While I was extremely glad to see a wealth of factual information in your recent issue “Horn of Africa: The Coming Storm” (MER 106), I was bothered by the fact that Halliday, Molyneux and, to a much lesser extent, Gilkes see Ethiopia continuing to move in a revolutionary direction “toward socialism.” But I don’t see that happening, for some fundamental reasons. The point, to me, is that the revolution in Ethiopia is long over.
The Derg exists today not because the people (either workers or peasants) put it in power, but because it has had the ability to crush popular opposition. The fact is, power remains in the hands of a relatively small number, and that is something the Derg is simply not about to change, whether or not the country is ruled by a military junta or what will amount to an “elite” party formation. Whether some of the Derg’s decisions and reforms have been progressive seems to be beside the point.
Personally, I don’t believe that the claim to socialism of a regime that has murdered thousands of left-wing opponents, imprisoned even more and continues its fight to subjugate non-Amhara peoples, can be accepted. Socialism is supposed to liberate human beings from oppression, not find new methods for that oppression. In my view, a better analysis of Ethiopia would be that of a state-capitalist society.
The revolution that will free the people of Ethiopia from oppression and the revolution that will free the Eritreans, Tigreans. Oromos and others from national and colonial oppression is yet to be won. In any case, keep up the good work informing us of events in the Horn of Africa.
I was shocked to read your “From the Editors” column in the July-August 1982 issue of MERIP Reports. I have, during the past few years, grown accustomed to your blatant bias and selective presentation of facts when dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict. But your comments regarding Israel’s invasion of Lebanon put your magazine at the top of the Arab-Israeli propaganda “garbage heap.” I don’t know what press and eyewitness reports you are referring to in your comments about alleged Israeli mistreatment of prisoners (unless you mean Giannou’s account; Giannou, as is well known now, was paid by a group of American-Arab physicians — hardly what could be called impartial observers), but I have read many accounts by Lebanese civilians of the mistreatment and brutality they suffered at the hands of the PLO. I also notice you use the words “tactics of indiscriminate slaughter” in referring to the Israeli invasion, but fail to provide any evidence (let alone objective evidence) to back up your claim. Quite the contrary to your claim (with the noticeable exception of Sharon’s August 12 attack on Beirut), most of the claims of indiscriminate slaughter and high casualty figures seemed to have emanated from Yasser Arafat’s brother and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (once again hardly an objective source).
Do you really think the cause of peace will be furthered by your blatant bias and by ignoring facts which don’t support your preconceived conclusions? In a sense you, by knowingly distorting the truth, are just as much a criminal as you claim Begin and Sharon are. Peace will be achieved when both Israelis and Palestinians stop portraying each [other] as “black beasts” or “savage barbarians,” and when Jews stop attributing Nazi motives to Arabs and Arabs stop attributing colonial motives to Israelis. Your publication is obviously doing nothing to contribute to peace and is apparently unable to rise above the infantile level of vituperation which characterizes most of the Arab-Israeli debate.
Los Alamitos, CA