Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Mr. Mugabe Goes to China and Why the West Should Care

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has found a new best friend in China.

The man made famous for his forceful seizure of farmland and notorious for helping bring back torture training camps in Africa, has apparently grown tired of those pesky European and American sanctions and has found a new business partner in Beijing.

Mugabe's "Going East" tactic could mark the beginning of of a potentially dangerous trend -- African regimes ignoring the West in favor of the largest consumer market in the world.

Sting and Bono could do a billion concerts and still not make a dent in the various ailments affecting the Developing World. But a billion and a half Chinese providing relief via their government? There's no competition.

Cheap Chinese goods in exchange for mineral and agricultural rights? Who needs the West anyway?

In a perfect world, this would be a perfect solution to issues like the Digital Divide and other gaps in development.

But I doubt either Mugabe or Chinese president Hu Jintao are thinking about a perfect world.

The emerging Second Cold War has little to do with political ideology -- the supposed driving force behind the first one. This new cold war boils down to two words "greed" and "exploitation." Instead of being a battle between free-market capitalism and communism, this new conflict is a battle between human needs and the needs of unbridled capitalism. And places like Africa will be this conflict's major battlefield.

Africans have centuries' worth of exploitation at the hands of Europeans and through Soviet and American support of brutal dictators at the expense of human rights. The Chinese government has been treated as the retarded step-child for decades, and now their hungry, for recognition as a world payer and for raw materials.

Last week, Chinese Major Gen. Zhu Chenghu hinted that U.S. involvement in Taiwanese independence may result a nuclear attack. The American government downplayed the comment.

Imagine Africa, if you will, developed technologically as a near equal of Europe. Improved information and communications infrastructure, broadband in every home. Good paying jobs backed by foreign investment and a strong currency.

And Chinese military bases chock full of long-range bombers and missiles, ready to protect their investment, all aimed at Africa's former colonial masters.

We're gonna need a lot more celebrities.

Guardian Unlimited Special reports Mugabe finds succour in Beijing deals
Zimbabwe's torture training camps - BBC Coverage, 2004


Kara said...

I always learn so much from you!

Carla said...

a very good tactic, indeed. it's time for the people to wake up and replan things. nothing lasts forever.

Anonymous said...

Sort of an off-topic rant....

Buddhists have a term for good intentions that don't actually help anyone, and might actually hurt -- 'idiot compassion.'

Bono, Sir Bob, all the performers and people who sent money to Live 8 -- bless their hearts -- just might fall into this category. Who can say where all that money will go? Will it actually help anyone?

Meanwhile, over 15 people keeled over in Phoenix during the heat wave. People responded heroically, giving water, opening shelters, going door-to-door to check on people. Drunk people, crazy people, people who most Americans would say deserve their fates somehow, yet Phoenicians still went to bat for them. This is compassion.

So, where is the Live 8 for the homeless in America? I can see it now: "I'm not giving money to them lazy drunks and druggies! Get a fuckin' job!" It's easy to feel compassion for people if you think they're anonymous victims; the real challenge is to work for their benefit when they shave in the public library restroom and use the park outside as a litter box.

Ok. I'll shut up now :-)