Ethiopia: America’s Model for Civil Liberty?

Remember how the US contracted Ethiopia to “restore order” in Somalia? The East African dictatorship was to help install a UN-backed government of warlords and former communist apparatchiks in order to “free” Somalia. They ended up obliterating the delicate gains the impoverished society had made in the early 2000s.

Ethiopia, whose government purposely starved Its Own People to death in the 80s, such that Americans sang songs about them, was Washington’s light of freedom unto the Somalis. That turned out horrifyingly as we know — Ethiopia could poetically be said to have infected Somalia with famine; many other African despotisms have been roped in to somehow deliver democracy at missile-point, killing and displacing thousands in the process; an insurgency of war-scarred children runs wild.

But the point isn’t to mock yet again the utter, utter failure of US foreign policy with regard to Somalia, but to note that Ethiopia — DC’s go-to for regional freedom delivery — is run by terrible people who monitor and punish journalism they feel threaten them. Two Swedish journalists were just sentenced to 15 years in prison for “terrorism,” i.e., the crime of attempting to report in the Ogaden, an ethnic Somali region ruled brutally by Addis Ababa. Ethiopian journalists have been charged with terrorism as well. Many flee, shuttering their papers, in order to avoid what I imagine are quite inhospitable prisons — all for speaking their minds.

In the US, meanwhile, a sort of terror-fueled guerrilla law has taken hold, which will now soon be properly codified thanks to a few hawks and an ocean of cowards in Congress, plus a power-mad president. One could wonder if Ethiopia might be the model for the US government lately, whose leaders have seen fit to torture, imprison, and murder Americans for their own crimes of speech.