Here's a prediction: Zimbabwe's Morgan Tsvangirai will win this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
He would be its worthiest recipient since the prize went to Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi (one of the prize's few worthy recipients, period) in 1991. He deserves it for standing up – politically as well as physically – to Robert Mugabe's goon-squad dictatorship for over a decade; for organizing a democratic opposition and winning an election hugely stacked against him; and for refusing to put his own ambition ahead of his people's well-being when the run-off poll became, as he put it last weekend, a "violent, illegitimate sham."
Here's another prediction: Mr. Tsvangirai's Nobel will have about as much effect on the bloody course of Zimbabwe's politics as Aung San Suu Kyi's has had on Burma's.
Zimbabwe is now another spot on the map of the civilized world's troubled conscience. Burma is also there, along with Tibet and Darfur. (Question: When will "Free Zimbabwe" bumper stickers become ubiquitous?) These are uniquely nasty places, and not just because uniquely nasty things are happening. They're nasty because the dissonance between the wider world's professed concern and what it actually does is almost intolerable.
Look at the legislation that has been proposed or passed in the U.S. Congress on Darfur. There is the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (H.R. 3127), signed by President Bush into law in 2006, which sanctions officials identified as responsible for the genocide. There is House Resolution 992, which urges the president to appoint a special envoy to Sudan. (The president did appoint an envoy; care to remember his name?)
There is the 2007 Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act, which allows (but does not require) U.S. states and municipalities to divest from companies doing business in Sudan. There is Senate Resolution 559, urging the president to enforce a no-fly zone over Darfur. There is the Clinton Amendment, the Reid Amendment, the Menendez Amendment, the Durbin/Leahy Amendment, the Jackson Amendment, the Lieberman Resolution, the Obama/Reid Amendment and the Peace in Darfur Act.
This is a partial list. Meantime, here are the accumulating estimates of the conflict's toll on Darfuri lives. September 2004: 50,000, according to the World Health Organization. May 2005: between 63,000 and 146,000 "excess deaths," according to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at Belgium's Catholic University of Louvain. March 2008: 200,000 deaths, according to U.N. officials. April 2008: The U.N. acknowledges the previous month's estimate might have undercounted about 100,000 victims.
In a video clip for the Save Darfur coalition, Barack Obama offered that the genocide is "a stain on our souls." His proposal for removing it? "Ratcheting up sanctions" on the Sudanese government and making "firm commitments in terms of the logistics, and the transport and the equipping" of an international peacekeeping mission for Darfur. No word, however, as to whether Mr. Obama would actually risk the lives of American soldiers to stop the slaughter.
It's a similar story in Zimbabwe. The U.N. Security Council met yesterday to discuss the crisis, while British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told parliament "the world is of one view: that the status quo cannot continue."
But, of course, the status quo will continue. Just possibly, Mr. Mugabe and his senior ministers will no longer be allowed to travel to Europe, though that does nothing for the people of Zimbabwe. Other sanctions will have no effect: The regime is already busy expelling relief workers and seizing food aid. Mr. Mugabe wants "his people" to die – it means fewer mouths to feed, and fewer potential opposition supporters to jail, maim or murder.
A solution for Zimbabwe's crisis isn't hard to come by: Someone – ideally the British – must remove Mr. Mugabe by force, install Mr. Tsvangirai as president, arm his supporters, prevent any rampages, and leave. "Saving Darfur" is a somewhat different story, but it also involves applying Western military force to whatever degree is necessary to get Khartoum to come to terms with an independent or autonomous Darfur. Burma? Same deal.
International relations theorists, including prominent Obama adviser Susan Rice, justify these sorts of interventions under the rubric of a "Responsibility to Protect" – a concept that comes oddly close to Kipling's White Man's Burden. So close, in fact, that its inherent paternalism has hitherto inhibited many liberals from endorsing the kinds of interventions toward which they are now tip-toeing, thousands of deaths too late.
So let's by all means end the hand-wringing and embrace the responsibility to protect, wherever necessary and feasible. Let's spare the thousands of innocents, punish the wicked, oppose tyrants, and support democrats – both in places where it is now fashionable to do so (Burma) and in places where it is not (Iraq). If that turns out to be Mr. Obama's foreign policy, it will be a worthy one. It does come oddly close to the Bush Doctrine.
submitted by bReT sTePhEnS