"Pledge Allegiance to Mugabe or We Will Burn Down Your House."

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With the coming and going Robert Mugabe's illegal, murderous, and fraudulent election triumph, the tragedy of Zimbabwe had slipped off the front pages. That's too bad. Christopher Thompson has a first-hand account over at the New Republic of Mugabe's campaign of thuggery.

"I would go at night to the edge of our maize field and listen to them chanting, wondering what was going to happen to us–if they would enter the homestead," said Simon, 25, who asked that his last name not be used for fear of retribution. Then one night in mid-June–as Mugabe's chances of winning the run-off began to look precariously low–the vets finally plowed onto the 100-acre farm, dragging laborers from their huts at night and forcing them to attend impromptu pungwes, compulsory government-loyalty sessions. A simple choice was laid down by the war vets' leader: "Pledge allegiance to Mugabe or we will burn down your house."

Simon and his family were able to escape unscathed via a back road as soon as they saw the vets, many drunk off the local maize-brew chibuku, walk up the red-clay drive and onto the farm they'd owned for two generations. But many Zimbabweans had not been so lucky. At least 85 people, mainly supporters of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), were killed in the violence that ravaged southern Africa's former breadbasket in the run-up to the June 27 vote. Thousands more were injured as Mugabe's notorious "Green Bomber" militia–composed of indoctrinated rural youths–rampaged across the country's undulating north-eastern provinces.

Reporters from the UK's Channel 4 cornered Mugabe at the African Union summit in Egypt. They deployed an interesting tactic; refusing to treat Mugabe like a head of state, they asked "how it felt to steal an election" as his goons pushed and slapped them away.

When you stop being angry about this, read this: a column in a Ugandan newspaper by Andrew Mwenda, asking why people like, well, me, care about Zimbabwe anyway.

Mugabe is destroying the economy of Zimbabwe and terrorizing its citizens. But he has not threatened his neighbours like Amin did when he invaded Tanzania. Zairean dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, would have died in power had he not financed rebels opposed to Rwanda.

Why then are we hearing calls for freer and fairer elections in Zimbabwe? There was hardly a whisper when Mugabe's crack units butchered the Ndebele in the mid 1980s. Many people think the current noise is racial because Mugabe has dispossessed white farmers. Actually, it has a lot to do with social capital. White farmers had networks and contacts with influential groups and individuals in Western capitals. They have successfully used this to mobilize international opinion against the Zimbabwean patriarch. The lesson for opposition movements in Africa is that they need to build such networks and contacts in order to have voice.

I think that's true, on both counts, but it wasn't just that Mugabe was attacking whites when world opinion  started to swing against him. It was that Zimbabwe was falling so far. The Congo was a basket case that got worse during Mobutu's reign; Zimbabwe was, until Mugabe really started bringing the hammer down in 1999 and 2000, a wealthy African democracy.

Of course, something that might change in six months is the installation of an American president with continental African roots, who has a habit of speaking out in and on African issues in ways that reverberate.

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  1. Of course, something that might change in six months is the installation of an American president with continental African roots, who has a habit of speaking out in and on African issues in ways that reverberate.

    Maybe Mugabe will be won over by his message of hope and change?

    Short of an invasion, there’s very little Obama would be able to do with this situation.

  2. Maybe Mugabe will be won over by his message of hope and change?

    I’m sure he did. Mugabe is instituting “change” in his country, and I’m sure Obama will be just as dedicated to “change” here.

  3. The madness in Zimbabwe will (might?) stop when Mugabe is dead. Obama becoming president isn’t going to cause that.

  4. “Pledge allegiance to Mugabe or we will burn down your house.”

    Look on the bright side. As campaign promises go, this constitutes less of a drain on the “public checkbook” than bridges, roads, or schools.

  5. I have little to add to the skepticism noted above about the fatuous notion that the ascension of Obama to the Presidency, or anything he might say, will have any effect on Mugabe.

    Although if Obama does begin to involve us in military adventures in Africa, the intellectual whiplash as his supporters suddenly find all sorts of good reasons for our troops to kill and die in foreign lands will be entertaining to watch.

  6. The situation in Zimbabwe is dire. It won’t have an easy solution. I don’t think Mugabe will be convinced by speeches. Do you advocate sanctions? If so, what sanctions. Do you advocate sending troops? If so, how many. Any other ideas?

  7. “..he has not threatened his neighbours like Amin did when he invaded Tanzania.”

    Tell that to the citizens of the DRC.

  8. Tell that to the citizens of the DRC.

    Seriously.

  9. The fuc–r Mugabe will not step down until he is dead. I can only pray that that special day will come soon!
    I have a special bottle of scotch to celebrate that day and another bottle for Castro’s death.

  10. Do you advocate sanctions?…Do you advocate sending troops?…Any other ideas?

    Low altitude flight of military transports pushing out pallets of guns, ammo, and wads of American cash, labelled with “Gift of D.C. Heller”… They’ll know what to do.

    Just saying…

  11. Other Matt | July 15, 2008, 11:14am | #
    Maybe Mugabe will be won over by his message of hope and change?

    I’m sure he did. Mugabe is instituting “change” in his country, and I’m sure Obama will be just as dedicated to “change” here.

    That’s some impressive paranoia there.

  12. I never understand posts like this. Don’t libertarians believe in not involving ourselves with the internal affairs of other countries?

    If these people want to be free, let them fight for it. But let’s stay out of it.

  13. I never understand posts like this. Don’t libertarians believe in not involving ourselves with the internal affairs of other countries?

    It’s called following the link. Obama’s speech in Kenya had some grave consequences, and I think his election would muddle things considerably.

  14. Although if Obama does begin to involve us in military adventures in Africa, the intellectual whiplash as his supporters suddenly find all sorts of good reasons for our troops to kill and die in foreign lands will be entertaining to watch.

    Try “sickening to watch”. If beinging democracy to Arabia was a fool’s errand, what would trying to bring it to sub-saharan Africa be?

  15. Obama’s speech in Kenya had some grave consequences

    Wait, based on the links, are you accusing Obama of sparking the riots? What consequences?

    Seriously, I am confused by your clarification.

  16. I have a special bottle of scotch to celebrate that day and another bottle for Castro’s death.

    Ah rana, I knew there was something I liked about you. Drinking to the death of thuggish dictators is one of my habits as well.* Of course, I have the good taste to drink Irish whiskey rather than scotch.

    * I got snot slinging drunk the day the Ceaucescus was executed. Good times.

  17. Re: my previous
    was, were, whatever. 😉

  18. All that Obama’s election would change is the perception of an invasion. If McCain were to order an invasion of Zimbabwe, he would be the great white imperialist.

  19. That’s some impressive paranoia there.

    Less so, when you consider that Other Matt couldn’t tell them apart if they stood in room with him.

    Cuz…you know.

    Although if Obama does begin to involve us in military adventures in Africa, the intellectual whiplash as his supporters suddenly find all sorts of good reasons for our troops to kill and die in foreign lands will be entertaining to watch. Yes, RC, when those of us who have been calling for action in Darfur continue to support action in Darfur, I’m sure you will be having quite a bit of fun telling yourself we’ve flip flopped. I don’t begrudge you that; what else does a Republican have left?

  20. Yes, RC, when those of us who have been calling for action in Darfur continue to support action in Darfur, I’m sure you will be having quite a bit of fun telling yourself we’ve flip flopped. I don’t begrudge you that; what else does a Republican have left?

    Oh yes intervention in Islamic land to do what? Bring democracy? A long term occupation to bring “order”? What could possibly go wrong?

    Full disclosure, I supported, even advocated the intervention in Somalia in the early ’90s. Live and learn.

  21. joe, are you still confusing me with a Republican?

    And who said anything about Darfur?

    BTW, what would the justification be for Americans to kill and die in Darfur, or Zimbabwe? Purely for humanitarian purposes?

    Are humanitarian grounds only allowable when the US will have no real strategic goals and there is no oil to be pumped? Should we go into Zimbabwe because they have no oil, but not commit troops to Nigeria to deal with a humanitarian crisis there, because Nigeria has oil?

    If we do go into Darfur or Zimbabwe, should we engage in nation-building, or should we just leave a pile of bad guy corpses and evac?

  22. There was hardly a whisper when Mugabe’s crack units butchered the Ndebele in the mid 1980s.

    Could this have had something to do with the Cold War? The world community let of lot of things slide because these junior-varsity fights were usually proxies for the major superpowers at the time. Now that there’s only one super-power, we can put more scrutiny on the minor powers who have no powerful allies.

  23. J sub D,

    Oh yes intervention in Islamic land to do what? Bring democracy? No.

    A long term occupation to bring “order”? No.

    A military mission to stop a military organization from taking military action in a defined area populated by that military organization’s victims, and not its supporters. No regime change, no establishing a government, no governing ourselves, no even any offensive action to assert control over territory currently occupied by the opposition military force.

    If I thought a Darfur mission would require anything like what you described, I wouldln’t support it.

  24. David Weigel,

    Obama’s speech in Kenya had some grave consequences, and I think his election would muddle things considerably.

    and

    Of course, something that might change in six months is the installation of an American president with continental African roots, who has a habit of speaking out in and on African issues in ways that reverberate.

    I am still unclear what you are trying to say here. Your links are to a speech in Kenya and a news story about riots. Are you trying to tie them together in some way? Are you claiming that Obama’s speech resulted in the riot that trapped his uncle?

    Again, serious question.
    I am unclear as to your point.

  25. RC,

    joe, are you still confusing me with a Republican? Yes.

    And who said anything about Darfur? I did. You stated that supporting military action in Africa would be a flip-flop for Obama supporters, and I demonstrated the fallacy of your statement by using Darfur as an example.

    BTW, what would the justification be for Americans to kill and die in Darfur, or Zimbabwe? Purely for humanitarian purposes?

    Yes.

    Are humanitarian grounds only allowable when the US will have no real strategic goals and there is no oil to be pumped?

  26. Abdul raises a good point; we spent the Cold War not caring out any conflicts or oppression that didn’t involve our strategic contest with the Soviets.

    But I don’t think that’s the whole story. As with the Lebanese anti-Syrian uprising, the good guys here come with pre-existing networks they can tap to raise their profile.

    This, btw, is how white privilege/black underprivilege typically operates. It’s not a matter of anyone saying “Screw the black people,” but of there being different, disparate sets of social, professional, and political networks – a disparity that, for historical reasons, breaks down closely along racial lines.

  27. A military mission to stop a military organization from taking military action in a defined area populated by that military organization’s victims, and not its supporters. No regime change, no establishing a government, no governing ourselves, no even any offensive action to assert control over territory currently occupied by the opposition military force.

    I don’t understand. We send troops and they do what? Play defense until?

  28. I, too, would be interested to know what the end game would be in joe’s Darfur scenario.

  29. D’oh, screwed up the tagz.

    Are humanitarian grounds only allowable when the US will have no real strategic goals and there is no oil to be pumped?

    No. American strategic interests are wholly irrelevant to the liberal, humanitarian argument. It is neither a plus not a minus. We has strategic interests in the Balkans.

    Should we go into Zimbabwe because they have no oil, but not commit troops to Nigeria to deal with a humanitarian crisis there, because Nigeria has oil? Oil is irrelevant. We should consider going into Zimbabwe more seriously than Nigeria for the following reasons: 1) because the situation in Zimbabwe is vastly worse; 2) because we’d have a much greater chance of success, given the particular nature of the “humanitarian crisis” in Zimbabwe vs. Nigeria; and 3) because Nigeria has a functioning democratic government.

    If we do go into Darfur or Zimbabwe, should we engage in nation-building, or should we just leave a pile of bad guy corpses and evac?

    Define “nation-building.” Are you talking about establishing a government, or governing the place ourselves? No. Are you talking about humanitarian actions like digging wells and building stuff? Yes.

    It’s important to consider the two situations apart, and take into account the specific conditions, and the type of missions we’d be talking about.

    In Darfur, we (actually, the countries that follow up or assist with our initial deployment) would be performing a purely defensive mission: preventing a military force from one place from conducing military activity against the population of another place.

    In Zimbabwe, we’d be talking about driving the Mugabe government from power so that the legal, organized, existing, election-winning opposition could step into the offices they won and govern the country.

    In neither case would we be establishing a government, ruling the country ourselves, propping up a government that came to power through our actions, or setting up a political order, as we tried to do in Iraq.

  30. I, too, would be interested. A soldier could go pretty crazy being strictly on the defensive.

  31. ‘Cause if the janjaweed Hit & Run (I apologize), it opens up Pandora’s Box.

  32. A military mission to stop a military organization from taking military action in a defined area populated by that military organization’s victims, and not its supporters. No regime change, no establishing a government, no governing ourselves, no even any offensive action to assert control over territory currently occupied by the opposition military force.

    Shorter joe: Leave a pile of corpses, and bug out.

    Although, realistically, the purely static defense proposed by joe cannot be over until the aggressors have gone away. I suspect that over a surprisingly short period of time, the static defense will become a de facto occupation, with the predictably mission creep into some kind of nation-building.

    You stated that supporting military action in Africa would be a flip-flop for Obama supporters,

    No, I said supporting military action in Zimbabwe would require the abandonment of previously cherished anti-war rhetoric.

    BTW, what would the justification be for Americans to kill and die in Darfur, or Zimbabwe? Purely for humanitarian purposes?

    Yes.

    So you don’t think we could justify overthrowing Saddam on purely humanitarian grounds?

    How do we pick and choose which humanitarian crises we bless with American ordnance? There seem to be dozens around the globe alla the time, after all. How do we go into Zimbabwe and Darfur and not, say, Burma?

  33. J sub D,

    Our troops play defense until, a few weeks later, they are relieved by African Union and/or NATO troops. Yup, it might mean a long-term blue helmet mission. If A is the genocide, B is the blue helmets kepping the baddies from committing genocide, and C is rolling into Khartoum with Ahmed Chalabi on the hood of a Humvee, I pick B.

    The military estimated I’ve seen are that a brigade-sized force (about 3000 people) would have about a week’s worth of beating up on the Janjaweed and Sudanese Air Force, and the genocide stops in its tracks. Then, a slightly larger force (which can consist of personnel way down the food chain from a U.S. Marine Expeditionary Force) would be required to enforce that peace.

  34. Don’t get me wrong. Darfur is humanitarian tragedy. The resposibility can be laid directky at the feet of the Sudanese government.

    Shall we lis all of the world’s regime caused humanitarian tragedies? We should rank them and them solve them with our troops in order of tragedianess.

  35. Oil is irrelevant.

    So, the “no blood for oil” is just so much cant, then?

    American strategic interests are wholly irrelevant to the liberal, humanitarian argument.

    So, we should send Americans to their deaths even when America has no interest in the outcome. Good luck selling that to the voters.

    In Zimbabwe, we’d be talking about driving the Mugabe government from power so that the legal, organized, existing, election-winning opposition could step into the offices they won and govern the country.

    In neither case would we be establishing a government,

    Interesting. You don’t think driving an existing regime out so a different can step in under cover of your guns constitutes establishing a government? I guess that’s one way to look at it.

    And you don’t think there would be any transitional security issues that might require a few Americans to stick around? Just come in, shoot the place up, hand the keys to the new guy, and leave.

  36. joe’s solutions for Darfur sound just like what some Iraq war boosters were saying about Iraq. Roll in, fix the problem, everybody loves us, and MISSION ACCOMPLISHED and we’re outta there.

    Didn’t work out that way. Why would Darfur?

  37. Shorter joe: Leave a pile of corpses, and bug out. Um, no. Does the phrase “defensive mission” mean “bug out” to you? If so, let’s put $1000 on a chess match!

    I suspect that over a surprisingly short period of time, the static defense will become a de facto occupation Why? They’d be operating in an area with no enemy supporters among the population, which has its own local government functions. The Darfuris don’t need to be pacified, since they’re not the problem, and I’m not talking about occupying any areas containing Janjaweed, their civilians supporters, the Sudanese army, or their civilian supporters. Compare to 1946: more like the American troop presence in France, less like that in Germany.

    So you don’t think we could justify overthrowing Saddam on purely humanitarian grounds? Sure we could. He was easily as bad as Mugabe.

    I can’t believe I’m bothering to explain this yet again – I might as well just link back to a few hundred previous comments explaining it to you over the years – but what the hell: The reason a “humanitarian” mission to Iraq was such a bad idea has nothing to do with the previous Iraqi government not being bad enough to justify it, but with the likely consequences that would (and did) accrue in the aftermath. There was no democratic opposition ready and able to take over and govern the country (the Chalabi shtick was a sick farce). There was no existing political order that could even keep the peace. So our invasion was going to 1) set off all sorts of problems that were kept in check under Saddam (sectarian civil war, neighbors coming in, jihadists coming in, general chaos), and 2) require a lengthy occupation in hostile territory with us serving as the occupiers among a hostile populace.

  38. I got a humanitarian idea…how about we stop funding the UN since they have supported this guy for about 20 years until the recent fad made it unpopular among democrats to support this maoist dictator?

    We could also start a webpage with a chip-in paypal button. If you want to fund it then go donate some money then when we hit 1 million dollars we’ll start accepting bids from blackwater, retired marines, the A team whoever wants to go assasinate Mugabe and 10 20 of his ugliest goons? I ‘ll write up the RFP.

    I’ll donate $50 to that….each dollar vote allows you to have one vote on which bid we accept. Each proposal must be accompanied by a youtube video so that we can all watch the clips american idol style and vote on which group we want to send to go kill Mugabe.

    In good faith…I’ll give my 50 votes to whoever has the moxy to put up the website, as I trust you’ll be motivated enough by goodheartedness to actually want a good team sent down there.

  39. Yup, it might mean a long-term blue helmet mission.

    You might want to give the UN a call and see how that Rwandan thingie is going for them, before singing hosannas about the baby blue helmets.

  40. Our troops play defense until, a few weeks later, they are relieved by African Union and/or NATO troops.

    Why can’t NATO or the AU just go in now? If its so easy, what are we going to be doing that they can’t?

    Oh, leaving a pile of corpses and bugging out, that’s what.

    The military estimated I’ve seen are that a brigade-sized force (about 3000 people) would have about a week’s worth of beating up on the Janjaweed and Sudanese Air Force, and the genocide stops in its tracks.

    So, it’d be a, what’s the word? “Cakewalk”?

    And I have to say, that doesn’t sound much like the purely static defense you mentioned earlier. Why couldn’t the bad guys just decline to engage the Marines, who are, under your rules of engagement, prohibited from leaving the perimeter?

    I’d like to see a link to that estimate, BTW.

    Really, joe, you’re proposing two different missions here. One is the purely static defense, and the other is an aggressive search and destroy. I think you need to pick one, and stick to it.

  41. And, as Frederick Douglass once stated: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.” As a result, many African nations have been asked to liberalize their markets without reciprocal concessions from mature economies. This lack of access for Africa’s agriculture and commodities has restricted an important engine of economic growth.

    Somehow I do not think Obama ment only free trade when he wrote “concessions from mature economies”.

    And if he did only mean free trade but had to use such language to pacify his base then I have no faith in his ability to get those “concessions” from his party.

    Weigle is putting way to much faith in this melee mouthed flaccid rhetoric.

  42. How do we go into Zimbabwe and Darfur and not, say, Burma? Darfur’s got a popular government we can comfortably leave to their business. Zimbabwe has an opposition that just won the election, and could step into the job tomorrow, if the thugs were removed.

    Burma has a popular opposition movement, and that’s great. Maybe in a few years, if it gets stronger (perhaps with the help of the IRI and IDI), it too will be ready.

    Hopefully, in both Zimbabwe and Burma, a combination of diplomatic pressure and support for the opposition will allow them to turn out the bad guys without military involvement.

  43. And finally, joe @ 2:45 seems to be abandoning his previous purely “liberal, humanitarian argument”, and picking and choosing his military interventions not on the basis of the scope of the humanitarian crisis, but rather how hard it will be to recover from.

    If its really hard to recover from (Iraq), we’ll just let ’em stew. If it looks like an easy recovery (Zimbabwe – hey, don’t look at me, that’s joe’s take), sure, we’ll help out. Doing only the easy ones doesn’t sound very humanitarian to me.

  44. will more bad folks arrive to take Mugabe’s place should we succeed in killing him? probably…but at least we will show the world that we can take out a leader for 1-10 million dollars instead of 1 trillion dollars like Dick Cheney and the Congress did.

    at least we will leave some solid guidelines for the next leader…we can even create criteria for him to follow in exchange for our promises not to send more assasination squads.

  45. Doing only the easy ones doesn’t sound very humanitarian to me.

    Sounds pragmatic, though. And I mean that as neither compliment nor insult.

    melee mouthed flaccid rhetoric

    This is a contradiction in terms. Don’t get me wrong, “melee-mouthed” is a brilliant turn of phrase (I know what you meant, but the misspelling is more interesting).

  46. RC,

    So, the “no blood for oil” is just so much cant, then? No, it is a powerful criticism of those, like yourself, who DO make the control of oil resources a central plank in your military policy. Control of oil SHOULD BE irrelevant; sadly, it is not, and good for those protestors who denounce that position.

    So, we should send Americans to their deaths even when America has no interest in the outcome. Good luck selling that to the voters. That’s certainly a limiting factor, sure – but that’s probably not a bad thing. If a humanitarian mission is going to be big enough and costly enough to cause real political damage for those supporting it, it’s probably big and complicated enough to have a good chance of failing, so we’d best stay out anyway.

    So, it’d be a, what’s the word? “Cakewalk”? Yes, just like the purely-military portion of the Iraq War (both, actually) were cakewalks. Yet another reason why purely military actions, which aren’t merely preludes to some good old fashioned imperialist empire-building, are more likely to succeed.

    And I have to say, that doesn’t sound much like the purely static defense you mentioned earlier. Why couldn’t the bad guys just decline to engage the Marines, who are, under your rules of engagement, prohibited from leaving the perimeter? That would be teh awesome, if the Janjaweed took one look at the first helicopter and ceased all incursions into Darfur, but chances are, they’d want to see what they could get away with.

    Really, joe, you’re proposing two different missions here. One is the purely static defense, and the other is an aggressive search and destroy. First of all, “search and destroy” is a tactic, not a strategy. A defensive mission could certainly involve search-and-destroy actions against an force that invades the defended area.

    The difference between a strategy and the tactics used to advance that strategy is an important thing to understand when discussing international politics and military strategy. One that a lot of people who should really know better have been remarkably slow to acknowledge this political season.

  47. Episiarch,

    Why would Darfur? Because we wouldn’t be ruling over the Darfuris, nor occupying areas in which the Janjaweed and Khartoum government-supporting civilians live.

    If our invasion of Iraq had been limited to putting troops on the ground in Kurdistan to defend it against Saddam’s attacks, do you think we’d be facing a Kurdish insurgency?

  48. JW,

    You might want to give the UN a call and see how that Rwandan thingie is going for them, before singing hosannas about the baby blue helmets.

    You mean, the mission that didn’t have the authorization to fight back or put down the militias?

    Nobody is suggesting anything like that. UN missions are as strong as their mandate.

  49. If our invasion of Iraq had been limited to putting troops on the ground in Kurdistan to defend it against Saddam’s attacks

    For how long? What if Saddam encourages foreign terrorists to attack US perimeters?

    We had a no-fly zone for how long?

  50. Doing only the easy ones doesn’t sound very humanitarian to me.

    Now that’s the kind of sharp strategic thinking that’s made Iraq what it is today!

    Easy missions have the virtue of succeeding. Failed missions don’t make anyone better off.

    It’s a tragedy that our ability to accomplish humanitarian goals isn’t unlimited, but we are not gods. We can only do what we can do. The true humanitarian doesn’t let this paralyze him, but focus his energies. Sometimes, you have to do triage. In fact, in the big picture, triage is the most humanitarian thing you can do.

  51. I’ll never understand the blind faith in the UN, US or international organizations wanting things to improve in Africa/mid-east/Cuba?Asia. These are the same people who protect and pampered the sadams/mugabes etc. They want these countries smothered in corruption, poverty and disease. It helps maintain a “balance of power”. As Kissinger said, “Depopulation should be the number one goal of American Foreign policy”…ever notice Brezinski saying that the protection of individual property rights should be the number on goal? no.

    Most people here realize the importance of individual rights to own property, own their own labor, own the fruits of their labor{implying minimal taxes)minarchists & anarchists happily agree this is much lower than the current tax levels, have control of their own bodies and what it ingest. The enforcement of this simple magical concept is enough to trigger amazing economic,educational and technological growth and prosperity amongst any people.

    We on the Reason message board are NOT the first and only people to realize this. Those much wealthier/more educated and far far more pwoerful than us also realize the truth of this concept. They only choose to focus on other issues because they really don’t care to see all humanity prosper, they worry about making sure THEY keep the resources under THEIR control. They fear losing control to a rising prosperous middle class in the world. They fight this onslaught of new competition with carbon taxes, salt taxes, water taxes, income taxes, phone taxes, gas taxes, property taxes, military conscription, monopolies of the education system a phony drug war, a phony war on terror…the list goes on.

  52. Episiarch,

    For how long? How about, as long as we were welcome and needed?

    What if Saddam encourages foreign terrorists to attack US perimeters? Terrorists don’t do very well against hard targets like military perimeters. That’s why they sneak around among the population and blow up people in marketplaces. This is why I keep hammering on the difference between defending a friendly populace and pacifying an unfriendly one.

    We had a no-fly zone for how long? Nine years. Zero KIA.

  53. Yup, it might mean a long-term blue helmet mission.

    You might want to give the UN a call and see how that Rwandan thingie is going for them, before singing hosannas about the baby blue helmets.

    You might want to consider that China has veto power in the UN. IOW, that ain’t gonna happen.

  54. So nine years of troops in Kurdistan, even with zero KIA (which would never happen; terrorists may not be good at hard targets but they’d still do some damage), is OK with you? How about 100 years?

  55. joe,

    whaddya type 50 wpm? That’s impressive, seriously.

  56. J sub D,

    You might want to consider that China has veto power in the UN. IOW, that ain’t gonna happen.

    If a NATO/AU mission puts American-led troops into these two provinces in western Sudan, I think it would be relatively easy to get the Chinese and Russians to agree to replace them with blue helmets.

    Episiarch,

    Episiarch | July 15, 2008, 3:16pm | #

    So nine years of troops in Kurdistan, even with zero KIA (which would never happen; terrorists may not be good at hard targets but they’d still do some damage), is OK with you? Yes. Every bit as o.k. as 40 years in the territory of that other democratic ally we helped defend, West Germany.

    How about 100 years? If I thought 1) an American presence in Kurdistan would look a lot like our presense in West Germany and 2) it would do some good, and 3) it was a small-enough mission that we would likely succeed without a major drain on our military’s ability to operate, sure.

    That’s why I’m ok with our presence in Korea, and not Iraq: because I don’t think our presence in Iraq is going to be a peacetime garrisoning of forces in a friendly country, because I don’t think it’s going to do any good, and because just keeping things from falling apart requires such a huge commitment that we can’t even send a few more battalions to Afghanistan when we need them.

  57. But we’re waaaaaaaayyyyyyyy ahead of ourselves here.

    Like Weigel said, we’ve got more arrows in our quiver than Big Green.

  58. Hmm, I don’t agree with you, but I can see your distinction. However, this kind of thing always has the potential to get out of control. The possibility is even greater when no nukes are involved.

  59. I hear you, Episiarch, and the point you raise is an important one.

    That’s why I’m not “humanitarian” enough for RC Dean – because I know these things can turn badly pretty quickly, and it suggests to me that we should only look at the lowest-hanging fruit.

  60. Its funny that you guys pin Mugabe’s negative image on the fact he’s allowing a genocide against the whites, yet, don’t trot this out when we consider that none of the western powers has even the pretense of intervening. If whites are so monolithic and supportive, why didn’t they prop up Rhodesia? Why is there no media outcry over the fact that 1% of South Africa’s white population has been murderer since the end of apartheid in 1996? No, the west doesn’t care what Mugabe does to whites in Zimbabwe. They didn’t start caring until he stole an election and publicly thumbed his nose as us. Please forgive me, but I’m no humanitarian. Let these guys lay in the bed that they’ve made. Black people murdering, raping, and stealing from the very people that keep them fed… this seems to be a recurrent theme. I say lets give political asylum to all the white farmers and vacate the place. Then they’ll have no one to blame and they can chart their own course. Of course, the U.S. currently blocks such cases of white immigration on the grounds it could “import racist attitudes into the U.S.” WTF.

  61. Three marines, 15 seconds, in and out, and we’ll be liberated from Bob permanently.

    It’ll be a cakewalk.

  62. Of course, the U.S. currently blocks such cases of white immigration on the grounds it could “import racist attitudes into the U.S.” WTF.

    lol. Comedy gold. That’s some good satire/performance art, Bob. It is an act, right? Right?

  63. Sorry Joe, we didn’t take the world to raise. Its quite a racist assumption that we should even roll in and re-educate these people. They need to find their own way. If democracy is the ideal, you can’t expect a population to maintain it if they lack the will and gumption to seize it in the first place. The moment we pull out of Iraq, the Iraqis will CHOOSE Shariah law. We should expect a similar circumstance in Zimbabwe.

  64. Actually no Art-P.O.G., that was the explanation given by senator Sam Brownback.

  65. Gabe Harris @ 3:10:

    Sorry. I wish there were indeed evil geniuses at work. They would be so much easier to defeat than the banal forces which we actually face.

  66. Bob,

    Re-education my butt! The people of Zimbabwe have had democratic elections for nearly three decades now, after having overthrown the British and implemented a democratic government themselves. In fact, Robert Mugabe’s party lost its majority in parliament via a democrtic election a couple of months ago, and Mugabe himself came in second for president.

    Unfortunately, he (or possibly his generals) decided to overturn that election. You might be right about Iraqis, but Zimbabweans have this democracy thing down pretty well. They “took it into their own hands” a whole lot more recently than we did.

    I agree that we can’t spread democracy by the sword, we can’t force it on a society that hasn’t chosen it for themselves, but that’s not Zimbabwe.

  67. The Zimbabweans will greet us as liberators. An insurgeny primarily composed of displaced regime components is unthinkable. Zimbabwe is not Iraq. We’ll just disband the army and police that supported Mugabe and all will be well.

    The war pay for itself too.

  68. will pay for itself.

    Preview is not an admission of weakness!

  69. Mugabe could have learned from Mexico. Mexico avoided both socialist economic collapse and endless peasant revolt with the following land reform policy
    – All wealthy land owners ceded 20% of their property in compensation for uhmmm.. “special privelages” that many enjoyed.
    – Ceding the 20% then voids all future claims on their property
    – Ceded Land was made into “ejidos” (a form community property, like common range). It was not given to individual “Freedom Fighters” etc. etc.

  70. The Zimbabweans will greet us as liberators. The majority that turned out Mugabe would, almost certainly.

    An insurgeny primarily composed of displaced regime components is unthinkable. Since they’ve got their own government, any insurgency that develops would not be our problem.

    Zimbabwe is not Iraq. No, it is not. Playing dumb about the issues surrounding a question is what you do when there are a whole lot of pesky facts getting in the way of what you want to believe.

  71. joe,

    Wait, I am confused.
    Are you advocating military intervention in Zimbabwe?

    Surely not.

  72. Knowing whether two situations are, or are not, similar requires one to consider the details, the specific facts of each case.

    I’m all for getting as factual and specific as I can. If there are factual, specific reasons for why I’m wrong in thinking that the political situation in Zimbabwe is different from that of Iraq, I’m all ears.

    But the magical power of Find & Replace isn’t terribly convincing.

  73. NM,

    No, not yet. I hope it won’t come to that. If it does, the lighter the touch, the better.

  74. Shameful that these thugs get away with this. Mugabe will find a most unpleasant end to his stinking and miserable life. Beating up old ladies is so brave. Cowards! all of them.

  75. Let me put it this way: I’d only support a “regime change” intervention in Zimbabwe if there was already a strong enough and popular enough democratic opposition that it would be a case of our supporting their war of liberation, and we could be confident that they would be able to maintain power and keep the peace with no, or only limited, backing from us once they won. In other words, the low-hanging-fruit principle. Then, I’d consider it.

  76. joe, I’m amazed that the Dems aren’t even in power yet and you are already advocating for armed intervention in not one, but two sovereign states.

    Are there any other downtrodden groups/nations that deserve humanitarian intervention? Let’s get the whole list.

    FWIW, I don’t believe that Obama will be foolish enough to follow your foreign policy prescriptions. He’ll take too long (for me) to leave Iraq, pay lip service to democracy abroad and maybe launch some ineffectual air strikes. It’s better than McCain would do. That is not to be construed as optimism.

  77. joe,

    I don’t see how a touch light enough to matter could be justified. Truly.

    I guess if the parliament asked Mugabe step down (impeached him) and he refused to comply, and the parliment asked for outside assistance, I could see an international force being useful.

    But short of something like that it seems an internal affair.

    We should support the opposition with knowledge and materials, but I don’t see a forceful removal of Mugabe helping things out as long as he has the support of such a large contingent of violent thugs.

  78. J sub D,

    I’ve been advocating for intervention in Darfur for, what, seven years? What is so amazing here?

    Are there any other downtrodden groups/nations that deserve humanitarian intervention? All of them deserve intervention. That’s not the question. The question is whether it’s a good idea for us to give it to them.

    FWIW, I don’t believe that Obama will be foolish enough to follow your foreign policy prescriptions. Really? You don’t think he’ll use a combination of formal and public diplomacy to promote democracy, as he did in Kenya? I think he’ll be pretty good at supporting democratic movements. I think he’ll probably get serious about Darfur, too. Whether it comes to putting troops on the ground, I don’t know. Bullies who are merely out for plunder will generally stop once it becomes clear that someone intends to stop them. It’s not like the Janjaweed are defending their homes.

  79. Hypothetical use for UN troops in Zimbabwe.

    Parliament calls for new elections through proper procedures. Parliament asks for UN police forces to monitor the elections and prevent fraud and violence during the process. Parliament asks for UN police forces to help enforce the results of the election once it is certified as free and fair.

    Anything less internally motivated and directed seems unwise.

  80. NM,

    Mugabe faces a much stronger, more established, and more democratic opposition than did Saddam – more like the Taliban.

    I think we’re drawing the line in a similar place – forceful regime change for humanitarian/democracy-promoting purposes can only work when outside intervention serves to tip the balance of power between a tyrannical government and a democratic opposition that is equal to that government in power, or nearly so.

  81. My point JOE is that for democracy to take, there must be people willing to fight and die to preserve it, and they must exist in significant proportions greater than the thugs. How often do we see Africans using force to preserve the liberties of their fellow countrymen ( as opposed to using force to secure privileges for themselves? ). Never? In Zimbabwe as in the USA, the people get the government they deserve. People must take responsibility for themselves and their situation. Zimbabweans let this happen on their watch and now they bear the consequences of their apathy.

  82. Most veterans of Zimbabwe’s independence war would be at least in their late 40s by now. It seems that “war vet” is actually Zimbabwean slang for “opportunist thug”.

  83. Bob,

    How many times have YOU taken to the streets for democracy?

    It’s zero, isn’t it, Bob? You have risked your life exactly zero times keeping the government from violating the rights of your fellow citizens, right?

    Am I right? Do you deserve democracy, Bob?

  84. joe,

    If this democracy thingee* works out in Iraq, would you then say Bush was justified in invading?

    If not, why not? A brutal dictator toppled, democracy reigns, what’s not to like?

    *It won’t. But let’s pretend that it will.

  85. Chance for being won over by Obama? Ha, last month’s remarks by Obama’s cousin Kenyan Prime Minister Odinga sure didn’t have success in “reverberating.”

  86. “Pledge Allegiance to Bush or We Will Burn Down Your House.”

    Coming late October, 2008.

  87. The international criminal court just issued an arrest warrent for the president of Sudan. If the UN enforces it, a big if, Mugabe might be next.

  88. Bob wrote:
    In Zimbabwe as in the USA, the people get the government they deserve. People must take responsibility for themselves and their situation. Zimbabweans let this happen on their watch and now they bear the consequences of their apathy.

    Wow, that’s some Panglossian horseshit. I guess poor people are poor because they’re so lazy, cripples were really evil in their previous life, and the Jews had it coming. People never get stuck in a terrible situation through no fault of their own.

  89. J sub D,

    If I put my mortgage on Black 17, and it comes up, and I beome a millionaire, will that show that I was right to bet my mortgage on roulette spin?

    This is a game of percentages. Invading Iraq to establish democracy was a low-percentage, high stakes bet.

    jtuf, that is wonderful news! Woo hoo!

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