Zimbabwe: A Question for Obama (and McCain) that Won't Wait [Updated]

Updated below.

In case you haven't noticed, the world is on the brink. We are caught in a gigantic mudslide slowly gathering speed downhill, tearing out even the strongest trees by the root. It is impossible to figure out what crisis is more important than another. But I would urge the Huffington Post community (and those who are not in the community but who visit to get their blood pressure up) to pay attention to what is happening in Zimbabwe today. Right now. Because the crisis there is at boiling point and Britain and the United States are desperately trying to get a debate scheduled today in the U.N. Security Council...time is very short.

For a while now the destruction of the country by its President Robert Mugabe has been documented on the inside pages of those newspapers that still carry foreign news. But the limits of column inch space does not allow for the details and the context to give the tragedy of Zimbabwe its full measure. Here is one of Mugabe's milder expressions of megalomania,"Only God who appointed me will remove me -- not the MDC, not the British. We will never allow an event like an election to reverse our independence."

At a time when rising food prices are disproportionately effecting the world's poor, a country that was once Africa's great food exporter is incapable of bringing in a crop to feed its own people because Mugabe's insane land re-distribution program has destroyed the nation's agricultural infrastructure. At a time when good governance is still a major problem in Africa, one of its most democratically inclined nations -- has just effectively had its election stolen from it via a campaign of murder and rape.

It would be cruel and cynical to ask the leading voices of neo-conservatism to extend their campaign for global democratization to the people of Zimbabwe, who have no oil in their nation, only the most fertile soil in Africa. Besides, the neo-cons are too busy reminding all of us how the surge is working to care much about what is happening in Zim (although the fact that China is a major supporter of Mugabe should engage their attention).

What I am asking is whether Barack Obama will use his rapidly growing international credibility and speak out against the terrible cruelties perpetrated by Mugabe and his henchman. Will he put in a discrete call to Mugabe's chief enabler, South African president Thabo Mbeki and demand that he stop supporting the thug over the border and instruct his U.N. ambassador to stop blocking the subject being brought before the Security Council. I know the candidate is busy but this is a crisis that just won't wait.

In the interest of bipartisanship I ask the same question of John McCain.

Finally, in the interest of the New World Order, where politicians have less power than they like us to think, I ask Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and Bono if they would stop congratulating themselves for a few days and get on a plane to Harare -- a city with all modern conveniences -- and refuse to leave until a free and fair election can be contested.

If anyone on Obama's staff (or McCain's or the rich guys' staffs) want more info they should go here.

UPDATE: I filed post above yesterday, Monday. Today, Tuesday, Senator Obama issued a statement.

The Senator's statement begins, "I am deeply disturbed by the recent events in Zimbabwe and condemn the actions of President Robert Mugabe in the strongest possible terms. The United States and the international community must be united, clear and unequivocal: the Government of Zimbabwe is illegitimate and lacks any credibility."

Obama goes on to endorse yesterday's United Nations Security Council's statement of condemnation of the Mugabe regime's brutal suppression of the opposition and agreed that the elections could not be held under the present circumstances. He added, "If fresh elections prove impossible, regional leaders backed by the international community should pursue an enforceable, negotiated political transition in Zimbabwe that would end repressive rule and enable genuine democracy to take root."

Given the Senator's delicate position as a candidate and not actually in charge of American policy this is as strong a statement as he could make.


I would love to reply to all those who have commented on the original post about the impossibility of relieving the situation. There is pressure that can be brought from within the region and from those in the international community with moral authority. It is wrong to wash one's hands of this crisis because the Iraq intervention went wrong. The failure in Iraq was caused by the criminal stupidity, arrogance and vanity of the Bush Administration. There are a handful of egregious dictators in the world. Whenever it is possible to remove a tyrant from the neck of his peopl - and Mugabe absolutely is such a tyrant - the international community backed by progressives should do everything in its power to make it happen

And I still think if former President Clinton were to fly to Harare and refuse to leave as part of a grand strategy to force Mugabe to allow free and fair elections that might have a dramatic effect.