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Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Trying his newly-won and hard-earned lack of credibility on for size: Secretary of Deception Colin Powell writes in today's NY Times about Zimbabwe:

The entire Zimbabwean economy is near collapse. Reckless governmental mismanagement and unchecked corruption have produced annual inflation rates near 300 percent, unemployment of more than 70 percent and widespread shortages of food, fuel and other basic necessities. Is it any wonder that Zimbabweans are demanding political change, or that President Mugabe must rely on stepped-up violence and vote-rigging to remain in office?

On June 6, the police again arrested Mr. Mugabe's most prominent opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai. They paraded him in a courtroom in shackles and leg irons before releasing him on bail on June 20. His offense? Calling for work stoppages and demonstrations to protest economic hardship and political repression.

Like Myanmar's courageous opposition leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Mr. Tsvangirai wages a nonviolent struggle against a ruthless regime. Like the Burmese junta, President Mugabe and his Politburo colleagues have an absolute monopoly of coercive power, but no legitimacy or moral authority. In the long run, President Mugabe and his minions will lose, dragging their soiled record behind them into obscurity. But how long will it take? How many good Zimbabweans will have to lose their jobs, their homes, or even their lives before President Mugabe's violent misrule runs its course?

Gee, Colin, hitting a little close to home there, aren't you? He goes on to call for regime change:

With the president gone, with a transitional government in place and with a date fixed for new elections, Zimbabweans of all descriptions would, I believe, come together to begin the process of rebuilding their country. If this happened, the United States would be quick to pledge generous assistance to the restoration of Zimbabwe's political and economic institutions even before the election.

Fortunately, for now, he appears to be willing to settle for economic pressure and pressure from Zimbabwe's neighbors to accomplish the regime change. Even though Powell says that "For hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans, the worst has already come," he doesn't claim that as a reason to invade the country. (It's only a reason when your other reasons have been completely discredited, and when the country is swimming in oil.)

Which leads me to wonder--exactly why did Powell write this? Just another dog-wag like the stunningly successful Mideast road map?