The family thought that things had calmed down so were not overly anxious that he was walking the streets. He almost made it back home. Ato Meles’ goons called him from the gate and one of them dropped kicked him. He died at Zewditu Hospital. He was due to graduate school in December.

Here’s what his sister said in describing her feelings (translation mine. Always open to correction):

She said, “Politics, you know, is only alphabets. Wisdom is respecting human life. Tell them. Tell them that wisdom is respecting human beings.” She dissolved into the kind of heartbreaking heaves of weeping of an inconsolable woman.

So, we are telling you, Professor Sachs, your moral equivalency gauge needs recalibrating. And yes, if it is not too much to ask, we ask you to condemn the government of Meles Zenawi, and not an abstract violence that you make seem mysteriously materialized. We ask you to call your friend on his bullshit, and we want you to tell him that politics is only alphabets. Wisdom is respecting human life.

I will also note for you that I receive many heartfelt assertions that accuse some of the opposition leaders of stoking violence and ethnic hatred. It appears that some of the spiraling unrest is partly, and dangerously, ethnically motivated on both sides. It is also widely believed that there are revanchists from the Mengistu era stoking some of the unrest.

First of all, can we pick one “revanchist era” and stick to it? Is that possible?

Careful use of passive tense won’t help out Sachs out of this one.

First of all, the point of spending that kind of money to attend Harvard is to be a thinker. Otherwise, you might as well go to Dartmouth. The situation in Ethiopia is dire. The fate of 71+ million people is in the hands of a certifiably aberrant leader… who is Jeffrey Sachs’ friend. People like Professor Sachs have tremendous influence. With that influence comes responsibility. Statements have to be based on facts. Professor Sachs bases his on, yes, “heartfelt assertions” about a charge as incendiary as “ stoking violence and ethnic hatred” nonetheless! What am I missing? What is the message he is sending Ethiopians when his proof of “stoking violence and ethnic hatred” is based on someone emailing him “heartfelt assertions”? Actually, I would like to read just one of those assertions, even the non-heartfelt ones.

Oh m’gad!

There are many reports that people in the crowds fired upon the police. I do not know whether those reports are accurate, and as far as I know there has been no independent assessment to date.

Admittedly, I got a ‘C’ in Logic. And I didn’t go to Harvard. In fact, Brown waitlisted me. But what has been the preponderance evidence: that civilians have been killed or that crowds have “fired upon the police?” Yes, we have seen pictures of bleeding soldiers, but there seem to be an awfully lot pictures of small caskets.

And where are the “reports that people in the crowd fired on the police”? I mean besides in the talking points on the EPRDF’s Bullshit Mill? I don’t think even the EPRDF makes that claim. I read that the EPRDF was saying that someone was shot while attempting to take a gun from a soldier. But shooting into the crowd? What kind of charge is that to make so casually? Read again what he says.

I do not know whether those reports are accurate, and as far as I know there has been no independent assessment to date.

Well how about this? How about not saying something like that you can check up on its veracity, Professor Sachs? Is that too much to ask from a Harvard-educated, power-wielding man people look up to?

And here’s something the Professor might not know: you know why there has been no independent assessment of the violence to date? Because the government Professor Sachs supports didn’t think it is necessary to investigate deaths of ordinary people. Let’s see… this is a recurring theme. June 8 to November 8… that’s 5 months. Prime Minister Meles did not even have the courtesy to do a perfunctory investigation of the June killings. He was finally browbeaten into announcing last week that there will be an investigation. Sometime in the future. Not independent body has been set up.

I mean, is Sachs serious?

Read this again:

There are many reports that people in the crowds fired upon the police. I do not know whether those reports are accurate, and as far as I know there has been no independent assessment to date.

This appeases him? The remote possibility that the police were shot at is enough to be sanguine about explaining off the killings he deplores? Dude, Harvard sucks.

And then of course the “Mengitu era revanchists” blah… blah. Now tell me that that is not straight from the EPRDF playbook. That is the single most weakest argument in the EPRDF’s cant. It is not even possible that someone of Jeffrey Sachs’ stature just parroted that long-deflated EPRDF bullshit. It is not possible.

So “revanchists from the Mengistu era” are stoking some of the unrest? Does Mengistu know this? Let’s see… last time it was the EU who contributed to the violence. Remember that? “Ethiopia Blames EU for the Violence.”

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

It said the EU mission "illegally and secretly leaked information" to the opposition, prompting protests in June.

Remember that? I guess it’s Mengistu’s turn now. Whose will it be next time? Hopefully not Professor Sachs’.

Do you think it has even crossed Professor Sachs’ mind that the Ethiopian people are rising up, not because of Imperial revanchists, not because of EU revanchists, not because Mengitu revanchists, but maybe because they have a genuine grievance against the Meles regime? Do you think that is remotely possible, Professor Sachs? No? Okay.

And by the way, the opposition leaders could be two-headed, cousin-marrying, wild bear-chasing polygamists. The people voted for them! The last I checked, that was democracy. Believe us, Professor Sachs, the EPRDF has been blanketing the opposition with charges of being “ye Derg rzirazotch (remnants of the Derg) long before you checked your Blackberry these past few days. That’s because Ato Meles is very adept at gutter politics and wholly unequipped to handle differences of opinions without resorting to primordial, substandard, nutty drivel. But what’s Jeffrey Sachs’ excuse?

How did the EPRDF manage to make such a fawning shill out of Sachs? Now that’s some talent.

Here’s what I think happened. Remember when Bob Geldolf told the EPRDF to “grow up” when Meles’ Footmen went on a joy ride in June?

Sir Bob Geldof has slammed the Ethiopian leader for the shooting of demonstrators in Addis Abbaba on the day he launched a paperback edition of the Africa Commission report on aid, trade and debt.


But he said something even more interesting.

"No doubt, I'll get a briefing from the Ethiopian embassy: 'it wasn't like this, it was like that'. Grow up, they make me puke.

Ah-hum. Do you think that after every rampage the Ethiopian government sends out talking points to its ferenjie devotees, and Professor Sachs was just cutting and pasting his? He is a busy man.

And after all the praise that was heaped on Geldof by the Ethiopian government for so many years, some gasbag, ersatz scholar on the collection of brain surgeons that is Aiga ends up calling him “the patron-saint of the starved.”

Nah. Still not up to “self-appointed colonial viceroy.”

We are capriciously told that after Live Aid, “the selfless Geldof later on in his life became dead-broke as one reporter put it, "he could not even pay his phone bills."

Oookay. What that got to do with the EPRDF’s killing spree? Before we get to that, though:

Bob Geldof, in recognition to his specific roles, did not play the "big brother is watching" gymnastics, again his role was a humanitarian role nothing more nothing less.

Which I assume is a tortured way of saying he puts up the money and shuts his trap: the way Ato Meles likes his donors.

But get this…

These days however, [Geldof] seems to have lost his prospects and gave an impression of relapsing to his prior to 1980s self. Today, according to channel 4 news outlet, he slapped left and right Prime Minister Meles Zenawi by unleashing condescending attitude with unbecoming and disrespectful language with a potential of compromising their future relations. His remarks, if they in fact are remarks, are way out of the mark. Before letting himself over charged with transient sentiments, he should have laid out the facts and should have selected his words carefully, if he is not endowed with the wisdom of respecting a person, at least he should have a respect to the office of the Prime Minister.

Don’t you love EPRDF pitchmen? It’s like they live in the penthouse at the Leaning Tower of Denial, and feast on a veritable buffet of absurdity. The most foul-mouthed, uncouth, intellectually stunted Prime Minister ever (do we need a reminder, Viscount of Rambling Insanities?) having his minions talk about respect for the office of the Prime Minister? Hmmm. I’m lovin’ it.

So, I didn’t mean to take a detour. But just wanted to make “the good professor” aware of what will await him when he finally breaks away. And Tony Blair too. Can you imagine what they will say about Tony Blair? But the way, my prediction for next diplomat to give Ato Meles a Dick Cheney “Go fuck yourself” will be… Tim Clarke. As usual, a woman had to have bigger balls. But the men will soon follow.


Instead of conjecture and spewing back inanities he’s been fed, perhaps Professor Sachs might want to see what exactly the opposition has said that is evidence of instigating “the spiraling unrest” that is “partly, and dangerously, ethnically motivated.”

Professor, allow me…

No. The unrest had zero to do with ethnicity, although it is very convenient to say so.

The unrest has to do with a government you support that has arrested all its major opponents in typical warlordish manner

The unrest has to do with people not being allowed to peacefully express their dissent.

The unrest has to do with mass rounding up of young people who are then thrown in malaria-infested camps.

The unrest has to do with the EPRDF’s obsessive stranglehold on information. Nearly all free newspapers have halted production.

The unrest is about being treated inhumanely by a government who is adored by the right people on the upper west side.

The unrest has to do with blatant violations of human rights and the Ethiopian constitution.

The unrest has to do with people who are so sick of being poor that they are confronting machine guns with their bare bodies.

The unrest has to do with families who don’t know if their loved ones are alive or dead.

The unrest has to do with people having been promised that if they just didn’t upset the Prime Minister he won’t be goaded into killing them.

The unrest is because people were promised democracy and then told they didn’t matter.

The unrest had diddly squat to do with the kind of blood that flows in Ato Meles’ veins.

The unrest is about blood flowing on the streets.

So, we will thank you for not lecturing us on what the unrest is about via flimsy speculation, especially when you are casually speculating about ethnic violence. What do you think Jeffrey Sachs’ reaction would be if the US government gunned down 42 people who were throwing stones at the police? What kind of fury would he be engulfed in if he read that 4000 African-Americans from Biloxi, Mississippi were carted off to semi-concentration camps for opposing President’s Bush’s Iraq policy?

Why then are Ethiopian lives worth so infinitely less that condemning their killers has to come with caveats and stipulations?

You know why? Because they are Ethiopian lives. And because the people killing them look like them. And because Jeffrey Sachs has found an African friend he fancies, and refuses to admit he has been had.

Does it scare you shitless that someone like Sachs, someone in his position, someone who is a crusader for economic development has this kind of entrenched contempt for Ethiopians? How in the world can he justify his comments? Doesn’t he think that we have minds?

We are then, of course, subjected to the perfunctory, Nancy-esque “I am doing my best to help your stinking country”, slightly passive-aggressive avowal.

As always, I will try to do my best, in whatever modest way I can, to help your country. That has been my pledge for many, many years, particularly as I've worked -- with at least a modicum of success -- to help extend basic health care and greater food supplies to the many who desperately need it.

Hm. This is where we are supposed to say “ere b’nguss, esti miskeen sewiyewin tewut.” (“Can you just leave the poor guy alone?”)

Well, not this time. And not this ET-Chick. I know Dagmawi will be deeply disappointed in me for not heeding to his advice to

try not to react emotionally and with anger. Try not to lash out at the US State Dept. and any others who may be mistaken in their assessment of the situation. We just need to calmly lobby them (and not insult them) and point out how far the ideology of the Meles regime differs from the principles of the USA/EU.

Listen, I know… I know that Sachs can’t just drop Meles from his AOL Buddy List. But he needs to know that there are other people with grown-up IQs listening to him, and we are going to call him on his mind-bogglingly careless statements.

In the end, though, Ethiopia is not Jeffrey Sachs’ responsibility. Just like Nancy, he can always inject his “out clause”: “Hey, leave me alone. I am helping your stinking, starving country.” But we, we who don’t want to leave our children an Ethiopia maimed and bloodied have to take on the burden. We cannot, cannot let another generation of Ethiopians wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in cold sweat, screaming uncontrollably. We cannot sit by and watch democracy passing Ethiopia while we lament about it from a country that has given us the freedom to speak out.

Jeffrey Sachs feels at liberty to talk to us this way because we let him. I am not demonizing him. That’s the EPRDF’s tactic. (Self-appointed viceroy, anyone?) But I hate having my intelligence insulted, especially since I have so little of it.

One of the first lessons you learn in these great United States is that if you do not call out bullshit the first time you see it, the next time you notice it, you’re already waist deep in it.

So, in whatever decorous way I can, I am hurling the magazine across the room and storming out. It’s rude to insult peoples’ intelligence. I hope my withering g’limicha conveys across on the innernetz.

Write to Professor Sachs. Make sure you cc his colleagues. Can someone add to the list I have? (C’mon you ET policy wonks. Open your Palms.)

-- Sorry about the long post, And i was going so well! Damn. Have a great weekend.--

Professor Jeffrey Sachs:

CHRISTOPHER@DATA.ORG (has written on Sachs)

Please contact the following about your concerns in Ethiopia.

Africa Action:

Rights and Democracy: (African Faith and Justice Network) 
American Association for the Advancement of Science
(“surprisingly has a strong interest in human rights”)

Physicians for Human Rights: (development, AEI)

CATO INSTITUTE Jim Harper Marian L. Tupy