Gomez: The Powerless Charlie Wilson Copycat
Bereket Gebru 12/16/13
both International politics enthusiasts and movie lovers alike, the name Charlie
Wilson is all too familiar. A congressman representing the 2nd
District of Texas in the U.S House of Representatives from 1973 to 1996,
Charlie Wilson has become famous for his role in supplying arms to the
Mujahedeen of Afghanistan in their war against the Soviet Union. Upon meeting
the former Pakistani Prime Minister General Mohammed Zia-ul- haq in 1979 and
being enticed by his charisma along with the leader’s support for the
Mujahedeen, Charlie conducted himself as the crusader of their cause.
his position as the head of the defense appropriations subcommittee and his
subsequent discovery, according to Chalmers Johnson’s book ‘Nemesis: The last
days of the American Republic,’ that all of the CIA’s budget and 40 percent of
the pentagon’s budget is hidden from the public and even from congress, Charlie
could arrange to have virtually any amount of money added to whatever black
project, hidden from the public and even from Congress, he supported.
Wilson considered himself as a defender of the under dogs and kept himself
close to the Mujahedeen continuously increasing the defense expense of his
country on them to over a billion dollars a year. Clearly Charlie took the case
personally for it to become an obsession of his. Although the arms he availed
through the CIA helped the Mujahedeen defeat the Soviet Union, upcoming
developments proved that they were not grateful of U.S contribution. As it
turned out, the highly trained and heavily armed Islamic fundamentalists turned
themselves, after the fall of the USSR, into groups like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda
and came back to haunt their former aides.
Johnson wrote, the story of Charlie Wilson, produced into a book and a movie,
is an account of “how a ruthless ignoramus congressman and a high-ranking CIA
thug managed to hijack American foreign policy.” Whom the writer refers to as
“a high-ranking CIA thug” is Wilson’s partner in getting the CIA to arm the
Mujahedeen – Gust Avrakotos.
Charlie Wilson is not the main issue of this article, I think the case is a
good instance of how far politicians can get obsessed over an issue so much so
it clouds their judgment and even jeopardizes the relations of the institutions
or people they represent. Although absolutely powerless when compared with the
amount of resources Charlie Wilson could avail and the impact he created, Anna
Gomez, the member of European parliament, seems to be suffering from the same
delusions as his.
Gomez came across the political environment of Ethiopia in the 2005 election
that saw the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) party crumble into pieces
after blowing what could have been a great democratic move on the side of the
ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), to
take democratic steps to an even higher level. The ruling party hosted a free
and fair election that saw opposition parties, mainly CUD, win a considerable
amount of seats in the House of Representatives and in regional councils, only
for the latter to shrug off the responsibility accorded to them by the
electorate and boycott both parliament and the regional councils.
come to Ethiopia as part of the European election observers’ team during that
election, Anna Gomez somehow felt that the ruling party was to blame for their
failure to respect popular vote. In stark contrast to what her duties are as an
election observer, Anna aligned herself along with the opposition and crusaded,
albeit wickedly, for their cause.
major effort was involving herself in a scheme to start up a color revolution
in Ethiopia that would supposedly depose EPRDF and get the opposition in power.
Unfortunately for her and the opposition, Anna Gomez, unlike Charlie Wilson,
has never had the power to pool resources of the amount needed to topple a
government that has its roots deep into the public. Her superpowers,
apparently, seem to emanate from her tongue alone. Therefore, as expected,
their attempts could not get off the ground as their meager attempts were
crushed by popular might.
years on, Anna Gomez was once again in Ethiopia on a purpose completely
different from her last stay here. One of the participants in the 26th
ACP-EU parliamentary meeting held in Addis recently, Anna wasted no time to act
compulsively to her chronic addiction of meddling in Ethiopian politics.
Without even saying a word about what the ACP-EU meeting she was here to attend
was all about, she jumped right to how she felt about the ruling party, its
late leader and the possibility of change in Ethiopia.
if she thought a lot has been achieved in Ethiopia in building democracy and
good governance as stated by the speaker of the House of People’s
Representatives, Abadula Gemeda, Anna did not show any hesitation to say no.
She argued that she still sees the old ways of giving lip service to big
jargons of that sort.
really surprised to see that because I have seen what Anna Gomez has been writing
about the condition in Libya in her capacity as the European Parliament’s
standing Rapporteur on the country.
evident that once the dictatorial regime of Muamar Gaddafi was deposed, there
has never been a strong state apparatus to ensure public service delivery and
institution building. In fact the security apparatus has been so weak that
domestic and international powers have been doing whatever they have wanted in
the country. My argument would be supported by none other than Anna Gomez’s testimony.
In one of her letters, Anna Gomez wrote:
"I am deeply concerned about the
kidnapping of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in Tripoli early this morning by an
armed group. I am relieved that he is now been freed. As EP Standing Rapporteur
on Libya, I have been this last weekend in Libya, where I could assess that the
political and the security situation in the country is indeed tense and
complicated. I was in Tripoli when the US forces kidnapped Abu Anas al-Libi, in
an act that constitutes a violation of international law and also that of
Libya's sovereignty, and which was bound to trigger retaliation as could well
be the case of the PM´s kinapping.”
Anas al-Libi is a Libyan whom the U.S suspects of masterminding the bombing of
the U.S embassy in Nairobi in 1999 and a possible part in the recent
supermarket attack in Nairobi. As clearly put by Anna herself, the Libyan
government could not provide enough security to the Prime Minister let alone
build democratic institutions.
in another of her letters the EU Rapporteur on Libya contends that the lack of
stability in the country could negatively affect the democratic transition in
the country. In her words: “This is a step in the wrong direction with regards
to the democratic transition that Libya is undergoing.”
news reports show much more clearly about how positively she feels about
developments in Libya. “As for Libya, the European officials who visited
several times the country last year (Jerzy Buzek, former President of the
European Parliament and member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the
European Parliament, as well as Ana Gomez – Libya’s Rapporteur for the
Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament) were optimistic about
the political developments in Libya.”
just beyond me how Anna Gomez could be optimistic of political and democratic
developments in a frail state where the Prime Minister gets kidnapped just like
that and be unhesitatingly sure of no achievements in building “democracy,
peace and good governance” in a peaceful country that has been registering
double digit growth for the last decade. Wouldn’t it make sense to think that
only a few portion of that growth would go to building institutions that would
contribute to building democracy, peace or good governance?
found another one of her comments very surprising as she described the late
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s leadership style “a smart leadership which uses
politically correct languages for European and American consumption.”
are just two things I find weird in this statement. The first one is that the
late PM has been known for coming up with strong arguments in Ethiopia’s and
Africa’s behalf that in any way would be sour to European and American consumption.
Neither the late PM Meles Zenawi nor his party EPRDF were in any sense
appeasing the Europeans and the Americans when they strongly kept their stand
against neo-liberal moves to privatize the banking, telecommunication and
energy sectors. Better yet, when have they ever succumbed to European and
American demands thought to be counterproductive to the national interests of
the Ethiopian people?
second thing I find peculiar about the above statement by Anna Gomez is that it
implies a sense of masterly conduct by Europeans and Americans on their Ethiopian
subordinates. They say old habits die hard. For an old woman who has been
around during the era of colonialism, it might in fact be hard to view not just
Ethiopia but also Africa as independent.
considering the issue seriously, Anna Gomez has just expressed the belief, not
just by her but by a fair amount of western politicians that Africa should do
as they say. The arrogance that westerners know much better on what Africa
should do than Africans themselves has actually been institutionalized and Anna
just admitted to being part of that setting.
another one of her misguided comments was that Ethiopia’s is not a real
development but a fake one with cooked numbers. Having come off a great deal of
distance from the times when there were skeptics to Ethiopia’s spectacular
achievements in economic growth, her comment is proof of her detachment with
the reality in the country. Designated as one of the fastest growing non-oil
economies in the world, Ethiopia’s development has been backed by major
International organizations dealing with the topic. The other testament is the
evident changes in the lives of the people. The much improved social services
along with tremendous leaps in educational and health coverage are monumental
testaments of the development in our country.
other striking thing about her interviews is that she reflected a strong
animosity towards the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi whenever she got the
chance. She had the audacity to refer to the man who dedicated his life to the
freedom of the Ethiopian people and nationalities as a dictator. She also
ignorantly said that his death creates a new opportunity for Ethiopians.
the above mentioned descriptions of our late PM Meles Zenawi by Anna Gomez do
not remotely show the diplomat and politician in her. They are clearly just
lame disrespects by someone who bears deep anger towards someone else.
Therefore, her accounts of there being nothing personal about her feelings of
animosity towards Meles are totally inaccurate.
inaccurate descriptions by Anna Gomez include her statement that insinuates the
prosecution of high officials for corruption has just been initiated in
Ethiopia. It has been over a decade since Ethiopia prosecuted high ranking
officials like the former Prime Minister Tamirat Layne and Seye Abraha.
remarks that the EPRDF is divided and groups are fighting with each other is
also a wishful comment that stands a testament to the close relations she has
with opposition forces as it is a point they raise more often than not. The
amazing part of this argument is that both the opposition parties and Anna
Gomez cannot back their arguments with substantiating evidence. The party is as
united as ever and determined to keep things that way.
been the case with Charlie Wilson and other obsession stricken politicians,
Anna Gomez also tries, in her limited capacity, to influence EU policy on her topic
of obsession. Her speculative statement that she believes EU would not accept
to come back and observe election in Ethiopia is reflective of such ambitions. Although
rather farfetched, her opinions on “pressurizing the Ethiopian government to
free political prisoners” are also associated with that.
capacity as the coordinator of the foreign affairs committee of the European
Union, Anna Gomez would conduct herself as a self proclaimed expert on
Ethiopia. That, however, would not be effective as has been demonstrated in
previous circumstances as there are parliamentarians and technical experts
consulted by parliament who are capable of setting things straight.
I would like to wrap up my outlook of Anna Gomez’s recent interviews by raising
another thing she said to Addis Standard. She said: “Ethiopia has a magical
resonance in my childhood.” Surprisingly enough, Charlie Wilson also associated
the case with his childhood when asked about his over the par indulgences with
Afghanistan. Chalmers Johnson wrote: “As a boy, Wilson was fascinated
by World War II and developed an almost childlike belief that he possessed a
"special destiny" to "kill bad guys" and help underdogs
prevail over their enemies.”
problem in the case of Anna is that there are no underdogs to be rescued in the
case of those at the receiving edge of defeat in popular votes.