The Tigray President , Koreta, and Democritus theory of war

As a young recruit to the TPLF Debretsion was seen to be shy and quiet but intense in wanting to learn. He quickly became an expert on communications and intercepting enemy radio communications. He was able to interpret enemy plans and helped develop counter-strategy.

After a week of strategic withdrawal when many Ethiopian supporters were predicting imminent defeat today we see again a dramatic advance of the Tigray Defense Forces.  In fact before the news about the new rout of Amhara and Ethiopian National Defense Forces was announced many Amhara websites were falsely claiming complete victory in hours. It seems their wrong perceptions clouded the reality of the moment.

The study of what decides the fortunes of war for winner and loser goes back to ancient Greece and China as well. Living in the 3rd century BC in ancient Greece, Democritus was loved by Aristotle and hated by Plato. He believed that man relied too much on what he perceived by senses alone which could be affected by emotion and should instead always determine what is truth by applying reason. While others said “fortune favors the bold” Democritus said bold helps the start but does not decide the end of war.

Thinking about this takes me back to my many conversations with Debretsion Gebremichael, the President of the Tigray State, on many subjects relating to university and medical matters on shared airplane flights. He was mostly an attentive listener who would ask questions in a way that indicated he was seeking to understand cause and effect for every topic. 

Of course I never had a chance to discuss war with him but this recurrent use of koreta by the Tigray to draw their enemy into a snare of ambush on the false pretense of an easy victory against a retreating army seems to be a recurring story. Interestingly this technique also goes back to ancient Rome and the victory of Hannibal at Carthage.

Debretsion Gebremichael presents quite a contrast from the boastful, somewhat empty intellectual, and rash acting Abiy Ahmed who continually seems to have problems with his perception of reality.

Author: Professor Tony Magana

Professor Tony Magana is Head of the Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences at Mekelle University in Mekelle, Ethiopia. He directs a neurosurgery residency and training program as well as neuroscience research.

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