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June 6, 2008 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Zimbabwe: Holds diplomats (after threatening to burn them), suspends aid, bans opposition rallies.
posted by Artw (70 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
And?

It's not like anyone's going to do anything about it. Mugabe learned a powerful lesson from Nargis.
posted by aramaic at 8:57 AM on June 6, 2008


If Bush was serious about democracy he would go bring freedom to Zimbabwe like he did in Iraq.
posted by caddis at 9:00 AM on June 6, 2008


No oil in Zimbabwe, though.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:07 AM on June 6, 2008


Wait, you're saying Zimbabwe is full of blacks and has no oil? Good luck, fellas. The St. Department will be watching this one from the office TV.
posted by absalom at 9:09 AM on June 6, 2008


Zero to Bushed in 480 seconds.
posted by Cyrano at 9:12 AM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's stuff like this that makes me wonder ... where the Rhodesians really that bad?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:19 AM on June 6, 2008


Man, fuck that guy.
posted by The White Hat at 9:19 AM on June 6, 2008


>>And?

Regardless of whether or not anyone does anything, it is interesting to note that regimes the world over are showing that they cannot and will not truly help their people, but rather break the law, silence journalists, ruin economies, and generally be incompetent, all while desperately clinging to power and blaming everyone else for all that's wrong.

Maybe everyone worldwide should stand up and declare a "do-over".
posted by SaintCynr at 9:20 AM on June 6, 2008


The tragic thing is, after the Iraq debacle, any kind of intervention (never likely to be invoked help black Africans anyway sadly, except by the UK in Sierra Leone) is so out of fashion that tyrants the world over basically can do whatever they damn well please to their own people. We will wring our hands but never risk blood, treasure or steel to help anyone again for a very long time, if ever. The Burmese Junta could set up killing fields for the monks and Mugabe a network of death camps and I doubt anything more than harsh words will be deployed.
posted by The Salaryman at 9:25 AM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


It is irritating that the best most of us Americans can do about it now is say:

Robert Mugabe, you suck balls.
posted by kldickson at 9:26 AM on June 6, 2008


Zero to Bushed in 480 seconds.

Bush is the new Godwin. He had to be really good at wrecking people's lives to earn that kind of infamy, so megakudos to him. He's earned it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:28 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is Mugabe Using Food as a Weapon?
posted by Artw at 9:39 AM on June 6, 2008


For the sake of humanity and freedom, someone should steal Mugabe's penis.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:42 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bush is the new Godwin.

I ain't a fan of the guy in any way, shape or form, but he's a few tens of millions of people short to even be in the running for such a distinction (should the future years lead to a similar such conflagration, I will gladly recant that statement. If I'm alive. And have electricity.)

And Godwining would pretty much end the discussion, right? Was that really your intent or were you engaging in the now pretty tired Mefi volleyball game:

Bump: No one is doing anything about this!
Set: Bush would if he really cared!
Spike: NO OILLLZ!!1

As a member of the choir, the same sermon is getting a little stale and lazy.
posted by Cyrano at 9:44 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


it is interesting to note that regimes the world over are showing that they cannot and will not truly help their people

Agreed. I suspect it will get a whole lot worse before it gets any better; non-intervention rules the day. The UN will posture, of course, and various politicians will sound outraged for the benefit of the folks back home, but nobody will actually do anything.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I don't think the recent riots in South Africa were entirely accidental. Driving the Zimbabwe immigrants/escapees back over the border means South Africa won't be forced to do anything about Mugabe. Those people are Mugabe's problem now, and he's shown he's got a pretty good idea what to do with them.

There were innumerable drawbacks to the Cold War "let's intervene everywhere!" ideology. Amusingly enough, the "let's not intervene anywhere!" ideology has the exact same drawbacks. The same people die, just for slightly different reasons.
posted by aramaic at 9:51 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mbeki to Bush: butt out, Africa belongs to me
posted by Artw at 9:54 AM on June 6, 2008


It's stuff like this that makes me wonder ... where the Rhodesians really that bad?

It's much better when a country does it to themselves rather than having a colonial power do it to them. Notice how the UK, the former colonial master, is having very little to do with Zimbabwe aside from raising a row over their participation in cricket matches.

Meanwhile, Mugabe's patron, the so-called People's Republic of China, is more than willing to supply him with ammunition. The only way to rein people like Mugabe in is to pressure their patrons. BUt the PRC has NTR status, and Walmart would be loathe to rock this boat.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:00 AM on June 6, 2008


Not that I'm a fan of either Bush or the Iraq fuckedupedness, but it's not like we (the U.S., I mean) were champing at the bit to intervene in conflicts like this before the Iraq war - Bosnia, anyone? Rwanda?
posted by rtha at 10:01 AM on June 6, 2008


I'm very concerned for Morgan Tsvangirai.

Last year they beat him within an inch of his life and now Mugabe's authorities are arresting him, stopping his rally's and beating up the opposition activists.
posted by Webbster at 10:01 AM on June 6, 2008


jsavimbi - If I were going to expect anyone to do anything about it I'd expect South Africa too. Unfortunately SA appears to have a president who is only slightly less inclined to nuttiness and blaming everything on the UK/US/whoever. I've seen reports that Mbeki was involved in getting Tsvangirai out of jail the last time, but it sounds a bit unlikely and proactive for him.
posted by Artw at 10:05 AM on June 6, 2008


South Africa's Mbeki has his own problems and hasn't really found any willing [African] partners to help him deal with Mugabe in the way the West expects him to be dealt. He did stop the latest shipment of arms from reaching Zimbabwe through SA, but I suspect that the PRC will find a way to get those weapons delivered, just like they've been doing in Sudan and did for the Interahamwe.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:16 AM on June 6, 2008


The tragic thing is, after the Iraq debacle, any kind of intervention (never likely to be invoked help black Africans anyway sadly, except by the UK in Sierra Leone) is so out of fashion that tyrants the world over basically can do whatever they damn well please to their own people.

It fell out of fashion when some American troops were shot down in Mogadishu, predating "the Iraq debacle" by about a decade. Since then, we've seen genocide, ethnic cleansing, and politicide on the continent and intervention has been half-assed and avoided by every Western government. Iraq and the Balkans were unique and not done for humanitarian reasons - which is really the only reason a government would intervene in Zimbabwe.
posted by cmonkey at 10:17 AM on June 6, 2008


jsavimbi - I thought ity was the unions that stopped the arms shipment, not the goverment?

Heres the resuce thing, there's also some kind of business going on about a possibly fake letter.
posted by Artw at 10:20 AM on June 6, 2008


See? If we'd let Michigan and Florida count, this never woulda happened, right Clinton?
posted by klangklangston at 10:21 AM on June 6, 2008


I ain't a fan of the guy in any way, shape or form, but he's a few tens of millions of people short to even be in the running for such a distinction (should the future years lead to a similar such conflagration, I will gladly recant that statement. If I'm alive. And have electricity.)

Not to divert too far away from this thread's main topic, but since you brought it up...

By one very recent account (which even had to leave out two Iraqi cities), there are 1,200,000 civilians dead in Iraq, doubling the toll of last year's Lancet survey. This does not account for thousands of military dead, nor those civilians and soldiers who will die in the years after Bush leaves office, while the aftermath of the war continues. Nor does this account for civilian and military deaths in Afghanistan.

Bush has helped push through pieces of legislation that has made the United States more fascistic than it has been in any point in its history. Citizens have been harassed and some have been locked up. This does not begin to account for non-citizens. Some of these folks have been disappeared to countries where there are no human rights protections or oversight. When he could not use the law to cover for his administration's illegal and grey-area activities, he has actively flaunted the law by having his staff claim presidential privilege or even the existence of a fourth branch of government, or bullying Congress to pass laws to retroactively make criminal acts unpunishable.

Bush has used his office to promote discrimination against sexual and religious minorities. Beyond the damage done to a culture of tolerance and the right to equal protection under law, the extent of where this could have gone will hopefully remain the stuff for tomorrow's Philip Roths and Michael Chabons.

Bush ignored the plight of hundreds of thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims, several thousands of whom died for lack of food, clean water and shelter. When compelled by public outrage to do something, he allocates incompetent cronies to further people's suffering and destitution. The areas decimated by the hurricane will take decades to rebuild, if it ever happens.

Objectively, I don't think any other president in the history of the United States has caused this much wreckage in people's lives, simply from the man's own malice, greed, hatred and incompetence. Does that sound like anyone else we know?

If Bush is the new Godwin, he fucking earned those stripes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:23 AM on June 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


I remember maybe three years back, back when I lived in Bed-Stuy, I saw a shopkeeper somewhere near Fulton St. and Nostrand Ave. who had a pro-Mugabe poster in his window. The gist of the wordy poster was that Mugabe was a perfectly fine leader whom the West only vilified because he had redistributed wealth away from white farmers.

I wonder what that shopkeeper is thinking nowadays. Quite possibly nothing different than what he had been thinking before.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:26 AM on June 6, 2008


Bush has helped push through pieces of legislation that has made the United States more fascistic than it has been in any point in its history.

Wait, sorry to have to go off on this derail, but when did that happen? He may have taken us back to the Fascistic level of, say, the Eisenhower administration, but we're hardly forcing large swaths of our population to work in cotton fields on penalty of torture, separation from family and death, nor are we cleansing large portions of our land by marching the innocent people who occupied that land day and night for hundreds of miles until they either collapsed and died from exhaustion or arrived at some barren wasteland reservation. Sure Bush is bad, but let's keep the hyperbole to a realistic range please.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:31 AM on June 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Is Mugabe Using Food as a Weapon?

Burma's junta may already be using it to demand manual labor from the cyclone survivors they're busily removing from shelters. Great minds and all that.
posted by Tehanu at 10:50 AM on June 6, 2008


Despite current woes, Zimbabwe has enviable resources and infrastructure for a bright economic future after President Robert Mugabe's departure, political and business leaders said Friday.
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on June 6, 2008


we're hardly forcing large swaths of our population to work in cotton fields on penalty of torture, separation from family and death, nor are we cleansing large portions of our land by marching the innocent people who occupied that land day and night for hundreds of miles until they either collapsed and died from exhaustion or arrived at some barren wasteland reservation

Under the Bush administration, we are, however, incarcerating at ever higher rates a lot of folks who should not be behind bars, and in the bargain, violating their rights:

US Journalists in prison, some held without charge or due process
New light shed on CIA 'Black Site' prisons
Immigrant imprisonment benefits private prison industry
Some immigrants remain in prison indefinitely
1 in 100 Americans now in prison
etc.

I think most people already understand what is fascistic about the PATRIOT Act, the frequent misuse of which has been admitted by the FBI itself.

Bush's vision of America is not my America and not why I became a citizen.

Sure Bush is bad, but let's keep the hyperbole to a realistic range please.

I'm not sure you know what the words "hyperbole" or "realism" mean, as what I'm writing is certainly not hyperbole. It is, at least, just what we know is on the record from the hard work of honest reporters.

Hyperbole would be taking any legitimate criticism of a policy of American inactivity against dictators and calling that Godwinning, to inactivate that criticism. Sad, really, that this is how bad things have become.

I feel worse for all the people we could offer to help, if we weren't financially and morally bankrupted by the worst leadership the country has seen in its entire history.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:57 AM on June 6, 2008


I've typed about it around here before, but I spent some time in Zimbabwe earlier this year.

Imagine not needing to deal with the headache of shopping. You go to your local grocery store, but there's literally nothing on the shelves to buy. Not even bread. They're not sure when any will get there.

Imagine not needing to bitch about the rising price of gasoline because, well, the gas station hasn't had any in months. You have to buy it, if you can afford it at all, at 2-3 times what the western world is paying for it, from a black market profiteer who is making a killing exploiting the situation.

Imagine not needing to hate your job, because you haven't been able to get one in a few years, and so you garden on a 10x10 plot of dirt outside your tin shack. If you're lucky enough to have a tin shack.

Imagine never having to stop by the ATM, because the banks are now pretty much useless when inflation is rising so fast that the old cash is now useless, even in bucketfuls, and there's not enough money - ironically - to import the new cash, because it's printed outside of the country.

Imagine not having to be constantly inundated with Hillary v. Obama news, because the only media that's physically safe to be possession of is the current incumbent's state-controlled support. Imagine having your family's lives threated for daring to consider supporting anyone else.

You're beginning - just, just beginning - to get a picture of what life is like for your average Zimbabwean. I met a lot of them but one of them stood out in particular. I never got his name.

He was one of the street hawkers waiting along the paths that led back to my hotel. It was early evening, the sun was setting. He and a few of the other hawkers were dogging along with us as we made our way towards the hotel guards who keep these guys out. Another day was ending, which for me meant a pizza and beer in the hotel and then reading until bed.

For him it meant having to go home to hungry kids. He had a carved elephant in one hand and some carved wooden combs in the other. He kept pressing the elephant on me. "Ten dollars boss. You got Rand boss? How about Rand?"

I kept declining but he got more and more desperate, and switched from the pity-garnering "I'm hungry boss, please help me" to the truly heart-rending: "I've got kids boss. Just help me get some bread for my kids. Give me 5 dollars for it."

5 dollars was all I had left on me. I stopped and looked at him, and before I could ask him, out of slight disbelief, if he'd really sell it to me for $5, he dropped to $3.

"They're hungry, boss."

I gave him my $5 and told him to keep the elephant, but he wouldn't have any of that. He insisted on giving it to me. I like to think that he left that evening with his dignity and was able to find some bread somewhere, but I doubt either were the case.

You people are sitting and bitching about Bush and Godwin and the State Department and Mbeki and fuck all. And while you sat and did that, another child died of malnutrition in Zimbabwe. Because we're content to watch from the comfort of our desks and flat screen monitors.

Don't try to wash your hands of it by vilifying your president, South Africa's, or even Mugabe himself. The fact that he's still doing what he's doing to Zimbabweans is the world's fault.

We're all guilty.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:11 AM on June 6, 2008 [18 favorites]


>>Sure Bush is bad, but let's keep the hyperbole to a realistic range please.

Let's see what happens to the economy in the next couple years. That'll sort out the meaning of "hyperbole".
posted by SaintCynr at 11:12 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mugabe's tactical mistake was even pretending to have elections. As various ex-Russian-client-states in the FSU found out, when you have an election you're determined to win, then you blatantly lose it and blatantly rig it, you've got a problem.

When did our "friends" in Saudi Arabia, China, Libya, Egypt, etc ever have any of these sorts of difficulties?
posted by imperium at 11:24 AM on June 6, 2008


And while you sat and did that, another child died of malnutrition in Zimbabwe.

Globally, around 9.5 children die of malnutrition every minute. Although I'm not clear on the exact distribution of malnutrition deaths, it's probably safe to say that at least one or two kids died in Zimbabwe during the length of this discussion so far as ~24% of child deaths in Zimbabwe are due to malnutrition.
posted by aramaic at 11:32 AM on June 6, 2008


>>The fact that he's still doing what he's doing to Zimbabweans is the world's fault.

Thus avoiding the possibility that anything will be done. When something is "everyone's responsibility", no one takes responsibility.
posted by SaintCynr at 11:37 AM on June 6, 2008


Don't try to wash your hands of it by vilifying your president, South Africa's, or even Mugabe himself. The fact that he's still doing what he's doing to Zimbabweans is the world's fault.

We're all guilty.


It's pretty obvious that every single industrialized nation, regardless of what political party is in power, either takes a cynical view towards Africa or one of selfish indifference. It's also quite clear that voting doesn't actually do a whole fuck of a lot fo change long-term foreign policy or opinions. So given that, what do you propose we, the people that you claim are guilty of fucking over Zimbabwe, should do?

Because, I dunno, maybe I'm crazy, but I think the blame for harming people should be placed on those who are harming people like Mugabe rather than those who have no choice but to watch in horror.
posted by cmonkey at 11:46 AM on June 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Bush is the new Godwin.

Actually, the proper analogy would be that Bush is the new Hitler.

...

I just lost the game.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:12 PM on June 6, 2008


Also, compare to Burma/Myanmar.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:14 PM on June 6, 2008


cmonkey - other than making you feel better about your inaction, what does your post do?
posted by stinkycheese at 12:20 PM on June 6, 2008


An additional ~494 children are now dead.
posted by aramaic at 12:26 PM on June 6, 2008


You'd think at that rate they'd all have died by now.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:32 PM on June 6, 2008


The 494 figure is global, not Zimbabwe alone.
posted by aramaic at 12:33 PM on June 6, 2008


cmonkey - other than making you feel better about your inaction, what does your post do?

I'm neither inactive nor feeling better about my impotance about stopping genocide. Other than making you feel like a self-congratulatory cock-about-the-internet, what does your post do?
posted by cmonkey at 12:45 PM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Quick, let's talk about Bush some more! This thread was briefly skirting dangerously close to not being about America!
posted by Parasite Unseen at 12:59 PM on June 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm neither inactive nor feeling better about my impotance about stopping genocide.

Then I wonder why you would be motivated to say what you said. Which was my question after all.

Other than making you feel like a self-congratulatory cock-about-the-internet, what does your post do?

The idea/meme (and it's one I've often seen expressed on MeFi) that:

a) the populations of the democratic Western nations - and in particular the U.S. - are blameless for things done by their countries
b) because their vote doesn't count
c) therefore you should lay off them and not try and make them feel guilty

is dumb.

I can't hear that without wanting to pipe up that it is, after all, a lie intended to make people feel better about their inaction.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:32 PM on June 6, 2008


So given that, what do you propose we, the people that you claim are guilty of fucking over Zimbabwe, should do?

Because, I dunno, maybe I'm crazy, but I think the blame for harming people should be placed on those who are harming people like Mugabe rather than those who have no choice but to watch in horror.


If you've already made up your mind that you "have no choice but to watch in horror," than why are you asking me what I propose you should do?

You aren't going to do anything, because you're playing yourself off as a victim of a system, rather than questioning how change can be brought to bear.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:38 PM on June 6, 2008


Actually answering cmonkey's question might have been more helpful than snark and derision. Even if you don't think he's capable of changing his mind when presented with new information, you're posting on the internet: other people are reading too.
posted by roystgnr at 2:04 PM on June 6, 2008


The fact that he's still doing what he's doing to Zimbabweans is the world's fault.

We're all guilty.


Wait, why? Because we didn't personally join an opposition militia? Really, what do you suggest that some poor working schlub somewhere around the world do to placate our guilt? I'm really curious about this. What could we do? Support a government that would act to replace Mugabe with just another colonial stooge dictator? Send money to an evangelical relief organization? Donate to a revolutionary movement that verges on terrorism (if not crosses the line)? Really, what? What can we do? I've served my time, I've given my money, my work to help people around the world, some of whom are under oppressive regimes living in less than subsistence conditions, but somehow I need to tear my hair out until it bleeds for every lost child on Earth? Really, what could I do? What? Tell me.

It’s tragic, it’s horrible, but we do what we can day by day. I'm sorry that isn't enough to save the 5 or 6 billion people on Earth that live in shit, but I try. I do, I try. If there is something I can do more, please, tell me, really, honestly, I'll try, but I'm sorry. We do sit here and bitch about Bush and Mbeki, but those are things that are closer to our control. Trying to control Mugabe and Zimbabwe would probably make things worse for those there.

Really, I hate to rant, but I’ve worked my ass off to help people for most of my life and I come to MetaFilter to get updated on interesting items of news and fun from the web. Often there’s news about our sucky, sucky world. Often its tragic. Sometimes I make jokes, even in the face of tragedy. Why would I do such an immature thing? Well let’s go back to the first sentence of this paragraph. See, I’ve worked a lot of jobs in my life. I’ve wiped the asses of mentally retarded, schizophrenic sixty year old men. I’ve helped indigenous coffee farmers in the highlands of Mexico deal with trying to grow sustainable organic crops in the face of production pressures from multinational buyers like Starbucks. I’ve taught Central American street kids and helped them avoid both criminal gangs and vigilante neighborhood watch type organizations that tend to like to beat them to death. I’ve helped Appalachian men and women work their way out of poverty and prevent their long held dying folk traditions remain for a few more future generations. I’ve worked with anthropologists to document disappearing traditional cultures in the Mexican highlands. I’ve helped Chinese students avoid exploitation by unscrupulous shysters. Currently I work combating human smuggling.

I write stupid, juvenile Farkish things like “steal Mugabe’s penis” not because I blow off the tragedy of Zimbabwe, not because I don’t care. Not because I don’t want to do anything about those people. I do it because I’m tired and weary and it helps me release some of the stress that is caused by trying to fix a sucky, sucky world and never, ever seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. So, if you have anything, anything at all to provide me to help me create a viable solution for the people of Zimbabwe, please share it. But please, please do not try to make me feel any worse about the sucky world that I have spent a good portion of my life trying to repair to no noticeable effect. If you, who were there with a pizza and a beer, right there, can’t help a guy find food for his kids more than to hand him five bucks, then what can I do from a world away? Please tell me. I really want to know. No bullshit.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:07 PM on June 6, 2008 [12 favorites]


thank you for the comment, allkindsoftime.

Did you get a sense of how the causes of the economic problems are perceived within Zimbabwe? In the western media, it appears to be largely blamed on Mugabe (with the support of farm seizure which caused such shocks to the economy, and the loss of outside loans to fund the gov't) - but I had heard that Mugabe and his supporters have been publically blaming Britain (and other western powers and institutions like the IMF?). Is this widely or partly accepted? Or do people not talk about it?

In terms of how bad the Rhodesian gov't was - clearly, economically things were not as bad under the post-colonial/pre-majority rule government, but I can't imagine that many people would look forward to the return of a racist, apartheid regime, especially as living standards did improve in the 1980s under Mugabe's gov't.
posted by jb at 2:13 PM on June 6, 2008


Interestingly, several posters in this thread may be skirting dangerously close to endorsing Tony Blair's vision of liberal interventionism.

I've started working on MeFi posts about the situation in Zimbabwe several times over the past three months (how the opposition is using the internet, the exploitation of refugee laborers by South African farmers, an in-depth exploration of that Chinese arms ship, the An Yue Jiang), but never posted. But the most interesting thread of the story I've noticed while researching is that while the media and the choir focus on Mugabe, there are many indications that he's not really running the show anymore, and the real drivers behind this crisis are the small circle of mainly anonymous (to western audiences) cronies that make up the government's Joint Operation Command, the security committee that's effectively running the country. Supposedly, after the electoral results became apparent, Mugabe was despondent and humiliated, and considered handing things over to the MDC. But his henchmen, knowing that while Mugabe could negotiate a comfortable retirement in the long tradition of African autocrats, the rest of them would be screwed- powerless and likely vulnerable to various forms of prosecution. So, Mugabe was strongly persuaded to stick with Plan A. This is problematic, because there are several incorrigible figures at the top levels of the government that have their own power bases, some or all of whom would like to succeed Mugabe, and convincing all of them to hand over power to the MDC should the MDC win the next election is simply not. Going. To happen. If the MDC wins the next round, there is zero chance of a peaceful transition, regardless of what Mugabe does. I'm guessing that some of Mugabe's circle would actually like for the MDC to win, because it will provide a pretext for a military coup that could allow them to seize power by force, as opposed to hoping that Mugabe annoints them. If something similar to that plays out, the UN maneuveuring that accompanies it will provide a fascinating subtext to the Olympics, given that the runoff is scheduled for July 31, and the opening ceremonies are August 8th.
posted by gsteff at 2:47 PM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Objectively, I don't think any other president in the history of the United States has caused this much wreckage in people's lives, simply from the man's own malice, greed, hatred and incompetence. Does that sound like anyone else we know?

1 jefferson davis (yes, he was a president)
2 lyndon baines johnson, richard nixon (who's more responsible for vietnam and cambodia? - i'll call it a tie)
3 andrew jackson (ask a native american about that, especially a cherokee)
posted by pyramid termite at 4:49 PM on June 6, 2008


We're all guilty.

there's nothing more useful than the 2 minutes of self hate
posted by pyramid termite at 5:12 PM on June 6, 2008


1 jefferson davis (yes, he was a president)

he was not the architect of the wreckage

2 lyndon baines johnson, richard nixon

if any modern president is responsible for one quarter of the social reforms that either of these men can claim he would be a hero

3 andrew jackson

he was a problem, agreed
posted by caddis at 7:46 PM on June 6, 2008


If Bush was serious about democracy he would go bring freedom to Zimbabwe like he did in Iraq.
George Bush doesn't care about black people.
posted by qvantamon at 12:10 AM on June 7, 2008


Military intervention is not the only answer. I am amazed by the frequency that this suggestion comes up as the first response to any international news. It reminds me of a quote from Homer, I've tried nothing and I'm all out of ideas!.

Whilst we are around the subject, I found this comment piece interesting:
..on the basis of the scale of violence, repression and election rigging alone, you would be hard put to explain why these conflicts (Tibet and Zimbabwe) have been singled out for such special attention. In the violence surrounding Zimbabwe's elections, two people are currently reported to have died; in Tibet, numbers estimated to have been killed by protesters and Chinese forces range from 22 to 140. By contrast, in Somalia, where US-backed Ethiopian and Somali troops are fighting forces loyal to the ousted government, several thousand have been killed since the beginning of the year and half the population of the capital, Mogadishu, has been forced to flee the city in what UN officials describe as Africa's worst humanitarian crisis.

When it comes to rigging elections, countries like Jordan and Egypt have been happy to oblige in recent months - in the Egyptian case, jailing hundreds of opposition activists into the bargain - and almost nobody in the west has batted an eyelid. In Saudi Arabia there are no national elections at all, let alone the opposition MPs and newspapers that exist in Zimbabwe. In Africa, Togo has been a more flagrant rigger, while in Cameroon last week the president was given the job for life. And when it comes to separatist and independence movements, the Turkish Kurds have faced far more violence and a tighter cultural clampdown than the Tibetans.

The crucial difference, of course, and the reason why these conflicts and violations don't get the deluxe media and political treatment offered to the Zimbabwean opposition or Tibetan separatists is that the governments involved are all backed by the west, compounded in the Zimbabwean case by a transparently racist agenda. But it's not just an issue of hypocrisy and double standards, egregious though they are. It's also that British and US involvement and interference have been crucial to both the Zimbabwean and Tibetan conflicts.
I think I agree with his conclusion: Meanwhile, the best chance both of settling the Zimbabwean crisis and of meeting Tibetan aspirations is without the interference of western powers, which would do better improving the human rights records of their allies and themselves.

Lead by example. By all means support democratic behaviour (which is not the usual modus operandi of western governments, I know), but leave out the war-mongering, it makes hypocrits of us all.
posted by asok at 2:34 AM on June 7, 2008


That article makes an excellent point, asok, though I think this may not be accurate:
[Britain] then imposed racial parliamentary quotas and a 10-year moratorium on land reform at independence.
As far as I had heard, there were racial quotas in the Lancaster House agreement, but no moratorium on land reform. But that land reform was on a "willing buyer/willing seller" basis only.

To be honest, I had wondered why there wasn't a suggestion from the Brits to take a page from their own book on land reform - the British used high estate taxes after WW2 to try to push land reform and break up great estates, though I don't know how sucessful it was.
posted by jb at 11:32 AM on June 7, 2008


But yes, it's kind of crazy to be talking about Zimbabwe as "the "most important and urgent issue" in Africa," unless one is talking about the potential for destabilizing a region. As the article points out, the situation in Somalia is much worse.

But maybe the problem is that Somalia, like so many other places which have faced so many long years of chaos, has been suffering for too long to be considered either important or urgent. (Not being sarcastic, just a bit sadly cynical.)
posted by jb at 11:36 AM on June 7, 2008


gsteff - thank you very much for your comment - it was enlightening.
posted by jb at 11:37 AM on June 7, 2008


Zimbabwean rally ban 'lifted'

posted by Artw at 11:41 AM on June 7, 2008


Kenyan PM describes Mugabe as a dictator
Raila defends his stand on Zimbabwe

posted by Artw at 3:40 PM on June 7, 2008


Mugabe's brutality to force election victory is revealed

posted by Artw at 5:18 PM on June 8, 2008


You aren't going to do anything, because you're playing yourself off as a victim of a system, rather than questioning how change can be brought to bear.

You know we can't do anything individually, don't you?



If you're that gullible, I think I might have some New York landmarks to sell you.
posted by oaf at 4:44 AM on June 9, 2008


For the record, the election date I gave above is totally wrong. Its June 31.
posted by gsteff at 7:29 AM on June 12, 2008


Zimbabwe opposition official faces treason charge
posted by Artw at 11:14 AM on June 12, 2008


For the record, the election date I gave above is totally wrong. Its June 31.

Oh, so a week from Bloorsday, then.
posted by oaf at 3:33 PM on June 12, 2008


Oh man.
posted by gsteff at 7:19 PM on June 12, 2008


Um, June only has 30 days.
posted by rtha at 9:45 PM on June 12, 2008


and what do you think that implies about the supposed vote?
posted by caddis at 5:22 AM on June 13, 2008


African leaders unite to denounce Mugabe’s violence
posted by Artw at 3:06 PM on June 13, 2008


Africa turns up heat on Zimbabwe
posted by Artw at 11:44 AM on June 19, 2008


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