Democracy On The Retreat

Glenn Reynolds notes that the opposition in Zimbabwe has given up after yet another deeply flawed “election” in the central African nation. Under the tyrannical rule of Robert Mugabe, life expectancy in Zimbabwe has plummeted, most of the land that was “confiscated” from white farmers in Mugabe’s racist crusade lies uncultivated, and the people of Zimbabwe are starving.

What is truly disgusting is that Zimbabwe’s African neighbors were all too willing to write off this atrocity. Especially in the case of South African President Thabo Mbeki, one would think that the other states surrounding Zimbabwe would have little interest in seeing an insane dictator grinding his people under his boot right on their doorstep. Sadly, President Mbeki chose to remain silent in the face of this nightmare, which calls into question his own committment to democratic values.

President Bush has put the United States on the honorable course of standing for democracy and individual liberty worldwide. However, while we have seen the advent of nascent democratic movements across the Middle East, we must not forget that the people of Africa are no less deserving of civil rights and sane governance than the people of the Middle East or ourselves. For too long the “Dark Continent” has been allowed to fester in darkness. We should put as much diplomatic, political, and economic pressure on the regimes of Africa as we do on the regimes of the Middle East. Already states like the Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria are becoming battlegrounds in the war on terrorism. We dare not assume that sub-Saharan Africa’s problems won’t someday have disastrous effects on our shores. When a battered and desperately poor country like Afghanistan can serve as the launching point for the most devastating attack on American soil since the War of 1812 the illusion that we can merely hide behind the walls of Fortress America is an illusion we can ill afford to bear.

The people of Africa have suffered too much under men like Robert Mugabe. It is time that we made it quite clear that such tyranny shall not be allowed to stand, no matter where it lies or who it oppresses.

2 thoughts on “Democracy On The Retreat

  1. I agree with you in theory.

    What is the solution?

    I haven’t given a lot of thought to the problems in Africa, my attention being focused elsewhere, but obviously it is as much a growing threat for extremism as the Middle East was in it’s post WW stage.

    At the very least, it deserves some clear statements from our State Department.

  2. What is the solution?

    Good question. I wish I had definitive answer.

    The first step should be leaning on Mbeki and the other heads of state of surrounding nations and letting them know that letting things slide in Zimbabwe (and elsewhere in Africa for that matter) will result in significantly less foreign aid from Uncle Sam. To an extent, the Millennium Challenge Account does this, but it should be used more effectively. Tying aid to democratization is generally a good thing, especially if we can get other nations to go along.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.