Whatever’s good for you

Gourevitch on Mugabe.

Mbeki has been utterly unwilling to show any spine in dealing with Mugabe. On the contrary, he has exhibited a sinister solidarity with his fellow onetime liberation fighter…In April, South African stevedores refused to unload a shipment of seventy-seven tons of rockets, mortars, and other munitions from China destined for Zimbabwe—a cargo reminiscent of the deliveries to Rwanda before the genocide of 1994. And, in deliberate contrast to Mbeki’s obliging absence, the American Ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, has been making his presence felt, leading his colleagues in the diplomatic community into the rural areas to investigate and report on the extent of the torture. On a recent excursion, he collected testimonies, notebooks, and photographs that document how Mugabe’s goons flay their victims and break their bones. McGee offered this evidence to Mbeki’s representatives; they declined to meet with him, and Mugabe threatened him with expulsion.

Meanwhile, in Burma, people go on dying miserable deaths while the USS Essex and four support ships steam away with all their relief supplies still on board. Mugabe tells international aid agencies to stop distributing food and Burma’s generals turn away relief – callous thugs are perfectly content to sacrifice thousands or millions of people for their own trivial self-interest. It gets you down. Hundreds of thousands of people suffering starvation, thirst, exposure, disease on the one hand, and a few people protecting themselves on the other. There’s a lack of proportionality there. Contemplating this doesn’t make one think well of human beings.

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