This is nowhere so starkly evident as with the stereotypes, mythologies and deceptions doled out to the U.S. public on the subject of Africa (the Arab world, and all things Islamic, run a close second). This includes mainstream reportage, policy debates, scholarly journals, tabloids, radio shows, and print magazines—from WIRED to National Geographic. This is also evident in supposed “alternative” media sources like The Nation and films like Hotel Rwanda.
Alternative? To what? Virtually all available media fall on a spectrum that serves up topics and frameworks that are tolerated and allowed, where “healthy debate,” “exposés” and (perceived) “hostility”, are even encouraged. Hence we have Seymour Hersh offering us revealing exposés on torture in Abu Ghraib, but saying nothing about the profits being made over the dead bodies due to U.S. sponsored covert operations and destabilization in Congo during and since the Clinton regime.
Nation editor Katrina Van de Heuvel will steer sharply away from any challenge to the “humanitarian” actions of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a strong proponent of military intervention—allied with the other two big humanitarian agencies CARE and Refugees International—in the recent massive lobbying effort to “stop genocide” in Darfur, Sudan. Is there genocide in Darfur? If so, or even not so, why has it received overwhelming press attention while the Anuak genocide has received none? What about nearby Congo? And Rwanda?
Van de Heuvel has ties with Henry Kissinger, a member of an IRC board, and one of the few U.S. officials to be publicly labeled as a war criminal. The IRC is a powerful faction in Congo, Rwanda and Sudan, and the Congolese accused them of espionage. CARE’s “partners” include aerospace and defense corporation Lockheed-Martin, who is also a major underwriter of Seymour Hersh’s regular print venue, the war advocacy journal Atlantic Monthly.
A truly “investigative” journalist might hack through the propaganda of Hotel Rwanda to get to United Artists parent company Metro Goldwyn Meyer, whose directors, not surprisingly, given what the film does not tell you about the U.S.-sponsored invasion of Rwanda (1990–1994), include current United Technologies director and U.S. General (Ret.) Alexander Haig. Recall that “I’m in charge here” Al Haig served under a Hollywood actor named Ronald Reagan. Hotel Rwanda took off from the now celebrated but wholly mythologized book We Regret To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed by Philip Gourevitch, the New Yorker’s premier Africanist, and whose brother-in-law, Jamie Rubin, was Madeleine Albright’s leading man. The Nation runs the standard nonsense on Rwanda, usually by Victoria Britain. Another pro-military interventionist on Darfur, Samantha Power could surely satisfy The Nation, given her selective and patriotic journalism on Rwanda and the Balkans, for which she won a Pulitzer.
Behind the mass hysteria whipped up in the post-September 11th America are the dirty little and not-so-little but secret wars whipped up in “uncivilized” and “savage” places like Djibouti, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo and (Gambella) Ethiopia.
It takes more than one party to wage a war. From Chad, Uganda and Ethiopia come weapons and logistical support for the enemies of the Islamic regime in Khartoum. At the same time, the Bush gang has reportedly “allied” with the Sudan government in its “war on terror”—if we believe the Ken Silverstein “exposé” in the L.A. Times (which is merely being expedient in its truth-telling). Off the agenda are any discussions of the U.S. regimes of terror in Uganda or Cameroon, for example, or U.S. support for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and other warring militias and factions in Darfur, Chad, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Congo.
Like nearby Chad, Ethiopia has become a favored territory from which transnational corporate interests can be served by launching clandestine terror operations against Islamic governments, Al Queda phantoms, and other hostile enemies. The latter category, of course, includes Arabs on horseback, machete-wielding Hutus, Mai-Mai “wearing bathroom fixtures” on their heads, innocent men, women and children all over Africa, and, of course, the Anuaks of Ethiopia who, like the Ogonis in Nigeria and the Fur of Darfur, have the audacity to be living over someone else’s oil.
By February 21, 2002, the U.S. DOD had already purchased 79 RQ-1 Predators from General Atomics, for a per unit price of about $7 million, or some $553 million dollars. * “State Terror in Ethiopia” was the first report, and WW4 Report the first venue, to illuminate the U.S. military alliance with the Ethiopian regime and the regional base of U.S. covert operations in Hurso, Ethiopia as well as the presence of RQ-1 Predator Drones being operated over the entire Horn region by the Central Intelligence Agency. Smith College students recently working to “stop genocide” in Darfur held a letter-writing campaign demanding that George Bush authorize that unmanned Predator drones—impersonal, indiscriminate killing robots—be launched against Arabs on horses, and other “undefined” targets, in Darfur.
The U.S.-supported regime of Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia is experiencing widespread domestic dissent and protest, which remain underreported. June 2005 saw massive government repression, troops firing on crowds, and torture spreading across Ethiopia after the people protested obvious election-rigging.
Ethiopia’s secret U.S.-sponsored war (2000) against Eritrea has destabilized the border region, causing untold death and despair. Murder, extra-judicial execution, rape, disappearances, arrest and imprisonment of Anuaks, Oromos, Nuers and other indigenous Ethiopian people continue. What makes “State Terror in Ethiopia” so poignant is its sharp juxtaposition to the stories of genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur, which received widespread attention, and to Congo, which is mostly off the media agenda.
With Darfur, what is really at issue is not genocide, and it is not about “humanitarian” anything, or there wouldn’t be so many people dead already—and still dying. It is about regime change, and some people will do anything to get us to support that.
In Congo, the death toll has struck seven million since the U.S. invasion began, and the war rages on while both Clinton and Bush factions profit from diamond and gold and other hundreds-of-multimillion-dollars-a-month material thefts. Next to the holy wars of Congo and Darfur, the Anuaks are a mere thorn in the side of Empire. Such is the political economy of genocide.
* Shortly after “State Terror in Ethiopia” appeared in WW4 Report and Z Magazine, Marc Lacey, Nairobi Bureau Chief for the New York Times, ran some damage control, and reported from Gambella with a nasty little blame-the-victims story that deflected attention from the undesirable details: “Amid Ethiopia’s Strife, a Bathing Spot and Peace” (New York Times, 6/11/04). There was hardly a word about oil or U.S. interests, and Lacey framed the story to suggest that peace had returned to Gambella, an area rife with ancient tribal animosity, he declared, where the Anuaks “once went naked and ate rats.” (Curiously, not one New York Times link to this story is active today, perhaps because it has been widely noted for its racism, and so it is being electronically erased.)
Doug McGill of the McGill Report has done consistent work to report on the Anuak story. World War 4 Report also published a second follow-up story titled “Ethnic Cleansing in Ethiopia.” Soon after this appeared, Human Rights Watch finally published a major report on the Anuak genocide based on Kieth Harmon Snow's field investigations “Today is the Day of Killing Anuaks” and “Operation Sunny Mountain?”(pdf)