Saturday, 12 July 2008

So much for that then

Zimdemo 11-7-08 3

Was anybody really surprised that the UN vetoed the proposed sanctions against Mugabe and his boys? There have been questions over the call from Mr Brown to hit the country with sanctions (hypocrisy anyone?) Others may disagree, but I think an embargo on arms sales at least has to be a step in the right direction.

Do we really think any more that the 'international community' actually gives a fuck about anything except self-interest? That arms dealers in Russia and China are more protected than innocent little children is a sobering thought indeed, but one whose parallels have been there for all to see since the shameful days of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the final total abnegation of any semblance of decency by our 'world leaders'. I'm not trying to say that these bastards were exactly beacons of moral rectitude prior to that, but it was a very high profile symbolisation of the end of any pretense towards caring for the rights of humans, which - as all good AI members should know - is the mainstay of the United Nations. How many times are we going to hear that this country will go down the pan if BAE don't sell another load of jet fighters to Saudi Arabia?

It may be a simplistic question, but it's always puzzled me. Why, if Dubya, Tone and the others were able to kick ass so mightily out in the Gulf, were they not able to let loose a bit of shock and awe on the leader of Zanu-PF? The fight from Saddam's elite guards wasn't exactly a major one, but I think even that would put to shame the efforts of Mugabe's armed forces. But of course, nothing was done, and nothing will be done. What does it matter if some little known opposition politician gets his eyes gouged out and ends up with his body dumped in a piece of scrubland? Not at all.

I have a couple of friends from Zimbabwe - one white and one black - and the pain they feel for their loved ones still living there, and for the country itself, is plain to see. As is the sense of hopelessness. Just under a year ago, I took part in a charity cycle ride to raise money for books for schoolkids in Zimbabwe. I was told that if the identity of the man who would use these books to teach kids (in an open air 'school' under a tree) was revealed, he would be in genuine danger of death. Just yesterday, after the 'world's biggest polluter' had kissed goodbye to his 7 buddies, the Home Office (finally & temporarily) backed down on a threat to return Zimbabwean refugees from whence they came. Pointless it may be, but if the ride takes place again this year, I will be taking part.

I watched a freedom demonstration pass my office yesterday afternoon, and my thoughts and wishes go with the poor people of this troubled land. What a terrible world we live in.


ep said...

Have a go at the G8 by all means but Thabo Mbeki and the AU could stop this overnight if they had the stomache.

Not sure if you're being serious about a military attack or not. Are you saying that it would be a good thing in this case but a bad thing in Iraq's case? Or was it tongue-in-cheek?

If you're serious then apart from the obvious fact that Zimbabwe is somewhat lacking in oil compared to Iraq I think China would be upset if its interests in the country were affected for a start. That and the fact that the West would be open to all sorts of accusations about meddling in African affairs when they should be sorting it out themselves. Britain especially would be accused of setting a very dangerous precedent by stepping into an ex-colony because we don't like the way they're doing things since we left.

Any and all of that is probably enough to stop a military intervention coming from this side of the planet.

Myeral said...

You're right of course, on all counts. It's my stomach that's pained by the woeful lack of action. I do take slight issue with the stepping into an ex-colony argument, and I'm sure GB (the nation and the man, acting As One) could find a way around that. Iraq is also an ex-colony, isn't it? IMHO, it should be either one thing or the other - they should just fess up and say: "OK, we admit it, we went into Iraq for the oil. There wasn't really any grand scheme to bring democracy to the people, or to remove a despotic leader. We just wanted to make sure we got our hands on what remains of the precious black gloop."

Failing that, they could actually take action in some of the countries (Zimbabweans are by no means alone in their suffering) where action is needed.

Like that's gonna happen.

ep said...

I guess I was thinking of Britain acting as Britain and not as part of something larger (UN / NATO whatever) that might give it more legitimacy. I still think that if we went into Zimbabwe then a lot of states in Africa would be (rightly) concerned where we'd decide to intervene next. The whole region would be in a froth and it's hardly the most stable of places in the first place. I have no idea what would happen but I bet it wouldn't be good.

Our present government certainly has no more idea than I do.

I can't imagine any scenario in which we'd invade South Africa but you have to think they'd be pretty pissed off with us in any case - especially as they are supposed to be taking the lead in making things better right now.

I think that Iraq taught us that there ain't nothing so bad that a bunch of politicians can't make it a lot worse.

Anyway - where do we stop? Should we go and sort out China next??

Myeral said...

Matter of fact, I'm not actually advocating military action in Zim. It didn't do a whole lot of good in Somalia after all. The only point I was trying to make with my faux naive (yeah, right, I hear you cry) question was that there are blatant double standards displayed by the international community when it comes to protection of interests versus human rights, and that this is particularly galling/poignant/laughable when we consider that the UN issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

As for SA, well words fail me. A guy at work thinks that there is some kind of masonic allegiance between Mbeki and Mugabe which is preventing the former from taking any action.

China, I think, is going to sort us out before too long.

ep said...

Well Mbeki's a knob in general (look up his views on HIV just in case you don't know what I'm talking about) but the way I hear it he's practically in awe of Mugabe. Mugabe has real chops as a freedom fighter - spending 10 years or so in jail whilst Mugabe buggered off to the UK and spent three years in Sussex University.

The liberation struggle is a big, big deal in both SA and Zim and Mugabe was once upon a time a hero in that respect. There are still people who remember him that way.

Myeral said...

Yes, I've read quite a bit about Mbeki's thoughts on HIV, and they are worrying to say the least. The whole subject of politics in healthcare in the Developing World is a fascinating one.

A point well taken on Mugabe's heroic past also.