Monday, February 13, 2006

Table for One, Please: Meles at the Progressive Leaders Summit.

Hate to blog and run but…

Hopefully, Ato Meles has not sent in his RSVP for next year's "Progressive Leaders" summit.

Who knows what truly happened between Prime Ministers Meles and Blair in South Africa this past weekend? First though, a little quiz:

Which of the following does not belong at a “progressive leaders” summit?

a. Ultra utopian, self-aggrandizing rhetoric

b. Empty promises, patronizing hyperbole and mind numbing boredom

c. A sumptuous buffet

d. Meles Zenawi

BBC covered the story in its usual tone… supremely disinterested.

But at a news conference, Mr Blair found himself sitting alongside his Ethiopian counterpart, Mr Zenawi, who has been facing strong international criticism over his handling of the political unrest and violence that followed disputed elections.

Okkkay. This is the first time I think I have read a BBC reporter referring to the elections as ‘disputed.’ Usually it goes something like, “The ruling party won the election that were generally deemed fair, but the opposition triple quadrupled its seats in the parliament…blah blah.” But, don’t worry, Mr. Blair will set that straight.

On Sunday, Mr Blair said he had been concerned about what he called "real issues".

"The government won the election, there was then a reaction to it, there was then, perhaps, if I can say this without being too undiplomatic, an over reaction to that, which often happens," said Mr Blair.

Saying that perhaps there was an ‘over reaction’ is deemed too undiplomatic these days? Mmm. Just how beautiful is Blair's deliberately understated, backhanded castration? "Perhaps an over reaction." Exquisite. Let's pretend to go along with it.

Er… your buddy there, the progressive one sitting next to you, yes, that one, shot live ammunition into an unarmed crowd, is terrorizing the countryside, has set up detention camps all over the country, has criminalized dissent and… I ain’t too much of a diplomat, but on this side of the Pacific we call that more than an “over reaction.” We call it thuggary. An over reaction is when sugar is half price at Costco and you buy 20 pounds.

Interestingly, not only was there an “over reaction”… perhaps, but, according to Mr. Blair, it “often happens.” Really? Do many “progressive leaders” um, “over react” and often gun down unarmed citizens in disputed elections? Let’s ask the other progressive leaders. Brazil? South Africa? Sweden? South Korea? New Zealand? Any of you afflicted with over reaction? No? Oh well.

Makes you wonder what Blair would say if he were trying to be undiplomatic.

In case we need a reminder, December 4, 2005 fellow Brit Tim Clarke, head of the EU delegation in Addis, had this to say about Ato Meles’ “over reaction” which some have called ... gross human rights abuses:

We've been hearing from Dedesa camp about atrocities taking place. It's extremely worrying. We have not witnessed anything like this in Ethiopia before.

But I don’t want to over react. It’s undiplomatic.

Then there is the coverage of The Times (of London):

To both men’s evident distaste, Mr Blair found himself seated next to Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, at the final press conference of a weekend summit of “progressive” world leaders.

Note the quotation marks around progressive. The Times actually makes mention of a trivial fact: that there were people who were actually shot and killed by Ato Meles’ gunmen (“scores of unarmed demonstrators, mainly students, were shot dead in June and November in the capital), as opposed to the BBC which prefers the more genteel “political unrest and violence.”

Detailing the fact that the ‘progressive’ Ato Meles was anointed by Mr. Blair, the Times article continues,

Now, with a stony-faced Mr Meles alongside, Mr Blair, on his first visit to Africa since the G8, used very different language. He told reporters that although the elections had been the freest in Ethiopia’s history, the Government had “overreacted” to the ensuing protests. He dodged questions, however, as to Mr Meles’s suitability to attend a “progressive governance” summit along with leaders from Brazil, South Africa, Sweden, South Korea and New Zealand.

The actual transcript of the press conference will make for an interesting read, and if I was not clamoring to go on vacation, I’d have researched it. Good thing I have my priorities straight. But it appears that there was an awwwwwkkkwaaard question and answer session as to why Ato Meles was even in South Africa… with him sitting right there. Ouch! (“Shhh,” said Mr. Blair. “He’s right here. He can hear youuuuuu.”)

If Ato Meles were a better man, or even a thinking man, he would understand the depth with which he was just royally dissed in front of the world. Anyone else would have made an excuse (read: Clinton) and stayed home. Say what you want about Clinton, but he sure is a political genius. He was not going to be put in a position of having to explain something like Ato Meles. So he skipped the very summit he helped create.

That left Mr. Blair, who in a very British way, emasculated and coddled his protégée.

And Ato Meles? Poor Ato Meles. Only he could have deluded himself into going to a ‘progressive leaders’ meeting. He ended up looking ridiculous, sulky and trite. He ended up having to explain his very ‘suitability’, and I have no sympathy for the man, but that hurts even in bucolic settings. Worse of all… he ended up being talked about in the third person by a jittery ferenje. Few things are more humiliating.

Thank God Ato Meles has the kind of warlord-in-a-polyester-leisure suit mentality that inoculates him from knowing when he’s been insulted. He probably thinks this was a coup, another feather in his trucker cap. Rock on.

The Times article includes all the salacious details fit to print.

Behind the icy diplomatic exchange, however, the body language told a different story. Whereas the other leaders’ chairs were placed in such a way that they almost rubbed shoulders, a large gap opened up behind the place names of the UK and Ethiopia.

[see picture from Ethiomedia]

Oooooh. You see? Typical. They invite you, and then they treat you like shit. For Christ’s sake, Mr. Blair, you still give the man millions of pounds, you’ve had high tea with him, hell, you even invited him to the G8! So he kills a few people? Who hasn't over reacted? Move your place card closer to your boy and smile for the camera. Ato Meles is part of your legacy, and we will make sure to remind you of it as often as possible. Making sure there is a physical gap between you on the dais doesn't make up for your silence. Besides, if you didn’t want to sit next to Meles, you should have swapped places before the press conference. Talk about over reaction. What’s with acting like a four-year-old?

And then as if to hammer in the point:

Afterwards, Mr Blair warmly shook the hands of Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Göran Persson from Sweden, hugged Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil and kissed Helen Clark from New Zealand.

All contact with Mr Meles, though, was avoided.

Oh snap! Well, hopefully Ato Meles was so pleased with himself about rubbing shoulders at the progressives club that he didn’t notice his own unhuggablness. Coz that’ll piss him off. And when Ato Meles is pissed off, he becomes petty and vindictive… which means more Ethiopians will have to die.

So instead of telling the world all the ‘progressive leader-y’ stuff they did over the weekend, Mr. Blair had to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining Ato Meles. The headlines coming out of this summit were not supposed to be about Ethiopia and human rights. But no matter how hard he tried, Mr. Blair could not escape the baggage that comes with befriending Ato Meles. It’s called the Meles-Blair Witch Hunt. And that, my friends, must have pissed off Blair.

Please, Mr. Blair… please retroactively hug Ato Meles. Of course, if you do, and it is caught on camera, we will remind you of it ad nauseum… but, whachoogonna do? It’s a bitch being friends with people who over react.


Off to vacation! It’ll be the Gooch forum if/when he decides to impart his wisdom.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what I'm going to do now. For the love of God, can't you just drop us few blogs while on vacation (may be too much to ask?). What can i say, I'm addicted to this damn (in a nice way) blog.

1:41 PM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous kezira said...

oh my god! did you see the picture of meles and blair trying very hard to give each other the stink eye? the only thing they didn't do was wear "i'm with stupid" tshirts. what a joke these two have become.

2:09 PM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous Honest2 said...

Oh I give it to Bill Clinton for being politicaly savy, 2008 is around the corner and he doesn't want to spoil his chances of being the first "First Gentleman" by being assosciated to tyrans. The lady ain't getting my vote anyway, people in his party are way to quiet on the Ethiopian issue for me to go out and vote for any of them.

3:05 PM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am already having withdraw symptoms.......I too am addicted to this blog!!! Come back soon and well rested.

3:18 PM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous QQ said...


Here is the transcript of the press conference (from the Number 10 Dawning St)

Amazing how the dummy Meles doesn't even shut up having just heard Blair back him like 200% in his answer to the same question!!

May he choke on the 'lehach' that collects on the side of his mouth when he talks too much!


3:33 PM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comical entertainment.

3:46 PM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do know that this insulting the other side until the cows come home doesn't help, right? He paints you as "revanchists and chauvinists" and to you he has the mentality of a "warlord-in-a-polyester-leisure suit."

How clever and witty of you two.

As the pendulum swings further to the extremes - anchim zero zero, esum zero zero, hulachinim zero.

6:13 PM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous Yohannes said...

Blair comes face to face with his failure. Makes you wonder, what do they DO at these summits? Grand summary of this one was “let’s do something about trade”. Yippie. How much did Ethiopian taxpayers pay for Meles to be treated like a stepchild? Priceless.

6:13 PM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, please Anonymous. eprdf shits on ethiopia for 15 years and one little blog is not supposed to chronicle its massive incompetence? if meles wants not to be written about, he should stop acting like a 'warlord in a leisure suit.'

6:43 PM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous ye mankusaw welafen said...

are you kidding me? if it helps stop another 'grammy 2006' post, then may the cows never come home.

clinton (mr. and mrs.) are running away from anything connecting them to 'progressive' movements, let alone spend a weekend traipsing about in a useless summit. poor blair, indeed. with europe increasingly going right, he and meles will soon be the only progressives at these things.

7:05 PM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous awassa-langano said...

Is the answer to "which does not belong", D) Meles Zenawi?

Wonqette (didn't it used to be wonkette?), thank God someone got it right. Blair tried his bestest to distance himself with an elaborate "look how well I shun you" act. Childish as it looked, it is evidence that he is feeling some pressure from somewhere (I think the Diaspora) to go to these lengths to please. Biggie.

8:01 PM, February 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guys - you must see the video clip from BBC also posted on Ethiomedia! Oh! that sulking face of Meles & body language as he sits next to Tony -

9:26 AM, February 14, 2006  
Blogger INEHO? said...

The look on BLIAR's face indeed was priceless. If I were asked to put a caption, it would have read, 'what the hell is wrong with you African savages? I am trying to civilize you just like I am doing in Iraq and this is the thanks I get??' LOL

Frankly, I found the whole thing rather revolting. Meles looked like a pouting spoiled brat who has just been admonished by his bully father for beating up the neighborhood kids and making him 'look bad'. BLIAR, and his body language looked like he just stepped out of one of those African safari novels of the 40's.

If this is not an example of Meles' complete and utter lack of leadership ability, I don't know what is. The fact that he sat there like a kid who had just been told that he was going to be without dinner is truly embarrassing, not only to him, but to all Ethiopians as well as Africans. When will we get out of this colonial mentality?

As for the current Dem party, don't even get me started honest2.

11:40 AM, February 14, 2006  
Blogger enaseb said...

not anonymous,

splain this to me like i am an eight year old (cause in this matter i might even be younger :).

1)how did lidetu "concoct openly nefarious schemes" and what were those schemes?

2)how did lidetu "...arbitrarily change the rules to serve your personal needs..." and what were the rules in the first place?

3)in the above quote, what are you speculating his "needs" to be?

4)when you say, "...Oppositon’s leadership (level-headed as it was) bent over backwards to accommodate his ass, even coddled/cuddled him a bit like the kid he was..." what were they "accommodating"?

i ask for clarification on these issues for the sake of understanding and dialogue.

10:26 PM, February 14, 2006  
Anonymous not anonymous said...

I don’t mean to snub your request for clarification, but I hesitate to revisit the fiasco that is Lidetu. I think we’ve threshed out ad nauseum the issues surrounding him. Besides, those nefarious schemes I spoke of are a matter of public record as long as one attaches the right interpretation to them. Further back-and-forth here about Lidetu serves no purpose other than give undue credence to an individual who, when it’s all said and done, will prove of no consequence and end up at the bottom of history’s trash heap.

So, enaseb, can we now move on to safer pastures? To more important matters like shooting Jean Paul Gaultier with a tweed gun and animal print gowns with green at the bottom that looks like someone threw up on it?

1:29 PM, February 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had heard so much about this place. I have to agree, it does not disappoint, but I got curious about the Grammy Post from the comments and went back to check. I can see why the . . .not very pretty.

7:17 PM, February 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dropped by this blog after weeks....

I still love what you do and how you defend us and the country.

I admire you and am proud of you.....


9:53 PM, March 02, 2006  

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