- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 26, 2009


 The U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe insists that the United States will maintain sanctions against the crippled southern African nation until the new coalition government improves human rights and respects the rule of law.

 “As we sit here today, there are still farm invasions … [and] there [are] still political activists in prison,” Ambassador James McGee told allAfrica.com in an interview this week.

 He was referring to violent takeovers of white-owned commercial farms orchestrated by supporters of President Robert Mugabe, who has destroyed the economy and locked up political dissidents. Mr. Mugabe was pressured into forming a coalition government in February with his pro-democracy opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, as prime minister.

 One of Mr. Tsvangirai's first acts was to tackle an astounding inflation rate of 89.7 sextillion by scrapping Zimbabwe’s currency and allowing commercial transactions in U.S., South African or Botswanan bank notes. (A sextillion is a number followed by 21 zeroes.)

 Mr. McGee praised Mr. Tsvangirai as a “tough man.”

 “He is a man who is willing to give up his personal freedom, his personal safety, to ensure that things get done in this country,” the ambassador added. “His vision is for a Zimbabwe that is productive, a Zimbabwe that takes care of the needs of its citizens.”

 However, he called the coalition government a “very imperfect union.”

 Earlier this month, President Obama renewed sanctions against 250 Zimbabwean citizens and corporations, banning them from doing business with the United States.

 In his interview, Mr. McGee added there is “no reason and no way” that the United States will lift those sanctions until it sees political reform in the country.


 James K. Glassman, former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, predicts that his replacement will be Judith McHale, the former chief executive officer of the Discovery Channel, and warns her that the position is not a public relations job.

 “The big questions are whether she understands that this is a national security job, not a P.R. job, and whether she recognizes the acute need to provide leadership for strategic communications across government,” he said Wednesday on his blog, www.jameskglassman.com.

 Mr. Glassman, a syndicated columnist before joining the Bush administration, called Ms. McHale “an accomplished woman with a deep interest in foreign policy.”


 The United Nations this week appointed a former American ambassador to serve as the second-ranking U.N. diplomat in Afghanistan.

 Peter W. Galbraith was ambassador to Croatia under President Clinton and served as a top U.N. envoy to East Timor, where he helped stabilize the island nation in southeast Asia after independence from Indonesia.

 In 2003, he resigned from the foreign service after 24 years because he opposed President Bush over the invasion of Iraq. Mr. Galbraith advocated the partition of Iraq into Kurdish, Shi'ite and Sunni homelands and wrote a book entitled, “The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End.”

 Now a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Mr. Galbraith will serve as the U.N.'s deputy special representative in Afghanistan.

 U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon selected Mr. Galbraith because “he was the best qualified” diplomat for the post, a U.N. spokesman said.

  Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail James Morrison



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