- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s despot, has given new meaning to the axiom absolute power corrupts absolutely. He’s tried all manner of tricks to shed blame on his turning southern Africa’s breadbasket into an agricultural basketcase. He’s even laid blame on Mother Nature, saying a drought, not his violent land confiscation a few years back, shriveled up his country’s farmland. This week, Mr. Mugabe blamed the lesser forces of man, or two men, to be exact.

In a speech anticipated to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, Mr. Mugabe departed from his scripted message and instead plunged into a rant against President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. His rhetoric traveled a circuitous tour around the globe, claiming the two Western are trying to unseat him and other heads of state:

“Must we allow these men, the two unholy men of our millennium, who, in the same way as Hitler and Mussolini formed [an] unholy alliance, formed an alliance to attack an innocent country? … The voice of Mr. Bush and the voice of Mr. Blair can’t decide who shall rule in Zimbabwe, who shall rule in Africa, who shall rule in Venezuela, who shall rule in Iran, who shall rule in Iraq.”

Mr. Mugabe is the epicenter. He starves his own people of food, water and medicine (the United States has given an estimated $110 million in food aid alone). Indeed, since the World Food Summit of 2002, the Mugabe regime has: destroyed the lives, homes and jobs of nearly 3 million people (or one-fifth of the population); forced 3.5 million to flee to South Africa, Namibia and other neighboring nations; pillaged its $700 million-a-year agricultural sector, which barely brings in $200 million now; created what experts are calling the “fastest-shrinking economy” in the world; created a water and energy crisis; put in motion a public-health crisis.

The U.N. Security Council has the necessary tools to take quick and decisive action. Do the members have the requisite political wherewithal?

Christian and humanitarian organizations have, in recent months, spoken decisively about the potential crises that lie in the very distant future if the repressive policies and violent henchmen are not stopped. “Leaders of dictatorial regimes out there can no longer hide behind so-called principle of non-interference in the affairs of another state in order to get away with murder with impunity,” Namibia’s National Society for Human Rights said this summer. The Methodist Church of Southern Africa called the unfolding crises in Zimbabwe a “recipe for genocide.”

The case for vigorous U.N. intervention has been made. The next step is obvious. But we must not step blindly into Zimbabwe: Mr. Mugabe’s favorite pastime is his largess — and that includes political patronage, as well as maize and other foodstuffs.



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