Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What to do about Zimbabwe? Nothing.

In a most unsurprising turn of events, Robert Mugabe won Zimbabwe's electoral runoff in a landslide fashion (85% of the ballots) against... Thin air... as his opposition's leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, had pulled out of the runoff and found refuge in a Dutch embassy under increased violence.

So as Mugabe grabs the helm with surprising zeal, considering his venerable age, we are left with the question: What is the West and the UN to do about this tyrant who's taken one of the most promising ex-colonies on the continent and run it straight into failed state status?

In a word, nothing. Some sage advice from Ugandan journalist, Charles Onyango-Obbo:

However, Zimbabwe’s situation is so hopeless that it is too late for even extreme measures to work. Mugabe is now so discredited that he must be praying for some form of military intervention. That would allow him to wrap himself in the national flag and fight on as the defender of Zimbabwe’s hard-won independence. Its effect would be to buy him more time. And it would undermine the moderates in the ruling Zanu-PF party, if indeed there are left, and be new glue to bind the hardliners together.

What Zimbabwe needs from the world now is for the world to do nothing. The situation in the country must be allowed to deteriorate further without giving Mugabe a change to blame an outside force for it.

That means Mugabe might not lose power immediately, but it ensures that when he does, Zanu-PF and the whole discredited apparatus that has kept the regime limping along will collapse with him.

Zimbabwe will have a better chance of getting its life back with Zanu-PF totally wiped out, rather than in a dispensation where its remnants have to be accommodated.

The red emboldened text is my own emphasis the other is the original authors.

An impressive argument for a laissez faire approach to Zimbabwe. Quite contrary to this nonsense (h/t Peter):
A solution for Zimbabwe's crisis isn't hard to come by: Someone – ideally the British – must remove Mr. Mugabe by force, install Mr. Tsvangirai as president, arm his supporters, prevent any rampages, and leave.

So simple, even a caveman can do it... Yes, nothing would spell stability like an Anglo force occupying a previous colony, giving the boot to a post colonial hero (however bad he is, he's not a white guy with a rifle and pre-supposed agenda) designing it's leadership and slamming it in place. They'll be greeted as liberators, the Shiites will through roses at their feet... Ah, sorry, different war. Where was I?


Ymarsakar said...

Mugabe got into power partially because he promised to divide up the white man's lands and give it to the tribal families in Zimbabwe. That he did, or maybe he kept most of it for himself.

But, many Africans see Mugabe as a hero because he fought against colonialism and gave back the land of other black people's forefathers. Land, is seen the same as economic livelyhood to Africans, for that is where most of their money comes from, for individual families at least. No land, no money. No money, no power. No power, many deaths in the family.

Probably the only way anyone could justify to the Africans that they should back a Western power in destroying the status quo in Zimbabwe is if we promise them that we will also help them invade and conquer neighboring countries, and thus land. With the land going to those that have helped Zimbabwe accept the new status quo.

Any other way, and people are just going to want the land for themselves. Which means resistance, civil wars, and what not.

Anonymous said...

I really liked your post. As I have written a post on Zimbabwe, I feel that the situation too is hopeless. I am not aware of how Zimbabweans themselves feel about the situation, but obviously somebody is supporting him. However, democracy can only be sustained when it comes from the bottom up. Also, if we factor in the psychological damage that is done in situations like this where a country has been under repression for many years. It becomes really hard for change. I am going to include your blog on my post Thanks!

Anonymous said...


Great post. I think that Robert Mugabe exemplifies the moral bankruptcy of the trendy postcolonial theories seen in both academia and the third world. The fact that Mugabe could wrap himself in such a discourse and utilize it to retain some shred of disability should give a professor pause when he or she endorses them.

Jay@Soob said...

ymarsakar, I think that while your view maintains some semblance of credence (land=economic viability) I think you might be overstating the expansionist attitude in this region of Africa. I'd say that any western military action might excite a few oligarchic types into wheeling and dealing about land but on the whole would exact some serious popular blowback in the region.

Jay@Soob said...

Sydney kc

"democracy can only be sustained when it comes from the bottom up."

Great point and I'd add that effective democracy (by western standards) can only be built from the bottom up once a sustainable social stability (immersed infrastructure, established civil services, a stable tax base middle class, degree of sexual equality, ect.)

Thanks, I'll check out your post shortly.

Jay@Soob said...


And that he carried such status for so long!

Ymarsakar said...

I'd say that any western military action might excite a few oligarchic types into wheeling and dealing about land but on the whole would exact some serious popular blowback in the region.

It will really depend on whether popular blowback is more important to the people of Africa than feeding, caring, and educating their children.

Ymarsakar said...

Btw, the land issue isn't just economic, like something we buy or sell. It's part of one's identity, family identity.

To a civilized person that moves around because his civilization produces trust and security, the tribal man's focus and attachment to his land is often unbelievable in its strength and fanaticism.