With all of the turbulence of the past few weeks, we shoujld give the NY Times some credit for keeping their eye on the ball.
The hardest place in the world to be an optimist is Africa.
Much of Africa is a mess, and no country more so than Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. The continent has been held back by everything from malaria to its nonsensical colonial boundaries, but the two biggest problems have been lousy leaders and lousy economic policies – and Zimbabwe epitomizes both.
What makes Robert Mugabe a worse oppressor of ordinary Zimbabweans than the white racist rulers who preceded him is not just the way he turned a breadbasket of Africa into a basket case in which half the population is undernourished. It’s also the fact that he’s refusing to let aid organizations provide food to most of his people. He prefers to let them starve…
If the old white regime here was deliberately starving its people, the world would be in an uproar. And while President Bush should be more forceful in opposing Mr. Mugabe’s tyranny, it’s the neighboring countries that are most shameful in looking the other way.
There’s a liberal tendency in America to blame ourselves for Africa’s problems, and surely there’s far more that we should do to help. We should encourage trade, forgive debts, do research on tropical diseases and distribute mosquito nets that protect against malaria. But some problems, such as Mr. Mugabe, are homegrown and need local solutions, like an effort by South Africa to nudge him into retirement.
Something has to be done.