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The Zimbabwe disaster

The Cricket World Cup started today with the opening game, in which the West Indies narrowly defeated South Africa. However, as the Guardian reports, the big story for many concerns whether or not England will play their opening fixture in Harare next Thursday.

[England] Captain Nasser Hussain was said to be opposed to playing the game for fear of violent protests, according to a source accompanying the team. Vice-captain Alec Stewart is understood to be leading a minority ‘pragmatist’ faction, a group of players keen to go ahead.

The threats, issued by a previously unknown group called the ‘Sons and Daughters of Zimbabwe’ have pledged violence against the players and their families if they fulfil their fixture against the Zimbabwean national side.

Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe and of the nation’s cricketing body, is anxious to see the game played. A successful World Cup will be widely seen as an endorsement of his regime. Tomorrow Zimbabwe are due to play Namibia

This is all extremely depressing. These “Sons and Daughters of Zimbabwe”, by threatening violence to the England players (rather than merely disruption to the event) may perhaps have achieved their own purposes, but so far as British public opinion is concerned, they have done themselves no favours. At one stroke they may have turned the Zimbabwe issue, in British eyes, from “vicious dictator murders millions of his own people” to “those Africans, they’re all as bad as each other”.

Meanwhile, although the England players who don’t want to go may be having their doubts because of the support that they fear they may be giving to the detestable Mugabe, what they are actually saying is that his regime is insufficiently repressive. Their objection, or at any rate their excuse for objecting, is that their own safety can’t be guaranteed, because protestors may turn out to be insufficiently under the control of the Zimbabwean ‘authorities’, i.e. roaming gangs of murderous thugs.

Anything that keeps Zimbabwe on the front pages is worth something. But this muddle of messages, together with the preoccupation of the rest of the world with Iraq, could hardly have turned out better for Mugabe. His days in power will surely soon end, but how many other Zimbabweans will have to die before that end comes?

16 comments to The Zimbabwe disaster

  • If there was a sports game in the USA, and a team was afraid to come due to threats from a terrorist organisation, this would not be a signal to the US government that it needs to be more repressive. Repression and security are entirely different.

  • Julian Morrison

    Of course. As evidenced by the entirely harmless, cute and fluffy patriot act.

  • Just because you hate the US doesn’t mean the *logic* of what I said is wrong.

  • “If there was a sports game in the USA, and a team was afraid to come due to threats from a terrorist organisation, this would not be a signal to the US government that it needs to be more repressive.”

    A more accurate way of putting it would be, “this would be an excuse for the US government to be more repressive.

    “Repression and security are entirely different.”

    Indeed so. Unfortunately while governments love repression, but are only concerned about their own security–not that of their subjects.

  • Ken,

    I agree security can conceivably be used as an excuse for repression. I deny anyone in the US government wants to repress citizens as a goal. It may be a side effect of some well intended policies, no more.

    I find this anti-state attitude a bit disturbing. I presume you don’t want the US government to disappear tomorrow, because that would be an awful tragedy. But then, how can you complain about all governments everywhere? What do you think the US would be like *without* a government?

    I intend to write an entry on this subject for my blog later today.

  • ” I presume you don’t want the US government to disappear tomorrow, because that would be an awful tragedy.”

    You presume incorrectly. Now if the people employed by the US government disappeared too (instead of losing their jobs), that would be a tragedy.

    “But then, how can you complain about all governments everywhere?”

    Like so: All governments everywhere are a form of organized crime.

    Or was that a rhetorical question?

    “What do you think the US would be like *without* a government?”

    Much more free and wealthy than it is now. Although if the US government disappeared, the state and local governments would still be around. That would still be an improvement–even here in California.

  • Ken,

    Do you support the war?

  • “Do you support the war?”

    Which war? There’s always a few going on–and the number varies depending on what your definition of “war” is. Without knowing which one you have in mind, all I can say is “probably not.”

  • The war on terrorism, and specifically action in Iraq.

  • Ah. Well, I don’t support any wars against nouns. I think nouns are perfectly fine words, and have just as much right to exist as verbs, adjectives, and other parts of speech.

    I don’t support attacking Iraq either–either the upcoming invasion, or the ongoing sporadic bombardment. As you may have guessed from my opinion of governments, I’m a libertarian. 🙂

  • Not just a libertarian. I’m a libertarian too. You’re the anti-state, isolationist type.

    I’ve explained part of the reason governments are good on my blog here.

  • “Conservative” is not the same as “libertarian,” although there is some overlap.

    “Isolationist” isn’t quite the right word–it means “opposed to participating in international economic and political relations.” It is often used as a synonym for “opposed to whatever war the speaker is pushing,” and I gather that’s what you meant by it.

    I’m not at all opposed to participating in international economic relations. In fact, I’m in favor of removing all trade barriers. As Jefferson said, “I am for free commerce with all nations; political connection with none; and little or no diplomatic establishment.”

  • Some suggested reading material for anyone having trouble understanding what life without government might be like:

    The Sovereign Individual, by James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg

    The Probability Broach, by L. Neil Smith

    Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

    Hope, by Aaron Zelman and L. Neil Smith

  • As I said, I’m a libertarian. I am not a conservative. Not that it’s relevant, but I’ve read lots of LNS. If you read my blog, you’ll notice I support AnCap (eventually) too.

    I meant isolationist in the sense of someone who wants to be left alone and *able to* ignore the rest of the world, not be taxed, not be drafted, and not fight wars that don’t involve a *direct* threat (as in Saddam shooting missiles at your country). Is that not accurate?

  • Somewhat accurate. Almost everybody, even collectivists, doesn’t want to be taxed or drafted _themselves_. As a libertarian, I don’t want _anybody_ to be taxed or drafted, and not having to fighting wars that don’t involve a direct threat comes naturally from the absence of taxes and drafts.

    I don’t think being able to ignore the rest of the world is particularly relevant to one’s beliefs. Many people can ignore the rest of the world if they choose to. Even more don’t have a choice, because they live in some third-world village and never get a chance to learn about the rest of the world.

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