Lose-lose war

June 05, 2000

ETHIOPIA declared victory in its war against Eritrea, which it has mauled in recent weeks. Eritrea, reeling, didn't think it was over. Their indirect talks in Algiers went on.

Peace, should it break out, would be a victory for the Organization of African Unity, which convened the talks with U.S. and European encouragement.

This war for disputed territory, by two revolutionary regimes that jointly overthrew the former Ethiopian dictatorship, is in the interest of neither state. It has taken at least 100,000 lives in two years.

But the war is puny compared with the drought gripping both countries, threatening millions with starvation. Ethiopia's bombardment stopped food aid from flowing through Eritrean ports to both countries.

Ethiopia has clearly defeated smaller Eritrea. Yet both are the losers. Each regime, especially Eritrea's, appeared to be doing positive things before they started the war neither could afford. The world, unfortunately, can live with permanent war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. They cannot.

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