[I am writing this article as an introduction/summary to a series of articles that will follow it up, with the intention of doing two things: (a) to underscore the extent of the damage being inflicted by the Isaias regime on the Eritrean masses and to explain how, lately, with the accelerated pace of the mass exodus and the entrenchment of a full blown famine, this hollowing out process of the nation has been put on a fast track; (b) and to convince Diaspora Eritreans that our peaceful resistance, as practiced by us currently, is poorly equipped to deal with a problem of this magnitude, and that a new approach that matches the severity of the problem, both in scope and pace, ought to be adopted. Regarding the former, I will post four articles that respectively deal with the ongoing PFDJ-induced famine, the recent killings and massacres (with emphasis on the Kunama massacre at Mai-Dima), the ever-accelerating mass exodus and the systematic dismantlement of the educational system in Eritrea. Regarding the latter, first, I will try to show the total inadequacy of the peaceful resistance as practiced by most Eritreans in Diaspora in meeting the challenges that the dire problems mentioned in the former part present to us. And, second, I will propose that we shouldn’t shy away from working actively with outside forces to topple down the Isaias regime, be it in the form of sanctions or war. I hope you will bear with me as I take you through this long, torturous argument.]
A litmus test could be conducted to find out whether the loyalty of an Eritrean in the opposition camp lies more with the welfare of Eritrean people or with that mythologized idea of an “Eritrea” that detachedly hovers in its own stratosphere (in the minds of its adherents only), above and over the concerns, fears, hopes and daily lives of the masses on the ground, by asking him/her a simple question: “Under a hypothetical condition where more than half a million leave Eritrea for good in mass exodus and hundreds of thousands more die in a great famine, would you entertain supporting a military intervention from Ethiopia to avert such a catastrophe?” If anyone of you is having a hard time responding to this question in the positive, let alone responding to it outright in the negative, then it is high time to reexamine your priorities.
The problem is that most of the time what passes for concern for the masses turns out to be a concern for one’s own coveted idea of “ Eritrea” that has been instilled in our minds through decades of ghedli acculturation. It is not even a case of holding on to a belief anymore, but to holding on to a belief about a belief; what started as a noble idea has degenerated into a hollow, second-order belief. Many have come to believe in the “cause” for such a long time that that by itself has now become a further reason to go on believing, even as the evidence on the ground tells them not to. In the end then, a national cause atrophies into a personal identity crisis: they feel that they have invested so much on this idea that to let it go now is taken as tantamount to a mortal threat on their individual identity; they would do anything, even if that comes at a huge expense to the masses, not to be proved wrong on an idea that they have nurtured for so long. It has gotten so personal that it has become more and more about themselves than about the nation itself. Thus, the faith that they had once in the idea of “ Eritrea” degenerates into a tenacious faith in their own personal judgment regarding that very inarticulate idea.
Once wrapped over and over within layers of belief, it is no more necessary for the holder of the belief to know what the original idea looks like. It becomes like a Christmas gift wrapped with layers of cover that one has to protect with his life without having any clue what indeed lies inside that box. The often invoked hidri turns out to be an obligation to pass over this wrapped gift from one generation to another, with the additional instruction never to open it. The fear was, and still is among many, once opened, there would be nothing worth dying for in it. No wonder, the Warsai (the ones who are supposed to be the current inheritors of this hidri) are not willing to protect this mute hidri with their lives; they have long suspected there is nothing in it worth listening to. Like the proverbial child who was the only one to cry when he saw the emperor naked, the Warsai are “crying”, in the form of mass exodus, after having seen the gift box for what it is – naked!
For a dogmatic faith to thrive, it requires a distance, a certain detachment, from the realty on the ground upon which it stands. That is why this empty box has now found a new home among the Diaspora, where realty is as far away as it could possibly get. It is this second-order belief of “ Eritrea” that is now obstructing the Eritrean opposition, especially of the peaceful type, from exploring radical ways of finishing off the Isaias regime. Many of them feel that this idea/image of “ Eritrea” is so precious and fragile that nobody should be allowed to poke at it either from inside or outside. They feel that any radical proposal of finishing off the Isaias regime cannot be attained without dropping this fragile box in the process and irretrievably shattering whatever is inside it to pieces. And for the sake of this “gift”, they are willing to let the Eritrean masses suffer under the brutal regime of the PFDJ until they find that proper context that would usher regime change without jeopardizing that precious and fragile idea of “Eritrea” (or to use their terms, the want to “soft land” it). If there were ever an idea that kills a nation, this would be it.
The only and one goal
The single goal that we, concerned Diaspora Eritreans in the opposition, should focus at with a singular, leather-like intensity, to the exclusion of almost everything else, should be: how to bring the Isaias regime to its end long before it inflicts an irreparable and irreversible damage to the nation. [Let me call this the “ultimate goal” for reference purposes.] Only if formulated this way, as qualified by the warning phrase, would the goal be made to reflect the proper sense of urgency required to tackle the ongoing melting down process of every aspect of the nation – economic, military, cultural, social, humanitarian and political. Only if qualified this way would the goal be made to match the fast track of death and destruction that the nation has been put on lately by the PFDJ.
The horrendous damage inflicted by the Isaias regime, which in the near future may turn out to be irreversible, is now being witnessed in every aspect of the nation’s already tattered economic, social, humanitarian and political fabric: in the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of youth, leaving behind them ghost villages, towns and cities across the nation; in the hundreds of thousands of adults indefinitely stranded in the wilderness under that misleading name of “national service”, deliberately made to toil in Sisyphean tasks solely designed for purposes of absolute control; in the tens of thousands of prisoners languishing in the ever-proliferating prisons and concentration camps all over Eritrea; in the killings and massacres at border crossings, underground dungeons, hard labor camps and other killing fields; in the systematic dismantling of the educational system, especially of higher learning; in the melting down of the economy, with the merchant and business class totally wiped out; in the hollowing out of the army, with its most seasoned and most educated part stampeding en mass for exit; in the utter failure of Shaebia’s “self-reliance” policy and, consequently, in the severe famine it has now ushered to the country; in the government’s “food policy”, where food is rationed, land expropriated, peasants’ food storages looted and traditional markets rendered off limits to peasants; in the newly accelerated “resettlement policy”, where whole regions are to be dislodged and relocated in an agrarian design with huge social ramifications; in the remaking of the nation in Shaebia’s image, with the rule of law, culture and religion gutted out by a nihilist “ideology”; and, overall, in the ever-tightening totalitarian grip over the masses that has left no elbow room to breathe, let alone protest.
Despite this impeding catastrophe of epic proportion, most of the proponents of the peaceful way of bringing change in Eritrea emphasize the first part of the ultimate goal only – “how to bring the Isaias regime to its end” – and correspondingly act at a snail pace as if they have all the time in the world to bring about that change; or, at worst, as if change will take place on its own, following an evolutionary course inherent in the history of all totalitarian systems. That is why the second part – “long before it inflicts an irreparable and irreversible damage to the nation” – is an integral and essential part of the goal, for it gives it the proper urgency it deserves. If you know that a block of ice bought at a certain store will completely melt along the way as you walk back to your home, it would be inane or insane of you if you don’t think of a faster means of reaching your home prior to buying the ice; what requires a car-pace should never be attempted through foot-pace. But that is what most of those in the opposition are doing. This snail pace, especially as it applies to the adherents of the peaceful way, takes no account of the accelerated melting down process that is going on in Eritrea right now. To reiterate the main point: the pace and type of the means deployed by the resistance should be made to match the rapid melting down process going on in the country right now. The “long range” approach adopted by the peaceful resistance though seems to be designed to save the land and not the people – if you will, to save the plastic container and not the block of ice in that container.
Violent “peaceful resistance”
The problem with most of the proponents of peaceful resistance is that they don’t realize when such a resistance turns “violent” against the very people they try to save. A peaceful resistance turns violent when it becomes an acceptable façade for doing nothing and becomes obstructionist, thereby allowing horrendous atrocities committed by the regime to go unchallenged. Their willingness to be patient and cautious in their, even if that waiting means the melting down of Eritrea at all levels, shows their peaceful resistance has, for all practical purposes, turned violent.
A good way of showing the violent nature of this kind of “peaceful resistance” would be to see the reaction of its adherents whenever the regime is threatened by outside forces, be it through sanctions or war. Often, the reason they provide is that the cost of sanction or war would be prohibitive to the masses. In other words, they are saying that the cost of doing nothing is by far less than the damage these punitive measures from outside would bring to the masses. In this calculation, they deliberately leave out the cost of the ongoing silent but insidious war that the regime is ruthlessly conducting on the Eritrean people at all fronts. Above, we have seen the various sides of this all-out assault conducted by the regime. Let me now say a few words more on just two aspects – the mass exodus and the ongoing famine – to underscore how a number of negative factors have currently come into confluence, ushering a crisis unlike any we have ever witnessed before:
(a) Already, the number of those who have left the nation for good in the mass exodus has so far reached hundreds of thousands – at minimum, more than ten times the number of those killed in the border war. It might seem unfair to compare the dead with the living, but as far as the nation is concerned almost all of these refugees are good as dead, for few of them, if ever, are likely to return to the homeland in the future; that is to say, that in terms of negative consequences to the nation that their absences would usher, both are on equal footing. And now, with the increase in repression and the ravages of a full blown famine, this flow of refugees to neighboring countries has accelerated to a fast pace of thousands per month. If the Isaias regime is allowed to stay for a couple more years, there will be almost nothing left of the youth, in general, and the educated class, in particular, thereby dimming the prospects of a democratic and prosperous Eritrea for decades to come, if not to very concept of nationhood itself. Already, the demographic, educational, agricultural, economic, military, cultural, political and other societal effects are being acutely felt throughout the country.
(b) The land is now under the grip of a severe famine. However hard the regime tries to stretch and spread the food supply available in the land, there is no way that it could make it last until the coming harvest. This year, the total food output could only cover 20 percent of the country’s total need. This means that a massive food aid from international food donors is the only way out of this mess. But for Isaias, begging the NGOs to come back to the nation is out of question, for it would imply the spectacular failure of his “self-reliance” policy. Ant yet, the harvest season in many areas took place just one or two months ago; which means the country has a long way to go before the next harvest. A few months down the road, if food aid from outside is not allowed, the available food supply will be depleted and people will start dropping dead like flies. And the regime is well aware of this: hence the TRIAGE it has in mind: it is already prioritizing population groups in giving them access to the limited food supply, with the PFDJ members, the army and the capital city respectively coming at the top of the list. That is why it is confiscating the peasants’ food supply now. No doubt then that it is the peasants and the pastoralists that will fare the worst. The only population group that will fare worse than them will be the prison population, whose food rations have been rapidly dwindling as the food crisis worsens.
A war that ends these profuse bleedings at the different parts of the Eritrean body once and for all is much less violent than the all the cries that condemn all kind of wars, and thereby allow this internal bleeding to go on, all in the name of nonviolent resistance.
Toothless peaceful resistance
Think of a hunter who has refined evasion into a form of art. A target – say, a predatory animal – is an arrow-distance away from our hunter armed with a bow and arrows. The man has no intention at all of killing the animal (for reasons of his own), but he has to go through the appearance of doing so to satisfy those who are depending on him to kill the predator; something that he has to do if he is to maintain his status and position among them. He has these six tactics he can deploy to his rescue: (a) He aims directly at the animal, but with a harmless “arrow”. (b) He makes sure his arrow lands short of the target. (c) He makes sure his arrow goes over the target. (d) He deliberately assigns the job to someone who has absolutely no idea on how to go about it. (e) He assures others that it is a waste of time because the animal is old and sick and is going to die soon on its own anyway. (f) He claims that he cannot shoot now because of the little “innocent” animals playing nearby (for fear of collateral damage). When it comes to finishing off the Isaias regime, most of the peaceful resistance proponents among Diaspora Eritreans have become adept at these six deceptive ways of “shooting” at the enemy.
A resistance cannot be made to exist in a world without friction, for its potency necessarily depends on how much it infringes and impacts the world of the oppressor. A resistance that tries to work outside the realm of friction between the two worlds of the oppressed and oppressor, by eschewing any confrontation that threatens the interests of the oppressor and aimlessly floats around the fringes, is a toothless one and doesn’t deserve to be named as such. As preached and practiced by most Eritreans in Diaspora now, peaceful resistance has turned into an oxymoron, where the peaceful way is preferred precisely because there is no resistance in it. In fact, for their resistance to count as peaceful, many of them insist that it be rendered harmless first. The harmlessness of this kind of peaceful resistance is achieved by making sure that it shies away from those confrontations that may potentially destabilize the Isaias regime in significant way. Put in the language of the example given above, their resistance is crafted in a way that guarantees the main target will never be made to be put under serious danger; they aim at anything else but the main target. HOW and WHY do they do that? Let’s look at the “how” part of the question first.
Anything but the target
One way of answering the HOW part of the question is by revisiting the six deceptive ways mentioned in the example given above. Remember how our hunter has deployed six deceptive tactics to evade his responsibility without attracting the negative attention that would surely have followed had his true intentions been known. Below, we will see how, in a similar manner, the adherents of peaceful resistance deploy these same tactics to a similar effect: to give the impression that they are working hard to usher regime change while doing all they can to avoid doing so (and in many cases, unbeknownst to themselves too). In this deceptive posturing, how to miss the target has become their main target. Here are the six ways of how to miss the main target without appearing to be doing so:
(a) Aiming to kill: If those whom he intends to fool are watching from a “safe distance” – safe to him – our hunter would aim and shoot directly at the animal, but with a harmless “arrow” (for instance, it could be blunt). Thus, he makes sure that the animal, if and when hit, would manage to escape unharmed. Similarly, the arsenal of our peaceful warriors is full of such harmless arrows: “dialog with Isaias”, “soft-landing regime change”, “exit strategy ”, “reconciliation”, “conflict resolution”, “self-reliance in resistance”, “precision surgery”, “using the scalp, as opposed to the hammer”, etc. No one has the slightest idea of how any of these is supposed to usher regime change. One might as well use Buddhist incantation, meditation, rain dance or even the magical phrase “Abra kadabra!” to wish away the Isaias regime. The ineffectiveness of these approaches has been made opaque to many observers simply because they are dressed up in alluring phrases that forever remain suspended at metaphorical level; hard as one tries, no one can ever cash them out in real-time terms that can be applied on the ground.
(b) Aiming short: Another tactic that our hunter uses is to make sure that his arrows land just short of the target. The trick is that the more nearer the arrow lands, the more achievable seems the goal. This illusion of proximity is also effectively used by the peaceful adherents of the peaceful resistance, who always occupy themselves with issues that seem close to target but leave it totally unharmed. In their preoccupation with mid-objectives (that seem very close to the target), our peaceful fighters totally lose sight of the end-objective. They deliberately package their objectives short of the main objective – that of the collapse of the Isaias regime. Those who have developed special concerns for such mid-objectives as “the release of political prisoners”, “reinstitution of free media”, “the implementation of the constitution” or “the rights of minority religions”, do so without directly connecting these demands to the end-game of regime change, even though it is crystal clear that none of these objectives will ever materialize without the latter; they act as if these mid-objectives are achievable prior to, or by other means than, regime change. So is it with “unity”, that most sought after mid-objective; no one has any idea what to do with it if attained. To many, unity is an end in itself. As such, in order to achieve unity, they are willing to compromise on the main issues, not realizing implicit in such a compromise is the eschewal of any radical means of finishing off the regime.
(c) Aiming beyond: This time, our hunter would make sure that his arrows would land beyond the target. Like a foolish groom who goes on making all the preparations needed for a marriage feast without securing a bride, those proponents of the peaceful way who “shoot over” are the ones who do all kinds of preparations for the take-over, without ever bothering how to bring down the regime. The most obvious ones are those who have created cottage industries around such subjects as “the constitution”, “smooth transition”, “good governance”, “reconciliation”, “government in exile”, “national language” and all kinds of governments that should replace the current one (Federalist? Centralist? Pluralist? Secular? Etc). The unconvincing rationale given for the preference of this approach is that they are not simply for regime change but for a lasting democratic one; hence the necessity for all the shebedbed in preparations for the aftermath. All of this is to hide the fact that they are unwilling to see, and unprepared for, the total collapse of the Isaias regime at this point in time. They want to make sure that they have completed all the preparations (although they don’t have slightest bit of idea how or when) before they entertain such an eventuality.
(d) Delegating the task to the weakest: In this case, our hunter would assign the job of killing the animal to someone who has absolutely no idea on how to go about it. Going through the motion of assigning the task is essential to fool others (and, often, oneself too). Similarly, in the case of our peaceful resistance adherents, there are those who happily relegate the task of regime change to those who are in the least position to make it happen. Think, for instance, about the proponents of “change from within”, who deliberately assign the task of regime change to the most powerless population group: the Eritrean masses who are under an iron totalitarian grip. And to make it worse, given the mass exodus that has drained the nation of its most potent group (in terms of dissent), the land is now turning into a home of the old, women and children only. And the most confused of these proponents of peace tell us that unless regime change comes from within, it is not worth having it; the romantic idea behind this is that if change doesn’t come from within it is not “genuine”. Despite the horrendous beating the nation is taking under the hands of the PFDJ, these romantics are still looking for a “genuine Eritrean revolution”, unsupported from outside forces. Having thus relegated the main task to a helpless group, now all they have to worry about are the “important issues” such as making preparations for the aftermath.
(e) Historical inevitability: This time around, our hunter would assure others that killing the animal is a waste of time, because it is old and sick and is going to die soon on its own anyway. Similarly, there are many peace proponents who disdain those who are actively trying to unseat the Isaias regime. These are also of the romantic-type who believe in the inevitability of history, as if history has its own mind, independent of its players. They believe that it is all a waste of time because such a change will take on its own anyway! They reassure us that they have nothing less than history to back them up in their claim. Rhetorically, they put it this way: hasn’t every totalitarian leader finally come to his end by the “rising up of the masses”? It doesn’t bother them that, in fact, the history of totalitarianism tells us otherwise. In most cases, the masses never rose up; the regimes came to their end as result of either internal decay (that often took decades to materialize) or foreign invasion, or a combination of both. In those rare instances where the masses seem to rise up, it took them many decades. Here again, the invocation of history to their help becomes an excuse to do nothing.
(f) Feigned concern for the masses: In this instance, our hunter would pretend to be all concern for the little animals playing around nearby; he would claim that he cannot shoot because of fear of harming anyone of them. This feigned concern for collateral damage is also reflected among many adherents of peaceful resistance. There are those who always show their “concern for the masses” whenever the Isaias regime is targeted for significant economic punishment. The fact that non-action is doing more damage to the masses than any punishment contemplated so far against the Isaias regime from outside doesn’t faze them at all. To them, for anything to count as real damage deserving our immediate and loud reaction, it has to be inflicted from outside forces. That is why they get desperate when the US contemplates designating Eritrea as a terror-sponsoring nation. But the internal terror unleashed by the Isaias regime doesn’t elicit the same urgency for the simple reason it doesn’t additionally destabilize the regimeat a time not of their choosing, even as it inflicts much more horrendous damage to the masses in Eritrea.
A slippery slope to nothingism
In the end, this emphasis on the first part of the ultimate goal only, without contextualizing it within a proper time frame, has become an excuse to do nothing. It has had this slippery slope effect that starts with some form of activism and eventually slides down into nothingism. Totally ignoring that part of the question that demands urgency, some are now audaciously proposing that little or nothing on our side is required to bring down the regime. Here are two excerpts:
“For anyone examining PIA’s path towards self-destruction, the end can’t be too far off.” After coming up with this article of faith, the writer goes on to recommend the kind of peaceful resistance that we should employ commensurate to that belief: “When we, as activists, have reached a level where we are engaging in the activity itself without getting consumed as to how far or close we are to our ultimate goals, we would have laid the foundations for great democracy, or anything else in life for that matter.” [emphasis mine] (Berhan Hagos, “Unmuddling the Muddled”) According to this writer, time as a factor is immaterial to the kind of resistance he has in mind. His idea of revolution is one that completely turns inward for solution. This, indeed, best exemplifies the state of lethargy that has gripped the opposition.
“… Dictatorship is not permanent, it always phases out. However dictators on their demise always leave power vacuum that may give rise to messy power struggles and throw countries in turmoil. The worst scenario is when situations are internationalized as to attract outside interferences. Idi Amin was overthrown by force of arms only with the participation of Tanzania army. If Eritreans don’t empower themselves enough in shaping their future some one from the outside will. More often than not change from the outside, if even sanctioned by the United Nations, serves more the interest of outsiders. …” (Petros Tesfagiorgis, “My Impression of CDRiE Conference”) Besides getting the nature and consequences of the Tanzanian involvement totally wrong, notice that the writer is more worried of what will happen after the fall of the regime than of what is happening now under the Isaias regime.
Explicitly or implicitly stated in the quotations above is this argument: since dictatorships come inevitably to their collapse under their own weight, we don’t have to worry about that part of the problem; but since they do leave a power vacuum when they come to their end, all that we have to do now is prepare for the aftermath. This probably is the most irresponsible and incoherent position to hold at this point in time because it inevitably leads to nothingism, at its best, and obstructionism, at its worst. This position doesn’t factor in the prohibitive human cost the regime is exacting during its stay in power. To mention just one point that doesn’t even make sense under their own terms, if the whole educated class is being wiped out through mass exodus and the rest are being brought up in an environment devoid of education, how is democracy supposed to work in the aftermath? What is ironic about those who are obsessed with the preparations for the aftermath is that as they waste precious time “laying the foundations for great democracy” from the outside, all the foundations for democracy from the inside are being irrevocably gutted out. It is as if they are experiencing some kind of geographic dissonance: they totally miss that, in matters of preparations, what is done from outside will matter little as compared to what goes on from the inside.
Anyone who would have argued at the time of the Khmer Rouge’s rule of Cambodia, however short it lasted (only four years), that since the regime was going to collapse under its own weight anyway, they did not have to worry about how to end it but only about how to replace it with a democratic government, would have been considered insane or inane, since in just those four years of waiting almost two million people perished under the murderous hands of Pol Pot. But I am the first one to admit that our lets-do-nothing-in-the-meantime peaceful proponents cannot be accused of either insanity or inanity; after all, these include some of most articulate writers we have in the Eritrean opposition websites. So what could be the reason behind it? To put it mildly, they are responding to the deepest of their fears, one that has incapacitated them to a point of immobility: they are afraid that if the Isaias regime comes to a sudden and total collapse as a result of outside intervention – be it through war or sanctions – that the power vacuum left behind could only be filled in with Ethiopia, be it in dominance or influence; thereby killing the very idea of “Eritrea” they harbor in their respective minds.
That debilitating fear of the outside
This fear of Ethiopia was aptly articulated by Saleh Younis (“Playing the Tom Toms while the House Is Burning”) when he was giving his reasons as to why he opposed the contemplated designation of Eritrea as a terror-sponsoring nation: “The US is too big to be bothered by a ‘postage stamp sized’ state like Eritrea and it will designate an emissary state in the Horn to take care of the nuisance. And the emissary will not be Switzerland or Kenya or Djibouti. It will be a nation from across our southern border: a nation whose ruling class has a bottom list of demands, a nation that loves to extract concessions every chance it gets.”
This fear has put most of the opposition into a state of paralysis: they do not want to act decisively to bring down the Isaias regime unless they make sure that Ethiopia’s influence is totally factored out and their respective “parties” are ready to fill in the void that would be created in the aftermath of the fall of the regime. Total certainty, nothing short of an assurance that the kind of government that replaces the Isaias regime would have to be exact to the minute specifications they have in mind, is what they are after. In the meantime, they keep WAITING for that perfect moment to arrive. But the arrival of this “perfect moment” requires nothing short of a miracle, for it depends on an impossible confluence of a number of events over which they have no control. First, given Ethiopia’s proximity and self-interest in the region, no such scenario where its influence would be factored out will ever emerge. And, second, no one can predict what “change from within” would usher. Under these conditions, a demand for change that is tailor-made to their respective specifications is a recipe for nothingism, for nothing like that could ever be guaranteed ahead of time.
But what is tragic is that at no time during this long waiting, brought about by this torturous calculation, is the human cost inside the nation ever factored in; short of a full assurance, they are willing to let the masses suffer in the meantime. If salvaging that dream of “Eritrea”, into which they have invested o much for so long, requires a few years more of Shaebia rule, so be it, seems to be their rationale. That is why the Shaebia-leaning opposition is the most vocal proponent of “change from within”, in the hope that that change will get rid of Isaias but leave Shaebia intact in power. Even as they abhor the horrors that are going on in the nation right now, they are unwilling to let go of the Shaebia’s ill conceived “ Eritrea” that is the very cause of these horrors. That is also why the Jebha-leaning opposition is obsessed the rehabilitation of Jebha, in the hope that their version of “ Eritrea” will come to materialize, one that is equally alien as that of Shaebia’s.
In most totalitarian nations, change came from outside – in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Khmer Rouge Cambodia, for instance. Petros Tesfagiorgis mentions the case of Uganda to warn us of the perils of foreign intervention; indeed, he must have a peculiar understanding of that event. If it had not been for the help from Tanzania, Uganda might have suffered some more gruesome years under the brutal regime of Idi Amin, that by then had already killed half a million of its own people. Or take the case of Cambodia, where the end of Khmer Rouge came through the military intervention of neighboring Vietnam. If it had not been for this intervention, there is no doubt that Pol Pot would have at least killed hundreds of thousands more to the two million he had already killed by then. Similarly, we have to look at foreign intervention in the case of Eritrea not in apprehension but as an opportunity that would shorten the war Isaias is ruthlessly conducting against the Eritrea people. And if that takes a military intervention from Ethiopia, so be it! I will let the “nationalists” worry about border markings, historical legacy, Eritrean pride and all the rest of ghedli paraphernalia. The only thing that matters to me is that a stop has to be made to the incalculable human cost going on in the nation right now. So my worry is not that Ethiopia might intervene, but that it might be less inclined to do so. [In the last installment of this series of articles, I will extensively deal with the Ethiopian connection.]
The problem with us Eritreans is that, when it comes to rightly assessing Shaebia’s behavior, we are always caught off guard whenever a new blunder or crime is committed. It is as if we have never expected it would go that far, even as the new crime happens to be in lock-step with its past behavior. That tells us that we have not totally given up on this alien world of ghedli’s making, one that is capable of doing anything inconceivable. Despite all the past atrocities, Eritreans are still having a hard time convincing themselves that the very people who liberated Eritrea would go to the extent of allowing their own people to starve to death simply because they wouldn’t let go of their arcane ideology of “self-reliance” and the stupid pride of their leader that goes with it. Well, all we have to do is learn from recent history, where the pride of Mao cost China 38 million people, the pride Kim Jong Il cost Korea two to three million and the pride of Pol Pot cost Cambodia two million, all in self-induced famines invariably undertaken under that misleading slogan of “self-reliance”. How much will the pride of Isaias cost Eritrea? If you are willing to WAIT to find out, you ought to be either inane or insane.
[In my next posting, I will repost an article that I wrote in 2003, “Correction at the Bottom” to serve as a conceptual framework for the four articles that will follow it. In all of them, we will see how a blunder or crime committed at the top gets corrected at a huge price at the bottom – in the form of mass exodus, killings and massacres, educational deprivation and famine.]