The devil quotes Scripture

Meles Zenawi
Meles surrounded by his bodyguards
Fearful of the people, a forest of securitymen makes sure Meles Zenawi is safe. After 16 years of misrule, Ethiopia is deliberately deprived of her right to access even the Internet. No press freedom. No independent judiciary. Still worse, the regime spends millions of dollars to jam Voice of America (VOA) and Deutsche Welle (DW) broadcasts from Washington, DC and Cologne, respectively.
“The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. An evil soul producing holy witness is like a villain with a smiling cheek.” So wrote Shakespeare in the Merchant of Venice. Today, the villainous merchants of tyranny and dictatorship in Ethiopia quote the Treaty of Wuchale (Ucciale) to oppose a human rights bill (H.R. 2003) in the U.S. Congress.

The irony, hypocrisy and cynicism in digging up the ghost of the Treaty of Wuchale is obvious. They want to make H.R 2003 a propaganda battleground for Ethiopian sovereignty. But there is no basis for comparison. The Italians claimed Ethiopia became a protectorate when it signed that Treaty in 1889, and gave Italy the power to manage its foreign relations. Menelik rejected the Italian claim as preposterous. He informed the Italians and the other European powers that he will abrogate the Treaty in 1894.

The Italians believed they could teach Menelik and the African “savages” a lesson with their superior military strategy and technology. But on March 1, 1896, at the Battle of Adowa, Menelik taught the Italians a hard lesson. That battle today serves not only as the hallmark of Ethiopia’s sovereignty and independence, but also marks the first time in recorded history when black Africans decisively defeated an imperial European power. It was also the first time in history a European government openly recognized the full independence of a black nation!

But just a few years ago, the Nouveau Patriots who trotted out the Treaty of Wucahle declared Ethiopia’s history spans only one hundred years. They condemned Emperor Menelik as a ruthless overlord who used brute force to forge the modern Ethiopian state. Even today, they proclaim there is no such entity as Ethiopia worthy of legally-recognized sovereignty, only a collection of ethnic enclaves under that name. They stay up sleepless scheming to dismember the country. Wonder of wonders: Now they are frothing at the mouth singing the battle hymn of Ethiopian sovereignty and independence, and bellyaching over Ethiopia’s bygone glory. No one is fooled by this nonsense.

The people of Ethiopia know that it is these shameless mercenaries-turned-new-patriots, who now shed crocodile tears over the supposed loss of Ethiopian sovereignty in H.R. 2003, who toiled to hand over Ethiopian sovereignty by “liberating” Eritrea from Ethiopia. In a four-part interview with TPLF radio on May 28, 2007, TPLF Chief Sebhat Nega repeatedly and vociferously stated that no one fought for Eritrean independence from Ethiopian colonial rule more ferociously than the TPLF. “We paid dearly to liberate Eritrea," he said. “Even if Eritrea comes under attack today,” Sebhat warned, “I’ve no doubt the EPRDF-led government would jump into Eritrea, join the Eritrean people and engage the enemy.” Yes, these are the same guys who are now clucking about Ethiopian sovereignty and independence.

In June 2000, these same “defenders” of Ethiopian sovereignty submitted to a binding arbitration under the Algiers Agreement to “resolve” the Ethiopian-Eritrean border dispute; and in the process squandered a military victory that cost the lives of 100,000 Ethiopian soldiers. The Arbitration Commission awarded Badme, the flash point of the conflict, and other chunks of Ethiopian territory to Eritrea. Ironically, what Eritrea could not obtain by force of arms, she was able to receive on a silver platter in binding arbitration. First, it was the Red Sea they handed over to Eritrea, and seven years later in 2000, it was whatever Eritrea claimed from Ethiopia. When Ethiopia is not in the hands of Ethiopians, we shouldn't be surprised if we have "leaders" that treat us like enemies.

Just a few months ago, these same “defenders” of Ethiopian sovereignty handed over fertile agricultural lands to the Sudan. For over a century, the lands in eastern Atbara River along the Ethiopia-Sudan border remained contested. But Ethiopian sovereignty was conveniently forgotten by Meles Zenawi as he handed over the territory to the Sudan. But that is not all. The same “defenders” of Ethiopian sovereignty had no problems violating Somali sovereignty in December 2006. For almost a year now, Meles Zenawi has been waging a U.S.-backed war in Somalia to shore up an unpopular transitional government, resulting in the deaths of thousands and displacement of one million Somalis. He is stuck in the Somali quagmire as the Somalis fight back to defend their country’s sovereignty. Meles is now crying foul against American violation of Ethiopian sovereignty by passing H.R. 2003?

Then there is the Bush Administration’s plans to create an Africa Command (AFRICOM) to enable the United States to pursue its global counter-terrorism agenda. Guess who is the lackey sent to destroy the terrorists alleged to be incubating in the great failed state of Somalia?

If truth be told, the historical parallels between the Treaty of Wuchale and the Bush Adminstration’s AFRICOM plans are uncanny. The Treaty of Wuchale was concluded at a time known as the “European scramble for Africa”. Italy was the last of the European countries to seek out colonies in Africa; and it interpreted the Treaty of Wuchale as giving it total control over Ethiopia’s foreign relations.

The irony of that historical fact must not have been lost to Theresa Whelan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for African Affairs, when she stated last February that AFRICOM “is not about a scramble for the continent.” What a curious and disquieting phrase to use in this day and age?

On November 9, 2007, Meles met with US Africa Command Chief, General William E. Ward, and said: “The US Africa Command will be important in playing a major role in bringing lasting peace and security across the continent.” General Ward agreed, “The command will put its maximum effort along with African countries to assure peace and stability across the countries." Now, who will be running Ethiopia’s foreign relations under the AFRCOM? The Treaty of Wuchale redux? Is this what they are talking about when they complain about American “colonialism” and “imperialism” in H.R. 2003? Jendayi Fraser must be wondering, “Just what do you do when the dog bites the hand that feeds?”

The Treaty of Wuchale has nothing to do with the human rights message of H.R. 2003. The bill merely asserts the centrality of human rights in U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. does not want its economic and military aid to be misused by the regime to oppress and mistreat the people of Ethiopia. If the Meles regime wants continued American aid, it must release all political prisoners, allow judges to administer justice without political interference or pressure, and allow basic democratic freedoms, including a censorship- and harassment-free independent press. Political parties should be given a chance to compete fairly for votes, with institutions established to prevent and root out election fraud. That’s what H.R. 2003 is all about.

Those who seek to equate the Treaty of Wuchale with H.R. 2003 are not only willfully and cynically ignorant of history, but they are also blind to the fact that they condemn themselves by raising the specter of that Treaty. If they are looking for a historical parallel to the Treaty of Wuchale as interpreted by the Italians, they should look no further than the Algiers Agreement.

Paul Goodman said, “When the Devil quotes Scriptures, it's not, really, to deceive, but simply that the masses are so ignorant of theology that somebody has to teach them the elementary texts before he can seduce them.” The official critics and their ignorati sycophants however quote H.R. 2003 because they do intend to deceive and seduce the masses into their web of manufactured lies and disinformation campaign. But the masses know that trumpeting a lie a thousand times does not transmute it into truth.