- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 28, 2001

Ethnic cleansing has begun in Zimbabwe. When will NATO bombs begin falling on Harare? Will Robert Mugabe be hauled before a war crimes tribunal in The Hague?

The ethnics being cleansed from Zimbabwe are whites. They have been in the country for generations and turned unoccupied land into productive farms that feed the country and earn Zimbabwe hard currency through exports.

"There is an element of full-scale ethnic cleansing happening in Zimbabwe," said South African parliamentarian Tony Leon. "People are being targeted because they are white."

The big white-owned farms employ 2 million blacks, and that is the white farmers' offense. Employed blacks desirous of a better future are the backbone of the black political opposition to Mr. Mugabe's National Union Patriotic Front, which is holding on to power through brute force and Western support.

Mr. Mugabe lost the last election, but in Al Gore fashion declared himself the winner and began terrorizing the opposition.

Mr. Mugabe has organized an extralegal paramilitary force of the unemployed and unemployable on the pattern of Nazi Brown Shirts. He has unleashed his thugs on the white population and their black employees with the intent of destroying the economic base of his black political opposition.

The Zimbabwean Supreme Court has repeatedly ordered the halt of the illegal expropriations of farm lands, but Mr. Mugabe has ordered the police not to interfere with his murderous Brown Shirts, who descend on farms, rape the women, murder the men, loot the homes, and destroy farm equipment and buildings.

Mr. Mugabe says his Brown Shirts are merely dispossessed, landless "settlers" who are peacefully reclaiming lands whites stole from their forebears.

Initially, the police offered some protection to the besieged whites. Under pressure from Mr. Mugabe, the police adopted a hands off approach. Now they arrest whites who attempt to defend themselves and their families, or who come to the aid of others.

In recent days, scores of whites have been arrested and imprisoned on the improbable charge of "assaulting" the raging mobs of Brown Shirts. Zimbabwean police spokesman Bvudizjena said of 23 whites driven from their farms by 1,200 Brown Shirts: "It appears it was a premeditated attack by the farmers on the settlers."

Officials of the Commercial Farmers' Union said the violence "is totally out of hand. We are evacuating women and children and the elderly and the sick."

In a performance that would make Hitler and Stalin envious, Zimbabwean Home Affairs Minister John Knomo said: "It is true the farmers have been attacking people. It is the farmers who are unleashing this violence. Measures are being taken to nip it in the bud."

Mr. Mugabe's lust for total power has pushed Zimbabwe into total lawlessness. Whites are fleeing the country. The disruption of agricultural production has given Mr. Mugabe the starvation weapon to wield against his black opposition.

Black South African government officials are quickly granting asylum to Zimbabwe's fleeing whites, hoping to calm the fears of their own white population that it is only a matter of time before the black-on-white violence initiated by Mr. Mugabe spreads to South Africa. The black South African government knows that if it loses its white population, South Africa, too, will sink into the barbarism of postcolonial Africa.

The silence of Western governments is a testament to the privileged position of "preferred minorities." In the politically correct mind-set of Western media and politicians, no black man, no matter how murderous, can be guilty of violating the civil rights of white people. Mr. Mugabe knows that the victim status of blacks will paralyze the Western powers and prevent any effective action against him.

It is only a matter of time before whites are cleansed from Africa.

Paul Craig Roberts is a columnist for The Washington Times and is nationally syndicated.

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