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Derg 2.0ís autopsy: lessons


Derg 2.0ís autopsy: lessons



Derg 2.0 (2018-2021) will, as expected, end up like Derg 1.0 (1974-1991). Thereís a good and bad news to this culmination. The bad news is Derg 2.0 caused unprecedented damage to Tigrai. This is also expected because Derg 2.0 is an upgraded Derg 2.0. The good news is Tigreans exorcized this evil as swiftly as possible.

The lesson? Itís quite plain: this should NEVER EVER HAPPEN AGAIN!! Whoever leads Tigrai in the future should never take a risk that will expose the people to go through such hellish ordeal! That is why Tigreans should meticulously account: 1) the seriousness of each harm in the physical, psychological, economic, and social well-being of every Tigrean, 2) what each perpetrator said to each victim as they inflicted these harms, and 3) what the world said and did as the perpetrators exacted each harm.

Surely, Tigreans should investigate the details of these heinous crimes to a) hold each persecutor accountable no matter where he/she flees and b) extract sufficient reparations from the coffers each used to implement the evil. Beyond that, however, Tigreans need to account every bit of harm to understand: 1) what they did wrong to become so vulnerable, 2) what they should do to perpetually eliminate their vulnerability, and 3) how the REAL world, including fellow Africans, treats vulnerable people. These lessons should be incorporated in the curriculum of future generations so they may know the repercussions of being vulnerable in this cold world.

If there is one thing this ordeal thought Tigreans is should be, I think, this: that they should focus on context, not agents. The actors (agents) who threatened Tigreans to date are incompetent. Isaias is by no means savvier than H/Selassie, Abiy is dumber than Mengistu. The horsemen (agents) of apocalypse have never outsmarted Tigraiís leaders. Yet, they inflicted so much damage to Tigraiís population and ecosystem. Why is that? It is because of the structural factors that confront Tigreans. These factors may be divided into artificial and natural environment.

The artificial context could be summed up as Tigraiís political position in the world. Tigrai has persevered in preserving its political autonomy for ages. But the cost of maintaining that autonomy has been mounting to the extent that is might soon become unaffordable. This change manifested in the 20th Century after the advent of the fighter jet. The advent of fighter jets transformed the meaning of sovereignty. As Mussolini proved it, Adwa was no longer feasible.

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The 1st and 2nd world war proved to allied forces that mobilizing ground forces wonít spare them from the German Luftwaffe. Great nations like France and Scandinavians quickly fell to the Naziís because the latterís airpower overwhelmed them. Likewise, the 1st Weyane revolution faltered because it could not withstand the Royal Airforce H/Selassie deployed in Tigrai. Derg 1.0 was able to extend its lifespan and murder thousands of Tigreans using its Soviet jets. History has repeated itself in 2021 when Derg 2.0 used Chinese made UAE drones to decimate Tigraiís artillery power and change the course of battle.

This age of drones has made the need for Tigrai to control its airspace more indispensable than ever. Unlike fighter jets, drones can attack military hardware during day and night because they are equipped with night visions and heat sensors. Compared to the fighter jet, they donít cost a lot of money, donít need a trained pilot, and can hit targets with precision owing to the satellite technology they employ. Derg 1.0 did not have this technology, but Derg 2.0 has employed it vis-ŗ-vis the UAE. Tigrai became vulnerable simply because it was unable to guard its skies. It was trapped as a ďregionĒ inside Ethiopia where it delegated such important aspect of its security to the Ethiopian air force that Derg 2.0 controlled.

The political arrangement (entrapment inside Ethiopia) is dangerous in this age where defense technology is empowering states more than ever. Tigrai needs the liberty to explore state of the art technology to guard not just its land but also its air and cyberspace. The foundation to realize this can only be laid through a groundbreaking political arrangement that will guarantee Tigrai to utilize its full potential as a sovereign entity in the society of nations. Tigrai can no longer rely on its infantry in this 21st Century. It needs, I think, its own air and cyber force for now and a defense technology institute to remain secure in the future. Hence, from a strictly pragmatic vantagepoint, i.e., setting aside all sentimental rationales and aspirations, I think sovereignty is the only viable option for Tigrai to exist in this world.

The other artificial context (besides physical security) pertains to international orientation. Tigrai should revisit its values as applied to external relation. Is this world that we live in driven by agreed norms or using brute force? In other words, is the Judeo-Christian based liberal world order established after the Second World War really applied or not? The Tigrean experience shows that it is not. The last 8 months have demonstrated that only the strong survives.

After all, Kant did not envision perpetual peace for despotic regimes. He said perpetual peace was possible among democratic republics. Kant did not envision Napoleons and Hitlers would settle for peaceful coexistence. So, Tigreans should treat others by objectively weighing their level of civilization. As King Solomon said, ďdonít throw pearls in front of pigs for they will trample on it!Ē †This, by the way, also applies to various actors in the neighborhood. The literature on negotiation is based on liberal norms.

The leading scholars on negotiation advise parties to focus on expanding the pie as cutting a big chunk for themselves and leaving the other with less share. In other words, parties should find a creative solution whereby everyone goes home with a bigger pie. They say negotiation is not a trade exercise where a buyer pressures on a vendor to lower a sales price as much as he could (using leverage/raising the stake) while the later does the same. This kind of practice, they say, is not negotiation but a hard bargain (a 0-sum game). Well, if there is one thing the past 8 months thought Tigreans it is the fact that some parties are not worth negotiating with. Derg 2.0 is one of those monsters which, in my view, should be completely defeated. Parties like Derg 2.0 and its Eritrean wingmen should be treated with the utmost realism akin to Machiavellianism. As they often say: ďእሽዖህን፣ በሽዖህ መንቀል ነው።Ē ††So much for the artificial context.

The natural context is the most potent dimension Tigrai should watch out. What is the demographic composition of Tigrai and its surroundings? Most importantly: a) What is the state of youth bulge in Tigrai and surroundings? and b) what is the state of women and girls in Tigrai and surrounding? These 2 factors (especially b) are the paramount predictors of a nationís fate. A society whose women and girls are empowered brings up a generation they will prosper and uplift everyone else. A society that fails to exploit the potential of its girls and women brings up delinquents wrecking- havoc within and beyond. The thieves and rapists Tegaru witnessed during the past months are the offspring of disempowered women. Second, is the youth bulge. This is a double-edged sword element. Nations capable of streamlining the energy of their youth towards productive pursuits thrive. Nations that abandon or mislead their youth direct their energy towards death and destruction. The African continent, including the Horn of Africa, will continue to become young at least twenty or thirty decades down the line. The behavior of this youth will be determined by the policy of its leaders. The sort of leaders these billion people have will impact Tigrai. †

Climate and health are also a paramount factor that ought to be taken seriously. The world is expected to have hostile climate in the foreseeable future. This is going to affect nations situated in the vulnerable corners of the world. There will be draughts, floods, and infestations in the future. This will affect people situated in the most vulnerable corners of the planet, including Tigrai and its environs. Due to this, Tigrai will need a proactive diplomatic corps capable of securing resources to mitigate the impact of climate change-as Tigrai cannot overcome this problem on its own. 2020 has also thought us the impact of microbes on livelihood. Health will also become a national security agenda in the foreseeable future.

When one looks at the fate of Tigrai from the contextual (artificial and natural) angles, the case of agents (despot x or y) becomes miniscule. One understands that societies threatened by political, demographic, climate, and health factors end up promoting psychotic leaders who do not care about anyone but themselves. Desperate people do desperate things in desperate time. That is why Germans elected Hitler, that is why Italians created Mussolini. The situation in Germany and Italy after the First World War was desperate. It angered people. They started listening to mentally disturbed individuals like Hitler who told them that ďothersĒ stabbed them in the back and helped them in their genocidal pursuit.

To conclude, Tigrai should conduct a thorough autopsy of the dying Derg 2.0. This has dual significance a) for accountability and reparation and b) to prevent this from happening ever again, and c) to teach future generations about the world they live in. Meanwhile, it is important to put the agents and the structure/context in order of importance. Isaias and Abiy are incompetent leaders who can be replaced by anyone in the future. So, it is important to prioritize and address the structural factors (like security/esp. airpower, realist diplomacy, demography, climate, health, and other systemic forces) that make Tigrai vulnerable. Tigrai needs to create structurally oriented and research driven institutions that look beyond particular despots that challenge it and envision seismic changes.


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