Zimbabwe is in turmoil, and by early- May, the existence of elaborate plans for a British-led emergency evacuation of thousands of British and other European Union nationals was confirmed by the Foreign Office in London. Zimbabwe’s Marxist president, Robert Mugabe, reiterated his pledge to redistribute white-owned farms to landless blacks, using “emergency legislation” empowering the government to “confiscate” the farmland without compensation.

For years, Mugabe has threatened to seize the farms. In September 1998, he even demanded $1.5 billion from the World Bank, Britain, and the United States to buy five million hectares of white-owned farmland in order to distribute it to black peasants, insisting that Western governments had to compensate white farmers for land they had “stolen” from blacks.

A year earlier, Mugabe had announced that his government was about to seize 1,722 white-owned farms without paying compensation. This led thousands of black squatters to stage sit-ins on white-owned farms, eager to stake their claim. Most were persuaded to leave by government assurances that a huge state resettlement program was only months away. When Mugabe’s information minister subsequently announced that hundreds of profitable farms had been selected for seizure by government-appointed “committees”—without reference to land registers—it was clear that much of that land was supposed to wind up in the hands of government cronies.

White-run farms are virtually the only commercially viable private agricultural concerns in sub-Saharan Africa, and any land grab would reduce a thriving sector to the grim level of subsistence farming seen everywhere north of the Zambezi. This fact stopped Mugabe from carrying out his threats until recently. Now, however, he believes that the political capital to be gained for himself and his corrupt coterie outweighs the economic damage. Like most African despots, he is perfectly happy to ruin his country for the sake of enhancing his power.

For the comprehensive historical record of who did what to whom in that now unhappy land. The Great Betrayal, the memoirs of the former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith, is compulsory reading. He knew what was in store for Rhodesia under the likes of Mugabe, and his account of the duplicity of Western “mediators” (Carter, Carrington & Co.) in ensuring Mugabe’s 1979 victory is both depressing and unsurprising. What we’re seeing today are the belated fruits of that flawed victory by “a bunch of communist terrorists who had come into their position through intimidation, corruption and a blatantly dishonest election.”

It did not take long for Mugabe’s true colors to show. He first engineered a showdown with Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU, the only real political rival to his ZANU and the last major opposition to a one-party state. Nkomo was demoted and a dozen of his ZAPU officials put into prison. Mugabe’s ruthless North Korea-trained forces killed over 30,000 Matabele tribesmen, presumed Nkomo supporters, while the West remained silent.

The Zimbabwean regime next began openly to provoke the whites. Mugabe made speeches attacking the whites and inciting racial hatred. Emigration rose to 10,000 per month. In the end, barely 50,000 whites remained, one-half of one percent of Zimbabwe’s population. Some were imprisoned without trial on trumped-up charges. When elections were held in 1985, opposition supporters had their windows smashed, and at least three people were killed. In the election of 1990, opposition candidates received visits from Mugabe’s Central Intelligence Organisation and were told to withdraw from the election “or their families would get the message.” Violence was openly advocated by ZANU officials. Some gunmen suspected of shooting and assaulting political opponents were caught by the police, but if they were ZANU members, Mugabe simply pardoned them.

The land-appropriation tactics of Mugabe’s government during this period explain his present incitement of armed robbery and murder. Although there were over two million acres of farmland available, with another million owned by whites who were willing to sell, ZANU persisted in its vote-gathering claim that “white racists” still owned all the best land and had to be forced to hand it over. Available land was allocated to ZANU officials. As the economy rapidly went bankrupt and became ever more dependent on loans and handouts, Mugabe raised the defense budget by over a thousand percent, and awarded himself and his ministers a 64-percent salary increase.

In short, Zimbabwe now follows Africa’s time-honored tradition of “one man, one vote, once.” The half of the country’s farmland currently owned by black Zimbabweans is used for subsistence farming and contributes nothing to the national economy. By taking the commercially productive farmland, Mugabe will effectively cut the GNP of Zimbabwe in half and put a quarter of a million black farmworkers out of work, about one out of every eight blacks currently holding a job in Zimbabwe. The prospects for foreign investment will be considerably diminished.

The white liberal establishment in Britain and America is understandably embarrassed. It would dearly like countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa to prosper, but in Washington and London there is no doubt that Zimbabwe’s economy will finally collapse if Mugabe confiscates the property of the remaining 3,000 white farmers.

When the consequences of Mugabe’s action become obvious, watch out for the multibillion dollar Western plan to bail out the Zimbabwean economy. U.S. taxpayers, among others, will have to prop Mugabe up after the remaining white farmers have been killed, robbed, and kicked out. Of course, we’ll be told that foreign aid makes the world safer and more stable. But by now we are inured to lies, and many a liberal voice will murmur that the white farmers “had it coming.