Politics

Coup Calling

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Sunday's Washington Post featured an op-ed by Paul Collier, professor of economics at Oxford University and author of The Bottom Billion, who advocates for a coup in Zimbabwe:

So how can the grossly excessive powers of the Mugabes and Shwes of the world be curtailed? After Iraq, there is no international appetite for using the threat of military force to pressure thugs. But only military pressure is likely to be effective; tyrants can almost always shield themselves from economic sanctions. So there is only one credible counter to dictatorial power: the country's own army.

Collier wisely notes that the international community has lost its "appetite" for military interventionism, not only in places where it has failed—Iraq and Afghanistan, most recently—but also in places where human rights abuses are happening and Western nations don't have a clue how to curb them—Darfur, Tibet, Myanmar, Equitorial Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, and well, Zimbabwe.

Regardless of the U.N.'s reticence, Collier argues, a coup backed by Europe or America, and led by the opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MCD) and Zimbabwe's military discontents, could take Zimbabwe from dictatorship to democracy quicker than an election:

A truly bad government in a developing country is more likely to be replaced by a coup than by an election: Mugabe will presumably rig the runoff vote scheduled for Friday by intimidation. Or he could follow the example of the last Burmese dictator, who held an election, lost and simply ignored the result.

Calls for a coup are expressions of frustration that Zimbabwe has devolved from the most economically promising country in Black Africa to the most economically depressed, but violent coups in Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, and Congo (to name but a few) left those countries worse off than before their militaries took the reigns. Ironically, four years ago Paul Collier wrote a very different piece for Foreign Policy, which noted coups occur frequently—and fail just as often:

From 1956 to 2001, only three nations (Botswana, Cape Verde, and Mauritius) did not experience any coups or coup attempts. Overall, 30 African nations experienced 80 successful coups in that period; all of these states, except for the Seychelles, also faced failed coups and plots. Yet coups usually settled nothing; rather, they encouraged other military factions to try their luck. Indeed, 89 percent of African coup attempts during this period targeted military regimes that had themselves staged successful coups earlier.

There's also the issue of who could legitimately back a coup in Zimbabwe: A unilateral western presence would come across as self-interested, geopolitical meddling at worst, waxing Colonial at best; a multilateral force would likely drown in its own bureaucratic bumbling. There's also the African Union and/or South Africa, but where are they now, and where were they three months ago when the assassinations started?

With yesterday's news that Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC—the only viable opposition candidate in Zimbabwe's upcoming presidential election—has decided to drop out of the race after a rash of state-sponsored assassinations and beatings, now's the time to reconsider effective, responsible, and nonviolent methods for promoting economic and personal freedom at home and abroad.

Associate Editor Dave Weigel wrote here about Mugabe's campaign to keep Tsvangirai behind bars.

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  1. Good post. Who’s the new guy?

    A mature and nuanced treatment of a tricky, complicated question. Props.

  2. Yet coups usually settled nothing; rather, they encouraged other military factions to try their luck.

    That would just be coup-coup.

  3. Guess what?

    We have zero credibility in the international arena right now and thus can do nothing. I will give you three guesses as to why.

  4. waxing Colonial at best

    I remember those bad old days of colonialism, when we had food to eat and inflation was less than a million percent.

    Never again!

  5. Let me check… is there any real chance that calls to intervene will result in intervention? No? Okay, I’ll begin.

    “This is where we ought to have intervened in the first place! If only we hadn’t intervened elsewhere and screwed it up! We could have intervened here and it wouldn’t have been the cluster that those other places turned out to be.”

  6. I’m coup-coup for coup-d’etats!

    I think TallDave just won his first thread.

  7. . . . not only in places where it has failed-Iraq and Afghanistan . . .

    Free elections fo several years running, I suppose, is the first sign of failure.

  8. We could pressure other African nations (namely, their neighbors) to intervene.

    But that would require international respect and credibility, which we don’t have at this juncture.

  9. Yeah, when a militia is out to kill me I would think “Well, at least I can vote!”

  10. There’s also the issue of who could legitimately back a coup in Zimbabwe: A unilateral western presence would come across as self-interested, geopolitical meddling at worst, waxing Colonial at best; a multilateral force would likely drown in its own bureaucratic bumbling.

    Foreign-backed coups almost always bring in a worse person than the one in power. The reason is that politicians only recognize their own, and will support their own. Yes, that means statist, interventionist, kleptomaniac murderers. I mean, who else?

  11. I’d donate to arms shipments to Zimbabwean civilians.

  12. “This is where we ought to have intervened in the first place! If only we hadn’t intervened elsewhere and screwed it up! We could have intervened here and it wouldn’t have been the cluster that those other places turned out to be.”

    Hey, that was us a few years ago.

  13. Sunday’s Washington Post featured an editorial by Paul Collier … who advocates for a coup…

    I think he should quit advocating for a coup and start advocating for THE Coup. Sure, they’re a bunch of Marxists, but much like Jello Biafra, Boots Riley has a wicked sense of humor that allows me to take the proletarian bullshit with a grain of salt.

  14. Why would the Zimbabwean military have any interest in deposing Mugabe? The military is the reason he has any power in the first place. Mugabe hasn’t had any real power for a while now, he’s only there to give a thin veneer of democracy so folks like Mbeki can shake his hands without appearing too hypocritical.

  15. Who says sanctions aren’t working on Zimbabwe?

    They’ve brought the country to its knees and shredded Mugabe’s base of support to the point where all he has left is naked force.

    He was still pretty popular a decade ago.

    How about just sitting back and waiting? If economic collapse doesn’t get him, old age will. And that right soon.

  16. Viva Los Pepes!

  17. Free elections fo several years running, I suppose, is the first sign of failure.

    True dat. Doubling of GDP and basic services like electricity, sewage, and potable water also show things are getting worse.

    And when violent deaths fall to half of Venezuela’s homicide rate, then you know things are really unravelling.

    Also, democracy should be abandoned at the first sign of violence. Bush continued holding elections after Sept 11th, and look at all the trouble that’s caused.

  18. I’d donate to arms shipments to Zimbabwean civilians.

    Much of the violence is being carried out by Zimbabwean civilians who back Mugabe.

  19. Where were Jimmy Carter and the UN election monitors for this mess? This would be a prime case where an ounce of blue helmets hanging around overseeing things could have prevented a kilogram of mess.

  20. Yes Dave, full speed ahead to Freedomland!

  21. Not allowed in the country, Mo, per Mugabe’s orders.

  22. Much of the violence is being carried out by Zimbabwean civilians who back Mugabe.

    Specifically into urban areas, then, where they don’t.

  23. TallDave,

    The rate of US troops being killed in action falling below the homocide rate of gun-free Chicago is surely a sign of failure too.

  24. I propose a federal program to solve this problem. Perhaps Jimmy Carter can head the committee.

  25. A civil war, the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad, and 100,000+ dead later, they same idiots are still waving their purple fingers at each.

  26. He’s right! What Africa has a shortage of is guys with guns running around trying to reorder the political landscape to their liking. Why, if only they had read my book, they would understand.

  27. Nobody who supports the Iraq War has any right to make snarky comments about federal programs since they’re supporting the biggest and most wasteful of them all.

  28. Guy,

    And just today, the imperialists were forced to surrender another province.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080623/wl_nm/iraq_anbar_dc_1;_ylt=AljwwaXZsxinoCGTmc5ks6FX6GMA

    Truly, there can be no good outcome here.

  29. We’ll see about Iraq’s democracy if Maliki’s party appears to be in any danger of losing to Al-Sadr in the next go-round.

    Iraq has a parliament. That parliament passed a law stating that any status of forces agreement negotiated by Maliki had to be submitted to the parliament for authorization. I’ll judge Iraq’s democracy after I see that happen, and after I see the next parliamentary election.

  30. Instead of more small arms for the people who have them, why not institute some form of gun control laws to get guns *OUT* of the hands of the bad people?

    Also, more police powers to enforce the laws.

  31. Afghanistan was a failure? Afghanistan was not a nation-building exercise. It was old fashioned retribution. Seems to me that it was a total success.

    Now, one can argue that our continued presence there has been a failure (why are we still there?). But I don’t think the same can be said for our initial entrance.

  32. I propose a federal program to solve this problem. Perhaps Jimmy Carter can head the committee.

    Excellent, we’ll have the area swept for rabbits immediately.

  33. The rate of US troops being killed in action falling below the homocide rate of gun-free Chicago is surely a sign of failure too.

    Surely this was worth $2 trillion, 4000 dead, tens of thousands wounded, the decimation of the NCO and junior officer ranks, the erosion of our political and diplomatic position world-wide, the contempt and distrust of our allies, etc.

    And all we have to do to maintain this achievement is continue to deploy 130,000 troops at a cost of scores of billions a month!

  34. If only we had the right mob of gunmen running the country things would be better. Somebody get that Thatcher guy on the batphone!

  35. Things just keep getting worse and worse:

    BASRA, Iraq – Men and women can openly study and party together for the first time in years at Basra University, free from the threat of Shiite gunmen enforcing extreme Islamic views.

    To get to class, however, the students must navigate traffic jams and ubiquitous checkpoints that the Iraqi military calls the price of peace in this sweltering, oil-rich southern city where temperatures soar above 120 degrees

    See! The invaders have caused more global warming, and traffic jams! So much for “freedom.”

  36. Iraq has a parliament.

    No, it doesn’t.

    It has a debating society that we like to call a “Parliament”.

    An Iraqi state, in any meaningful sense, simply does not exist.

  37. TD,

    Yea, it is all just going down the hole.

    Pardon me, I need to go sweep up money on corridor 6 in my capacity as an evil MilitaryIndustrialComplex robberbarron.

    Need anything from the candy machine? It only takes $100s.

  38. Obviously this error has lead to global warming, as you say TallDave. We had better leave before the tornadoes destroy Los Angeles and we have to forgive all Latain American debt so that we can evacuate the southern USA to Mexico.

    It may be too late for Manhattan Island . . .

  39. Man, it’s like January 2005 all over again up in here.

    Truly, the light at the end of the corner is turning. Again.

  40. Hey Guy can you pay my share of the war for me?

    TallDave can chip in as well, since you’re both such enthusiastic supporters. You can make out a check for $1,000 or say right away, plus future payments on disabled vets and interest on the national debt. Thanks!

  41. Someone please remind me how many corners we have turned? We’ve turn so many corners we must have at least gone in a full circle a few times.

  42. We’re only six months away guys!

    (I think six months is the Iraqi invasion version of Stalin’s Five Year plans)

  43. Need anything from the candy machine? It only takes $100s.

    I’m good, but maybe the nonexistent imperial lackeys in Basra, Maysan, Amarah, Sadr City, and Mosul need something. Don’t worry, they have $6B/month in nonexistent revenue to pay you back with.

  44. Can you guys stop talking about how badly we’ve screwed up intervening over there?

    We’re trying to talk about how something ought to be done about this situation over here.

  45. Another terrible thing about Zimbabwe is that it’s hardly a simple matter to just leave.

    I say the libertarian lesson from this is that our well-being, under State or Anarchy, is still a function of our own resourcefulness and the tolerance of our neighbors.

  46. TallDave is actually bragging about the Iraqis having a surplus.

    While we have a deficit (in large part because we are paying them). It really is just like any other utopian federal program.

  47. Who intervened to create functioning stable democracies in Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore?

  48. . . . not only in places where it has failed-Iraq and Afghanistan . . .

    Free elections for several years running, I suppose, is the first sign of failure.

    I honestly didn’t know until I read this column that the left had officially given up on Afghanistan as well as Iraq.

  49. Obviously this error has lead to global warming, as you say TallDave.

    Don’t worry Guy, Dr. James Hansen will be leading an effort to have the global warming heretics charged with crimes and possibly burned at the stake, if we can come up with a carbon-neutral way to do so.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jun/23/fossilfuels.climatechange

    “Freedom of speech” is just as useless as “elections.” We need a firm hand to protect Gaia and punish humanity!

  50. Singapore is not a Democracy, its a police state with a good economic policy. It has very little in the way of political freedoms, unless you think that having one party rule and flogging people in public is your idea of “democracy”.

    Nobody intervened in Taiwan since the Japanese left in 1945. However, it was a one-party dictatorship until the 80s.

    South Korea has only been a democracy since 1988. Before then, it was, like Singapore, a police state with a good economic policy.

    Try harder.

  51. Hey Guy can you pay my share of the war for me?

    No. Your share goes to me and my evil friends. If I had not stopped raking in dough to come back and reply to you I would have a new crate HEMI tomorrow.

    Who intervened to create functioning stable democracies in Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore?

    [putting on psychic cap]
    Some evil statist corporatist regime I suspect will be the answers on this thread.

  52. I still can’t believe someone actually (was that you Dave?) called Singapore a “democracy!”

    That really shows your lack of knowledge about international politics right there. If Singapore is a democracy, so is mainland China.

  53. That’s a bit off-topic, Dave, but I have to say that I agree with you.

    You try to be a little intellectually charitable, and listen to the arguments of the environmentalists on their terms, and then WHAM! Out comes the Stalinism.

    Whodathunkit?

  54. South Korea has only been a democracy since 1988. Before then, it was, like Singapore, a police state with a good economic policy

    Exactly, they too were holding useless elections many times before 1988, with useless “freedom of the press” imposed by the imperialists, which is not “democracy.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_south_korea

    Some evil statist corporatist regime I suspect will be the answers on this thread.

    The RAND Corporation, in conjunction with the reverse vampires.

    We’re through the looking glass here, people.

  55. Singapore is not perfect but it IS a democracy. They hold regular elections free of irregularities. I would liken it more to Russia than the PRC.

  56. Hey Guy can you pay my share of the war for me?

    No, no, no. From each according to his ability, to each according to the dictates of the legislature. Get it right, will you? Because your share is going somewhere you disapprove of means you fail at lobbying. Learn how to game the system.

    Maybe a name would help with that. 😉

  57. Dave, you really know nothing about international politics.

    Try reading sometime. You’ve just rendered the term “Democracy” meaningless, and insulted real pro-democracy activists in Singapore and South Korea in the 80s (the kind that end up in jail, not the kind that sit behind their keyboard at the same time.

  58. When I say “reading” I don’t mean Wikipedia, btw.

  59. Who is Dave?

  60. TallDave,

    Remember: if we do not agree with the most shrill commentators, we are ignorant. We have not read the right things. We are not thinking the right thoughts. We must be reeducated!

  61. Guy,

    Perhaps we could form some camps for that purpose.

  62. If only the rest of the world had the right zoning, then everybody would be equal.

    Dictators don’t need opposing militaries to nudge them onto the path of freedom, they need proper urban planning.

  63. Apparently you think I have a high opinion of this “Democracy?” thing. I don’t. What I care about is liberty. I know that Singapore was only ranked “partly free” but that was not my point. My point is that we should care about liberty more than “Democracy?”.

  64. I think FDR had some of those, though they were sorely lacking in educational facilities.

    Of course given that it was locking hundreds of thousands of people up without trial, the US was clearly not a democracy back then (and frankly those who disagree are demeaning the term), so it wouldn’t be fair to judge their lack of educational standards too harshly.

  65. Perhaps we could form some camps for that purpose.

    Perhaps a federal program is in order.

    I recall one of the folks I ignore, who swore that waterboarding was torture and not discomfort, advocating waterboarding for those who dared disagree with him on these topics.

  66. Talk to TallDave. Hes the one with a hard-on for elections. To him and the Marvel Comics School of International Policy, there are the Forces of Good and others are the Forces of Evil, and elections will defeat the Forces of Evil overnight through their magical powers.

  67. As for liberty in Singapore, if you think the drug war is harsh here try getting caught with drugs there. Posession=death penalty, administered rather quickly.

    Littering is punished by flogging, chewing gum is illegal, and its mandatory to smile at tourists. THAT is a nanny state right there!

  68. I recall one of the folks I ignore, who swore that waterboarding was torture and not discomfort, advocating waterboarding for those who dared disagree with him on these topics.

    Fortunately, the government has been pre-emptively waterboarding thousands of our servicepeople just in case such a situation arose, so they’re well-practiced.

  69. It is typical of liberal do gooders to be pro-intervention only if there is no national interest involved – Kosovo, Haiti, Somalia, etc. When there is national interest involved, such as fighting terrorism or insuring continued of uninterrupted flow of oil, then they are dead set against it.

    You see, unlike most people I think that Bush’s war was a success. Seven years ago terrorists were on the roll. They scored a big hit and no body would have predicted that there will be no other major attack on American soil – of course I could be wrong. There is no way to know for sure what could have been.

    All the liberal interventions, at the end, failed miserably. Of course they succeeded in changing rulers, but now they are no more free or prosperous than they have ever been, just like who ever eventually replaces Mugabe will probably be his identical twin. It is probably because the root cause of their misery is cultural. Rulers are just the natural manifestation of that culture.

    In my opinion, the most clear thinking and free of constraints of political correctness do gooders advocate so called neo-colonization option. A neo-colonization is an intervention to prevent humanitarian disaster in the present and in the future. The goal is not to install a western style democracy but to improve living conditions of the population by occupying and administering the territory. The problem with this approach is that it will only benefit the country colonized not the provider of colonization services. At the end tax payers in colonizing countries will end up supporting large welfare rolls in the foreign lands and be hated as occupiers at the same time.

  70. Fortunately, the government has been pre-emptively waterboarding thousands of our servicepeople just in case such a situation arose, so they’re well-practiced.

    Have not had the class yet. Need to read up on the MOI, or just ask one of the SOF guys here. Our detainee ops guy is out of the office today.

  71. My point is that we should care about liberty more than “Democracy?”.

    Aha! “Liberty” is just another word for “freedom” which we have already established is useless. Nice try, you almost had us there.

  72. …now’s the time to reconsider effective, responsible, and nonviolent methods for promoting economic and personal freedom at home and abroad.

    And those effective, responsible, non-violent methods for improving freedom in Zimbabwe would be…what? And could those unspecified ‘effective, responsible, non-violen’ methods also have been employed in Bosnia? Kosovo? Darfur?

    Whether Afghanistan or Iraq stabilize or not, military intervention has been taken off the table. ‘Never again’ is complete B.S. at this point. Rwanda could happen all over again tomorrow exactly the same and the ‘international community’ would again do exactly nothing about it. That’s where we are — let’s be honest.

  73. “Aha! “Liberty” is just another word for “freedom” which we have already established is useless. Nice try, you almost had us there.”

    Liberty is an absence of government. It is government that is useless.

  74. Have not had the class yet. Need to read up on the MOI, or just ask one of the SOF guys here. Our detainee ops guy is out of the office today.

    Well, good luck finding someone who did one of the three waterboardings of detainees, as opposed to the thousands of waterboardings of servicepeople.

    Oh, wait, the NYT just wrote an article about one. You can request him by name!

    And I’m sure the leakers will be pursued just as vigorously as in the Plame case.

  75. And those effective, responsible, non-violent methods for improving freedom in Zimbabwe would be…what?

    Everything wrong in Zimbabwe can be solved with anger management classes, sensitivity seminars, and aromatherapy.

    You people just aren’t willing to try.

  76. Slocum,

    We are supposed to ignore the rest of the world, have a free market with wide open borders and wait for all the other countries to copy us. Don’t worry, our property rights will enforce themselves because they will be written down in a codified fashion.

    We need not have allies, since they sometimes need protecting.

  77. You see, unlike most people I think that Bush’s war was a success. Seven years ago terrorists were on the roll. They scored a big hit and no body would have predicted that there will be no other major attack on American soil – of course I could be wrong. There is no way to know for sure what could have been.

    President Clinton also prevented terrorist attacks on US soil after the first WTC attacks for 8 years. It was his great strategy of non-intervention in the MidEast. Also, if the war worked so well, how come the UK and Madrid got slammed by terrorists? Did their contributions to the effort not prevent terrorists from getting hit?

    I recall one of the folks I ignore, who swore that waterboarding was torture and not discomfort, advocating waterboarding for those who dared disagree with him on these topics.

    Are you talking about the War Crimes Tribunals against the Japanese Army? I thought that got disbanded? If you’re talking about me, I’ve never advocated waterboarding.

  78. And I’m sure the leakers will be pursued just as vigorously as in the Plame case.

    They found that leaker right away and convicted someone else for it.

  79. Are you talking about the War Crimes Tribunals against the Japanese Army?

    You insensitive brute, the SCOTUS has just ruled military tribunals are unconstitutional.

  80. “And those effective, responsible, non-violent methods for improving freedom in Zimbabwe would be…what?”

    Here is a proven method to quickly get democracy in a foreign country with a dictatorship. First of all you place an embargo against that country. Then you beam in pro-democracy radio programming into that country. Then you set up a policy that any person from that country who somehow winds up on U.S. soil is instantly declared a political refugee. That is guaranteed to work.

  81. nsuring continued of uninterrupted flow of oil

    Seriously? WTF?

    I’m so glad we invaded Iraq otherwise we’d be hindered with oil at $30 a barrel and a strong dollar. Thank God for increasing the risk premium on oil and huge amounts of borrowing for the war.

  82. Mo-3:03 pm

    “Where was Jimmy Carter”? When?

    In 1979 and 1980, Jimmy Carter and Andrew Young played a significant role in bringing Mugabe to power. There were free elections in 1979 resulting in the election of Bishop Abel Muzorewa. Mugabe made the decision to boycott the elections.

    Messrs. Carter and Young along with the Thatcher government applied extreme pressure upon the Rhodesians to disregard the 1979 election and to conduct another to include Mugabe. It is my understanding that the second election , held in 1980, was not as clean as the first.

    Carter deserves props on telling it like it is with respect to Palestine, but Zimbabwe should be viewed as one of his great failures.

  83. Mo, just remember that down is up and up is down.

  84. President Clinton also prevented terrorist attacks on US soil after the first WTC attacks for 8 years.

    Hey, I’m U.S. soil too!

  85. Singapore is not a Democracy, its a police state with a good economic policy. It has very little in the way of political freedoms, unless you think that having one party rule and flogging people in public is your idea of “democracy”.

    Nobody intervened in Taiwan since the Japanese left in 1945. However, it was a one-party dictatorship until the 80s.

    South Korea has only been a democracy since 1988. Before then, it was, like Singapore, a police state with a good economic policy.

    I might be wrong, but I think that was Ironic’s point – that democracies had been established in these countries without intervention. It took time, yes, but now two of those are functioning democracies. I’d add India to the list, too; it’s not perfect, but it’s on the right track.

    One of the most terrifying visions of the future I have is that any chance of democracy forming on its own in Iran (a very Western Islamic nation) will be quashed by an invasion by the US. Mark my words, without intervention Iran will be a functioning, very Western nation in three decades. With it, it will be in largely the same state as today, with the bonus of an American occupying force increasing resentment towards the West. Anything to advance democracy, though!

    If only I could live in the world Guy and TallDave live in, where opposition to neo-con policies is born only of liberal fuzzy-headedness. Clearly, the only reason people could oppose intervention is a failure of will, not any kind of principled opposition!

  86. U.S. soil means a state, not some outpost in Africa.

  87. Grylliade-

    In Neoconland one is either a fuzzy headed liberal or, failing that, and anti-semite if they don’t think a Marvel Comics foreign policy is a good idea.

  88. U.S. soil means a state, not some outpost in Africa.

    (quietly sobbing)

  89. Mark my words, without intervention Iran will be a functioning, very Western nation in three decades.

    Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

    Hey! Is that girl showing her face? Where’s my beating stick?!

  90. Sorry, but far, far more Africans were killed in those bombings than American citizens.

    And it did not carry the same psychological shock of 9/11, or the first World Trade Center bombing.

    Hell, I think the OKC and olympics bombings in 95 and 96 were bigger deals than the embassy bombings. If I were a betting man I’d say the next big one is non-Muslim, and domestic.

  91. Mugabe has recently said he won’t relinquish power voluntarily, elections or not.

    But, it’s not our fucking problem. It’s the problem of people living in Zimbabwe. They voted for this bastard, they need to fix the problem they caused.

  92. Hey, I’m U.S. soil too!

    You tell ’em! Me, I’m locked down right now.

  93. Just for the record, I’d be thrilled if we returned to the foreign policy of that crazy, far-left socialist anti-semite George H.W. Bush.

    He told his critics he wouldn’t go into Baghdad because it would turn into a quagmire, we’d lose allies, and having American troops occupying an Arab nation would inflame the Middle East and empower Iran. What a far-left loon!

  94. And those effective, responsible, non-violent methods for improving freedom in Zimbabwe would be…what?

    As brighter people than me have pointed out, non-violent opposition only works against opponents who are constrained for some reason against using the maximal amount of force against the non-violent protesters. In places like Darfur, Myanmar, and Zimbabwe, all a non-violent protest will do is provide target practice for murderers.

  95. One of the most terrifying visions of the future I have is that any chance of democracy forming on its own in Iran (a very Western Islamic nation) will be quashed by an invasion by the US.

    Yes, an intervention in Iran to promote democracy would be a very bad idea. So therefore, intervention is everywhere and always a bad idea? You were satisfied with the world’s non-intervention in Rwanda in 1994 then?

    But, it’s not our fucking problem. It’s the problem of people living in Zimbabwe. They voted for this bastard, they need to fix the problem they caused.

    The people being killed and starved by Mugabe are the people who did not vote for the bastard. His thugs are killing them because they support the opposition.

  96. Intervention should be favored in very, very, extremely limited circumstances and only in cases with wide international support.

    In other cases it may go well, it may not. But the risk for unintended consequences is too great. You can easily end up with a worse problem than what you started with.

    Ask Austria-Hungary if they expected their Serbian intervention to lead to global conflict.

  97. Prolefeed-

    I agree it is their fucking problem-but we should not forget that the Rhodesians freely elected Muzorewa in 1979. We made them do a do over in 1980- courtesy of that great “civil rights” activist Andy Young.

  98. The U.S. military kills people and breaks things. That’s what it’s there for.

    Now, that’s not a bad thing. Some people need killing, and some things need breaking. When the existence and operations of a military or paramilitary force operating in the field IS THE PROBLEM, Big Green can sometimes be the solution.

    But if the solution requires setting up governments, running things, or social and cultural change, the U.S. military isn’t really going to help. They can fight military forces. They can deter military action. They can even, in a limited sphere of operations, get individual bad guys.

    But that other stuff had to be done by the locals. We cannot take a leading role, but a supporting one, at most.

  99. And those effective, responsible, non-violent methods for improving freedom in Zimbabwe would be…what?

    Ghandi did a demonstration project on this, I believe.

  100. But, it’s not our fucking problem. It’s the problem of people living in Zimbabwe. They voted for this bastard, they need to fix the problem they caused.

    Zimbabwe has had exactly one reasonably fair election. The rest were rigged by Mugabe and the rest of the ZANU thugs.

  101. You were satisfied with the world’s non-intervention in Rwanda in 1994 then?

    Not particularly, no. Rwanda is one of the few instances where I think the benefits of intervention would have outweighed the costs. Overall, I think I’d still be opposed were it to happen today, for reasons I won’t go into now (none of which have anything to do with unconcern with African and/or foreign problems). Rwanda is probably the only intervention I can think of in the last half century that I think could be justified, though.

  102. Anyone else notice the HITLER STACHE?!!!!!?!?!?!?!

  103. Ghandi did a demonstration project on this, I believe.

    Yes — and if the British Empire were still running Rhodesia, a Gandhi-style civil disobedience campaign would be exactly the right approach. But with Mugabe, it would be a useless slaughter.

  104. “I’m so glad we invaded Iraq otherwise we’d be hindered with oil at $30 a barrel and a strong dollar. Thank God for increasing the risk premium on oil and huge amounts of borrowing for the war.”

    Yes you’re absolutely right about oil situation. I personally think that this happened because Bush got side tracked with misguided nation building crap instead off focusing on what is important – securing and defending oil assets.

    As far as Clinton preventing terrorism – I don’t believe it for a second. It was in the nineties that Islamist movement grew and became more brazen because they came to believe that west became decadent, fat, and cowardly.

    As far as Spain is concerned they will soon find peace under the wise rule of Madrid Caliphate. I believe that right after bombing they pulled out all of their 7 soldiers from Iraq.

    The point of my post is this. Interventions can work only if the goal is clear and attainable. There are several types of goals some of which are as follows:
    a. Nation Building – does not work.
    b. Securing Vital Assets – can work.
    c. Coups or revolutions – do not work
    d. Colonization – can work but is bad for the colonization services provider.

  105. What about 1989, Slocum? I’m thinking particularly of Romania, here.

  106. Black Africans can’t self-govern. It’s really that simple.

    I have made this assertion here in the past, and it continues to prove itself out. They simply lack the history of experience or interest required to self-govern. I mean really, they are still burning witches. How backward and primative.

  107. TallDave,

    The rate of US troops being killed in action falling below the homocide rate of gun-free Chicago is surely a sign of failure too.

    What is the ratio of US Troops casualties to Chicago PD casualties? That is the correct comparison.

  108. Why does Cuba get left out of consideration? How hard could it be to knock them off? I’ve pointed this out for years.

  109. American Embassy | June 23, 2008, 4:15pm | #

    President Clinton also prevented terrorist attacks on US soil after the first WTC attacks for 8 years.

    Hey, I’m U.S. soil too!

    Not as much as I am.

  110. Robert, for one the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

    Secondly, we promised them we’d never invade so long as they don’t let any hostile foreign power build military bases in their country (this was after the missile crisis).

    Castro, surprisingly, kept his word so we have kept ours.

  111. Just give me a chance. I never made any promises. Or if I did, I lied or changed my mind. Who would object? The rest of the world is just standing around waiting for someone else to do it so they can applaud.

    And it wouldn’t be a fiasco if it were done for real, as in sending enough that they surrender immediately — or make my day.

    Now if I could just defeat the server squirrels that keep killing my posts….

  112. I will give you that an invasion of Cuba would be more justifiable than an invasion of Iraq, esp. because of the Monroe Doctrine. If you could get the major Latin American powers to sign up (Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile) it would be a walk.

    Mostly because, you know, theres a real Cuban nation with a common history, language, and religion that Iraq lacks. There wouldn’t be ethnic civil war.

    I’m sad we were never able to buy Cuba directly from Spain and make it a state, actually.

  113. Fidel Castro, Senior Senator from the State of Cuba.

  114. Sorry, but far, far more Africans were killed in those bombings than American citizens.

    Well, as long as some Africans were killed along with me I guess I don’t mind dying.

  115. Duh, BLOGMAN, I think you mean Arabs cannot handle democracy, not black Africans. Unless they are black African-Arabs.

  116. Why does Cuba get left out of consideration?

    Because of their wonderful free health care!

  117. It warms the cockles of my heart to see you so suddenly concerned about dead Americans after boosting a war under false pretenses and false expectations. It really does.

  118. Western nations don’t have a clue how to curb them[human rights violations]-Darfur, Tibet, Myanmar, Equitorial Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, and well, Zimbabwe.

    Regardless of the U.N.’s reticence, Collier argues, a coup backed by Europe or America, and led by the opposition party[…]

    Right. But this time, just get the right people in charge.

  119. Ilya,

    What the fuck does “Secure vital assets” mean? You can’t pack oil up in a rucksack and book it. You have to either colonize (where we’d get attacked by militants), book it (and leave a power vacuum and civil war), try to nation build (doesn’t work) or leave it alone. The status quo is the path of least violence. If we actually sent in inspectors to see that there weren’t any WMD, we’d have access to the assets at bargain basement prices.

    Also, Spain is a good counter-example. They were in Iraq fighting and they got attacked. The Brits were in Iraq fighting and they got attacked. The Iraq War is the greatest terrorist recruiting video bin Laden could have hoped for and there are more terrorists now than there were at any point during the Clinton administration.

  120. boosting a war under false pretenses and false expectations

    Bush Lied!!

  121. No Name Guy,
    You’re confusing “democracy” with “liberty”. Liberty is about being able to do what you want as long as you don’t harm anyone else. Democracy is about being able to harm other people so long as the majority votes for it.

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