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The Mugabe Problem

“The crisis in Zimbabwe has now reached a point where further lack of action by the African Union and the international community will constitute nothing less than a crime against humanity,” said Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga today.  His solution?  Send in the troops to “end the murderous reign of Robert Mugabe.”  If the AU won’t do so, the Security Council should.

Odinga’s call follows those in recent days by Condoleezza Rice and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.  Nobody, it seems, supports the abhorrent leader of Zimbabwe.  So should we try to get rid of Mr. Mugabe?

For one thing, the loathsome dictator is not only endangering his own people these days.  The outbreak of cholera throughout Zimbabwe is now spreading to neighboring nations–especially Botswana, Zambia, and South Africa–as sickened people flee their homes.  Mugabe, therefore, has succeeded in making himself an African problem.  As Secretary Rice says, it’s time for the nations of the region to solve it.

A pan-African effort would be a sign of the emergence of the continent.  Until African leaders are willing to follow Odinga, however, Washington is still needed to provide leadership.  One of President Bush’s most well-received–and perhaps enduring–legacies is his reform of international assistance, especially to Africa.  If Dubya wants to improve his legacy, maybe he should see if there is an opening on his calendar for Zimbabwe.  He still has time to build a coalition of African and other states to rid the world of the despicable leader in Harare.



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