Thursday, February 03, 2005
Zimbabwe is preparing for "elections" in March, and Roger Bate suggests that the opposition MDC should boycott this time rather than participating in an obviously rigged process:
As army officers, team captains, and political-party leaders know, nothing prevents infighting as well as a common enemy. So it would be of no surprise if Mugabe sincerely hopes that the MDC contests the election. Without an opposition to fight, Zanu-PF might well implode — the result of which may be civil war.

Boycotting the election will have two additional effects. First, it will force the international community to get off the fence when the reality of Zimbabwe's dictatorship replaces the façade of democracy. Second, it will exacerbate the infighting within Zanu-PF, probably leading to a real power struggle.

It would have been nice if Bush had mentioned Zimbabwe in his State of the Union last night. Certainly the Middle East is of greater concern than Africa in terms of Islamist terrorism, but there's an unfortunate number of African countries that continue to have their resources sapped by dictatorships and corrupt one-party systems. The US has generally looked the other way with African dictators provided they (a) don't threaten their neighbors and (b) aren't unusually brutal at home. And (b) is usually negotiable. I wish those attitudes would change.

I went to see Hotel Rwanda at the movie theater last weekend. It's a very good movie and one that I'd recommend to anyone -- but particularly to anyone who has any interest in Africa. The film was shot on location in Rwanda and South Africa and I think it definitely showed. All of the exterior shots definitely had an authentic African look -- the heat, the lushness of the vegetation, the style of architecture, the condition of the roads, the streetscape of a bustling African city. It looked like the real thing to me, and I suppose it was.

I won't be ruining the film to tell you that the story opens just prior to the Rwandan genocide. Paul is a manager at a 5-star Belgian hotel in Kigali. As a Hutu, Paul isn't in immediate danger when the Interhamwe militia begins their massacre of Rwandan Tutsis, however Paul's wife (as well as many friends and coworkers) are Tutsi and are soon in grave danger. Paul trusts that the "international community" will come to the rescue of any Rwandans who are in danger. The UN does evacuate the Europeans from Rwanda, but Paul is left alone with only his wits to fend for himself, his family, and all those who have come to depend on him for protection.

Well, I won't ruin the whole thing, but suffice it to say that this is an engrossing movie.

Maybe the most disturbing thing about watching Hotel Rwanda was the feeling that history keeps repeating itself. The UN was established after WWII in part to prevent anything like the Holocaust from happening again. Since then, I can't think of a single time that the UN has acted to prevent or stop genocide. (In Kosovo, of course, NATO acted without UN approval.) Sadly, I think the genocide in Rwanda, with world leaders saying nice words but refusing to take action, is more the rule than the exception.

And we're now seeing exactly the same behavior with respect to Sudan...which is awfully disturbing.

Well, despite my best intentions to post more regularly, that doesn't seem to have really happened. Things in Delaware have been busy... And who has time for blogging when there's a great big world out there just waiting to be explored?

If fact, most of my blogging time has been taken up by my spending a bit more time at school and more time reading -- therefore less time to sit in front of the computer.

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