[Marxism] Unusual liberal suggests "hands off Zimbabwe!" is a good idea

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Jun 28 05:28:25 MDT 2008

Got A Plan for Zimbabwe? I Don't 
posted by Robert Dreyfuss on 06/27/2008 @ 10:41am

If anyone has any good ideas about how to help Zimbabwe, I'd like to hear
them. Military interention is obviously a nonstarter. Tougher economic
sanctions probably won't do much, except worsen the plight of the Zimbabwe
people and tribes not favored by President Robert Mugabe. Yes, he's
murdering and torturing members of the opposition. So what's your plan? Mine
is pretty much: do nothing. 

The editor of the Economic Times of India points out one aspect of the
hypocritical handwringing about Mugabe, in a Post column: 

The vast majority of 20th century world rulers were bloody autocrats, and
the shift to democracy in the 21st century has so far been partial and
unconvincing. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan are autocracies. Does anybody
suggest UN action to topple them? All the Central Asian republics are
autocracies. Does anybody suggest toppling them? No, because they are
generally pro-Western autocracies, and that apparently expiates their sins.
Of Mugabe's many crimes, the one that is apparently unforgivable is that he
has confiscated the land of white farmers, killed some and driven out
others. In earlier times, when he accommodated whites, the West hailed him
as a great freedom fighter. Britain even knighted him. These encomiums were
poured on him despite his killing 10,000 to 20,000 members of the rival
Matabele tribe during an uprising. Nobody called him a bloody criminal at
the time. Only when he turned viciously against whites did the western media
and political class suddenly find in him despicable qualities that had
somehow escaped them earlier. 

This white bias is well understood in Africa--and Asia--and explains why
other African rulers have been slow to join Western condemnation of him.
Some have finally condemned him now, but none of them wants military action
to topple Mugabe.

Condemning Mugabe is one thing, as everyone from George W. Bush to Nelson
Mandela has done. But doing something about it is another thing. Lots of
people want to blame Thabo Mbeki, the president of South Africa, for not
cutting off Zimbabwe's electric supply, shutting down the border, and
otherwise taking aggressive actions to isolate Mugabe. To my mind, Mbeki
argues convincingly that (a) those measures won't work and (b) they would
boomerang to hurt South Africa and the region. 

Maybe Mbeki did his best, as the regional African mediator for Zimbabwe, to
broker fair elections, and maybe he didn't. The elections were, in fact,
held, and the opposition won control of Zimbabwe's parliament. Could Mbeki
have done any more, given Mugabe's determination to stay in power? I don't
know. But clearly Mbeki isn't lining up behind forcible "regime change." 

Even Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader who took refuge in the Dutch
embassy and dropped out of the election held today, isn't calling for armed
intervention, though members of this party are. 

Of course, the Queen of England did strip Mugabe of the honorary knighthood
he received back when he was in favor.

More information about the Marxism mailing list