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        Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?
        Saturday, April 01, 2006
        News analysis - Ethiopian style
        If the daily ritual around my mom's dinner table and the Ethio-blogsphere are yardsticks, I can safely conclude that political discussion is well and alive in Ethiopia. It has always been, and it goes beyond discussion into dissecting, surgery – both plastic and remedial. Whichever direction it goes, the common factor is that it is always passionate and whether you are a participant or a mere spectator you feel that you solved the country’s and the world’s problems at the end.

        I do miss those days when my two brothers, my mom, my cousin and myself used to butcher the daily events and history Monday to Friday around 6pm at the dinner table. I just realized that we didn’t do politics on the weekends. My sister (a major in Political Science) was the only one in the family who refused to talk politics. My auntie was the self-designated devil’s advocate and instigator. A tiny woman who always wore the Netela (an Ethiopian shawl) and who was the mistress of coffee ceremony, used to cover her mouth with the Netela and drop a bomb here and there when she felt that the screaming, name calling (in front of my mom – it was only allowed during political discussions), and the popping veins were subsiding. She ignited something and left us with her favorite line Belu ete, wedebete lihidibet (something like Okey now let me go home). As if we were holding her up from going home…! And we knew that my mom was signing off when she said with such authority and clarity of knowledge, “Everybody is a thief!”

        For an outsider, it would look as if we were going to strangle each other the way we debated issues. How I miss that in the US. Most people around me (I'm refraining from generalizing) are really oblivious to what is going on in their own country, and are blissfully clueless about the world.

        What I really wanted to do in this post was to dissect a news item from BBC Online in Ethiopian style. I must be missing home to go around the intro. above. This is how my family would entertain itself with the following news.

        Rice admits multiple Iraq errors

        Cousin: Reads out the article (I don’t know why she was always the reader. May be she bought most of the newspapers on the way from work)

        Bro 2. Yeah right, it is a bit too late isn’t it?

        Aunt: Is Rice a real name?

        Everybody: It doesn’t matter! To my cousin, keep on reading.

        Mumbles with her mouth covered with her Netela and checks the coffee pot.

        Mom: Leboch (cheaters). (She must have had a rough day at work to sign off before the debate even begun.)

        Cousin: Come on Etete, let’s see what the rest of it says.

        US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has admitted the US has made thousands of tactical errors in Iraq, but said it was right to remove Saddam Hussein.

        Mom: I told you they are thieves. All of them.

        Bro. 1: What does tactical error mean?

        Bro. 2: It is just bullshit. Who cares about the tactics? It is the principle of going to war that was wrong anyway.

        Sis: I’m going to my room. Can I have ginger tea and popcorn? (that girl consumed huge amounts of popcorn that it is a mystery how she didn’t start popping.)

        Cousin: I swear on my father’s life (she always does), Rice is just pretending to be admitting an error so that people would be happy that the Bush administration has finally admitted their mistake in invading Iraq.

        Bro. 1: I still don’t understand. Is she talking about the tactics they used to convince the domestic and international public to invade Iraq or tactics of military strategy once they are in Iraq?

        Mom: That’s why they are thieves. She’s deliberately vague so that she appears to be admitting to something while not admitting to anything.

        Bro. 1: Does this mean she’s saying that although they went in for the wrong reason, the outcome of removing Saddam was good?

        Bro. 2: Why are you obsessing about the little details? She is not saying anything new. That is the point.

        Aunt: Read the rest and let me go home.

        Cousin: Continues to read.

        “This could have gone that way, or that could have gone this way,” said Ms Rice, adding that the US-led invasion was “the right strategic decision”.

        Bro. 2. I told you she was not saying anything new!

        Cousin: At least they are admitting something.

        Bro. 2. Not really. Read between the lines. She is still saying that they were right to invade Iraq regardless of finding weapons of mass distraction. I want her to apologize for the WMD cover.

        Mom: (Warming up to the discussion) At least they got rid of that evil guy (she won’t mention his name because he is as ‘evil’ as cancer and AIDS).

        Bro. 2: And they achieved what?

        Aunt: I wonder how her parents came up with the name Rice.
        Everybody: Glares at Auntie for obsessing about an irrelevant issue. She re-checks the coffee pot nervously.

        Bro. 1: (He, by the way, thrives on intellectual goading) Is she implying something when she says ‘this’ and ‘that’.

        Bro. 2: Now you sound like Clinton – “what does ‘is’ mean?” She says ‘this’ and ‘that’ because she really doesn’t have anything to say.

        Aunt: Hmm, why would the newspaper write about what she said if she doesn’t have anything to say then? They are quoting nothing basically.

        Everybody: Pretends to not listen to her comment although she has a point.
        Cousin: I swear on my father’s life, she must have bribed the journalist to publish this article and make it look like she has made a major confession.

        Bro. 1: So, Auntie was right in saying that the paper is quoting “nothing”?
        Cousin: (Keeps on reading.)

        Ms Rice's comments came after she delivered a major foreign policy speech in Blackburn during her tour of the UK.

        Bro. 2 You see the timing was right for her to say something about mistakes. Something must have happened to give her a reason to appear apologetic.
        Bro. 1: But she’s not apologizing. She just said we would do this all over again, but differently.

        Cousin: (Reads on.)
        Her visit has sparked anti-war protests in the north-western town.

        While democracy may take time, it's always worth it - it's going to take time in Iraq

        Bro. 2: I told you (and sinks into his chair and pretends to be relaxing with victory)

        Aunt: Do you remember that Mengistu (former dictator) used to put more non-revolutionary Ethiopian variety shows and American movies on TV before something bad happens? (The only government owned channel was airing only Chinese and Russian movies, and the rest was Ethiopian revolutionary propaganda)

        Mom: Yeah, and we always knew that something bad was going to happen.
        Aunt: And do you remember a week or so later, they would play that song “Yefiyel wet’et’e” (This song was about a kid goat with a chip on its shoulders and a heart inflated with contempt. It was a sign that the government was going to announce the execution or arrest of a political opponent(s) or “threat(s).”)

        Bro. 2: You’re changing the subject now.

        Cousin: Reads on

        "I know we've made tactical errors - thousands of them, I'm sure," Ms Rice said in a session of questions after her speech, organised by BBC Radio 4's Today programme and Chatham House international affairs institution.

        Aunt: This Pasta woman…

        Everybody: Rice!

        Aunt: Whatever. She has lots of nerves to admit that!

        Bro: 2: (Back on the tip of his chair) Admit what?

        Mom: She’s still better than Mengistu.

        Aunt: Remember how Mengistu used to shift his eyes when he made speeches.
        Bro. 1: May be that is why Condi is making this speech instead of Bush. His eyes shift like Menge’s.

        Bro. 2: Can you imagine Bush in England speaking in English about such touchy topic?

        Everybody: Outburst of laughter.

        Bro. 2: (Really relaxed now for a moment) He would go “I’m the master of low expectations. I know something about being a government. And you’ve got a good one”

        Bro. 1: (Letting lose now) Yeah, and Tony would sit there grimacing with each sentence.

        Bro. 2: And…and, he would say something like “I think war is a dangerous place. I think the American people – I hope the American – I don’t think, let me – I hope the American people trust me”

        Bro. 1: When he sees Tony grimacing, he would feel obliged to say something like “[Tony] is a good listener, and he’s a pretty good actor, too.”
        Everybody: Outburst of laughter.

        Cousin: How about the famous “There’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on- shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.”

        Aunt: (You can almost see the light bulb going on in her head) So ferenj’s (Whites) are also leboch (cheats).

        Everybody: Long glare.

        Reads on

        "But when you look back in history, what will be judged is did you make the right strategic decisions," she said. "I believe strongly that it was the right strategic decision, that Saddam (Hussein) had been a threat to the international community long enough," Ms Rice added.

        Aunt: Did they find the cruel weapons (WMDs)and Bin Laden? Leaves the room with the coffee pot to avoid another round of glares.

        (Reads on)

        During her speech Ms Rice touched on a number of key issues of US foreign policy, saying that:
        • no-one should doubt America's commitment to justice and the rule of law
        • the US had no desire "to be the world's jailer", and that Washington wanted "the terrorists that we capture to stand trial"
        • the cause of advancing freedom was the greatest hope for peace today
        • the use of force "is not what is on the agenda now" in the stand-off over Iran's nuclear programme - adding that President Bush "never takes any option off the table"
        • the US and Britain should continue to have "extremely close" relations and be united in the fight against terrorism

        Bro. 1: So what does all this mean?

        Mom: Nothing!

        Cousin: I swear on my father’s life, brave of the protestors to demonstrate.

        Bro. 1: Aaah, protesting is easy in the UK because nobody is going to die or get shot at if they do.

        Bro. 2: Yeah, let them come to Addis and try that!

        Aunt: I think Ethiopians are braver to protest despite being killed, wounded or jailed. Let me go home now.

        Mom: Did you hear that So and so’s son was shot in the leg while demonstrating.

        Then the discussion about an acquaintance’s son would lead to family discussions…and the political debate fades away.

        The quotes from Bush's speeches were from Jacob Weisbert's Still More George W. Bushism.

        More Bush quotes on the war in Iraq

        Setting the agenda
        “There may be some tough times here in America. But this country has gone through tough times before, and we’re going to do it again.”

        Analyzing the enemy
        “These people don’t have tanks. They don’t have ships. They hide in caves. They send suiciders out.” 2002

        Setting goals
        “There’s no doubt in my mind that we should allow the world’s worst leaders to hold America hostage, to threaten our peace, to threaten our friends and allies with the world’s worst weapons.”

        Setting objectives
        “I was proud the other day when both Republicans and Democrats stood with me in the Rose Garden to announce their support for a clear statement of purpose: you disarm, or we will.”

        Clearing the way for action
        “The law I sign today directs new funds and new focus to the task of collecting vital intelligence on terrorist threats and on weapons of mass production.” 2002

        Extent of project
        “There’s no cave deep enough for America, or dar enough to hide.” 2002

        Project participation
        “People say, how can I help on this war against terror? How can I fight evil? You can do so by mentoring a child; by going into a shut-in’s house and say I love you.” 2002

        “President Musharraf, he’s still tight with us on the war against terror, and that’s what I appreciate. He’s a – he understands that we’ve got to keep al-Aaida on the run, and that by keeping him on the run, it’s more likely we will bring him to justice.” 2002

        Project narration“The war on terror involves Saddam Hussien because of the nature of Saddam Hussien, the history of Saddam Hussein, and his willingness to terrorize himself.” 2003

        Who’s who?“We ended the rule of one of history’s worst tyrants, and in so doing, we not only freed the American people, we made our own people more secure.”

        Progress report“We’ve got hundreds of sites to exploit, looking for the chemical and biological weapons that we know Saddam Hussein had prior to our entrance into Iraq.” 2003

        “Security is the essential roadblock to achieving the road map to peace.” 2003

        This has been a lot of fun! Happy fools day!
        posted by Fikirte @ 7:20 AM   Digg!
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