The ‘Domino effect’ in living color
By yilma Bekele
What is referred to at the domino effect is “a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then cause another similar change, and so on in a linear sequence.” We are witnessing that phenomenon right now.
Fear of the domino effect is what got the US involved in Vietnam in the ‘60’s. When The Vietminh under Ho Chi Minh took over North Vietnam and established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam the US was convinced the communists will over run South Vietnam then continue on to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and so on. The war was to arrest the Communist juggernaut. Whether it failed or was a success is a matter of interpretation.
A recent example of the fear of the domino effect is the bailout of the Banking system here in the US and Western Europe. The US Treasury came up with the term ‘too big to fail.’ It was felt that allowing a major bank to go bankrupt would start a chain reaction that will threaten the capitalist system, as we know it. The taxpayer was compelled to prop up the banks with no interest loans and a guarantee by the Federal Reserve to do what is necessary to protect the integrity of the system.
This last week the domino effect came home to roost in every capital city where freedom and civil rights have been put in the back burner. Our beautiful and brave friends in Tunisia started the ball rolling in a spectacular fashion. May the almighty bless Tunisians and their ancestors. The elegant system they devised to topple a tyrant of over twenty years was awe inspiring in its simplicity and ease of application. It was a work of art. They are still fine tuning their copy righted manual “Seven Easy Steps to Get Rid of A Tyrant©”
An ordinary citizen named Mohamed Bouaziz set himself on fire because he decided it was not worth living in such an environment. I have no idea if he saw the bigger implication of his one-person defiance. For whatever reason he did it for, his public immolation set the domino effect in motion. Let us just say tyrants everywhere are rethinking their future prospects. No matter what brave face they present or pretend to do business as usual Tunisia has scared the pants out of them.
There was no fighting force in Tunisia. There was no opposition party that seized the leadership. Religion was not a factor. There were no glaring signs that things were simmering. But in less than thirty days the eruption of dis-content engulfed a whole nation. In a blink of an eye el macho, full of himself, the leader for life, tyrant and bully Ben Ali was stripped of his humanity.
It looks like Egypt is the next domino piece to fall. May be not. It really don’t matter, the foundation is showing cracks as big as Abbay gorge. Sooner or later it will crumble. As I write this, it is the third day of spontaneous protests and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for Mubarak and company. His son who was considered the heir apparent left for London with his wife and family. Now Mrs. Mubarak is reported to be in London too. I assume the tyrant of thirty years will join them soon enough. I will also venture to state that dictator Mubarak and family will settle in the US for the rest of their life in exile. Welcome fellow refugees.
Since I am in this euphoric mood may I predict the fall of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the demise of “The Leader”. For you not in the know, that is how they refer to Corporal Gaddafi of Libya to be followed by Saleh of Yemen. Even Lloyds of London will deny King Abdallah II and Colonel Gaddafi’s life insurance coverage.
With all this excitement twirling in North Africa and the Middle East it was strange to listen to Secretary of State Hillary Clintons advice to the Egyptian people. Reuters reported that “US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday urged all sides in Egypt to exercise restraint following street protests and said she believed the Egyptian government was stable and looking for ways to respond to its people’s aspirations.”
It sounds familiar to Ethiopians. In the aftermath of the 2005 elections the US and European Diplomats were urging Kinijit to show restraint. It is sort of strange advice after her forceful statement congratulating the Tunisian people. It would not be surprising if the Department of State condemns the abuse of power by former President Mubarak and his associates of course after his downfall. It is not only dictatorships that refuse to learn, super powers are short sighted too.
With all this drama around us, it is not asking a lot to see if we can learn a few lessons so we can make our transformation less painful. The last two times we tried this game of change we sort of stumbled and fell hard. Let us hope the third time it will be a charm.
We have a lot in common with both Tunisia and Egypt. All our leaders have abused their welcome by twenty years and over. The regimes are based on single party rule. Opposition is not tolerated. They speak the language of democracy and emerging economies. They trade heavily with the current currency of being anti terrorism. They are favored by both the IMF and the World Bank. The youth unemployment hovers 30% and more. No matter how much rosy picture the IMF and their propaganda machines paint, the reality is their economy has stagnated. It cannot support the aspirations of the people.
Compared to the two, Ethiopia is a little different. We are lot poorer. Ethiopia is still a peasant society. Communication like Internet, Television, and Radio are deliberately suppressed. Our leader understands knowledge is power. In Ethiopia there is a Communications Department that oversees what is being said and printed in the country.
In both Tunisia and Egypt what is being called ‘Social Media’ played a big role in the citizens ability to be informed and organize. Facebook and twitter are the new heroes. That is what we lack in Ethiopia. The Meles regime was aware of the power of information and suppressed the media. The 2005 general elections proved to Meles and company the danger of even a half free press.
But we are innovative people. We will always find a way out. We created ESAT. I know Voice of America and Deutche Welle are doing an excellent job of informing our people. But ESAT is different. ESAT is you and I. It is the result of our own labor and sweat. It is accountable to no one but us. ESAT is our Facebook and twitter. The TPLF regime knows that. They will spare no amount of expenses to shut ESAT down. They have done it once. They will try again. We will deny them that pleasure.
You know how we do that? We make ESAT strong. We make ESAT independent. We contribute to make ESAT to have the best capability to inform our people. It is easy. Go to ethsat.com and you can give using pay pal, bank transfer or just call them. It is not how much you give. That is not the issue. It is all about building from scratch and encouraging the best in us. There is no point feeling good about Tunisia and hoping for Egypt. We can help them by contributing our share of liberating our corner of the world. Go to ethsat.com and give your share. It could be ten dollars or a thousand but what matters is you gave. Are you up to the challenge?