If Eleanor Roosevelt were still here, she would be enraged and sickened by the utter failure of the United Nations, which she nurtured into being, to stop the continually mounting horrors inflicted on the people of Zimbabwe by its insatiably evil president, Robert Mugabe. While the United Nations just mutters away, in a Dec. 7 lead editorial, the Washington Times got to the rotting core of his rule:
"People are starving and compete in the countryside with baboons, jackals and goats for roots and wild fruits; health care has imploded and cholera is on the march as water and sewer systems collapse; and refugees by the millions have left the country." Some of those refugees bring cholera with them to neighboring states.
South Africa keeps shaming itself by continuing only to "mediate" this virulent crisis as if it's possible to mediate relations with a plague. And the 15-nation Southern African Development Community also continues its minuet with deadly Mugabe. Only Botswana and Kenya face the naked truth and call for his removal." Said Mugabe (Associated Press, Dec. 19): "Zimbabwe is mine."
On Dec. 18, I heard Mugabe himself on the BBC actually saying that the ravages of cholera among his people are "a disease planted by former colonial masters to foment war."
Those Western masters, he implies, must have also caused hospitals to shut down, water taps to go dry and food supplies to vanish. But what of the continuing kidnappings of Zimbabweans opposing Mugabe as well as the kidnappings of humanitarian workers? The kidnappers must be agents of former colonial masters disguised as Mugabe's police and soldiers?
There are many anxious commentaries on how to pressure the United Nations to break the political deadlock unmovingly maintained by Mugabe as he refuses to give the opposition any means to rein in the official thugs who savagely beat and have murdered many of the Zimbabweans who do not revere their Liberator. And even if there were a U.N. Security Council resolution to at least threaten action, armed action, against this oppressor, Security Council members China and Russia would automatically veto even an intimation of real force against the ruler of this utterly broken sovereign state.
The headline of the Dec. 7 Washington Times editorial rare among voices on this international treadmill of protest was: "Forced action for Zimbabwe?" And the editorial ends:
"Alas, at some times in some places diplomacy just doesn't work because one side's...values are so averse to civilized society that words, hopes, logic and reason are pointless...there seems to us, at least no debate going on in Zimbabwe under Mr. Mugabe. Has anyone in that part of the world thought of the 'f' word force?"
Some have thought of that word in this part of the world. George W. Bush had been thinking of force against the genocidal tyrant, Gen. Omar al-Bashir, in Sudan, and was dissuaded by advisers. I expect the destructions of families, including so many children, in Zimbabwe also affects him deeply, but he will soon be leaving.
The new vice president, Joe Biden, has recommended force so that we can actually say never again in Darfur. And the Republican presidential candidate, John McCain acutely aware of United Nations' impotence not only in Sudan and Zimbabwe has been strongly advocating a "league of democracies" nations whose fundamental values would impel them to intervene when sovereign states are exercising that sovereignty to dismember their people.
Enter President-elect Barack Obama. Whatever other goals he achieves in his presidency, despite the unprecedentedly enormous domestic and international obstacles confronting him, he could eventually leave office having helped make possible a stunningly historic coalition of nations that would be ready to use force to stop genocide and such other atrocities now wholly uncontrolled in Sudan and in Zimbabwe. At least, Bush now states there can be no government power sharing with Mugabe still in office.
Members of that coalition which could save untold numbers of lives could include, among others, England, France, Canada, Germany, India, Australia and Japan. Since delay means more deaths, Obama and his foreign relations team could soon begin initial contacts with prospective members of "the league of democracies" to start planning for crucially necessary interventions.
Meanwhile, to spark interest in this desperately humanitarian intervention, there is a report by Lydia Polgreen form yet another massacre in the Belgian Congo (New York Times, Dec. 11):
"As the killings took place, a contingent of about 100 United Nations peacekeepers was less than a mile away, struggling to understand what was happening outside the gates of its base. The peacekeepers ... short of equipment and men (were) already overwhelmed, (U.N.) officials said, and they had no intelligence capabilities or even an interpreter who could speak the necessary languages."
If Obama were to become an inspirer and facilitator of the league of liberators, what a global legacy of exceptionally audacious hope he would leave in the name of the United States!
Listen, Mr. President, to Samuel Adams: "Our contest is not only whether we ourselves should be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty." And now, real-time asylums beyond borders.