“Zimbabwe sinks into hell of hyperinflation,” says the lead editorial in today’s Financial Times. You know the story already. Inflation is running at more than 1,700% in the country… and seems to be out of control.
Also out of control are Zimbabwe’s police, who rounded up protestors the other day – including the man who seems most likely to replace the current president – and beat them up. The challenger, Morgan Tsvangirai, was then hauled before the courts and charged with inciting people to commit acts of violence. But it was obvious to everyone – including the judge, who promptly ordered the defendant to the hospital – that Tsvangirai, with his swollen and beaten head, was not so much the inciter of violence as the victim of it.
But then comes the most remarkable part of the editorial. Here, on the very Ides of March, the FT is prodding Cassius and Brutus to stick the knife into a lawfully elected president of a sovereign, democratic state! “Get involved now,” it urges neighboring South Africa, “while the Zimbabwe state can still be saved.”
Our friend Michel is still puzzling over the issue. He took out a dictionary to get a definition for democracy and found this: “A government where the people exercise sovereignty.” If we recall correctly, Robert Mugabe was elected by the people of Zimbabwe to run the state. According to the press reports at the time, the election was as honest as most below the Sahara…and probably not much more dishonest than some above the Rio Grande. Maybe a few voters were roughed up. Maybe more were discouraged from taking to the polling stations. But there is no such thing as an election that functions perfectly.
Whatever can be said for the election, Robert Mugabe has been running the state… into the ground. There is no doubt about that. And to the extent that the people of Zimbabwe elected him… or even tolerated him… they get what they deserve.
What’s more, there’s no definition of democracy that we know of that permits a foreign people to “get involved” in the misgovernment of another democratic state…or even in an undemocratic state. And in every example we’ve heard of – whether of the Napoleonic army in Spain or the Bushian army in Iraq – the results have been disastrous. Nevertheless, that is the central inspiration of America’s ‘Wilsonian’ foreign policy…and the fervent wish of every addled neo-conservative in Washington.
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