One month after Zimbabwe elections: UN refuses to act

posted at 8:25 am on April 30, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Give Robert Mugabe some credit — he really has tried to manipulate the election results from a month ago, but despite all his efforts, he still can’t find a way to declare himself the winner. Mugabe has tried the next best thing, though, in unleashing his security forces against Zimbabweans to terrorize them into inertia. Human Rights Watch warns that Zimbabwe has descended into the final stages of brutal dictatorship, while the world twiddles its thumbs:

A leading human rights group accused Zimbabwe’s army Wednesday of working with ruling party militants to unleash “terror and violence” against dissent.

New York-based Human Rights Watch joined other rights groups and Zimbabwe’s opposition party in linking violence since last month’s presidential vote to the security forces and so-called “war veterans” — groups loyal to autocratic President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe’s regime has countered that the opposition groups are responsible for the violence, even arresting scores of people last week, including women and their nursing babies, who the opposition says had taken shelter from the violence at its headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. …

“The army and its allies — ‘war-veterans’ and supporters of the ruling party Zanu-PF — are intensifying their brutal grip on wide swathes of rural Zimbabwe to ensure that a possible second round of presidential elections goes their way,” Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in the group’s statement released Wednesday.

The UN Security Council has become the latest thumb-twiddler in this debacle. The MDC asked the UNSC to take some action to end Mugabe’s brutality and to get the election results released. Just as with the SADC, South Africa argued against action, apparently led by Thabo Mbeki’s personal affinity for Mugabe. The usual suspects, Russia and China, also refused to allow the Security Council to take any action.

Many have called for a power-sharing arrangement until a run-off election can be held. However, Mugabe has already poisoned that well with his campaign of intimidation against dissenters. His forces have assaulted villages that voted for the MDC in the last election, making sure they understand the consequences of opposing the dictator. “War veterans” — in reality state-sanctioned thugs — have descended on the last remaining independent farms and have wrested control of the land from the farmers. Another election under this regime would be as meaningful as a Saddam Hussein plebiscite.

What has become very apparent is that long-standing multilateral organizations really don’t do much good except in regulation of commerce. When it comes to protecting people from dictators and kleptocrats, they don’t do anything at all, except in the case of the UN, whose forces just make the situation exponentially worse. Zimbabweans will have to overthrow Mugabe on their own absent any outside pressure for him to peacefully depart, and they can thank their friends in the region and around the world for the deaths that will follow.


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I know Zimbabwe has nothing to do with Iraq, but it illustrates the point. The Left just doesn’t get it. If the US doesn’t do Something against tyranny, no one will. The US cannot do Everything. She’ll have to pick her battles. When others don’t take up the slack, you get Zimbabwe, Darfur, Tibet (sic), etc. A large part of the world really does not believe in the freedoms the Left claim to believe.

hadsil on April 30, 2008 at 8:36 AM

Just another great example of why the UN is broken, and why we should kick them out of NY.

Hening on April 30, 2008 at 8:36 AM

And this is why the UN is now the international joke that no one is laughing at. As an organization, it is virtually useless. It has wasted billions of dollars for decades and has little, if anything, to show as to where all that money went to. Their humanitarian efforts are nothing but a smokescreen to hide their total incompetence. Their history of corruption and scandal could fill a library or two. The UN should be dissolved and its delegates sent back where they came from!

pilamaye on April 30, 2008 at 8:46 AM

One of the UN’s core beliefs is that all evil in the world is caused by Whites, and by capitalism.

They are structurally and intellectually incapable of seeing any problems outside that framework.

MarkTheGreat on April 30, 2008 at 8:46 AM

The UN is getting as trustworthy has Hamas,
and idiot’s around the world wonder why
America acts alone!

Here’s an idea that works really good from the UN,
how about sending Mugabe a nasty letter telling how
upset the UN is,and if they really push it,the UN
will start resolutions like the Irag ones,and he
can defy those for about 10 or 15 years!

Now that should scare the H-LL out of him!

canopfor on April 30, 2008 at 8:47 AM

The UN is just trying to figure out the biggest profit angle before they act. Then beware of their non-binding resolutions.

DAT60A3 on April 30, 2008 at 8:52 AM

During Gulf One, while in University, I was in a United Nations course where the professor ran an interesting experiment. Everyone was given a United Nations country and supposed to resolve the conflict.

I was Kuwait. No other United Nations delegation ever contacted me or followed up on any conversations after I tracked them down asking for help. They were completely useless.

At the time, I believed nothing happened because I was dealing with a bunch of busy, university students. It wasn’t until I was older that I realised the experiment was actually a success perfectly illustrating how useful the United Nations really is.

Canadian Infidel on April 30, 2008 at 9:15 AM

Unlike the United States, the United Nations actually has feet on the ground on the African Continent. There is a relatively large contingent of Baby Blue Helmeted Thugs, er. UN Peacekeepers in Congo. Given the rich fields, oppressed people in Zimbabwe, I’m sure the U.N. forces could enrich themselves help bring order to that country as well.

Isn’t Kofi around to lead the charge?

SeniorD on April 30, 2008 at 9:15 AM

Woodrow Wilson you magnificent *******!

Limerick on April 30, 2008 at 9:19 AM

Looks like we need to get tough…send Jimmy in…

right2bright on April 30, 2008 at 9:40 AM

I would be more concerned if the other lot were any better. The history of Africa, post WWII, indicates not.

OldEnglish on April 30, 2008 at 9:45 AM

When a majority of a multinational agency are driven by greed and marxist ideology or are dictators of another sort, the agency will fail and become a propaganda tool.

don’t do much good except in regulation of commerce

I would argue they can’t even perform this function well. Can you say “Oil for Food”?

The UN is no longer serving the purpose for which it was created. Its a failed experiment. Time to clean it out and figure out something else.

In the meantime, we should take out Mugabe and his thugs. Unilaterally, without warning or negotiation. He is a terrorist and a murderer and deserves the same fate as any common street thug holding a hostage at gunpoint.

dogsoldier on April 30, 2008 at 9:46 AM

The UN isn’t doing anything.
That’s good–at least there aren’t a lot of teenage girls being raped by blue-helmeted thugs.

jgapinoy on April 30, 2008 at 9:53 AM

Just another great example of why the UN is broken, and why we should kick them throw these worthless maggots out of NY.

Hening on April 30, 2008 at 8:36 AM

Couldn’t help myself.

Jaibones on April 30, 2008 at 9:54 AM

But…but the U.S. is the source of all evil in the world, isn’t it? Can’t someone point out how BushHitler/Cheney/Rove to blame for this one? I need something to keep the meme going! /sarc

Glad you keep pointing this one out, Ed. As one who maintains interest in that neck of the woods, I know it gets ignored a lot. However, even this is not as big a mess as what is continuing to go on in the Congo; lives lost there apparently still are thousands per day. And the UN troops response to that has been to trade guns for gold and ivory.

michaelo on April 30, 2008 at 10:08 AM

Where’s Jimmmy Carter?

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on April 30, 2008 at 10:11 AM

Why the hell can’t someone just grab a sniper rifle and do what needs to be done? After it happens two or three times, the next runner-up might get the picture.
Dreaming, I know…. (sigh)

shibumiglass on April 30, 2008 at 10:16 AM

All too predictable

LimeyGeek on April 30, 2008 at 10:21 AM

Its not the UN mandate to get involved in the internal politics of its member states (unless of course, we’re talking the US).

Its mandate is to stop international aggresion… to stop wars BETWEEN countries…

Romeo13 on April 30, 2008 at 10:48 AM

The UN is nothing more than a moeny grab for those who wouldn’t have it otherwise.

A place where third worlders have access to hookers, a posh NYC life style and political immunity.

mylegsareswollen on April 30, 2008 at 11:12 AM

They’re too busy debating the definition of Genocide to be bothered right now.

Lunkinator on April 30, 2008 at 11:53 AM

Old Mugabe had a farm…

mram on April 30, 2008 at 12:08 PM

There is a larger question here. Assuming that the UN. at one time, played a useful security function, has it become obsolete, at least insofar as that function is concerned?

The UN has engaged in many useful activites throughout its history…in the fields of Health, Food, Education etc it has done good work. Even in the area of regularizing international law through the International Law Commission and the International Court of Justice there has been a lot of success, whether or not one agrees with everything they have done.

That said, the main purpose for which the UN was formed was security. It came out of WWII and its chief function was to prevent another World War. So, 5 victors from WWII received permanant seats on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), and received vetoes…the UNSC can do nothing if one of the Big 5 votes against. (I could never quite understand how France got itself included in that group). Some may say that the absence of a WWIII cannot be credited to the UN. I don’t know but, for the purposes of agrument, I would like to stipulate that this was an achievement of the UN.

The problem is two-fold. First, these countries act not in the interest of the “greater good”, but in their own self interest…and really, who would expect anything else? Secondly, we see international law being made by the decisions, or non-decisions, of the UNSC. Thus, if the UNSC votes against an act taken by a member State of the UN, such act becomes illegal at international law…or at least it is taken to be. Superpowers, such as the US, Russia, China can withstand the pressure and act in their own self interest…indeed, with their veto, they can ensure that no act they undertake will be declared illegal.

But, for the rest of us, the situation is quite different. To put it crudely, no international act can be legal if France disagrees with it. (I use France, but insert any one of the Big 5).

For many states, therefore, acts which they might consider legitimate in their own self-defence could find themselves being defined as illegal.

Examples from today’s news: What chance is there of a Security Council condemnation of the buildup of Russian Troops inside Georgian (Republic of) territory? What chance is there of a condemnation of China’s occupation of Tibet? Or of its cultural genocide there (this exists…read the Genocide Convention and the Statute of Rome)?

As a Canadian, we saw lots of French involvement on our separatist movement during the 1970′s and 1980′s (less so now, because the separatist movement is basically dead). If Canada had ever needed to take steps to maintain its territorial integrity, what would France have done at the Security Council? I feel quite sure that we would have found ourselves in the same situation as Serbia does today…it is a member in good standing of the UN, yet it dare not take any steps to deal with the separatists in Kosovo. And now we see, in Georgia, a similar situation.

In then end, I am sometimes left to conclude that membership in the UN is not merely useless, it is detrimental and counter-productive to national security. I frequently wonder whether a State would be better off, with more freedom of action, if it were not a member of the UN and not bound by what the UN, or the UNSC, decides is international law.

It’s only a rumination but, when I see how the people of Zimbabwe have been abandoned by the UN or, more accurately, by its structure, I have to think.

Blaise on April 30, 2008 at 1:07 PM

they were better off as Rhodesia. at least everyone ate. mugabe has systematically exterminated the whites (farmers) with nary a peep from the UN (or anyone else), in the process destroying a once vibrant breadbasket to the detriment of everyone black and white. oh well i guess those stinkin whites had it coming huh…

same thing that’s happened in South Africa where the white farmers have been exterminated by the ANC while singlehandedly contracting the economy, wrecking the infrastructure, and increasing the poverty nation wide. nice track record.

check out what happened to Walvis Bay when it went from the hands of white South Africa to the hands of Black Namibia.

reminds me of the recent interviews with palestinians in gaza hoping for a return of the israeli occupation as long as they get rid of hamas…

I’ve personally spoken to a number of recent Haitian immigrants that assure me that although duvalier ran a cleptocracy they at least ate everyday a much better situation than the orgy of death that the lavalas/aristede circus unleashed…

maybe there’s a pattern and a lesson here…

elduende on April 30, 2008 at 1:56 PM

Just giving liberalism a chance.

The people of Zimbabwe had a lot of hope and looked forward to Change.

This is what happens when people are led by fools with philosophies like Mugabe’s or Rev Wright’s.

It looks like the poor people of Zimbabwe can now only be saved by raising their taxes. After all it takes a village.

TheSitRep on April 30, 2008 at 2:58 PM

Oh yeah, the UN is doing a GREAT job! Sending conscripts from Muslim nations that have a built-in hatred of Africans (see Darfur) to keep the peace is a great idea!

If we finally got smart and built a United Free Nations, based on eligibility requirements of free markets and free peoples, with transparency in commerce and government, civilian control of military etc, we could actually have a decent peacekeeping organization.

Where would be get cheaply paid conscripts for this new outfit? From developing nations that ditch their Marxist and Islamic masters and are striving to join the civilized world and willing to sacrifice to do it.

Africa is in a lot more trouble than the Mugabe issue, she needs a lot of real help and direction. Instead, we let the UN send criminals and the Chinese send private armies. It’s a travesty.

Maquis on April 30, 2008 at 6:33 PM