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The War You’ve Never Heard About


As the US prepares to invade Iraq I think we should all ask each other this question: “Do you remember the last war? The one that took place a little over two and a half years ago?”

You remember that one dont you? It wasnt a little war. No, not little at all, it was a great big war. Probably the last great land war in history. In this war an army of at least a million invaded a little country, carrying out a policy of scorched earth everywhere they went. Murder, rape, looting, planting booby traps in peoples homes and poisoning the water supplies. They even dug up graveyards and scattered the bones of war dead in the wind.

Of course you know what war I am talking about, right? The one where one poor, small country got invaded and almost half of the people in the country became not “refugees” mind you, but “internally displaced persons”? That’s right, almost two million people were forced from their homes by this war and you know which one I am talking about…right? No, not the Kosovo war, not the war against Yugoslavia. Only 800,000 were “internally displaced persons” in that one. No, I am afraid that I am talking about the war where the little country being invaded had the UN put an international arms embargo against them. Ring a bell? No?

How about the war where the big country that invaded the little country was “allowed” to divert at least $3 billion in western aid to arms purchases? Aid that was supposed to be meant for some 15 million people facing famine?

Start to ring a bell? Where the big country went on an arms shopping spree noted in all the “Centers for Stategic Studies”, spending hundreds of millions, even billions of your tax dollars in Russia, Bulgaria, Israel and…North Korea? Now you remember, don’t you, how US and EU aid got converted to hard cash to buy weapons from that member of the Axis of Evil, North Korea?

Where the latest Soviet era upgrades got bought, enough to arm 15 armored divisions with the latest non-US hardware money could buy?

Still don’t know which war I am talking about? The one were waves of invading soldiers attacked trenches? The one were at least 150,000 soldiers died in a matter of weeks? You mean you missed all the television footage of lines of dead soldiers stretching off into the distance, dessicating in the desert heat?

By now you probably think I am making this all up, that this never happened, not in the last 2 or 3 years. How could it have happened and you never heard about it?

The war I am talking about I prefer to call the Holocaust in the Horn–the Horn of East Africa. It’s one of the largest covert military operations in history. The war known so disengenously as the Ethiopian-Eritrean “border war”. The war where the CIA set out to get rid of a pesky little independent role model without generating any bad publicity. Where the little country that got invaded is still blamed for the crimes committed against her.

Where the pretext for the invasion by Ethiopia was supposed to be a “border dispute” that some how got out of hand. That little, resource-poor nation Eritrea, population 3.5 million, supposedly instigated a war with giant Ethiopia, population 60 million, with the largest, best equiped army in Africa ?

Yes, that war.

Maybe if we had cared enough to learn what really happened in that war we wouldn’t be about to let the US go start another one. This time with another little country in the desert who for some reason or another does not meet with the approval of those whose judgement we must never question.

So when I ask you if you remember the last war, and you don’t, then maybe it’s time to start paying closer attention to what is going on in the world.

At least the world’s wars, anyway.

Thomas C. Mountain is a human rights organizer in Hawai’i. He can be reached at:


Thomas C. Mountain attended Punahou School for six years some half a dozen years before “Barry O’Bombers” time there. He has been living and writing from Eritrea since 2006. He can be reached at thomascmountain at g_ mail_ dot _com

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