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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A SOBER LOOK AT "THE CASE FOR INVADING ZIMBABWE!!!!"


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Daimnation!

Inspired by actual events



Invading Zimbabwe


The New Republic's James Kirchick makes the case for toppling Mugabe by force. I'm not sold, but he makes a better case than you'd probably expect:
...Through his land seizure policies, his violent displacement of some 700,000 people into the countryside in May, 2005, and, more importantly, his deliberate manipulation of food aid to starve those opposed to his regime, Mugabe has for years been engaging in what one regime critic calls "smart genocide." Rather than engaging in wholesale slaughter, Mugabe is slowly starving his people to death at a rate that may well be faster than what the Sudanese government is inflicting in Darfur.
[...]
Under international law, Britain is entirely justified in removing Mugabe from power. The emerging legal doctrine since the adoption in 1948 of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment for the Crime of Genocide, and especially since NATO's Balkan interventions of the 1990s, has been one that recognizes the right of the international community to intercede in countries to prevent genocide or other grave humanitarian crises.
From a tactical standpoint, overthrowing Mugabe would not be difficult. His military, while formidable enough to cow the oppressed Zimbabwean people, would be no match for a small contingent of well-equipped Western troops backed by air power. A swift "decapitation strategy," aimed at killing or capturing Mugabe and his top leadership, would topple his regime.
Probably the most shameful thing about Mugabe's "smart genocide" is the extent to which his fellow African leaders have enabled it:
...Zimbabwe is landlocked and it is unlikely that a neighbouring country would provide a staging ground for non-African troops to launch an attack. South Africa, the regional military hegemon, has signed a series of mutual defence pacts with Mugabe that would legally compel it to defend his regime from either an internal or external threat.
The most feasible solution to the Zimbabwean crisis would be for African states, led by South Africa, to exert economic pressure and, failing that, issue direct military threats to Mugabe demanding that he abdicate power immediately. More specifically, South Africa should give Mugabe an ultimatum to step down from office and hand power to a transitional government working in conjunction with the African Union and a UN trusteeship authority, or face a swift military defeat at the hands of the far mightier and professional South African National Defense Force.
The problem here is that South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) still sees Mugabe as a liberation hero, and views Western criticism of him as neo-imperialist. (In recent closed-door negotiations, South African President Thabo Mbeki reportedly suggested that Mugabe step down and accept the adoption of a new constitution prior to the 2008 presidential election -- to which Mugabe responded by ending the negotiations.)
Kirchick doesn't even mention this mind-boggling insult. The carnage in Zimbabwe is a major test for Africa's governments, and they're failing miserably.
Damian P.
Posted by damian at July 24, 2007 02:44 PM

Comments ( 3)


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The case for invading Zimbabwe

James Kirchick, The New Republic

Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2007

On July 1, Pius Ncube, the Catholic archbishop of Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, called on his country's former colonial occupier to invade and topple President Robert Mugabe. "I think it is justified for Britain to raid Zimbabwe and remove Mugabe," Zimbabwe's highest ranking Catholic prelate told London's Sunday Times. "We should do it ourselves but there's too much fear."

The impulse to support such an invasion is difficult to dismiss, especially when it comes from a man of the cloth who has himself weathered repeated death threats from government thugs. Mugabe is, after all, one of the world's most vicious dictators. Through his land seizure policies, his violent displacement of some 700,000 people into the countryside in May, 2005, and, more importantly, his deliberate manipulation of food aid to starve those opposed to his regime, Mugabe has for years been engaging in what one regime critic calls "smart genocide." Rather than engaging in wholesale slaughter, Mugabe is slowly starving his people to death at a rate that may well be faster than what the Sudanese government is inflicting in Darfur.

Great Britain, which was the last authority to administer Zimbabwe when the rebel territory of Rhodesia temporarily reverted back to colonial status from December, 1979, until April, 1980, officially handed power over to Mugabe after he won an election marked by intimidation, violence and other irregularities. From a moral standpoint, Ncube is right to argue that Britain now owes it to the Zimbabwean people to remove the murderous despot it helped install. And he is also right to see foreign intervention as the quickest way to rescue Zimbabwe from its desperate situation.

Under international law, Britain is entirely justified in removing Mugabe from power. The emerging legal doctrine since the adoption in 1948 of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment for the Crime of Genocide, and especially since NATO's Balkan interventions of the 1990s, has been one that recognizes the right of the international community to intercede in countries to prevent genocide or other grave humanitarian crises.

From a tactical standpoint, overthrowing Mugabe would not be difficult. His military, while formidable enough to cow the oppressed Zimbabwean people, would be no match for a small contingent of well-equipped Western troops backed by air power. A swift "decapitation strategy," aimed at killing or capturing Mugabe and his top leadership, would topple his regime.

This scenario may sound familiar, but post-Mugabe Zimbabwe is unlikely to devolve into the sectarian strife that has marred post-Saddam Iraq. To be sure, Africa is no stranger to tribal warfare, and Zimbabwe's majority Shona and minority Ndebele tribes have fought bloody battles in the past. But the motivation for Mugabe's rule has long been personal kleptocracy, not the aggrandizement of the Shonas. His reign has been universally oppressive and has thus seriously weakened residual tribal rivalries. Everyone in Zimbabwe is suffering, except the small coterie of ZANU-PF (Mugabe's political party) apparatchiks living off the carcass of this dying regime.
Unfortunately, however justified, a Western invasion of Zimbabwe is both militarily and politically problematic. For one, Zimbabwe is landlocked and it is unlikely that a neighbouring country would provide a staging ground for non-African troops to launch an attack. South Africa, the regional military hegemon, has signed a series of mutual defence pacts with Mugabe that would legally compel it to defend his regime from either an internal or external threat.

The most feasible solution to the Zimbabwean crisis would be for African states, led by South Africa, to exert economic pressure and, failing that, issue direct military threats to Mugabe demanding that he abdicate power immediately. More specifically, South Africa should give Mugabe an ultimatum to step down from office and hand power to a transitional government working in conjunction with the African Union and a UN trusteeship authority, or face a swift military defeat at the hands of the far mightier and professional South African National Defense Force.

The problem here is that South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) still sees Mugabe as a liberation hero, and views Western criticism of him as neo-imperialist. (In recent closed-door negotiations, South African President Thabo Mbeki reportedly suggested that Mugabe step down and accept the adoption of a new constitution prior to the 2008 presidential election -- to which Mugabe responded by ending the negotiations.)

Barring some massive ideological shift in the ANC, it appears that the Zimbabwean people are either going to have to wait until Mugabe dies or launch a mass revolt. What a shame that the British can't step in and do the job right now.

jkirchick@tnr.com - James Kirchick is the assistant to the editor-in-chief of The New Republic.

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