Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Intervention Now

In the course of the last few tumultuous months, I have often had cause to consider what it is that makes a country. I believe a country is the sum of its many parts, and that this is embodied in one thing: its people. The people of my country, Zimbabwe, have borne more than any people should bear. They have been burdened by the world's highest inflation rates, denied the basics of democracy, and are now suffering the worst form of intimidation and violence at the hand of a government purporting to be of and for the people.

Zimbabwe will break if the world does not come to our aid.

Africa has seen this all before, of course. The scenario in Zimbabwe is numbingly familiar. A power-crazed despot holding his people hostage to his delusions, crushing the spirit of his country and casting the international community as fools. As we enter the final days of what has been a taxing period for all Zimbabweans, it is likely that Robert Mugabe will claim the presidency of our country and will seek to further deny its people a space to breath and feel the breeze of freedom.

I can no longer allow Zimbabwe's people to suffer this torture, for I believe they can bear no more crushing force. This is why I decided not to run in the presidential run-off. This is not a political decision. The vote need not occur at all of course, as the Movement for Democratic Change won a majority in the previous election, held in March. This is undisputed even by the pro-Mugabe Zimbabwe electoral commission.

Our call now for intervention seeks to challenge standard procedure in international diplomacy. The quiet diplomacy of South African President Thabo Mbeki has been characteristic of this worn approach, as it sought to massage a defeated dictator rather than show him the door and prod him towards it.

We envision a more energetic and, indeed, activist strategy. Our proposal is one that aims to remove the often debilitating barriers of state sovereignty, which rests on a centuries-old foundation of the sanctity of governments, even those which have proven themselves illegitimate and decrepit. We ask for the UN to go further than its recent resolution, condemning the violence in Zimbabwe, to encompass an active isolation of the dictator Mugabe.

For this we need a force to protect the people.

We do not want armed conflict, but the people of Zimbabwe need the words of indignation from global leaders to be backed by the moral rectitude of military force.

Such a force would be in the role of peacekeepers, not trouble-makers. They would separate the people from their oppressors and cast the protective shield around the democratic process for which Zimbabwe yearns.

The next stage should be a new presidential election. This does indeed burden Zimbabwe and create an atmosphere of limbo. Yet there is hardly a scenario that does not carry an element of pain. The reality is that a new election, devoid of violence and intimidation, is the only way to put Zimbabwe right.

Part of this process would be the introduction of election monitors, from the African Union and the UN. This would also require a recognition of myself as a legitimate candidate. It would be the best chance the people of Zimbabwe would get to see their views recorded fairly and justly.

Intervention is a loaded concept in today's world, of course.

Yet, despite the difficulties inherent in certain high-profile interventions, decisions not to intervene have created similarly dire consequences.

The battle in Zimbabwe today is a battle between democracy and dictatorship, justice and injustice, right and wrong.

It is one in which the international community must become more than a moral participant.

It must become mobilised.

submitted by MoRgAn TsVaNgIrAi

Intervention of the Sabine Women by Jacques-Louis David


Ben Sutherland said...

I didn't even read this post before I posted, Courtney. This is a better idea, especially given an invitation from Tsvangarai. A U.N. peacekeeping force that included as many African troops, as possible, and as few British troops as possible, would be ideal, I think, given that British and Western imperialism is the boogeyman that Mugabe has used forever to maintain power.

A credible election would be better than the deal with Mugabe that Wolfowitz is suggesting. Somehow Mugabe needs to face justice, too. But how that's done is negotiable.

This is the better plan, I think, Courtney. And the fact that it comes from the leading opposition candidate gives it serious credibility in this case.

This is the example that should be set for future interventions, as well. It is led indigenously. We ask what they need and provide support for credible and workable plans that respect the self-determination of the people of any nation we are dealing with.

That's been the mistake by both Democrats and Republicans in Iraq for quite a while now. They've been convinced that if somebody just "took charge," everything would be hunky-dory. The fact that things were not hunky-dory with that approach never seemed to phase anyone.

If you're engaged in military operations on someone else's soil, and you don't respect the fact that it is not your land/country/people, and you do not consult with the people who do live there, expect a lot more casualties and a lot more grief and needless tragedy. You want to avoid all that, you need to consult with the people who live there and with folks responsible for security on the ground.

The better we get at that, the less needless tragedy takes place. And the less political resistance we will face for necessary interventions. The more we ignore that, the more headaches and tragedy we will face. It's up to us.

Nice choice of posting, Courtney.

Findalis said...

If there is to be a peacekeeping force let the members come from Europe. Sorry but when you allow Africans or Asian to do that duty, they rape, murder and steal as bad as what they are suppose to protect the people from.

A European force will protect the population and ensure free elections. They will help the new government form a working police force.

But I fear what you will get is the same force that is in the Sudan. A force consisting of rapists, murderers and thieves.

Americaneocon said...

Nice posting, Courtney!

I doubt outside intervention would be effective without the backing of American power.

This is not about post-colonial recrimination, but about the responsibility support freedom. Wolfowitz or Holbrook, who cares? Let's get this guy out of there...

AI said...

British politician Lord Paddy Ashdown has stated has begun what will be a growing voice for direct intervention, adding “The situation in Zimbabwe could deteriorate to a point where genocide could be a possible outcome - something that looks like [another] Rwanda ... In that case, international military action, with Britain playing a “delicate role”, would have to be considered.”

While British reports on Monday suggested that two contingency plans were on the table at the Ministry of Defense, these related to humanitarian assistance and military support for the evacuation of British residents, not intervention to save the citizens of Zimbabwe from Mugabe.

Ben Sutherland said...

True enough, Findalis. If you can find African forces that could do a professional job, it'd be preferable to attend to the political realities on the ground.

But if not, you're right. The security needs come first. We just somehow need to anticipate the political realities if we don't want to end up with a lot of needless blooshed.