Monday, January 30, 2006

Extreme Makeover: Dictator Edition

Don Imus, who has managed to defy science and prove that imbibing vast quantities of drugs can pickle and preserve your brain cells as long as a trophy wife holds your head back as you puke our your bile, had a fascinating interview on his Friday program with Tom Rose, the former publisher of the Jerusalem Post.

Although they were talking about the Hamas win, you could almost verbatim apply their conversation to what is happening in Ethiopia.

Both were stunned (to the extent that uber curmudgeon Imus can be stunned by anything other that his own greatness) that the world is stunned by the Hamas win. In fact, Rose, ever the contrarian, was contemplative about why Hamas did so poorly. (Someone had a side of glib with his oatmeal, um?)

Imus asked the million dollar question:

One of the things that occurs to me is, wouldn’t you think the geniuses at the State Department in this country would have recognized the potential for this outcome?”

Right then and there I knew I should have dropped acid in college.

That’s what a lot of us interested in Ethiopian politics have been asking: What did the State Department and the EU expect would happen after the May 2005 Ethiopian elections? In one of his speeches in London, Berhanu Nega, geek-God Economist and democratically elected Mayor of Addis Abeba (who is presently, um, in prison facing willowy charges-- inciting “genocide”, condoning “treason”, and going 60 in a 40m.p.h zone) said he had lunch with EU man Tim Clarke in the days before the elections. Berhanu asked Clarke what contingency plan the EU and donor nations had if the opposition won. Tim coughed delicately into his monogrammed handkerchief and patted Berhanu on the head. Okay, that part didn’t happen. But Tim was very clear that it was the diplomatic world’s “understanding” that the EPRDF and Ato Meles would be the clear winners, sans perhaps a few seats, which would prove that this was a democratic undertaking. “Now,” said Clarke, “Can we order some sweet and sour chicken?”… Okay, I made that last part up. (In fact he had ordered ginger sautéed beef.)

It didn’t even enter the smallest recesses of EU’s mind that there was the slight probability that Ethiopians were sick and tired of being sick and tired of Prime Minister Meles’ gloriously inept government. Prime Minister Meles, after all, was Tony Blair’s buddy, an ally in the war on terror, hell, Meles was notorious for wearing suits and ties while sipping tea with his pinkie raised. pinkies.

Waiter, I’ll take my fortune cookie now.

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to democracy. EPRDF had its behind handed to it, all gift wrapped with pages from “Revolutionary Democracy.” Dilemma for the West. Stunned, they were, much like the same state of stunnhood we all are that Hamas, freakin’ Hamas won a democratic election!

So, wasn’t the west promoting democracy in Ethiopia… and in Palestine?

Tom Rose on the Hamas win:

The [US] administration and Israel to a certain extent, has done precisely the opposite. We’ve been propping up the corrupt regime, we’ve been supporting a corrupt regime, we’ve been letting the Palestinian organization off the hook, we haven’t been making demands of it to change. We’ve always been positioning Hamas as the evil straw man, that if we don’t support Fatah with more power, more support… We are largely responsible for this outcome.

A thing of beauty when déjà vu moments collide.

Even with the Prime Minister Meles’ appalling human rights record, his ravenous appetite for crony capitalism and predatory tendencies towards those who oppose his will (Donald Levine is on record as saying that PM Meles said if the opposition wants power it should do what he did: raise arms and fight. Hm. Add two cups of Lithium and drink slowly), the west convinced itself that once Ato Meles started traveling in private jets and using electric razors things would change. Let’s give the boy a good bath and scrub and ta-da! Meet your statesman. Blair asked Ato Meles into the Africa Commission. How can anyone, anyone, so the thinking went, who was personal friends with angel-faced Blair not magically transform into a democracy-loving, freedom-y smelling, bundle of liberty?

So money poured into Ethiopia. But Ethiopia still remained one of the poorest nations in the world. Head-scratcher of a dilemma. Give it time, we were told. Exfoliate Ato Meles’ pores, push back his cuticles and lance that boil. Voila! (Queer Eye for the Dictator Guy.) And we waited. Still Ethiopia was poor, drought and starvation ravaged the land, genocide raged on in western regions, people refused to be dazzled by the after effects of Ato Meles’ Glycolic Treatment Facial. Bloody hell, as the Brits would say. But how can this be? He was even taught how to use hair products! People who mousse don’t kill mothers in front of their children!

If Hamas was the West’s bogeyman in the Middle East, Ato Meles’ fertile imagination made sure the donors’ lips quivered with fear whenever he mentioned the “chauvinist” opposition that stood on guard to unleash a Rwanda style genocide on the land. And when that didn’t work like a charm, nothing like a little “if I go jihadists will take over the Horn of Africa” to make the western donors hold their noses as they cut another check.

Imus asked Rose again why the West failed to see the outcome of the Hamas victory?

Rose hits the nail square on the head:

Because we can’t for some reason, and by ‘we’ I mean Americans, Europeans and Israelis, we can’t get past, we can’t break out of this notion or concept that free societies are not created from the bottom up and not the top down. You can’t invest authority or power into a corrupt leader and then expect him to transform a society into one that is consistent with and in sync with democratic principles and the ideals of co-existence and peace.

Imus and Rose share a frustration: “When the hell will we ever learn?” How can the west keep on making the same mistake over and over again? Young men and women, and in some cases boys and girls, are facing down Ato Meles’s army of thugs. These kids have been rounded up, beaten and killed, yet they come back and face an army that has been instructed to aim at their heads. And yet the kids come back with nothing more than anger, strong will and stones.

And yet, for the umpteenth time, the West, instead of being on the side of people who want to raise the ‘V’ sign without being arrested, finds itself on the side of the folks who run around in Humvees, occasionally using kids as target practice. It’s almost like an addiction.

The EU and the US now find themselves in the tawdry position of making excuses for a government that has unleashed wave upon wave of violence on its people. Ouch. They are forced into gently asking for a “speedy trial” for the 131 political leaders, journalists and brewers of “genocide” (including a 14-year-old-boy, by the way). Remember when the west had the moral upstanding to say STFU to miserable, boy-dictator warlords? Tom Rose says that free societies are created from the bottom up. I am gonna guess and say that the kids who are shouting “yifetu!” (“free the prisoners”) are the ones on the bottom. For once, just for a change, can we be on their side?

A Rose by any other name is still a Rose. Speak, oh, outraged one:

We have done nothing, virtually nothing to encourage independent Palestinians to develop and economic and political platform designed to better the lives of Palestinians. Instead what has happened is there was one alternative to the corrupt, horrendously corrupt, ossified organization Fatah-- and that was Hamas, which we let the corrupt Palestinian leadership always appear as our bogeyman. “You gotta support us or these bad guys are gonna win.”

Now why does that sound familiar in the Ethiopian case? Ethiopundit brilliantly debunks the theory that Ato Meles is the only able partner in the war against terror in what has become bible for people with triple digit IQs. No More Appeasement is a must read.

Tommy boy, bring us home:

Well, there was a third option which we punted on and the irony here is that the President Bush’s three-and-a-half year campaign to promote democracy missed a central message here which is surprising and shocking to me, and that it is our middle east approach has lacked the very moral clarity that the president had demonstrated quite admirably vis-à-vis Afghanistan and Iraq and the need for freedom and free institutions around the world.

People who are free and societies which respect that freedom are in the West’s interest. When Ethiopians see the EU/US siding with a government which has been fiddling with elections, torture and killings, seeds of anti-west sentiments are sown. And the last time Ethiopia was anti-west, well, Mengitu happened. How can that be good for the West and for Western values?

Something has gone horribly wrong when in the 21st century communist freaks lead countries such as Venezuela and Bolivia. And the scary thing is that it doesn’t seem to be a trend that is ebbing. It is lucky for the EU/US that the opposition in Ethiopia is economically and politically more pro-west that the current Marxist-in-polyester-suit government. There is still a tiny sliver of hope, and maybe after what has happened in Palestine, the west will take a breather and ask, “What the hell is going on?” Where has propping up ruthless dictators worked? And when these dictators fall and a virulently anti-west government takes over, why do we scratch our heads and say, “Woah. Didn’t see that one coming.”

Still, Tom Rose is optimistic.

The silver lining is, and I am somewhat reluctant we’ll learn the lesson, we can finally learn the lesson that freedom comes from the bottom up and not the other way around.

Imus interrupts Rose. “Well, that’s not going to happen.”

Ethiopians will eventually take care of Meles because they have the will to do so and because moral clarity is on their side. It just would have been nice, just for once, to know that the EU and these great United States were on the side that was standing up to tyranny.

"All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know...
United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you."

- President Bush


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't consider the leaders of Venezuela and Bolivia as communist freaks: they are at least making sure that the "mass", the people at the bottom are getting their share, be it access to health, education and basic resources (even sharing some of the oil/gas profits)..when democracy comes from the bottom up, that is what you get. When you work for the interest of the US, yourself and the rich, you get Meles & Co.

9:01 AM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger zegabi said...

I heard Bush was stomping his feet when he said "democracy is a Bitch, Maaaaaaaaan!" - right after his televised talk. People need some level of freedom, if you deny them those freedoms then they are sure to revolt, one way or another.

Truthfully, I think this democracy thing is being counter productive for American foreign policy. They may just have to reconsider their position. It is just becoming harder and harder to manage. South America is revolting right under their noses, Africa so far hasn't succeeded but hopefully we will get there soon.

1:02 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger INEHO? said...

"I don't consider the leaders of Venezuela and Bolivia as communist freaks: they are at least making sure that the "mass", the people at the bottom are getting their share, be it access to health, education and basic resources (even sharing some of the oil/gas profits).."

Very well put!!! Chaves is helping the poor in NY and Boston by selling heating oil for cheap, which the federal gov't refused to take. How dare he be so ignorant of the needs of these rich oil companies?? That bastard communist freak!! Oh, BTW, Condi's EXXON posted the largest profit ever by an Ameircan corporation ever just yesterday. Hey Chavez, que passa amigo?? Get with the program!!! :lol:

2:28 PM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Gooch said...

Zegabi, as they are sure to revolt one way or another, perhaps it's better avoid an explosive revolt, like September 11 for example, and give people their freedom. I think that's the idea.

And so far so good, I think, from the US perspective. I see no revolt in Latin America. Leaders like Chavez may come in with a lot of bluster, but in the end, they have to govern responsibly, and if they don't, the people will hold them accountable. And not 'the Americans', for a change. Take Lula for example, who can't do most of what he promised because he now sees those promises were unrealistic.

I think responsibility will moderate and stabilize the likes of Chavez.

2:31 PM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Queyi Qebero said...

Latest version of His Excellency's Economics lecture on Gibrina (Please translate this!)

“Be’agerachin aand yetesasate amelekaket ale…Ye economy dabowa aand ena yaw yematadig adrgo yemewsed guday ale, silezih bezich bedabowa lay 1/4 kalwosediku…..befit 1/4 nebere yemiwosdew ahunm 1/4 kalwosedku etefalehu yemil new, ye 4 dabo 1/4 aand dabo new ye 400 1/10 gin ke 1 dabbo bebizu etif yebelete new silezih economy eyadege sihed ye eyandandu akal dirsha bikensim bedimiru yemiagegnew gebi gin bekefitegna dereja yichemiral yemil amelekaket new meyaz yalebet”


If you have time:

Yet another interesting twist is picked up by meskelsquare. Make the farmers sell only to EPRDF businesses... who will in turn make things cheaper?! Oh, dear God! When does this end?!

3:30 PM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous GonTe Gonetatlew said...

Ayeeeee Ethiopia! meche yihon marx yetbale ye-saTnael tanash wendim lijochuan leqo ye-mihedew! esu albeqa bilo Lenin yetebale ye-aganint aleqa wegenochachin lay eyechefere new. be-simeab biye sost gizay amatbiyalehu.

Seriously people, all y'all advocating for command economy - Please reflect on the economic history of the last century.......

GonTe Gonetatlew

3:42 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger zegabi said...

Ere sile egziabheir, what is happening in Ethiopia is no Marxism - this, is Crony Capitalizm at work.

I am not sure if we were talking about the same type of revolution. But what I meant was a revolution against what the global-powers-that-be want. Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia, and [pretty soon] Peru are all rejecting the path aspired for them by Washington. Several attempts to set Venezuela on the “right track” have failed. Sure, Chavez and the rest will eventually be judged by what they accomplish and not by the rhetoric, but at least a different path is being set than one in which the poor wait infinitely until something trickles down. This is a major departure from what has been happening in the Americas (save Cuba). Africa, on the other hand is still watching, unable to dictate its own future, adopting policies crafted somewhere in Washington, which encourage absolute cronyism by the likes of Meles, weaken sovereignty and mean absolutely nothing (or worse) for the poor.

6:01 PM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bono ascribed 'Meles the menace' as a super Macro Economist. Well, see what a macro ecomist comes up with when he bans export of agricultural products, and buys up all agri.produce to delibrately inflate the market price and punish the kinijit city voters. How about the armed robbery of commercial bank, kill its president and send the finance sector into turmoil! - not to mention his further activities that will follow the robery!

7:05 PM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Gooch said...


Yes, it's the same revolution we're talking about! I don't think it's a bad thing for Washington that these countries are asserting their independence.

I suppose I'm looking at these things from a slightly different perspective. Pretend Venezuela et al are changing from tinpot dictatorships supported by the US to more mature democracies like, say, Canada or Britain or France.

I think this is actually good for the US, because it won't have to deal with potential 9/11's or virulent anti-Americanism any more.

The sooner these countries change, the sooner the bitter anti-Americanism that has accumulated in them can go away, and the sooner the US can deal with them in a straightforward, baggage-free atmosphere, as it does with other developed countries.

I say this assuming that these revolutions are inevitable, and that save for some timing issues, the sooner, the better, as there will be less fallout.

I realize traditional US foreign policy has not thought along the same lines. But I think that's why they got 9/11 and a world cheering on the Russias and Chinas, just to sock it to the Americans. Traditional US policy has not been in America's best interests, I think.

Try and convince them of that, huh!

10:29 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger INEHO? said...

I think gooch just got done watching the State of the Union address by dubyah. No worries, it will ware off by morning. All jokes aside, there is nothing more this administration would love more than a reason to justify an attack on another oil rich, innocent nation. GW is playing the so called war on terror to change the world. There is only one reason Meles sits on GW's lap, and that's because he knows what the price is for refusing to take order from Washington.

10:43 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger zegabi said...


I agree with you on so many respects, but as with any policy there are winners and losers from foreign policy also. The winners in U.S. foreign policy often happen to be those who devise and leverage the policies [and/or their friends]. Sometimes things backfire, but you can always rectify your loses (no need for examples here, I think).

As far as treating "developing folk" as they do Britain or France; I think Bush's State of the World...ughmmm...I mean, State of the Union speech makes it clear that is not how the U.S. sees itself relating to others. Come to think of it, that is not how we see it either. What else explains the marches in Washington for the killings in Addis?(maybe Mircha matat?)

11:31 PM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous gonTe gonetatlew said...

Okay folks,
Maybe my English is not upto snuff. But take away the gleba off of the husky "crony capitalism" and what you have is unreformed socialism! Look up crony capitalism on wikipedia just in case. Folks, the government owns all the land in Ethiopia. The government also owns a good portion of the economic sectors like communication, etc and the ones that are not owned by the government are dominated by party affiliated corporations. btw, I don't see much difference between the government and party owned companies.

What we have is wily unrepentant communists masquerading as capitalists to fool the western world. What disturbs me more, though, is that we have people in wonqville who think a bit of socialism is good. Freinds, you are going to have vibrant economy and development only if you have PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS WHICH WILL LEAD TO RULE OF LAW AND ACCOUNTABILTY WHICH WILL LEAD TO REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMNET. The rest will be taken care of by the genius of entrprenuership. Ah, Ethiopundit explains it a lot more clearly than I can.........

-gonTe gonetatlew

11:52 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger zegabi said...


I think ETW would agree with me that wonkville is a democracy :) . And if only there was a case of development where private property alone was a sufficient condition for growth, then maybe we would all be converts.

12:25 AM, February 01, 2006  
Blogger Mihretu said...

Richard Haass, head of policy planning in the State Department in 2001-03 was on record saying that :"It is neither desirable nor practical to make democracy promotion a foreign-policy doctrine. Too many “pressing threats” get in the way of beautifying the way other countries govern themselves." US silence shouldn't come as surprise therefore.
Like it or not,only people power is decisive to enusre regime change.That might not happen over night.But the May election planted the seed of change.The rest is just a matter of time.

9:28 AM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Gooch said...

Adding to Mihretu's comments, there are, among various shades, two shades of US foreign policy. What I call the 'conservatives' or 'traditionalists' support the old policy of putting out fires and protecting short-term interests by supporting dictators and other similar interventions.

The more 'radical' neocon wing sees the above as causing long term pain, so advocates for spreading democracy at least a bit in order to have long term stability.

Those of us who want democracy in Ethiopia must identify with the neocons; I mean in the sense that that is our argument.

The traditional approach would entail supporting Meles all the way with absolutely no regard for human rights, etc. So it is something we must vigourously oppose.

Unfortunately, Iraq has left the neocon wing battered, not that it was very strong or committed to begin with. However, it's all we have.

This is, by the way, why it's slightly better to have a Republican in the White House. There are some neocons among them, but there are none among Democrats, who on the matter of foreign policy, are strict conservatives. Another Clinton or Carter would be disastrous.

12:54 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Gooch said...

By the way, I just wanted to add that none of China, Russia, India, or Iran have said anything about human rights abuses in Ethiopia. In fact, China and Iran have strongly indicated business as usual. Just to keep things in perspective.

12:59 PM, February 01, 2006  
Blogger zegabi said...


I am not sure if you are joking or if you are serious. Are you seriously arguing the neo-con wing went to war in Iraq for the sake of freedom and democracy? The excuses for the war are by no means different from Italy's that Slavery in Ethiopia was a problem, that theirs was a civilizing mission. Just change the words to fit the times.

At least there is no disillusionment with China, Russia and the rest; you know exactly where they stand. I think it would have been better if Bush mentioned Meles as a progressive leader for Africa in yesterday's speech, that way all the wasted effort trying to make him notice would at least be used elsewhere constructively. We are outside the white house every day shouting...what did he think? That we were there opposing Mugabe? Was there a single Zimbabwean out there (or anywhere in the west) protesting Mugabe's rule? The west is preoccupied teaching him a lesson for not accepting what he is told. Meles on the other hand doesn't make that same mistake - not once, on things that matter to the west. Neo-con or otherwise, the solution to our problem lies in Ethiopia - no where else.

3:59 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Gooch said...


I think you've misunderstood me, and I'm sorry if I'm not being very clear. I did not say that the neocons went to war in Iraq for the sake of freedom and democracy.

It's much more nuanced than that. The neocons "advocate for spreading democracy at least a bit in order to have long term stability."

It's not black and white. The difference between the neocons and the traditionalists is that the neocons want to add some, perhaps just a drop of democracy promotion to US foreign policy, again, solely because they believe it's in the interests of the US. Some want to add a bit more than a drop, some less. Again, there are various shades, but at least it's something, however small.

Whereas the traditionalists want nothing at all to do with democracy promotion.

So, picking the best of a bad lot, we have to go with the neocons. In the case of Ethiopia, maverick, radical policymakers is what we need, not stay-the-course types.

Again, I hope it's clear that I'm not saying the neocons are good guys or anything like that. I'm just saying that given US policy, their approach is better than the rest.

By the way, I mentioned the examples of China et al just to point out that much of our perception is skewed by expectations. America claims it stands for freedom, but does the opposite, whereas the others don't claim any moral high ground.

But, let's keep in mind that both the US and Europe do tinker around the edges to promote democracy, even if it's just a tiny bit of tinkering.

These Ethiopian elections, for example, even if we assume it was just an exercise to legitimise the EPRDF, still took place mostly because of the West. China, and I'm not picking on them, would not have given such a thing a moment's thought.

So again, things are not completely black or white. There are variables in US foreign policy that can be ever so slightly manipulated to our advantage.

Now, I agree wholeheartedly with you that the solution to Ethiopia's problems lies in Ethiopia.

However, I think that if those of us in the diaspora want to have an influence on what happens, we can, by a concerted lobbying effort of the same type that many ethnic-Americans have.

There are enough Ethiopian-Americans to strongly influence at least a dozen congressmen and two senators. I have no doubt that this would have a strong impact on US policy towards Ethiopia.

8:14 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no superlative good enough to express my feeling about ETW’s blog . (Pun intended if the word superlative reminds you of Melese’s pathetic letter.)

I found the discussion between Gooch and Zegabie informative. We can learn a couple of lessons about lobbying foreigners.

The most important lesson which every Ethiopian should agree with is that change has to come from within Ethiopia and by Ethiopians themselves for two reasons. First, no amount of genuine diplomatic pressure will bring change. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is a good example. Western governments went out of their way to do every thing to force him out of office but he is still in power.

Assuming Western governments fulfill our request and Melese is dislodged from his position, there is no guarantee that Ethiopians will have any control over the changes that follow as long as there is no vibrant, effective organization within the country.

Whether we like it or not, CUDP is the only organization with the requisite popular support, and our priority should be strengthening it with every thing we can.

The second lesson is that if ever there is an effective diplomatic pressure, it will come from US government. As Gooch said it again and again, the neocons are our only choice. It really doesn’t matter whether their true motive is to spread ‘democracy all over the world.’ They want to show that they did not invade Iraq just for oil. If we present our case properly, they will be happy to use it as an excuse or rational for their invasion.

The neocons are already sympathetic to the opposition. In an unprecedented letter, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, a leading neocon responsible for the Iraqi invasion in his former position as Assistant Secretary of Defense, expressed his willingness to work with CUDP. Most of the news papers such as Washington Times that reported on the crisis in Ethiopia relatively extensively have necocon connections.

9:44 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lam alegn besemay alu! you are still in a cacoon people. you really think congressmen and senators in America don't look right and left before they really, really endorse whatever it is you have been demonstrating back and forth at the state department for the past what 15 years?

just for a moment think lobbying goes both ways. senators and congressmen have got legs and plane tickets to go and see stuff in ethiopia. don't be so rabid and silly. listen for example to some idiot buying cudp dimplomatic capital by asking ambassador Jendayi Frazer to take Meles as an asylum. probably forgot to mention to put him in place(head of govt) instead.

MTS too many jokers.

turn your faces to your fellow country men and have an honest talk with all of them. get out from your yes men clique.

2:38 AM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous Gooch said...

I hate to belabour the point, but it's hard to stand by and see you folks making the same arguments as donor nations who don't want to pressure Meles.

Anonymous 3 said " amount of genuine diplomatic pressure will bring change."

I respectfully but completely disagree.

By the way, this is exactly what we always hear from donor bureaucrats, who often cite Zimbabwe and Eritrea as examples of unsuccessfully 'embargoed' nations.

Folks, there are glaring and obvious differences between these examples and Ethiopia. Mugabe has strong residual support in his country, having 'kicked out the rich whites' and all that. The EPRDF has a much lower level of support. Mugabe is fully supported by South Africa. He was never as dependent on aid as Ethiopia is. Isayas also has a decent amount of support in Eritrea. And, despite Western rhetoric, gets over three times the aid per capita that Ethiopia gets.

(If you read the Clapham paper, he touches on these same points.)

Now, well over one third of Ethiopia's budget is development aid (approaching $1.9 billion now, I think). And we're not counting the aid that comes in the form of debt cancellations. The EPRDF has a relativey small core constituency, unlike Mugabe and Isayas. It relies on $100-$500 billion of humanitarian aid yearly. It has been established that aid must be doubled to get anywhere near the MDG's, and that was the plan before the elections.

Ethiopia is ripe for pressure - real pressure.

On another point, and this is very important, is that I think the term lobbying has been misunderstood to mean moral suasion of politicians and bureaucrats. Though that is certainly part of it, the main ingredients in lobbying are votes and money. In our case, voting especially, since the other side can compete with money.

What I was trying to say before is that voting power alone should get Ethiopian-Americans the hears of ten congressmen and two senators.

Now, how this voting power can be harnessed is another question. However, it would take the same effort to harness voting power as it would take to harness the diaspora into making monetary contributions, attending rallies, or the like. No matter which way we look at it, if we want to make a difference, we must develop a collective consciousness that will maximize our impact.

9:12 AM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ere bakih gooch

please man get with the data

well over 1/3 of ethiopia's budget is not development aid. may be 5 or more years ago. not now. it is probably now between 10-20%. big difference

and you said ethiopia relies on $100-$500 BILLION of humanitarian aid yearly. Again that is TOTALLY incorrect.

and what about "Isayas has support in Eritrea". i don't know man. to me it looks like Eritreans are just shit scared of him and the chances for him to suddenly go down are not low. thats what happens in countries that rule with the iron fist. there always seems to be an illusion of a loved leader, tranquility and peace but reality is diametrically different.

also i suggest that you first really think about what difference you want to make before you rush to create a collective consciousness of irrational emotions and another inflexible, narrow, run off the mill ethiopian hodge podge political group that will never embrace anything beyond 2 ft radius of the founder and self destruct in a couple of years or paralyse as usual. NEW WAYS PLEASE, and THANK YOU

regardless i note your views.

11:18 AM, February 02, 2006  
Blogger zegabi said...


I think we look at things a little differently. My opinion is not that Zimbabwe is not a country where ‘embargos’ have not worked; sure they have worked, there have been severe penalties to their economy, and more importantly the sanctions have taught an important lesson to the rest of Africa to not try what Mugabe has tried. As you point out the sanctions were not placed because of an all out popular resentment of Mugabe. What drives western animosity to Mugabe is that he dared to set a precedent to overtake white farms and distribute it to the landless [by the way at independence the British had committed to pay for buying back these farms, but of course they have failed to honor these agreements]. What they want him to do now is to buy the farms using loans and the poor will go on paying for it long term. I am not arguing that Mugabe is a saint, he is not. But the reason Mugabe is being punished is not for his opposition suppression, or vote rigging or undemocratic practices. My aim was to point out that what gets you punished is far different from what ought to get you punished.

I agree with you that withdrawal of Western support from Meles will spell his down fall much quicker than Mugabe or Issayas. What I am not convinced of is western willingness to let Meles go as long as he remains a western yes man. Ethiopia is a major power in Eastern Africa, and its control is key to controlling the horn. As long as Meles remains the ‘sure thing’ in that area, the west will go on supporting him regardless of the marches in Washington or how he treats his population.

In any case, regardless of what I think, the marches in Washington and the efforts at congress are continuing. I hope that I am proven wrong and that these will make a real difference beyond “due process” statements which mean Meles can do what he wants using his judiciary.

2:01 PM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous Gooch said...

Boy, Wonqetters always want references! Okay, here goes:

For aid and aid as a percentage of government expenditure, see:

and click on '6.10 Aid dependency'.

There you will see that in 1998;

dev aid: 660 million
dev aid as % of gov exp: 54.6%

In 2003:

dev aid: 1504 million
dev aid as % of gov exp: unknown

So even assuming government expenditure tripled :) since 1998, well, you get the picture.


Now, about humanitarian aid. Just to get an idea,

says that in 2003 (a bad year), the US alone gave Ethiopia $550 million in humanitarian assistance.

This year, which is not so bad, there is already an appeal for $166 million. By the end of the year, it could be ...

2:50 PM, February 02, 2006  

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