African Democracy

Pundits and politicians have been sounding off, lately, about the cruel dictator Robert Mugabe and the imperfection of the democratic process in the Zimbabwe elections. On NPR, Dan Schorr–that thing that would not die–blames George Bush, because if he had not got us into a war in Iraq, we could be intervening in Zimbabwe. I think I shall not be misunderstood as expressing approval of the President or his war, if I point out that in an oil-rich state in the Middle East there was at least some possibility, however remote, for advancing the interests of the United States and those of our allies, but in Zimbabwe not a ghost of a chance. For Schorr–and the entire American Left–Americans should be sent to fight in die only in wars that could never do their country any good. We are back to Frost’s famous definition, that a liberal is someone who would not take his own side in an argument.

Americans over 40 would do well to recall how a stable and prosperous country known as Rhodesia was bullied by smug Europeans and Americans into holding bogus elections that propelled a Red Chinese backed terrorist named Mugabe into the presidency of the renamed Zimbabwe. Dan Schorr was an enthusiastic proponent of the revolution, and on the eve of the election Schorr could only express his disappointment with Mugabe: “Whatever credit Mugabe deserves for having led the liberation struggle against Ian Smith and his white supremacists pales when placed next to his misdeeds of the last ten or fifteen years. The Mugabe of 1980 was a hero. The Mugabe of 2004 is a despot.” Pales is perhaps not le mot juste in this situation.

Prime Minister Ian Smith, a man of great ability and integrity, was demonized in the American press and by the absurd Jimmie Carter and his lackey Andrew Young, who played a major role in destroying Rhodesia. I am sure they are both shocked, simply shocked by the recent election. As long as the democratic process produces candidates like Jimmie Carter and now, the reductio ad absurdum, Barack Obama, we can count on an endless succession of Mugabes propped up by US taxdollars before being ejected by US troops.

The Left would like us to believe that the 1980 election was a perfect example of the democratic process, unlike the current election in which government employees had to fill out ballots under the watchful eye of their superiors. And the election of 1980? Setting aside the fact that the two principle rivals for power–Joshuah Nkomo and Robert Mugabe–were both violent terrorists, it was a farce. Everyone was surprised by Mugabe’s victory, since Nkomo was a national hero. At the time, Sam Francis told me of intelligence reports he had seen. Mugabe’s men, apparently, went through the bush telling everyone that Mugabe was a witch doctor who can read minds. “You can go into the polling place and think you are casting a secret ballot, but Mugabe knows and Mugabe will punish.” This is a new twist on democracy, even on African democracy, once defined as “One man, one vote, one time.”

So let us get this straight. Schorr was right to support the terrorist witch-doctor Mugabe in 1980 and is now right to call for armed intervention to overthrew him, after the 28 years of misrule that anyone with even half a brain knew would be the result. I wonder if Schorr and his ilk have ever noticed the opinion poll, done some years ago, in which the citizens of Zimbabwe, when asked who was their country’s greatest political leader, put Ian Smith at the top? Smith, as we all have been told, was evil in advocating racial separation, but, if he could return to Salisbury and run for office, he might ask: “Are you better off today than you were in 1979?” Who, apart from Schorr and other Leftists, could possibly say “Yes”? If blacks were second class citizens, they at least had some legal protections and were not starving to death. Today, conditions are so bad–especially after Mugabe turned loose the goons who are murdering white farmers and stealing the farms that fed the country–that many Zimbabweans are fleeing to South Africa, the paragon of postcolonial Africa, where they are given a warm welcome indeed. The tale of the beatings and robbings inflicted by blacks upon blacks has not received much attention in the US, but some of the incidents have been reported on.

Is there a single Leftist in America–or for that matter a single conservative politician or employed journalist–who is willing to say: We should have left well enough alone? Whatever curse British rule inflicted on Africa, the lot of post-colonial Africans seems infinitely worse. In South Africa, the regime established by the comparatively benign terrorist Mandela is now falling into the hands of a thug of Mugabean proportions. But the former British colonies are somewhat better off than places like Congo or Rwanda, to say nothing of the subjects of such lovable characters as the gourmet of cannibalism, the Emperor Bokassa or the self-described “reluctant cannibal,” Idi Amin. Yes, yes, the people of postcolonial Africa, for all their troubles, enjoy freedom and democracy. Yes, the freedom to be robbed and raped, murdered and eaten. I remember the TV series “V” in which man-eating reptiles take over the earth. When some of the human rebels protest against the rough methods practiced by Michael Ironside, he replies: “I may bring down the neighborhood, but at least I don’t eat it.” I can think of no more fitting epitaph for Ian Smith

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