Saturday, December 06, 2008

(TALKZIMBABWE) At the mercy of US foreign policy

At the mercy of US foreign policy
Reason Wafawarove - Opinion
Thu, 04 Dec 2008 21:31:00 +0000

WHAT this writer would like to consider this week is the role of the United States in the current political process in Zimbabwe, in particular and that role in its bigger picture of the global political landscape. The political lucubration which some have called the Global Political Agreement might have been hailed prematurely as an African solution to an African crisis.

Clearly and unsurprisingly, the global super power has not allowed a situation where such an important matter as is the Zimbabwe crisis can be solved without an input from the global power house – not when Robert Mugabe insists that he will only consider African input to the crisis and not when the facilitator to the negotiations, Thabo Mbeki clearly refuses to succumb to Western influence in his role as the centre man to the process.

The lucidity of the September 15 document that was signed by the negotiating political parties and the contrasting confusion that followed in the efforts to implement what looked like a straightforward position paper is most telling of the effect of the US-led Western influence in the running of political affairs in the world.

The letter recently written to Morgan Tsvangirai by the facilitator Cde Thabo Mbeki summarizes how this Anglo-American influence has managed to stall whatever progress people had placed their hopes on. Cde Mbeki bemoans the influence of these powerful allies of the opposition MDC-T and warns that such influence will not bring a solution to Zimbabwe’s problems.

This writer could write a lot about the opposition MDC-T, Morgan Tsvangirai’s party, or its immediate sponsors and mentors based at No. 10 Downing Street in London but these, like the rest of the world have become part and parcel of the US’s foreign policy. This is why it is important that we take a look at how the United States has played a role in the Zimbabwean crisis.

Firstly, the United States is the most important and most influential power in the world. It has overwhelming military force and other forms of power. By mere choice the US can decide at any time to have a determinative impact on anything that happens in contemporary world history, at least for now.

Secondly, the United States considers itself to have an unusual degree of freedom and for some this is seen as a privilege. This view is seen largely as the driving force that says the United States should confer upon herself an enormous responsibility for other people’s actions and for US influence on policy.

There are a number of ways by which one can decide to measure the US’ role in the affairs of the world and one such way is studying US aid, in particular military aid.

On a GDP comparative basis the US does not exactly have an impressive record of giving aid to less developed countries, ranking far less than some of the Scandinavian countries and countries like Canada and even Australia. This is made worse by the fact that more than 50% of the aid given by the United States is directed towards one very rich country and another middle range country (Israel and Egypt) – all clearly based on the US’ rather illicit association with these two countries.

The connection of US aid and foreign policy has been a subject of some academic work for some time now.

Lars Schoultz, the leading University of Carolina academic specialist on human rights in Latin America, did a study about this in 1982. He concluded that there was a very close correlation between US aid and human rights abuses in Latin America.

This is what he concluded in quotes, “US aid flows disproportionately to Latin American governments which torture their the hemisphere’s relatively egregious violators of fundamental human rights.”

Edward Herman, a co-author with Noam Chomsky and an economist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, did a worldwide study of the same topic, focusing on the relation between US aid and torture. He established that there was an unpleasant high correlation between US foreign aid and torture. One can also look at Amnesty International’s records on torture and US foreign aid and this connection remains quite close.

The folly of statistical correlations is that they do not tell you about causalities. It is obviously wrong to assume that the US successive governments have had any specific interest in torture. This is why Herman did another study to establish the correlation of US foreign aid and other factors. It turned out that the best correlation was that of US foreign aid and “improvement in the investment climate”.

As a country “improves” opportunities for investors to extract resources, US aid to that country dramatically goes up. This is a very natural correlation that makes perfect sense and is not surprising at all. It makes perfect economic and business sense and one would expect the US foreign policy to be directed in this way.

It is only after one looks at how countries are meant to “improve” the investment climate that the brutality begins. One of the most favoured ways is to murder nationalists, patriots, union organizers, peasant leaders, to oppress the masses and to undermine popular social programmes such as was Zimbabwe’s land reform programme.

That creates what investors will call an improved investment climate and of course it creates a secondary correlation with US aid as was established by Lars Schoultz.

So while the US might not have a direct interest in egregious human rights violations, these violations happen to be a natural corollary to what the United States is interested in.

Yes, the United States might not have a direct sense of pleasure drawn from the starving of the masses of Zimbabwe and in their multitudinous disease-caused deaths, but the economic strangulation and illegal economic sanctions enshrined in the US’ Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) has a natural corollary to what the United States wants done politically in Zimbabwe.

They want the peasants that occupied white held farms removed and returned to their original villages and they want President Robert Mugabe’s business indigenization laws reversed. This is what is called “improving” the investment climate and “respect for property rights”.

There is a precedent why the United States does not have any respect for a negotiated settlement to the Zimbabwe crisis.

According to the White House tradition the “improved investment climate” is not negotiated, but is fought for by violence and aggression.

The Reagan administration came to power shouting loudly that the focus of the US foreign policy was going to be a “War on Terror”, something George W. Bush and his madding crowd fought and failed to defeat in the last eight years.

Reagan’s Secretary of State, George Schultz, indicated that they would focus on what he called, “the evil scourge of terrorism” a terrible epidemic spread by the “depraved opponents of civilization itself” in a bid to return to “barbarism in the modern age.”

Shultz argued that terrorism had to be thwarted by violence and aggression, not by utopian legalistic means like mediation and negotiation, to him signs of clear weakness.

This is the same reasoning that says today that Robert Mugabe cannot be dealt with by utopian legalistic means like mediation and negotiation. To the US and to the West in general, this is a sign of weakness. This is why Barack Obama was mocked for promising to talk to Iranian leaders and Hugo Chavez during his campaign for the US presidency. His detractors said he wanted to talk to US enemies and to terrorists and this was denounced as a sign of weakness.

So the Reagan administration announced that they would have two battlefields against “Terror”, that is Central America and the Middle East.

In Central America the US military aid turned the sub-continent into a virtual graveyard. Two hundred thousand people were killed, over a million displaced, orphaned and tortured.

Nicaragua refused to use its own army against its own people as the US would have wanted, given their achievements in all other parts of Central government. Because the US could not raise a local army to carry atrocities on its behalf they decided to attack Nicaragua directly. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed.

Nicaragua followed the recourse available to nation states. They went to international institutions in response to the US’ massive international terrorism. They first went to the World Court, which condemned the United States for “unlawful use of force” and for “violation of international treaties”. The Court ordered the US to terminate the crimes and to pay massive reparations.

By bipartisan resolution, the United States responded to this ruling by escalating the war and giving official orders for the attacking of what they called “soft targets”, that is health clinics, agricultural cooperatives and skills training centres. This went on until the population was intimidated enough to vote for the US candidate in 1990 and that is when the terror stopped.

This is similar to the condemnation of sanctions on Zimbabwe by the African Union, Comesa, Sadc and the UN Security Council. The United States responded to this by escalating the sanctions and forcing more companies to stop dealings with Zimbabwe.

The hope was that the population would be intimidated to vote for the US-UK candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai and this nearly happened in March this year.

This is the mentality that seeks to exacerbate sanctions until the people revolt and remove the unwanted government on behalf of the United States and its Western allies.

After the US ignored and rejected the World Court ruling Nicaragua took their case to the UN Security Council and the US vetoed the resolution that called on “all states to respect and observe international law”.

This makes the world leader on the “War on Terror” the only country so far condemned by the World Court for international terrorism and most probably the only country that has publicly blocked a resolution calling on all states to observe international law.

This is renegade writing you will never find in the New York Times but the absolute reality of US foreign policy.

El-Salvador and Guatemala received massive military aid during Nicaragua’s hard times under US aggression. This was in line with their commitment to help the US in their slogan to “defeat liberation theology”. The US used these two countries as launch pads for attacks on countries described as targets of the “War on Terror” – countries whose grave errors included “the preferential option for the poor”; a crime that is unforgivable by US foreign policy standards.

This writer could go on and talk about Israel and its invasion of Lebanon and Palestine and many other atrocities backed by the US in the Middle East, but space will not allow.

For Zimbabwe, we need to understand the forces that are undermining the negotiated settlement. The official position of the MDC-T is that Zanu PF and President Mugabe are not sincere and that the March 29 election result, not the signed agreement, should guide the implementation of the so called Global Political Agreement, whatever that means.

The truth of the matter is that the current standoff has nothing to do with Zanu PF’s alleged lack of sincerity and neither has it to do with the MDC’s desire to please the voters who voted on March 29. In fact most of these voters have agonizingly waited in vain for the implementation of the signed agreement.

The stalling of progress has everything to do with the interests of the global super power and Ambassador James McGee knows exactly what this writer is talking about. Morgan Tsvangirai does too, just like he knows that his so-called democratic resistance is nothing but advocating the isolation of our Motherland from the family of nations.

Thabo Mbeki seeks to end Zimbabwe’s political crisis, but he is not with Morgan Tsvangirai in this. If there is anyone that can be justified for accusing someone of insincerity it must be Cde Mbeki relative to Morgan Tsvangirai.

The hyperinflation in the Zimbabwean economy is in corollary to US interests, so is the cholera outbreak, so are the starving villagers and so is the flight of skills into the Diaspora. These humanitarian atrocities make excellent politics for Morgan Tsvangirai and upon them, he can afford to stand overweight and shed crocodile tears in the posture of a humanitarian leader dying to end the crisis caused by his backers efforts to “stop propping the regime”, just to quote Tsvangirai’s favoured phrase whenever he is campaigning for sanctions.

Zanu PF has no excuse for failing to counter the sanctions, no excuse for the hyper-corruption in the public service, no excuse for the underutilization of acquired farm land and no excuse for unimaginative cabinet ministers and no excuse for a terrible policy implementation record.

There is no way one can hope to stand to the power of US foreign policy with this kind of lack of commitment. It just does not work that way.

Zimbabweans we are one. Together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!

[Reason Wafawarova is a political writer and can be contacted on or or visit]

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home