By Alemayehu G. Mariam
Millions of Ethiopians starve to death as the T-TPLF spends millions to keep itself alive
The latest USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS) reported: “The 2017 Humanitarian Resources Document released by the Government of Ethiopia estimates 5.6 million people will require emergency food assistance through June 2017, with funding requirements of approximately $948 million USD.”
On January 18, 2017, the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (T-TPLF) in a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) agreed to pay SGR Government Relations, Lobbying (Washington, D.C) $150,000 per month to develop and execute a public affairs plan to enhance the dialogue and relationships with policymakers, media, opinion leaders, and business leaders. The campaign will promote a better understanding of Ethiopia’s political, social, and economic environment. SGR will work to strengthen U.S-Ethiopia business outreach and grow foreign direct investment in Ethiopia.
The MOU is effective until July 18, 2017, at which time “either [party] may terminate this agreement within 15-days written notice. If neither party exercises this option as of July 18, 2017, the agreement is immediately renewed for the next six months until January 18, 2018.” Payment is “due on a quarterly basis at the beginning of each quarter.”
The total amount to be paid by the T-TPLF under the MOU is a whopping USD$1.8 million.
My! Oh, my! The lobbying business must be flourishing by leaps and bounds.
When the T-TPLF hired the lobbying firm DLA Piper in 2006, the “monthly payment [was] $50,000 plus the hourly value of any time expended beyond the retainer amount for one year in exchange for legal advice and counsel on a broad range of legislative, regulatory, legal matters, relating to Ethiopia’s relationship to the United States.”
The great irony about lobbying the Trump Administration
For all the evil cunning, slickness, Machiavellianism, craftiness, guilefulness and caginess the T-TPLF has displayed over the decades, it is amazing how dimwitted they are when it comes to the obvious. What did the T-TPLF think Trump meant when he said, he is going to “drain the swamp in Washington”?
One of Trump’s biggest campaign promises was a major crackdown on the most predatory citizens of the Swamp, the Washington lobby industry. He ordered the removal of all lobbyists from Trump’s transition team. He promised to institute rules that would impose a five-year ban on lobbying by departing administration officials and ban them for a lifetime from lobbying for foreign countries. Trump declared, “I am going to expand the definition of lobbyist so we close all the loopholes that former government officials use by labeling themselves consultants, advisers, all these different things.” He explained, “Everybody’s a lobbyist down there [Washington]. We’re going to phase that out. You have to phase it out.”
Now, the T-TPLF spends nearly $2 million to influence the Trump Administration under the guise of “enhancing dialogue” and so on. What exactly were the T-TPLF bosses thinking when they decided to spend such a huge amount of money from the treasury of the second poorest country in the world?
I am certain that $2 million could feed hundreds of thousands of starving Ethiopian babies and children today. Is it not a low-down dirty shame to take food out of the mouths of lullaby babies and feed the lobbying Beast?
Why is the T-TPLF paying nearly USD$2 million to a lobbying firm?
According to the SGR Government Relations website, they “sell” a whole lot of stuff including: “Legislative and Regulatory Strategy, Policy Analysis and Message Development, Bipartisan Stakeholder Mapping and Engagement, Decision-maker Influence, Coalition Building and Ally Recruitment, Grass tops and grass roots outreach” among other things. But what do these things actually mean? For instance, does “decision-maker influence” mean influence peddling? Are those who “influence decision-makers” the same as those people generally called “fixers”, except in high places?
I believe there are several reasons why T-TPLF is taking money from the starving mouths of Ethiopians and feeding lobbyists who live high on the hog:
1) The T-TPLF is in a complete panic that the Trump Administration will likely drop the hammer on it. The T-TPLF is desperate to get some influence on the Trump Administration. There is strong evidence showing that T-TPLF representatives over the past three months have made repeated efforts to gain access to the Trump Transition Committee and others who purportedly have access to the inner circles of Trump. They have also called upon establishment Republicans to open doors for them. Both efforts have been total failures and a source of high anxiety for T-TPLF leaders.
2) The T-TPLF is petrified that upheavals and uncertainties at the State Department, particularly the departure and removal of officials that have supported it over the past decade, could result in significant changes in U.S. policy in Ethiopia. Secretary State Rex Tillerson has begun “draining the swamp” at the State Department. The New York Post describes Tillerson’s house cleaning as a “bloodbath at the State Department.” He has “reassigned” dozens career foreign and civil service officers and asked for the resignation of holdover political appointees. Most of the T-TPLF supporters at State are now history or soon will be. (I offer my sincerest crocodile tears!)
3) The T-TPLF is afraid that the Trump Administration may look deeper into the fraud, waste and abuse in U.S. tax dollars in Ethiopia. The Trump Administration is asking a whole lot of tough questions about Africa and U.S. policy in Africa that is directly applicable to Ethiopia:
How does U.S. business compete with other nations in Africa? Are we losing out to the Chinese?” (I have answered this question in my June 2011 commentary, “The Dragon Eating the Eagle’s Lunch in Africa?”)
“With so much corruption in Africa, how much of our funding is stolen? Why should we spend these funds on Africa when we are suffering here in the U.S.?” (I have answered this question dozens of times over the past ten years, the latest in my January 22, 2017 commentary, “TrAIDing in Misery: The T-TPLF, its Partners and Famine in Ethiopia”.)
“We’ve been fighting al-Shabaab for a decade, why haven’t we won?” I answered this question several times over the past ten years including my November 3, 2008 commentary, “The 843-Day War”. The bottom line is that terrorism is T-TPLF’s meal ticket on the American taxpayer’s dime. No terrorism, no aid. The T-TPLF puppet prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn argued for “bolstering cooperation with [the Trump Administration] Washington against jihadist groups and instability in the Horn of Africa.”
“Most of AGOA [Africa Growth and Opportunity Act which allows 39 eligible sub-Saharan Africa countries to export certain goods to the US market duty-free] imports are petroleum products, with the benefits going to national oil companies, why do we support that massive benefit to corrupt regimes?” (It is clear that non-oil and gas exports to the US under AGOA are negligible ($4.1 billion in 2015) representing barely 2 per cent of the United States’ total global trade. Hailemariam Desalegn urged Trump to keep the AGOA provisions for the next 10 years”. But why shouldn’t the Trump Administration get rid of AGOA since it principally benefits corrupt African dictators who use the loophole to steal from their people and enrich themselves.)
4) The T-TPLF wants to scam the Trump Administration with its puffery about fighting terrorism in Somalia, serving as “stabilizing force in the Horn” and commitment as a loyal ally of the United States. With the endorsement of former NSC chief and USAID Administrator Gayle Smith, the T-TPLF managed to finesse the Obama Administration to give it full and unquestioned support. The T-TPLF made President Barack Obama the laughing stock of the world when they got Obama to say, “The government of Ethiopia, that has been democratically elected.” The so-called government of Ethiopia Obama anointed as democratically elected claimed it had won 100 percent of the seats in “parliament”.
5) The T-TPLF calculates that this is the best time to make a move. There is evidence showing that T-TPLF deliberations to secure the services of a lobbying firm were based on considerations that Ethiopian Americans in the United States are so fragmented and dysfunctional that they pose no threat to their lobbying efforts. There is evidence to suggest that the T-TPLF believes the Ethiopian American opposition in the United States is “demoralized”, “fragmented”, “leaderless”, “tired”, “limited to a few misguided/hateful individuals”, “hopeless”, “in despair” and incapable of coming together to anything useful”. They expect their lobbying efforts to be a cakewalk.
What does USD$150 thousand a month buy on the lobbying market?
The T-TPLF-SGR MOU claims that the aim of the lobbying effort is to “enhance the dialogue and relationships with policymakers, media, opinion leaders, and business leaders”, “promote a better understanding of Ethiopia’s political, social, and economic environment” and “strengthen U.S-Ethiopia business outreach and grow foreign direct investment in Ethiopia.”
What does lobbying “to enhancing dialogue” mean in practice?
Lobbying is first and foremost all about three things: ACCESS, Access and access. Access means, first and foremost “ear time” with members of Congress and their staffers and high-level Trump Administration officials. It also means managing a client’s image and treatment with U.S. officials. Lobbying can lower the pressure on a client, deflecting attention from a client’s record of corruption and human rights violations, silence or quiet Congressional critics, defuse serious political and legal charges against the client regime and other related things.
“Enhanced dialogue” means feeding American government officials a rich diet of carefully prepared propaganda, lies and deception in the form of “research and analysis” and advocacy pieces. For instance, the enhanced dialogue would emphasize all the “great” things the T-TPLF has done, including double-digit growth over the past 10 years”, “support for U.S. counter-terrorism efforts”, “providing regional stability”, construction of infrastructure, etc.)
Access and dialogue are the means by which lobbyists aim to convince members of Congress, their staff and administration officials that the T-TPLF needs continued strong financial U.S. support and to scare American officials that without the T-TPLF Ethiopia could implode and the Horn destabilized.
Through its lobbying efforts, the T-TPLF hopes to recruit and cultivate congressional and administration officials to make the case for itself. The T-TPLF wants its lobbyist to identify potential champions for its cause in the U.S. government now that its former defenders have been consigned to the dustbin of history. They want to recruit insiders to do the internal policy fights for them in the hall of the U.S. government. The T-TPLF also aims to use its lobbyist to monitor and anticipate potential problems such as punitive legislation against them and mount full court pressure defense and preemptive offense to defeat such legislation and policies.
What does “promoting a better understanding of Ethiopia’s political, social, and economic environment” mean?
“Promoting a better understanding” means one thing only: CREATING FAKE NEWS ON BEHALF OF THE T-TPLF AND SPINNING THE AMERICAN MEDIA TO PROMOTE THE T-TPLF!
More specifically, it means reinventing, glorifying and beatifying the T-TPLF for American policy makers and public, and demonizing, criticizing and vilifying T-TPLF opponents in the United States. It means burnishing and laminating the T-TPLF’s image as a group of modernizers and innovators dragging Ethiopia out of poverty into the 21st century. It means creating a fictional narrative of a T-TPLF is building a thriving democracy, fighting terrorism, developing and growing the economy, exceeding the Millenium goals and loyally serving as a proxy for the U.S. in the fight against terrorism.
The lobbying effort will aim to show the kinder and gentler face of the T-TPLF and whitewash its ugly crimes against humanity, its inhuman brutality, dictatorial rule by declaration-of-emergency and fetid corruption.
I have been around long enough to know how lobbyists engage in “promoting a better understanding” of their clients.
Most lobbyists offer the “complete package”. That means they are not limited to just promoting the interests of their clients in official halls. They also roll up their sleeves to battle their client’s opponents in the media and in the public square. They engage in wear-down and tear-down media “guerilla warfare”. They perceive their clients’ opponents as direct and serious threats that must be neutralized at all times. They monitor their client’s opposition in a variety of ways and have their antennae scanning the political landscape and social media and cyberspace to pick up the first warning signals against their client and come out to neutralize the threat. They carefully monitor opposition websites, bloggers, dig up dirt on opposition leaders and spread the word on them.
The lobbyists also prepare their own messages not only to build up their client but also tear down and destroy their clients’ opponents. (See my “battle” with DLA Piper lobbying firm below.) They want U.S. government to listen to their clients’ message and completely ignore counter arguments coming from the opposition.
I am certain that the T-TPLF embassy in Washington, D.C. will promptly transmit this commentary to its lobbyist to inform them that I have spilled the beans on the whole lobbying effort big time. But their lobbyists already know about me and have studied my blogs, which is a good thing. I hope they will learn a thing or two from my commentaries about the rule of law, moral conviction and resistance to evil. I believe in Einstein’s maxim: The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
Lobbyists have an arsenal of weapons and a slew of tactics to neutralize perceived threats to their clients’ opponents. They will exploit weaknesses in opposition. I expect “new groups” to suddenly emerge representing different ethnic groups to supplement the T-TPLF lobbying efforts. I expect to see “Amhara”, “Oromo” and other “leaders” and “representatives” pounding the halls of Congress singing songs of praise for the T-TPLF. I have seen them before and I expect to see them again reorganized, improved and well-trained by professional lobbyists to descend upon Congress like a swarm of locusts.
To bolster its lobbying, I expect the T-TPLF will unleash its well-oiled strategy of sowing discord and disharmony among Ethiopian Americans.
It has been established at least since 2006 that the T-TPLF has deployed “spy agents and TPLF members spying on Ethiopians and Ethiopian-Americans have been deployed among Ethiopians in great numbers.” Indeed, the T-TPLF prepared and unsuccessfully implemented a detailed “Strategic Plan” with the principal aim of “taking revenge against opposition supporters and activists in the Diaspora, through some of its diplomats and a number of other TPLF spy agents who are sent in disguise to infiltrate political activities within the Ethiopian community in many foreign countries, mainly in the United States and Europe.”
We should expect that the T-TPLF lobbying efforts will result in a major cyber offensive to control the dissemination of disinformation and generate fake news to promote itself with the Trump Administration. The lobbying effort will likely be directed to control and dominate the official policy and legislative discussion and frame the issues along the old and tired lines of counter-terrorism, regional stability, etc. The T-TPLF will make every effort to avoid discussions of political prisoners, crimes against humanity, corruption, fraud, abuse and waste of American aid money.
We should not be surprised to see a flood of positive information on the web about the T-TPLF. To give legitimacy and credibility to the lobbying message, we should not be surprised to see more and more rent-a-scholar, -academic, -former U.S. government official, -think tank fellow, -expert consultant and others coming out of the woodwork flooding the web with interviews, articles, commentaries and blogs extolling the accomplishments and political virtues of the T-TPLF. These same individuals will likely be employed to write supporting letters to members of Congress and Administration officials pretending to be disinterested parties or make personal appearances to advocate U.S. national interests while promoting T-TPLF interests. It is a well-known lobbying technique to generate massive amounts of press releases and other information for their clients just to trick the search engines into pushing dummy content above the negative information on their clients and down ranking criticisms and negative information.
What does “strengthening U.S-Ethiopia business outreach and grow foreign direct investment in Ethiopia” mean?
Foreign direct investment in Ethiopia in 2000 was 1.6 percent, net inflows, of GDP.
In 2015, it was 3.5 percent, net inflows of GDP.
The T-TPLF regime that boasts of “double-digit growth over the past 10 years” has a dismal record of attracting foreign investment. There are reasons why American businesses and companies do not want to invest in Ethiopia.
A 2015 U.S. State Department “Investment Climate Statement” all but says Ethiopia is an exercise in futility for FDI:
Current challenges to the private sector include foreign exchange shortages and limited access to finance, long lead-times for inputs and exports due to the current logistic infrastructure and associated high land transportation costs, and bureaucratic delays. Areas closed to foreign investment are banking, insurance and accounting/assurance services, retail, telecommunications and transportation. Businesses interested in entering the market should focus on aligning operations to complement the overall goals of the GTP [Growth and Transformation Plan].
Any American business or company interested in investing in Ethiopia need only read the World Bank’s Doing Business 2017 report on Ethiopia, which incidentally ranks Ethiopia for ease of doing business at 159 (out of 190 economies). They do not need sweet talk from any lobbyists. The facts speak for themselves!
Translated into ordinary language, all of the above means 1) Many of the profitable sectors of the economy are a monopoly of T-TPLF supporters and cronies and inaccessible to FRI. 2) The fact that there is no difference between the ruling party and the state in the economy makes it impossible to do legitimate investment business. 3) Bureaucratic corruption, inefficiency, snafus and delays will result in prohibitively high investment costs. 4) To get anything done, investors must grease the palms of T-TPLF leaders; and American investors cannot do that because of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA) (15 U.S.C. § 78dd-1, et seq.). 5) To have a successful business investment, the foreign investor must partner with T-TPLF supporters, cronies, etc. or invest in an area where there is no T-TPLF monopoly.
So, what does “strengthening U.S-Ethiopia business outreach” mean?
It means creating a fictional narrative of investment opportunities in Ethiopia based on fables, myths and fantasies of an “Ethiopia Rising”: 1) Ethiopia is “one of the fastest growing nations in the world with double-digit growth over the past 10 years.” 2) Ethiopia is a leader in infrastructure development which will reduce the cost of foreign investment and increase profits. 3) Ethiopia will soon become a middle-income country with expanding markets for investors. 4) With various hydro power plants coming online soon, cheap electricity will facilitate greater productivity and profits. 5) The problems of famine, poverty, political turmoil, human rights violations are insignificant factors for investors who should model themselves after the Chinese who hear no evil, see, no evil and speak no evil as they invest.
The outreach will not discuss how investors have been ripped off by the T-TPLF.
Indian agricultural investor Karuturi Global Ltd, the self-proclaimed “rose king of the world” and “discoverer of commercial farming in Ethiopia” pulled out of Ethiopia after the T-TPLF conducted a daylight robbery of that company. Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi, founder and managing director of Karuturi Global Ltd, was so incensed by the T-TPLF ripoff, he threatened the T-TPLF: “Touch me, then you will see the power of India”.
Saudi agricultural investment under T-TPLF rule collapsed due to “the lack of facilities to export their produce to Saudi Arabia”, among other things.
In October 2016, Israeli Chemicals (ICL) “one of the largest suppliers of crop nutrient potash to China, India and Europe” left Ethiopia citing “the Ethiopian government’s ‘failure to provide the necessary infrastructures and regulatory framework’ for the project” and unjustified and illegal tax assessment.” ICL lost USD$170 million in this T-TPLF orchestrated fiasco.
In “strengthening U.S-Ethiopia business outreach”, there will be no discussion of the World Bank’s landmark and comprehensive, and the only one of its kind, 417-page corruption study in Ethiopia under T-TPLF rule.
Learning from the past, and avoiding the same mistakes
I can say with certainty that I know a thing or two about the lobbying business and particularly how the T-TPLF in the past has used lobbyists to defeat legislation in the U.S. Congress. Most of my readers I believe are aware of my role in mobilizing grassroots support for H.R. 2003 (Ethiopian Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007) and previous versions of that bill.
I am reasonably sure that the T-TPLF will use the same playbook in its lobbying efforts with some modifications.
In September 2006, I gave an interview on the necessity of human rights legislation in the U.S. congress in Ethiopia and the T-TPLF’s lobbying campaigns.
In August 2007, I had an opportunity to engage T-TPLF’s former lobbyist DLA Piper in a lengthy letter challenging the public relations narrative and lobbying advocacy they had undertaken.
In a radio interview defending the T-TPLF, DLA Piper attorney Gary Klein gave an interview Deutsche Welle (German Radio Amharic program) making the following assertions:
There are no political prisoners in Ethiopia today, or at any time following the 2005 election. No one in Ethiopia has been jailed because of his/her political views or stand.
The recently freed opposition political leaders were jailed because of their criminal role in the post-2005 election-related violence.
The reports of human rights abuses by international human rights organizations are mere allegations without factual foundation.
The ruling regime in Ethiopia allows full and unrestricted exercise of basic freedoms including free speech, free press and free electoral participation in Ethiopia.
H.R. 2003 is fundamentally inimical to democratic progress in Ethiopia. You interview comments reflect your Firm’s stated positions.
I “have no knowledge whatsoever” about the situation of journalists in Ethiopia.
In a memo sent to members of Congress, DLA Piper “argued the terms ‘political prisoners’ and ‘prisoners of conscience’ are undefined and mischaracterize the situation in Ethiopia’ and should be removed from a bill that condemned the Ethiopian regime for detaining opposition activists.”
Klein stated that H.R. 2003: 1) “Threatens U.S. National Security Interests”, 2) “Overlooks Progress 3) Toward Democracy and Reconciliation”, 4) “Impedes Further Democratic Progress”, 5) “Presents a One-Sided View of the Facts”, 6) “Promotes Further Deterioration of the Situation in Somalia”.
I am familiar with the T-TPLF’s campaigns of lies and deception in its lobbying efforts. I know how they play their games of deception and smoke and mirrors. But all pro-democracy Ethiopian Americans must rise up and resist the T-TPLF’s campaign of lies and deception in our government. It would be a low down crying shame to let them come stateside, in our front and backyards and play us for damned fools. We should not let them manipulate, twist, bamboozle, hoodwink, flim-flam, dupe and confuse our elected officials and policy-makers.
The T-TPLF has brought the fight to us. There is one and only one question for us to answer: Will we run or fight?
Fighting Back: David defeats Goliath
The fact that T-TPLF is spending millions of dollars to get its dirty work done is nothing new. We have seen that movie before. The leading actor in 2006 was DLA Piper. In 2006, we were outspent, outmaneuvered, outwitted, outfinessed, outmanned, outmatched, outplanned and outpowered. We were no match for DLA Piper as David was no match for Goliath. But we won the fight.
The T-TPLF has brought the fight stateside, to our front and backyards. We must rise to the challenge as we once did when DLA Piper led the charge up The Hill and in the halls of the State Department.
The last fight we won by engaging in mass-based grassroots advocacy. We mobilized not only academics and professionals but also ordinary folks in the community ranging from cab drivers to students, young people and community leaders.
But it was not only organized groups that fought the good fight. Even individuals whose consciences were seared by the crimes of the T-TPLF joined exercising their right to free speech. Who will ever forget the young man who used to drive around Washington, D.C. in his pickup truck with a large billboard in its bed accusing DLA Piper of lobbying for an Ethiopian dictator.
In April 2009, DLA Piper released a statement announcing “it was no longer representing Zenawi’s government in lobbying”.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves!!!
Before we do anything to meet the T-TPLF challenge in exploiting and misdirecting American political institutions, we must do one thing immediately!
Pro-democracy Ethiopian Americans must declare an immediate silent TRUCE.
I call on all Ethiopian Americans to declare a truce in the ethnic politics cyber guerilla warfare.
I call on them to come together and face the challenge presented by the T-TPLF as a united democratic force committed to the release of the hundreds of political prisoners in Ethiopia, end to rule by emergency decree, restoration of the rule of law.
I call on them to set aside differences for the time being and seriously consider what is at stake in the T-TPLF lobbying blitz in our backyard.
There is no retreat from this fight.
Even a herd of fighting buffaloes stops fighting when they see an approaching pack of hyenas.
To those who may not appreciate the seriousness and gravity of the T-TPLF lobbying effort, I make the following points emphatically:
1) We may or may not agree with the Trump Administration, but we should always remember that politics makes for strange bedfellows. It has been said that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Who was it that said something to this effect: “You don’t go to war with the army you want, but the army you got.” Metaphors aside, Trump has a certain populist streak in him which makes him suspicious of those who leech off of American taxpayers. The “leeches” could be members of NATO who are “ripping off” the U.S. and getting a “free ride”. One could make certain logical inferences about how Trump might feel about African dictators ripping off American taxpayers. A united grassroots effort to call attention to T-TPLF rip off American taxpayers could resonate with Trump.
2) The Trump administration is asking the same types of questions we have been asking of African dictators, particularly the thugtators in Ethiopia. The most important questions being this: “With so much corruption in Africa, how much of our funding is stolen? Why should we spend these funds on Africa when we are suffering here in the U.S.?”
3) Ethiopian Americans have a level playing field to influence U.S. policy in Ethiopia that they did not previously have at any time. The days of the Obama Administration’s blind support for the T-TPLF are gone as are the T-TPLF supporters in the State Department Swamp. (Good riddance!) They say it is best to strike the iron while it’s hot.
4) Failure to take decisive united action by pro-democracy Ethiopian Americans against the massive T-TPLF lobbying effort will embolden the T-TPLF to take other actions that will surely marginalize and diminish us as taxpayers in our own institutions and allow the T-TPLF to ripoff American taxpayers of their hard earned tax dollars.
5) This is our fight to lose. I am certain that the T-TPLF is fighting a losing battle to buy off American elected officials and policymakers. But the fight is ours to lose. We lose the fight when we make our differences prevent us from working together. We lose the fight when we make our egos bigger than the great cause of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. We lose the fight when we tell ourselves, “It’s no use. The T-TPLF is too powerful to fight against because it has millions of dollars to spend on buying political influence.” We lose the fight when we lose the will to win. We lose the fight when we ignore Sun Tzu’s prescription: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
We know the enemy, but do we know ourselves?
The only way we can know ourselves and each other is by working together for a common goal and a common purpose: FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY AND THE RULE OF LAW IN ETHIOPIA.
So I have a very simple question for all pro-democracy Ethiopian Americans to answer in their own minds and hearts:
Are you ready to fight, or are you ready to raise the white flag, cut and run and hide under a rock?
(Next installment: Only the forces of truth can defeat the forces of lies…)