21 April 2008

A discussion you should follow

FP's Passport and UN Dispatch (see sidebar) have teamed up to run a special blogging series, aka Peacekeeping Salon, featuring thoughts on the state of United Nations peacekeeping operations and imperatives for the next U.S. administration. The conversation is just starting, but it's worth a read. Click here to visit, and be sure to glance at the background paper here (pdf).

EDIT: If you need some convincing as to why the U.S. should be fully engaged in and supportive of UN peace operations, read this.

Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

The spiraling situation in Zimbabwe is of course a gross violation of virtually every tenet of democracy, but the rhetoric surrounding the whole affair may be even more frustrating for the casual observer like me. Just today, EU leaders lectured a SADC meeting about the need to do something to bring Mugabe into line and accept defeat. Yet for all the high-flying rhetoric about how somebody should do something, nobody seems to know 1) who should do said something, and 2) what that something might be. The West seems fairly certain that the SADC countries and/or the African Union as a whole should do the ambiguous thing, but haven't really said what the thing is. Meanwhile, the whole thing does have whiffs of colonialism floating about. The West says to the Africans "jump!" and then get annoyed when they don't respond with "how high?"

Basically, Mugabe, and more importantly, the security apparatus that supports him, are going to have to be engaged -- perhaps even threatened -- over the consequences of perpetuating their electoral farce. Rather than passing the buck as to who should act in some ambiguous way, some other nation needs to step up to the plate. South Africa is the logical choice here, but clearly that's not going to happen. Meanwhile, continuing declarations to the effect of "this is someone else's problem" doesn't do anyone in Zimbabwe any good.

Intestinal fortitude, anyone?