Know them Fully, Act Deliberately: Wail later!
Tigreans have lived on this planet for thousands of years. They did not survive this long because they never faced existential threats. Rather, Tigreans survived for they were fit to survive. They adopted, outwitted, outlasted, and triumphed against several natural and man-made disasters over the ages. This legacy left them with ample reservoir of wisdom, resilience, and will-power needed to stand upright amidst the community of human race. It is this set of values that the world can never seem to ignore despite everything else going south on this planet. It is also this endless reservoir of courage, virtue, and integrity flowing from Tigrai that will propel it towards a bright future. The pertinent question, at least for now, is: how do we optimize our effort to quell the genocidal war against Tigrai?
The war against Tigrai seems to attract the attention of the big players in regional and global politics. These bodies may broadly be classified into state and non-state actors. It is important to bear in mind that big actors became big because they were able to secure and promote their interest- which they crafted with deliberation. Powerful actors proact, thus affect others; weak actors react, hence are impacted by others. In other words, the powerful are active and the weak are passive.
The state actors may further be divided into the law makers and the executives. The law makers are dictated by party loyalty and local interest. Even the executives are not unified. They wage their own turf battles between the intelligence, diplomacy, and defense deputies hired to implement their selected modus operandi, namely: information, negotiation, and use of force. The spymaster, the diplomat, and the general compete against each other and other cabinet members to use their craft to secure more influence, prestige, and budget for their respective departments. Above this competition, however, all state actors operate to secure the economic, political, and cultural interest of their constituency, including that of powerful foreign and domestic elites and lobbyists.
On the other hand, non-state actors (NSAs) may be divided into NGOs and multilateral bodies. The NSAs influence the world by appealing to our moral compass, i.e., setting norms and calling for adherence to international humanitarian laws. NGOs amplify the voice of the weak, i.e., the plight of children, the disabled, women, refugees, minorities, and journalists to ordinary folks, especially to wealthy philanthropists. Multilateral bodies try to gauge powerful countries to abide by and enforce international humanitarian norms. These actors also compete against each other to gain prestige- which is the ultimate source of philanthropic aid. One human rights or press freedom organization competes with similar organization to secure the reputation needed to convince philanthropist donation. The 21 st Century has also brought gigantic social media companies whose influence seems to be exceeding the mainstream NSAs we are used to. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and You Tube have amplified the voice, vice and virtue of the common folk exponentially that heads of powerful state and NSAs have are using these platforms, making them accessible to public opinion.
If there is one thing that we the people should understand about these powerful actors, it is this: these actors are deliberate operators. They preformulate their vision, mission, goals, objectives, and programs before turn to us, the common folk. They can only pay attention to us when they find our political, economic, and social interest aligns with theirs. These actors are out there to get something from us in return. They do not operate by adhering to a completely altruistic and moral principles. Even big charities need to raise money first to cover their operating costs and feed their staff. This limitation obliges them to strictly adhere to the interest of their philanthropist- which could be a state or non-state donor. A human rights organization situated in or sponsored by a government will never expose the vice of its donor within or outside its country- unless it wants to close its shop and move elsewhere. Perhaps, this realization that all human beings are, be they humanitarian aid workers or stockbrokers, subject to the rat race should help us in managing our expectations towards NSAs.
Having said the above, let me turn to how these actors evaluate we the people. Most of us expect them to listen to what matters most, namely: their conscience. We expect them to prioritize and react to the innocent lives lost, property damaged, people displaced, and the injustice served and get frustrated when they fail to do so. But these actors see us rather differently, or, shall I say, more comprehensively. They calculate if: our economy could thrive, our infrastructure could sustain, our politics could stand, our internal cohesion could endure, and our external relations could bear fruit.
If we take Tigrai, for example, the powerful do not just see if Tigreans are victims of discrimination, crime, or injustice. Rather, they assess whether Tigrai has economic base or potential, if its t political leadership has wit and perseverance, if its internal cohesion is impervious, if its infrastructure or supply line is strategic or efficient, and if has alpha (influential) or omega (submissive) relation with others, especially with that of its neighbors. If Tigrai commands a promising track record in these indicators, big actors will listen, aid and abate her. If Tigrai falls short in these indicators everybody will neglect and abandon her in a heartbeat.
Big players follow this strict, though ruthless, formula simply not because they are vain or malicious but because they have mouths to feed and lives to protect. If we wish to have powerful friends, we should strive to build a stronger Tigrai relative to others. We should optimize our hard and soft power to oblige and/or attract others depending on the situation. The relentless our effort is, the stronger our impact will be.
Now, we might wonder how this is possible when we are in the middle of invasion. Well, the key world is “relativity”. These actors compare us to our competitors who, unfortunately for them, are working to exterminate us. Big actors also evaluate their performance using the formula discussed above. They also assess the economy, political stability, internal security, external security, and infrastructural reliability of Tigrai’s enemies.
In light of this, Tigrai’s enemies are doing their best to destroy Tigrai economy, security, infrastructure, internal security, and external relations. They are doing this, so they stand taller than Tigrai at the world stage. Despite their unfettered effort, however, their economic trajectory is going south, their political cohesion is uncertain, their internal security is fragile, and their external relations/security has proven unpromising. They are not building new infrastructure since they turned against Tigrai. Yet, it remains uncertain whether Tigrai’s enemies will be able to utilize and benefit from this infrastructure without repercussions while waging genocidal war against Tigrai. It is high time for Tigreans to assess their enemies comprehensively as the rest of the world is doing. Tigreans should ask what the typical intelligence analyst asks to derive a comprehensive picture:
1. Economic questions: Where is the enemy getting the money to purchase the weapons it uses to destroy Tigrai? Is it the foreign exchange earned from the coffee export? Where is this coffee coming from and how is it being exported?
2. Infrastructure questions. What are the transportation, communication, and power routes Tigrai’s enemies are using to import weapons and export goods to and from Addis? Is it the Djibouti rail/road? Is it the Djibouti fiber optic? Is it the telecommunication lines? The hydroelectric dams around?
3. Political stability questions: What is the political center of gravity of Tigrai’s enemies dictating the war against Tigrai? What is/are its strengths and vulnerabilities?
4. Internal Security questions: What is/are the key sources of internal insecurity of Tigrai’s enemies? Is inter-regional conflict? Is it power struggle? Is it political ideology?
5. External relations questions: What is/are the key source of external insecurity of Tigrai’s enemies? Is it border dispute? Is it water access? It is terms of trade disagreement? Is it access to port?
Once Tigreans get a comprehensive picture of their enemies, they could: (1) Plan: formulate an action plan to blunt their enemies, (2) Execute: share responsibilities based on their location, skill, and capacity, and (3) Evaluate: manage their expectations commensurate with reality. For example, (a) Tegaru scholars could assess the situation and formulate action plans by employing scientific research (objective data collection, analysis, and proposals), (b) diaspora communities could participate in facilitating the communication to and out of Tigrai, in advocating Tigrai’s interest worldwide, and in raising fund to help Tigreans affected by the enemy, and (c) all Tigreans should reach a realistic consensus, through informed dialogue, with regard to the the magnitude of the challenge on hand, the price tag it charges, and the time it takes to prevail against the odds.