Thursday, March 14, 2002

What to do about Zim?

I've been accused of obsessing about Zimbabwe, what has this got to do with the national interest?

All you have to say is "stay out, Britain". How long does that take? I suggest the EU and the War on Terror ought to be occupying you far more than the predictable reversion to savagery of a land which ceased to be a Crown Colony in the 1920s. As a Little Englander (none smaller) I worry far more about being Eurofederalised or vaporised by WW3 than about having a few thousand pink-gin drinkers in shorts dumped on our doorstep.

So why Zimbabwe? It's definately not under-reported, at least it dominates the headlines. However there seems to be a certain lack of perspective. How bad is Mugabe compared to his neighbours? Is Morgan Tsvangarai really a secular saint? What does it have to do with us?

Firstly Mugabe is bad, and he did steal the election. However (partly because of the preceding administration) Zimbabwe has never been a one party state, unlike many of its neighbours - and unlike the present class pet Uganda. It has a robust opposition press and opposition organisations. And Mugabe will be dead soon.

Tsvangarai has been caught on video at least discussing Mugabe's violent replacement, even if he does seem to have been set up. The man is no Gandhi.

And on our strategic interest? None. And there is none in the Congo (where Zimbabwe's troops are maintaining the present regime).

That was why I was reporting on Zimbabwe, and will probably continue. The place needs some perspective.

There is no reason out of self interest to go there - and there is no coherant human rights motive to go into there that would not necesitate invasion of half of Africa and Asia.


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