Mad men in charge!

Written by Yilma Bekele
Here in the US, the Governor of the State of Illinois is in hot water. Law enforcement agencies tapped his phone with court order of course and have evidence showing the Governor trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by President elect Obama to the highest bidder. Most people are not surprised that the governor is a crooked politician.

The average citizen is resigned to the fact that most politicians are not trustworthy. But politicians are not included in the category of stupid; ethically challenged may be but definitely not a moron. Thus it was surprising to hear the Governor daring the FBI to ‘go ahead and tap my phone’ as if he has nothing to hide.

Those who cannot come to terms with the Governor’s bizarre behavior are now suggesting may be he is crazy. To some that is the only sane explanation to such brazen act of lawlessness. It is also possible his lawyers are preparing the grounds for the inevitable ‘insanity defense’ for the upcoming trial.

My favorite explanation was the one advanced by Mr. Dick Cavett in the NY Times. In an opinion piece titled ‘How is that again Gov?’ he wrote:

‘Is humor out of place on this subject? Probably. In Blagojevich, we are dealing with a sick man. Or, in medical terminology, extreme pathology.

I felt the need to get some expert opinion …… I sought the counsel of the eminent Dr. Willard Gaylin, longtime practitioner and author on such matters —He filled me in.

He described what would now be called a “sociopath,” a modern-day term for the older “psychopath.” It’s a complex, hard-to-treat ailment, and “anti-social” is the key phrase here. Among the prominent traits of one so afflicted is the absence of any sense of guilt or shame. Empathy is unknown. The truth may be told, but only when it serves the often-bizarre purposes of the teller. Never for its own sake.

The governor’s astonishing dare — Go ahead and tap my phones —is explained by the sociopath’s absolute conviction that he is somehow immune from being caught.

This appears to be connected to the sociopath’s trait of confusing his lies with reality. Unable to distinguish between the two, he proceeds on his brazen way,….

Gaylin reminds us that sociopaths are not always obvious misfits, as evidenced by their being found, for example, running major institutions. Often they have the acting skills of award-winning thespians, can exhibit great charm (though not in this case) and can fool even experts.’

I believe Mr. Cavett is on to something. The sociopath personality fits the behavior of most African leaders. It definitely explains the bizarre behavior of a few of our illustrious leaders that have managed to create havoc in the lives of our people. What else can be said about such notorious punks as Idi Amin, Jean Bidel Bokassa, Mengistu Haile Mariam, Mobutu Se Se Seko and Charles Taylor except example of mad men in charge? And today we have Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe ready to carry the torch of absurd but lethal behavior by a head of state.

The Zimbabwe general elections were held on March 29, 2008. By all credible accounts the opposition Party Movement for Democratic change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai won. The ruling party refused to accept the verdict of the people by claiming Mr. Tsvagirai did not receive a majority and a run off election was scheduled. Those in power used the interim period to murder, harass, exile and imprison leaders of the opposition. Second round of voting were held June 27, Mugabe was declared a winner and sworn in June 29 for a sixth term in office. No one accepted this farce except fellow African dictators. Why this all seems familiar to us Ethiopians is not difficult to guess. We have seen it all.

The downward spiral accelerated in Zimbabwe. Inflation surged beyond comprehension, (officially 231 million percent, meaning a loaf of bread costs 1.6 trillion Zim. Dollars) the outward migration went on UN abated, internally displaced people skyrocketed and there currently is a complete breakdown of basic function of the state.

It is with this as a background that ‘a ferocious cholera epidemic, spread by water contaminated with human excrement, has stricken more than 16,000 people across Zimbabwe since August and killed more than 780.’ As is customary with a dysfunctional government there is no end in sight. To protect its citizens South Africa closed its border with Zimbabwe and the UN, WHO and health experts ‘are warning that the number of cases could surpass 60,000, and that half the country’s population of 12 million is at risk.’

What do you think the response of the senile leader is faced with such grim news? In a televised speech on Thursday December 11th he announced that the cholera epidemic is over. “I am happy to say…that there is no cholera.” He blamed the West for the baseless rumor in an attempt to justify a military intervention thus he concluded, “Now that there is no cholera, there is no need for war.”

Again we Ethiopians are familiar with this line of thought. If memory serves us right it is only a few months back that UNICEF was warning about famine in our country. They were trying to ring the alarm bells so the world will pay attention and do something about it. Unfortunately it run counter to the claims of the Ethiopian government that has been crowing about double digit growth and prosperity in unprecedented manner. They defined famine as mal nutrition. Majorities of our people now rely on food aid for basic survival. No region of the country is immune from this man caused catastrophe.

Two years ago the regime in order to curry favors from the Bush administration committed Ethiopian troops into Somalia to fight what they declared to be Islamic Jihadists ready to invade our country. The Prime Minister compared those opposed to this adventure to ‘Donkeys’ and in a lecture in his Parliament said, “Both have big eyes, but suffer from myopia; and have big ears, but don’t hear.” Well the two weeks jaunt across the border turned into a two years misadventure that has caused the death of thousands of our Somali brothers and sisters, death of peasant Ethiopian solders and millions of tax dollars that could have been spent to alleviate poverty and hunger. With no end insight and the treasury empty the government is trying to find a face saving way to exit. The Islamic Court have surrounded Mogadishu, the Ethiopian troops are prisoners in their camp, and both the UN and the African Union are not willing to get involved in this mess created by Ato Meles and company.

Is it any surprise that Ato Meles went in front of Parliament and declared ‘mission accomplished’ in Somalia? The only thing missing in this picture was a big aircraft carrier and a huge banner to go along with this empty bravado. Come to think of it, Ethiopia does not have a port nor own an aircraft carrier, but on the other hand a small dingy in lake Langano would have served the purpose. We all know that form trumps essence when it comes to TPLF regime.

I will leave you with the official Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) used as a psycho-diagnostic tool to assess psychopathy. Each item is rated on a score from zero to two. The sum total determines the extent of a person’s psychopathy.

Factor1: Aggressive narcissism

  1. Glibness / superficial charm

  2. Grandiose sense of self-worth

  3. Pathological lying

  4. Cunning / manipulative

  5. Lack of remorse or guilt

  6. Shallow

  7. Callous / lack of empathy

  8. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

  9. Promiscuous sexual behavior

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