5 down 6 to go
It was quite an experience to watch the BBC backtrack on Monday morning
news came in on the Iraq elections. It now looks as if up to 68 per
the people voted and what was even more astonishing is that they were
clearly enthusiastic about the experience. So much for the doomsayers.
In the Sunni areas where voting was lowest, the women led the way in a
remarkable display of courage and commitment to their own freedom.
The Americans have been there before of course. First there was the way
which an American General, Marshal, took a shattered Europe after 5
war against a tyrannical government, which had at last overstepped the
Millions died in the conflict but it took the Americans to make the
Today, modern Europe is a child of American military intervention on
side of democracy and freedom.
Secondly, there was Japan. Ruled by another tyrannical regime Japan had
fought a war against the rest of the world in an effort to secure its
control over much of China and the Pacific Rim. Once beaten by force of
arms - mainly American - it was another American General who took
Japan and put it back on its feet, in a way that created modern Japan,
democratic, principled and dynamic. This was a remarkable story - of a
General who insisted his men ate what was only available to every
citizen. A man who recognized the value of Japanese culture and ensured
it was respected in the modern structures being established. A man,
ideas remain at the heart of modern Japan 60 years later.
Then came the collapse of the Soviet Union and the global effort by the
Americans and the new Europeans to ensure that the fires of democracy
freedom set loose in the Soviet landscape was fed and nurtured until
much of the old empire is democratic and free.
The world has a very short memory but we need to keep this in mind when
find fault with what the US is doing today in Iraq and Afghanistan.
big enough to accept that what they have achieved in these two
remarkable. Especially when you understand how little they will get
return. In military terms the effect of regime change in both countries
been a stunning story and the loss of such a small number of men and
in the exercise is a tribute to training and leadership.
But even more remarkable is the commitment to giving these liberated
the right to self-determination as quickly as possible and making the
commitment to ensure the resulting government is self-sustaining. In
history of global conquest, these actions are absolutely unique. Both
Britain and the US leadership deserve recognition for these
Now Condoleezza Rice turns the sights of the American administration to
other "tyrannies" in the world. Belarus, Cuba, Burma, North Korea, Iran
Zimbabwe. She talked of the test of freedom as being the ability of any
citizen to walk to the town center and say in public what they think of
their governments and not suffer any consequences. She committed her
as the most powerful woman on earth to eliminating these regimes and
for their peoples the kind of simple freedoms that citizens in free
countries take for granted.
Now that Iraq and Afghanistan are on their way to becoming democracies
which the rule of law and the respect for human and political freedoms
the norm, rather than the exception; surely we are next!
Zimbabwe is an easy case to deal with - no military conflicts, military
intervention not required. Global consensus that change is needed to
country back on the map. A powerful neighbor who is susceptible to
and committed to the same principles as they are - at least on paper.
change here would not be hard to secure by democratic means, all it
is a bit of pressure in the right places.
There are signs that this is happening - the statement by the ANC that
conditions in Zimbabwe are "not conducive to free and fair elections"
the accompanying threat that if this is not changed, and soon, they
not recognize the elections. That is tough talk. Then Cosatu coming
Zimbabwe and also talking tough, throw us out this time - at your
At stake is a great deal. Zimbabwe as the bad apple in the region is
down regional economies, inhibiting trade and other agreements with the
developed countries and interfering with the proposed massive effort by
EU and the United States to turn Africa around and get us on track to
achieve the Millennium goals by 2015. We stand in the way of progress
recovery and are being held to ransom by the whims of an aging group of
style nationalists who simply do not know when it is time to step down.
Zimbabwe is a test case for African leaders. Can they sort it out in a
that puts us back into the community of Nations and unlocks the
international effort to help Africa meet its peoples needs? We are
see if this is something they can do without US or European
A few years ago my son and I were driving through the bush in eastern
some 100 kilometers from the Malawi border. We came across a small
with a few huts and three small children, two boys and a little girl.
boys were selling mushrooms and we stopped to buy some from them. While
was going on something caught my eye - the sight of the small girl
herself along the path on the ground in a frantic effort to get to the
action. I took some chocolate cookies and walked down the path to where
I do not know how old she was but she was paralyzed from the waist down
was filthy from pulling herself along the ground. But what caught my
attention was her face - two intelligent and bright eyes looked at me,
sign of self-pity or pleading, just a steady look at this stranger from
another planet. I gave her the cookies and sat with her on the ground
minute - she spoke Chinyanga and I knew a little as well.
She haunted me for weeks afterwards - I contacted a Presbyterian
Malawi and asked them to go and see what they could do for her -
pay whatever it cost. I heard no more but I still remember that bright
face on a broken body with a spirit that would not lie down. I am in
fight for her and millions like her who need a better, brighter future.
might disagree, but I think that what Ms. Rice intends doing will help
Bulawayo, 31st January 2005.