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Rushing towards Year Zero

Robert Mugabe continues his insane demolition of houses and businesses as he increasingly starts to look like Pol Pot reborn, seeking to depopulate the cites and drive the now homeless and unemployed population into the countryside to eke out an even more miserable living, thereby dispersing and isolating people from communities which might oppose his tyrannical rule.

And where are the marchers in the west? Where are the protesters calling for justice in Zimbabwe? Where is the outrage from those tireless tribunes of the Third World, the UN? Why can I not hear the snarls of fury from the alphabet soup of NGOs? What of the legions of Guardian readers finding out about all this? What are they going to call for? Amnesty International is getting a lot of (bad) publicity from having called Guantanamo Bay ‘a gulag’ whilst now admitting they do not actually know what is happening there, yet why are they not straining every fibre of their being in opposition to this African horror? There is tyranny aplenty to be opposed without having to invent any.

Clearly the only chance for the people of Zimbabwe is for someone, anyone, to help them to rise up and meet violence with violence. They do not need aid, they need guns and ammunition so that supporters of the MDC can start shooting at anyone associated with ZANU-PF or the ‘security’ services. Time for Mugabe’s swaggering police thugs to be met with a hail of gunfire rather than terrified sobbing. But of course the South African ANC government, far from being a possible solution to the rapidly deteriorating situation across the border, is aiding and abetting in the Cambodia-ization of Zimbabwe. I look forward to Saint Nelson Mandela taking a loud, public and sustained stand against Mugabe’s madness. Yeah, right.

If Tony Blair was serious about doing something about poverty in Africa, he would be sending guns to the MDC and to anyone else who is willing to resist and threatening to have some gentlemen from Hereford put a .338 hole between Mugabe’s eyes unless things change radically. What a pity Zimbabwe does not have oil or maybe more people would give a damn what is happening there.

58 comments to Rushing towards Year Zero

  • As the resident incrementalist, let me go on record as stating that some situations call for revolution, and Zimbabwe is definitely one of those situations.

  • Have you not noticed that Mugabe is black?

  • Yeah. Mugabe has the great talismanic charm and protection of a high melanin count, which automatically grants him dispensation in the eyes of the multicultural left and the NGO’s. A pox on them all.

  • Bernie

    As others have pointed out Mug is a black man and therefore obviously a victim. Also one of the main exports was tobacco. The logical and moral contortions don’t bear thinking about.

    If you’ve got a spare gun Perry I’ll go out there with you.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Good post, Perry. I was going to write the same thing so I guess you are some kind of mind-reader.

    On a practical note, does any commenter know what the chances of success there would be in the likes of Britain and other powers deposing this thug by force? If mass starvation occurs, I don’t see how aid organisations can credibly enter the country without first getting rid of Mugabe.

  • Mugabe is rapidly buying arms off the Chinese and selling siezed land off to them. Blair is also sucking up to the Chinese.

    Read this: Zimbabwe’s new Colonialists

  • GCooper

    Excellent post and subsequent comments!

    By the way, has anyone noticed Samizdata is mentioned (even quoted at great length!) by the BBC, today?

    Sorry about the direct quote but I seem unable to get Firefox to work in accordance with your instructions: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4613799.stm

  • Zap

    Perry, your heart’s in the right place, but where’s the people with any real power to do something? Why leave the all-powerful Bush admin unaccountable? The global tyranny destroying neocons and the peace and freedom advancing GOP get a pass on this? Talk about tasteless partisanship. I’m conservative republican, not a libertarian idealist, a sincere realist, and I can think of no greater source of power than my own party to do something about this, and it disgusts me that they won’t. As they ignore this one, they back off on Khartoum and the Janjaweed, and won’t even look at the LRA in Southern Sudan and N. Uganda… where I’ll be this August helping to build a compound where childred can find sanctuary.

  • jimmmy

    fyi: cnn’s ‘inside the blogs’ just mentioned samisdata as well, though not for the pithy libertarian posts- they pointed people who aren’t up on the latest blogging lingo to your blogging glossary.

    re: zimbabwe- this would be a great ‘project’ for the european rapid reaction force to get involved in. you know, moral authority and all those evolved peacekeeping abilities i keep hearing about- sounds like a perfect combination for zimbabwe.

  • Tmallen

    Ya know, I heard about the “anti-fascist” brigades that went to spain in the 30s to try and institute a communist government there. I always thought it would be neat if some of us freedom loving types got together and did the same thing in a country like zimbabwe…

    PS: and I DO NOT mean that we would try to establish a communist government.

  • Hus

    Amnesty International is of course quite active regarding Zimbabwe and the tyranny there.

  • Jim

    “Amnesty International is of course quite active regarding Zimbabwe and the tyranny there.”

    Shush Hus, you’re spoiling their fun! This is clearly a prime example of the moral bankruptcy of the Left – all of it! Didn’t you know that Bob Geldof is a big Mugabe supporter? Oh wait, that was bollocks too.

  • Euan Gray

    As the resident incrementalist, let me go on record as stating that some situations call for revolution, and Zimbabwe is definitely one of those situations.

    As the resident realist, I’d point out that there has never been a popular uprising anywhere in black Africa. The culture of reverence for the boss militates against it, although there is always a first time. Coups are another matter, of course.

    The opposition in Zimbabwe does not need guns and ammunition. They wouldn’t use them. And what guarantee is there that they would be much better once actually in power?

    Nor is the absence of oil a factor. Nigeria has vast reserves of oil and gas, but nobody gives a damn about what type of government they have. Provided you know who to bribe and provided the bribes work, it doesn’t matter. Consider Gen. Abacha, for example.

    Mugabe is old and his country is disintegrating. He will either die or be the victim of a coup soon enough. This is probably the best Zimbabwe can expect. Then we can get on with figuring out what (or rather how much) makes the next dictatorial moron tick.

    EG

  • Jacob

    What was the name of that guy who tried to prevent this catastrophe some 30 years ago ? Ian Smith ?

  • Ian Smith doesnt appear to have been much better, he was a white nationalist in the PW Botha tradition.

    I’m not quite sure about this but Mad Bob has been in power for a long time, and his tyrannical streak has only been revealed recently – correct me if I’m wrong.

    I’m of the opinion that there is not one democracy in Africa. You’ll find out how democratic the states are when the government loses an election. You think the ANC will go quietly when eventually the time comes? Like hell.

  • I think that Mugabe quite literally went mad, around the time when he lost that referendum on his land reform plans.

  • And surely Mugabe’s own revolutionary war against Smith, and the parallel struggle in South Africa, count as popular uprisings. I grant you that neither involved crowds, and that both had outside help, but even so they were uprisings and they were popular.

  • Paul Rattner

    What do you guys have against establishing a communist dictatorship? Don’t you know how much fun it would be to run one?

  • Perry,

    Euan Gray is right. The Zimbabwe opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) eschews violence. Apparently, they believe peaceful change can come to Zimbabwe a la South Africa. Absurdly, they participate in sham elections and file pointless law suits in Zimbabwe hoping to oust Mugabe.

    They don’t seem to understand that Mugabe is your average Third World thug, not de Klerk. De Klerk had a conscience. Mugabe doesn’t.

    EG was also right in pointing out the placidity of the African “sheeple”. They simply don’t have a tradition of aggressive popular movements.

    I regret to say that in light of these facts, the people of Zimbabwe can be expected to suffer for a long time to come.

  • zimbo

    Guys don’t you realise that what uncle bob is doing right now is actually good for zim? yes its bad for the people but good for the country in the end! what is going to happen is that those that have been made homeless are going to go back to their rural homes and spread the word about just how good for the people bob really is. there is going to be an influx of slightly better educated people into the rural areas and then you will get the revolution coming from where it really will hurt zanupf!

  • Stephan

    What is happening in Africa is not something so vastly different then the state of Europe between the 1100’s and sometime in the 17th century. Terrible poverty, disease, famine, ruthless dictatorships, people controlled and slaughtered like cattle, and few breaks from the above in between. We were just like them a mere couple of centuries ago. So I wouldnt get too caught up on this “africans don’t know how to rise up” idea. With rare and mostly short lived exceptions, Europeean commoners didnt exactly do much “rising up” for many hundreds of years, unless you include coups, that is. I don’t think the africans are all that much different from us in their love of being free and well off.

  • Euan Gray

    With rare and mostly short lived exceptions, Europeean commoners didnt exactly do much “rising up” for many hundreds of years, unless you include coups, that is

    Almost every country in Europe has had at least one revolution at some point in the past 1000 years. Many have had more than one. No country in Africa at any time in its known history has ever had a revolution.

    I don’t think the africans are all that much different from us in their love of being free and well off.

    But they are VERY different in their passive acceptance of brutal kleptocracy as a valid form of government, in their extremely conservative culture which reveres power even when held by others and used to oppress, their reverence for the elderly for no better reason than that they have managed to live a long time, and in their desire for nothing to change. It is the combination of these things which makes black African culture radically different and in the context of this specific question unlikely to demand much in the way of change.

    EG

  • John

    Oh yeah, us poor sheep-like black folks couldn’t possibly rise up against oppression, unlike those clever white people. Unless you count say, 20 or so uprising in the Congo/Zaire pre and post independence, Mau Mau in Kenya, various Ashanti insurgencies in Gold Coast, ANC in South Africa… the list goes on.

  • Just wanted to leave a note: There’s going a “stay-away strike” on Thursday and Friday, where people, instead of mass demonstrating in the streets, are going to mass stay home from work. Last time that happened, the country erupted and that’s how the MDC opposition was born. Let’s see what happens.

  • Julian Taylor

    On a practical note, does any commenter know what the chances of success there would be in the likes of Britain and other powers deposing this thug by force?

    Interesting that the last time that was considered Harold Wilson had the plans scuppered since he felt the army might have a problem engaging other British troops. Again, after the talks with Ian Smith in December 1996 on HMS Tiger, he ruled out force since by then support for a UK action from the RRAF and the Rhodesian Army had been considerably reduced. What is fascinating to read is that every single time Wilson met with Ian Smith, or anyone else from Rhodesia, the situation worsened – eventually leading to full independence as a republic in 1970.

    Logistically it would be a complete nightmare. South Africa still supports Zimbabwe, Zambia might not, but deploying troops through a country with a reduced infrastructure and across the Zambezi isn’t going to be fun. Using Mozambique would be a joke – again a limited infrastructure, colossal corruption and a fairly high mountain range to cross to get to your objective. That just leaves Botsawana as a jumpoff point.

    Once in the country then your problems begin. Nothing unites a people suffering from poverty, starvation and despotism so well as an outside “aggressor” invading their country, and these people know how to fight a bush war bloody well.

    In summation – forget it. The costs would be horrendous, the loss of life would be high and Zimbabwe’s gold, platinum and other precious metal reserves are not sufficient to make an Iraq-style campaign worthwhile.

  • pommygranate

    Wouldn’t it be great if during Live8, Nelson Mandela stood up and said “Mr. Mugabe, stop killing your people or face consequences.”
    Or “Mr. Mbeki, it is time to put pressure on your neighbour.”
    Then all Bob and Bono’s crusading would be worth it.

  • Euan Gray

    Unless you count say, 20 or so uprising in the Congo/Zaire pre and post independence, Mau Mau in Kenya, various Ashanti insurgencies in Gold Coast, ANC in South Africa

    The difference is that these were tribal “uprisings.” Never in Africa has any popular (i.e. more than just tribal) uprising happened.

    Nothing unites a people suffering from poverty, starvation and despotism so well as an outside “aggressor” invading their country

    You don’t need to invade Zimbabwe. All you need to do is decapitate the regime and install a suitable replacement. Or perhaps just take Mugabe and his chief cronies out of the equation and let the rest of them sort it out amongst themselves.

    If you wish to ensure a permanent establishment of representative democratic government, you would need to occupy the nation and govern it yourself for a period of at least a generation and probably two. There is no democratic culture or any commonly accepted rule of law, and it takes a long time to evolve these things. Even so, you wouldn’t need thousands of troops to do it – most African colonies required very little in the way of foreign military and political resources to remain firmly in the imperial orbit.

    EG

  • Jacob

    Rhodesia under Ian Smith was peaceful and prosperous. It’s exactly this kind of thug-rules-and destroys situation that Ian Smith tried to prevent.

    And not every popular uprising is a good thing – witness Bolivia, where a popular uprising has toppled today (and a year ago also) a sensible and relatively good regime, and now chaos, nationalization and destruction reign. So be careful what you wish for.

  • Al Maviva

    I’ll note something about Amnesty here: Of course Zim comes in for better treatment than the U.S. That’s because Uncle Bob signed the International Criminal Court treaty; the UN Women’s Convention, and ratified
    Optional Protocol to UN Women’s Convention. They still get dinged a bit, however, since they have retained the death penalty, just like Texas.

    Now when you talk about the genocide being committed against the prisoners of conscience in the Gulags of Gitmo… well, that’s another (much worse) kettle of fish, obviously…

    /sarcasm.

    AI is nothing but a pack of tranzis who use human rights as the excuse for aggregating sovereign powers in international NGOs and internationalist bodies long held captive by police states, e.g. the UN Human Rights Commission. Their reasons for bashing the U.S. have little to do with the larger picture of human rights, and have everything to do with attempting to impose a transnationalist socialist agenda on the U.S. through the UN convention process, one dominated by NGOs… like AI. Yeah, it’s great they highlight the cause of human rights, but when they spend full time bashing the countries that do the most to advance human rights, and only summon a mere “tsk tsk” for countries where the slaughter of millions is occurring, it’s extremely hard to take them seriously. In my eyes they are moral midgets, and this substantially impairs their ability to raise moral arguments. I’d like to hear just one useful suggestion about what humane treatment we ought to hand out, to the kind of people who literally live for the chance to chew out an American (or Brit’s, or Frenchman’s or German’s or homosexual’s or woman-who-shows-ankle’s) throat.

    My own thought is that we owe the monsters basic human decency, but not much more; and the traditional way of dealing with those captured on a battlefield without uniform, standard identification, or chain of command, is summary execution. That the U.S. is bending over backwards, to the point where we are snapping our own backs to deal with the problem in a genteel manner, is getting a bit ridiculous. Go read the primary source documents in the Gitmo abuse lawsuit – they’re on the ACLU web site – and then see if you can still argue AI’s position on the U.S.

    AI could be a useful voice for freedom. Sadly for them, they prefer hand wringing and lefty piety, to the hard work of bringing freedom to the oppressed. I say this because the big picture of the Middle East and South Asia, an area encompassing roughly a half billion souls, would surely be much freer and there would be much greater respect for basic, universal human rights in that area if every Al Qaidist and every militant salafi-ist cleric were sunk to the bottom of the ocean. AI seems to miss this point, and much like the hopeless protestors in Zim, wants to file lawsuits and walk around doing moral scolding, while condemning the people who are shedding blood and destroying their own wealth, doing the heavy lifting, to bring about positive change.

    Pardon the screed, but this latest bit of piety from AI, while ignoring ongoing actual genocide and offering no solutions for the real problem we face, is sickening. It also undermines AI in their dealings with the real police states, since the likes of Kim Jong Il can now point to the U.S. and say “see, even the U.S. has a gulag.” And that loss of moral stature for AI and all the rest of the human rights movement may be the real tragedy here.

  • dsquared

    I’ll note something about Amnesty here: Of course Zim comes in for better treatment than the U.S.

    Of course it doesn’t, and I have no idea how anyone who had read the relevant country reports could possibly think it did.

    The Movement for Democratic Change is unlikely to start “shooting at anything that moves”. As the name suggests, they are a “movement” which is in favour of “democratic change”. One would have thought that the Iraq war would have taught a few lessons about what happens when foreign arms blunder in unsolicited but apparently not.

    I also find it quite startling that a libertarian website would have so many supporters of Ian Smith on it. Apparently, the idea that sacrificing liberty for security is a bad trade is one for white people only, and Africans should have just knuckled down.

    Natalie’s assessment of Mugabe is probably nearest to the truth, though I would date his mental collapse a little bit earlier to the conflict in the Congo. It was Mugabe’s disastrous and insane attempt at a military adventure into DRC which directly led to the “land reform” – Mugabe was looking round for something, anything to distract attention from this appalling failure, and land reform (more specifically, the British Government’s refusal to honour promises made in 1980 to compensate white farmers) had been a festering sore in Zimbabwe’s political culture ever since.

    Is the idolatry of Ian Smith the British version of the nostalgia for the antebellum South which so often pollutes American libertarian websites?

  • Trager-Soros

    South Africa has managed to hold onto much of its pre-revolutionary management class, thus staving off a Zimbabwe like decline. Zimbabwe has no chance now, it must pass through the inevitable, its people suffering the results of the worst government.

    The biggest racist of all, Mugabe, is appeased by people who think of themselves as intellectuals. A black african cannot be a racist murderer, eh? No worries, everything will be alright as long as racist westerners stay out of it.

  • dsquared says,

    “I also find it quite startling that a libertarian website would have so many supporters of Ian Smith on it. ”

    The comments favourable to Ian Smith have only come from one person, namely Jacob.

  • Julian Taylor

    Rhodesia under Ian Smith was peaceful and prosperous. It’s exactly this kind of thug-rules-and destroys situation that Ian Smith tried to prevent.

    No it wasn’t – there was a bloody guerilla war going on in Rhodesia for most of its independent life, how in the hell can that be ‘peaceful’? As for ‘prosperous’ read up on the history of that country during the 1970’s – all the money was leaving Rhodesia so fast that both Smithy, and later Mugabe, had to install limitations on what people were allowed to leave with on the ‘Chicken Run’ to South Africa.

    One thing we should bear in mind is that Zimbabwe no longer has any state utilities or centralised facilities and thus there are a number of things that could be done to make life a lot harder for Mugabe and his ruling Shona tribe, which both the UK and the USA could pretty easily achieve. Perhaps a start could be to persuade South Africa to cut off electricity to the country (its sole electricity provider), and place an embargo on oil transports north of the Limpopo.

  • Shaun

    Actually, Nelson Mandela has spoken out against Mugabe and Zanu PF several times, well reported in the South African media. Many factions in the ANC and COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions), the ANC’s partner in government, disagree with Mbeki’s quiet diplomacy policy toward Mugabe. COSATU sent a delegation of investigation to Zimbabwe and Mugabe sent them flying back, because of their anti-Zanu stance.

    A recently published biography of Mbeki by William Gumede (similar in its insider knowledge style to Pollard’s biography of David Blunkett) reveals that Mbeki fears that Zanu PF would never give up power, even if the MDC wins any future elections, and that civil war would ensue. That is why Mbeki is reluctant to support the MDC. He fears that a Zimbabwean civil war or rebellion would haved a far worse effect on South Africa than the status quo. You could say it’s a similar policy to Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler.

    In reality there is no love lost between Mbeki and Mugabe. In the 1970’s and 1980’s the ANC were more confortable with the more liberal Zimbabwean liberation movement, ZAPU, rather than the more Marxist one, Zanu PF.

  • John

    The difference is that these were tribal “uprisings.” Never in Africa has any popular (i.e. more than just tribal) uprising happened.

    Oh the arrogance of the European mindset. Most of Africa’s nation states are the unnatural creations of European powers that have no relation to the demographic and cultural realities of the people they “govern”.

    It is long past time to be blaming colonialism for all of Africa’s woes but that is one of several poison European legacies African does still have to live with, made worse by the UN’s mad obsession with the sanctity of national borders.

    And so to dismiss African struggles as mere tribal uprisings (complete with sneer quotes) shows that unless a tribal people (for that is what Africans are) conform to some Scottish guy’s preconceived idea of how people must be organised, their struggles against oppressors of every skin tone are not “popular” and somehow indicative of sheeplike nature. In reality nation states are no more legitimate than tribal based societies and tribal politics. Your arguments mean *nothing* in the context of Africa.

    I have lurked on this blog for over a year now and I expect things like this in the comments here but fortunately I have never seen the articles themselves pushing such condescending views here, nor any postings holding Ian Smith up as a figure of honour. This blog is almost unique in my experience in that is seems to be run by a bunch of white people and it actually has a category for *African affairs*! For reasons I entirely understand, for most US, Canadian and UK blogs Africa is like the invisible continent unless the author is black (and even then sometimes!) or someone white is getting shot at somewhere. I often do not agree with the views here but they at least do not treat us (I am a Jamaican of African descent and I have worked in Kenya and Gambia) as nothing more than a Western problem and that is very refreshing indeed. I just wanted to say :-)

  • To be fair to Amnesty International, I am aware they have spoken out against Mugabe it is just that a great deal more seems to have gone into their condemnations of the rather less drastic situation in Guantanamo Bay. Of course it could be that it is more the media’s fault for giving so few column inches to what they say about Zimbabwe compared to something involving the US.

  • Trager-Soros

    The fire is so hot and all consuming that it must burn itself out. There is no way to put out the fire and salvage the house. That is Zimbabwe. Increasingly, that is Africa. Do rock singers actually believe they can hold concerts in European cities and put out the fire in Africa? It is too far gone.

  • Some Guy

    It’s all about the OOOIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLL! And racism, don’t forget racism!

    Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but if conservatives support somethign good, no matter how good, they get opposed. Factor in that any attempt to stop Mugabe would boil down to “Cowboy Bush versus A Great Socialist Experiement,” and you can understand why we here in the U.S. aren’t exactly anxious to piss away our momentum in the crusade we are currently engaged in.

    Not that we shouldn’t be sending boatloads of weapons through a private company and a willing third party…

  • dsquared

    On the subject of Ian Smith, Natalie is correct and I apologise.

  • Shaun

    I agree with John. I have read many weblogs for quite a few years now and always enjoy the arguments and the lack of political correctness, but sometimes I get exasperated by pure ignorance. Some blog writers sitting in London or Paris, knowing what is the best way for Zimbabwe (without first-hand knowledge or experience), sometimes just takes the cake.
    Take for instance the author of this post, who says that the MDC should be armed and start a conflict. Do you know how many years rebellions and civil wars last in Africa?
    The Angolan civil war has lasted from the 1960’s and only recently a peace agreement was reached (the conflict might be flaring up again). Even intervention and military assistance from the Americans, Cubans and South Africans during the 1970’s did not halt this conflict. Similar civil wars have been raging for decades in Africa (worst one still raging is the conflict in Sudan).
    In the ‘Democratic’ Republic of Congo (formerly the Zaire), the dictator Mabuto Se Seko was overthrown in 1997 and the subsequent conflict is still raging, with the death toll into its millions and soldiers from Uganda, Ruanda, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia involved. Oh, if only arming someone was such an easy solution! I must say it. It’s a crap solution to Zimbabwe’s problems. Threatening to assassinate a d

    As for the commenter, Jacob, who believes Ian Smith was “that guy who tried to prevent this catastrophe some 30 years ago” and that Rhodesia was “peaceful and prosperous”. Like hell. Ian Smith wasn’t only oppressing black people. He was locking up any white opposition as well. He was far more authoritarian than the Apartheid government of South Africa ever was. And how was a civil war between Smith’s white government and Zanu PF/ZAPU making Rhodesia “peaceful and prosperous”?

    Natalie Solent claims that the transition from a racist Apartheid regime to a non-racial democracy was the result of a popular uprising. No, it’s because F.W. De Klerk realized the ANC was quite a moderate liberal movement, rather than being Marxist as many whites had feared and therefore he was quite willing to negotiate. Yes, there were many strikes, riots and violent clashes in the 1980’s (rather minor), but the Apartheid NP government could maintain power for many more decades to come. It was only because the white minority/economic elite realized that their wealth was being eroded by economic and political isolation (boycotts and sanctions) that De Klerk negotiated with moderate elements of the ANC, who were not going to instil Marxist economic policies. Since 1994 the ANC’s economic policies have leaned to economic liberalism and free trade. It’s ironic that in the last ten years of ANC, white wealth in South Africa has increased by 60% while black wealth has decreased. Sorry, I’m ranting now.

  • Randall

    Here’s what Bush/Blair should do:

    They should go to the U.N together, and say,

    “Our experience in Iraq has shown us that it is harder than we thought to (cough) “unilaterally” save a struggling part of the world from itself, and have now decided to yield to the wisdom of the International Community as embodied by the United Nations.

    We would humbly appreciate it if the International Community could show us how it should be done. So, if you wouldn’t mind terribly doing something about Zimbabwe – not save the place, necessarily, just do…something…anything. Improve the situation at least a little teensy weensy bit, without relying in any way whatsoever on the use or even threat of American firepower, even as a very last resort.

    We will be watching, and hope to learn something from this forthcoming example of the effectiveness of the U.N. at affecting positive change in this troubled region of the world.

    We are confident that we will in fact learn quite a bit should you decide to take us up on this.

    Thank you for your time. Good luck, and Godspeed.”

  • Randall

    Here’s what Bush/Blair should do:

    They should go to the U.N together, and say,

    “Our experience in Iraq has shown us that it is harder than we thought to (cough) “unilaterally” save a struggling part of the world from itself, and have now decided to yield to the wisdom of the International Community as embodied by the United Nations.

    We would humbly appreciate it if the International Community could show us how it should be done. So, if you wouldn’t mind terribly doing something about Zimbabwe – not save the place, necessarily, just do…something…anything. Improve the situation at least a little teensy weensy bit, without relying in any way whatsoever on the use or even threat of American firepower, even as a very last resort.

    We will be watching, and hope to learn something from this forthcoming example of the effectiveness of the U.N. at affecting positive change in this troubled region of the world.

    We are confident that we will in fact learn quite a bit should you decide to take us up on this.

    Thank you for your time. Good luck, and Godspeed.”

  • Jacob

    “Apparently, the idea that sacrificing liberty for security is a bad trade is one for white people only, and Africans should have just knuckled down.”

    Well, they got their “liberty” now, in Zimbabwe, and starvation too.
    But are they free ?
    I don’t see how being ruled by a murderous thug means liberty only because of the thug’s skin color is black. I don’t see why the people of Zimbabwe would necessarily have to support Mugabe over Ian Smith, or why this change is good for them.

    One thug, Mugabe, who happens to be black, harping on racist and socialist themes, got power (with the help of strangers – the Soviets and the British) and is ruining the land and it’s people.

    Was Ian Smith’s regime better ? I don’t know, I have no detailed knowledge of the situation back then. But I don’t see how it could have been worse than Mugabe’s.
    A government that would conform to our ideals is not to be found anywhere, least of all in Africa, and I don’t pretend that Ian Smith’s regime was perfect, but which regime is better Ian Smith’s or Mugabe’s ? Try to answer that factually, without pompous rhetoric about liberation, racism, etc.

    It seems to me that all African countries have suffered a steep decline in standards of living since decolonialization. What does this mean ? I don’t know. I’m not trying to bring back colonialism. Let them manage the best they can. That means – enduring Mugabes all over the continent. In theory, liberation is a good thing, in practice – it resulted in thugocracies. Well, then, so be it, you can’t oppose liberation !

    (Obviously, the opinions expressed by me are my own, and the Samizdata admin. are not responsible in any way. If the admin. think that I better refrain from airing such views here – I will stop).

  • Matt

    “Oh the arrogance of the European mindset.”

    Now who sounds like an arrogant racist? Thats quite a generalization including all of Europe with the views of the comment section on one libertarian blog.

    Next time I read a discussion like this I should just call all Africans uneducated AIDS carrying sheep because as a European I have too (after all, its in my terrible white genes that have destroyed the earth and caused every evil act in history).

  • Cosmo

    Shamefully, the world’s hands are stayed in Sudan and Zimbabwe because Khartoum’s patron is China and ‘liebensraum’ is being made in Zimbabwe for Chinese commercial interests.

    Why? Quite simply, moral showboating or direct action runs the risk of jeopardizing commercial opportunities with Beijing. Finding fault with the United States carries no such risk.

    Hence the inordinate focus on U.S. human rights, providing cover for Chinese-sponsored genocide and ethnic cleansing.

    Welcome to the new Cold War.

  • Bravo, Perry. The sort of “relief” supported by Bono and Geldof will only reinforce the bad lending practices of the World Bank and the inept and tyranical rules of Africa, of whom Mugabe is the poster boy.

    Kevin L. Connors, editor
    The Daily Brief

  • Euan Gray

    Most of Africa’s nation states are the unnatural creations of European powers

    But the tribes were not, and nor was the tribal politics that plagues the continent. Perhaps the nation states should be dismantled and Africa can prosper as a collection of several thousand

    Africa is easy to govern, should you want to do so. Tribes are easily set against each other, because they always have some petty squabble that is more important than combining to ensure good government. Even then, many – perhaps most – of the people will acquiesce in the exercise of arbitrary power by the Boss, simply because he IS the Boss and thus has the right to rule. That’s how it works there, unfortunately. How else did white minorities govern millions of Africans for decades with no serious opposition? Why else did Britain need less than 400 white administrators and a handful of native levy troops to govern Nigeria, a country at the time of some 60 million people? Divide and rule. It’s so easy.

    Tribalism holds Africa back, and it is not an invention of the nasty evil colonialists. Just in the same way, tribalism held Scotland back and resulted in it becoming an English protectorate rather than an equal partner in a union. Still does, really.

    EG

  • Dennis

    A couple of quick thoughts here:

    I like the idea of “decapitating” Mugabe’s regime. I think this could be done with a frigate or submarine off the coast of Mozambique firing a series of cruise missiles into Mugabe’s palaces, the Central Intelligence Organization HQ, as well as the Harare Police HQ, all at 3 a.m. one night. Then western powers should make it clear than any new government which did not set itself up in the interests of a truly free Zimbabwe would be guaranteed to suffer the same fate. No military invasion would be necessary.

    As for the question of when Mugabe lost his marbles, I think he went off the deep end during the Matabeleland rebellion in the early 1980’s, when he killed around 20,000 Zimbabweans. Predictably, everyone was so preoccupied with South Africa that this horror was pretty much ignored. Ignored even by Zimbabwean whites, who thought that they might escape a similar fate if they just shut up about it. As it turns out, this conspiracy of silence led Mugabe to believe that he could get away with pretty much anything, including murder. Today we see the end results of this appeasement in Zimbabwe.

  • Amelia

    Randall, that would be priceless. I would love to see that happen.

    In seriousness… I’ll readily confess that I’m too ignorant about the history of Africa to suggest any solutions, but I agree that SOMETHING needs to be done, and SOON!

    The fact that the U.S. is stretched pretty thin right now doesn’t absolve us of the need to be a part of some solution.

    I’d truly love to see the UN take on the problem, since they are the ones who have the “moral authority” to deal with problems like this, but the UN has insufficient spine.

    It is a terrible mess, and I don’t understand how the nations of the world who so heartily condemn the U.S. and proclaim their own moral superiority can stand by and allow this bad stuff to happen. What happened to “never again”???

  • guy

    well, i lived in rhodesia in the 70s. it is true that there was a low intensity guerilla war going on. the terrorists had relatively little support from the local population but murdered their way to a position where the average black feared them far more than they feared the rhodesian army – most of the soldiers were black, incidentally. one is reminded of the sunnis similarly murdering iraqis in the name of freedom. in the end the blacks supported mugabe because they thought that would bring peace. and there is no doubt they liked the idea of running their own country.

    smith was not a bad person. you have to remember that half the white population of rhodesia in the seventies were typically ex-raf personnel – or their families – who had trained there during ww2, liked the place, and emigrated there in the late forties. they might have been paternalistic but were not bad people. they were certainly competent administrators. the country had a better infrastructure than much of europe at the time. black farmers were taught land management. the schools were constantly being improved. hunger was unheard of. the roads, airports, dams, electricity, telephones, postal services, television, railways, stockmarket, national herds of livestock, etc were far superior to say..spains or greeces. all these ventures were keepng blacks in full employment and with food in their bellies. and this was being done at a time when most of the world was imposing sanctions against rhodesia. to get yourself locked up , you pretty much had to be a rabble rouser. the political climate was far more liberal than in today’s china, for example. when ian smith goes anywhere in zimbabwe today he is mobbed by old black men weeping and saying “boss, please come back and sort the place out”. some might not like to believe it but it’s true nonetheless.

    of course, nothing is helped by the population growth. in the 70s the population of rhodesia was around 7m. it has tripled or quadrupled since then. what country can cope with those figures? even aids hasn’t thinned them out noticeably. this problem is africawide. ethiopia 15m in the 50s. 40m at the time of geldof’s band aid. over 90m today and on stream for 100m by 2010. let’s go for it, bob, dig them some more wells! might get it to 150m by 2525 if we try. then we’ll really see some starving people.

    africa has only ever shown progress when white people were running the show, be it sierra leone, nigeria, rhodesia, you name it. someone give me an example of my being wrong. once the whites go the place goes quickly downhill. fact. the only reason south africa has any future is because it has whites. the tax base is for all intents and purposes a white tax base.

  • Julian Taylor

    I would hazard a guess that Robert Mugabe ‘lost his marbles’ when he actually ‘lost his marbles’ – he and Joshua Nkomo were both detained and tortured in the 60’s by the intelligence service. One consquence is that Mugabe was apparently so severely tortured by the ‘lets apply electricity to his genitals’ routine that he was effectively castrated.

    Regarding launching cruise missiles against Harare you would need to pinpoint Mugabe first. Like a certain friend of his (one Saddam Hussein) he has a number of residences in and around Harare and could be at any of those. Taking out the CIO building would not achieve anything, apart from the deaths of a number of innocents, and likewise with the police headquarters. Far better and far more British to do exactly what was proposed earlier – arrange an unfortunate “accident” to occur while RM is speeding around Harare in his presidential cavalcade or let the ‘father of his people’ suffer a major heart attack.

  • Otis Wildflower

    Two words:

    Executive Outcomes.

  • max

    As someone once said: Send Arik Sharon and one IDF tank batalion to Zimbabwe and you’ll get instant world-media and UN attention.

  • Jacob

    Thanks guy for your comment.

    Isn’t the internet wonderful ? You discuss some far away topic, and immediately a person with intimate knowledge steps in and enlightens us. Wonderful.

    guy’s comment substantiates my guess that Ian Smith’s regime was better than Mugabe’s. ( I have never been in Rhodesia).

    Mugabe didn’t “lose his marbles”, except maybe at birth. He was always a Marxist thug. That he managed to abstain from the worst abuses for some years after gaining power is the odd fact.

    “I agree that SOMETHING needs to be done, and SOON!”

    Well, I don’t agree. Most of the time it’s best to do nothing. I don’t see what can be done, and why somebody should risk his hide or money in this case.

    What can be done (because it has no cost attached) is to condemn Mugabe, impose sanctions, exert diplomatic pressure (i.e. talk… talk… talk… ), maybe abstain from giving him a red carpet wlcome at the Elysee palace … things like that.

    I didn’t say – pass a UN resolution against him – because that is utterly impossible – the UN will never censure a thug, it’s contrary to their deepest principles.

  • narciso

    Anybody remember ArchBishop Muzorewa, who actually
    replaced Ian Smith, but was not as ‘pure’ as Mugabe,
    for the sanctions-first crowd, who usually botch this
    situation. In South Africa, they succeeded. . .the jury’s
    still out on that score, Johannesburg is probably as
    dangerous as Baghdad is now; in Iraq, they were the
    fig leaf behind the oil for food program, in Cuba, which
    was probably the softest blockade in two generations;
    they constantly want to empower the tyrant, if he seems left

  • tranio

    I was in Zambia when Rhodesia declared UDI. British Royal AirForce planes were sent to Ndola in Zambia, Javelins I believe, to protect Zambians and to be part of the invasion to put down Ian Smith and Rhodesia. The pilots were made welcome in all the clubs, Tennis, golf, theatre etc. They were soon so demoralized by the whites living in Zambia they said that if they had to take off with bombs they would just drop them in the bush. Also we heard that Officers en masse, would resign from British regiments if they were sent to fight Rhodesian soldiers. The RAF planes left after about 4 months, the pilots enjoyed their stay in Zambia.

  • Good discussion. Makes me think I should do a post comparing and contrasting Zimbabwe under both Mugabe and Smith from my perspective (i.e. the black Zimbabwean) which happens to be the majority view in my country. There’s plenty from our perspective that’s missing from this discussion.

    Watch for that post over the weekend on my blog when things have (hopefully) slowed down in the country.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I have to agree with Euan here. The African cultures do not seem disposed to the kind of thinking that enables the rule of law and freedom of association/dissociation.

    I think the key asset here is the ability to look beyond one’s tribe. Tribalism just seems like a nationalism on a smaller scale.

    TWG