The Blairwell project. AKA Tony's "Sabotage" tour

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by dong20, Jun 1, 2007.

  1. dong20

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    Blair is reported as saying:

    "It is from within Zimbabwe and this region that change has got to come. And what we will do is support people like President Mbeki who are trying to bring about change."

    Fine, except Mbeki seems to be doing very little except wringing his hands and grinning like someone not quite in tune with reality, still what can one expect from a man who deined AIDS was related to HIV? The man's a freaking eejit.

    It gets worse (not easy in Zimbabwe, I know):

    Mugabe underscored the tensions this week by telling a graduating class of police officers their main task was "to thwart the subversive manoeuvres of those who engage in crimes of political violence".

    The Herald reported Mugabe as saying:

    "I wish to call upon people of Zimbabwe to unite against the shameless British arm-twisting tactics being orchestrated through the MDC and the so-called civil groups,"...

    Given he is planning to stand for re-election in 2008 I suspect unity is the last thing on the people of Zim's minds right now, other than a desire to poke something long, sharp and very hot up Mugabe's ass. I'll hold him down.....

    Of course none of this is new, and all of little interest here so, frgive my occasional rants about something close to my heart, such as it is.
     
  2. SteveHd

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    I agree with your sentiments. Mugabe is a pathetic asshole and what he's done to Zimbabwe should be under more scrutiny by the A.U. and other international entities. The inaction of them is typical. Whenever they do act, they're impotent. As can been seen in Darfur.
     
  3. dong20

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    It's a terrible situation. I've not been to Zimbabwe for over six months now (I have friends and 'family' there and elsewhere in the region). I'd hoped that a discussion may have arisen around wider African political and environmental issues and their implications for the future. But not relating to 'corrupt' US politics/politicians, theological innanities or race/sexuality based predjudice or, even worse, pertaining to Africa I should have known better.

    After all, the African continent is only the probable source of our species and thus all of us, so it's not like it's important or anything. I suppose being largely populated by illiterate poor people with little oil and peculiar habits probably explains why it remains below the west's threshold of conciousness, at least some of the west.
     
  4. SteveHd

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    I don't know about "little oil" ... there's quite a bit in some parts of Africa.

    An example of how something real bad can be ignored in Africa is the civil war in DRC. Between 1999 and ~2003 about 4 million were killed. That puts the Iraq war into a different perspective. The m/s/m mostly ignored it. Especially the U.S. media.

    Mbeki, belatedly, is trying to help in Zimbabwe. It may be too little too late. I read that the inflation rate is ~2,000% per year. Mind boggling!

    There's not much the First World can do. If we intervened we'd be branded as "colonialists" or "criminals". The U.N. is impotent, partly due to veto power of Russia and China. Darfur is an example of that. Not much can be done.
     
  5. dong20

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    I know, but relative to the Middle east, Russia etc it's still small potatoes. Chad seems to have spent it's inheritance. Nigeria, well what can I say?

    I think the fact that the US is, in some form or another, behind many of the African 'Big Man' regimes and turned a blind eye to the ensuing bloodbaths, that silence is telling.

    One of the problems is that Mbeki is ineffective and only doing what he is because he's been bludgeoned into it. The other being the world looking over his shoulder. Rightly he doesn't want to be seen as a western puppet. IMO, there is no solution to Mugabe other than a box. And, even then that's far from the end of Zimbabwe's troubles, not even close. And, of course Zimbabwe is only one among many.

    It's not that it can't be done, it's that it won't be done. But that wasn't really my point, which was (in the real world) that because it doesn't affect the US directly and few there (and here I think) really understand (or care about) the scale and horror resulting from decades of US policies in Africa it get's cold shouldered.

    Back in LPSG world, I think the fact that African national politics is so often interminably parochial, violent, tribal, shortsighted, depressing and thus often considered as hard to grasp as quicksilver means it receves the same treatment.

    Of course in many regards US political and global perspective is often just as parochial so, like I said it's no surprise. But, to me it's an endless fascination.

    I'm biased certainly, but I make no apology for caring about this issue and trying to raise awareness. After all, to the best of my knowledge no one died brutally as a result of going to say, the creation museum. :rolleyes:
     
  6. Lordpendragon

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    I know that you know Africa much better than most of us Dong and my question may be too general.

    I have been to quite a few African countries, and IME, African people are amongst the most hospitable and friendly I know, but why are they so prone to corrupt government and butchering each other?

    I know that we have had the Balkans etc and other parts of the world, but can you share your thoughts on "African" culture.
     
  7. SteveHd

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    I have to take exception to "resulting from decades of US policies". USA has certainly made mistakes, but there's blame to go around. I bristle when USA is singled out.
    No apology needed.
    Not yet, but a visitor might laugh so hard that they have a heart attack ... :smile:
     
  8. dong20

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    I agree, they are and no it's not too general, because it's almost impossible not to generalise about Africa. All I know is that to me it's a continents full of seeming contradictions that are often hard to understand, especially as an outsider which in a true sense, despite considerable familiarity I still am.

    I have to go out shortly and I'd love to gather my thoughts on this and reply more fully. As you may imagine, I have a few. But I'd like to make some, sadly, rather generalised, oversimplified and poorly marshalled observations about some of the more obvious causes.

    Family/Tribal nepotism.

    LPD, I assume you're familiar with the African 'Extended Family'. To me that is a key driver in explaining why many Africans behave the way they do, often motivated for good ends but too often it turning out bad.

    In general, in African nations family and tribal bonds are deeper and certainly much wider than they are in most modern western societies. In a policital context this results in leaders seeding regimes with family members and those with tribal ties, regardless of their fitness for the role. That's a major factor in modern African politics. On the upside, the extended family is the glue holding African socities together in the face of the most brutal repression. Liberia under Taylor being a good example.

    Superstition and religion

    These are also major factors behind the more violent behaviour as, sadly, is simple ignorance. Many factors can be considered in isolation but often the brutality and corruption that results from them is perpetrated under cover of doing the 'right thing' by or to protect ones family or tribal members.

    Africa certainly doesn't have the monopoly on denial when it comes to doing wrong. Often the causes of malfeasance are often not so different to those in the west, now or in the past, just often exagerated. Some of the econmic problems are rooted in the early post colonial period.

    Others such as Rwanda were a direct result of tribal divisions being created where they barely existed before. Some nations are traumatised by a legacy of violence at the hand of foreign power. DRC being a notable example.

    Greed.

    Again, greed is hardly unique to Africa but if the majority of a nation are ill educated and/or live in poverty the temptation to stick one's hand all the way to the bottom of the cookie jar and grab as much as possible must be all but irresistable. That's human nature.

    One only need look at DRC, Kenya and Zimbabwe to name but three to see its effects. Foreign aid is siphoned off, short term thinking leads ministers many of whom live in fear of being losing favour and being sacked, (or worse) to make decisions based on immediate gains (kickbacks) and will allot contracts with aid agencies, foreign multinationals and so on on that basis. There are numerous examples.

    Pride and ego.

    These are other factors, which I believe apply in Zimbabwe. No African national leader wants to be seen as a (former colonial) puppet, and Mugabe has a really bad case of pride. Racism is also a factor, but IME it's generally tribal rather than colour based.

    Mugabe is rather unusual in that regard, at least for being so vocal about it. Though personally, I think it's mostly for show but that's just a hunch. The man may be an egocentric murderer and the violence is inexcusable. However, on the policy of farming land reallocation the white farmers have all too often been their own worst enemy.

    Many think Mugabe is stupid, he's not. He is very well educated, being nicknamed 'Bookworm' by his then fellow students. It goes to show that education is no barrier to terrible behaviour. Mugabe is hardly unique in that regard though.

    South Africa is another example where racism is a key political factor, perhaps with good cause. With the ANC now being run, so it often appears by idiots it's hard to be optimistic.

    The situation in many nations is improving. Big Man governments are arguably less endemic and obvious (though corruption is hardly less insidious) that they were in the 70s and 80s. Today the continent is facing challenges of a different nature; HIV, globalisation, environmental issues.... all of these in addtion to the legacy of the last 30 years.

    There may be a sense of optimism but it's patchy and very, very fragile.

    Back later....when I have time to collect my thoughts.
     
  9. dong20

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    Exception noted.

    Yes, blame doesn't not solely rest with the US, but with respect I think it's share is ample, and that's being generous.

    I'll be back later or tomorrow with the evidence. I need to eat.:biggrin1:
     
  10. SteveHd

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    Let's not start a blame game. It may never end and not much would be accomplished.
     
  11. Lordpendragon

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    Thanks Dong. I may be going back to Kenya and Tanzania soon. I haven't been back since the Moi administration seemed to pass over power without too much trouble.
     
  12. dong20

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    I have been so busy I've not had time to comment further. These consultancy jobs pay well but sometimes I have to you know, work!!

    The was a similar worry when Chiluba was 'resisting' handing over power in Zambia, by seeking a constitutional amendment. Chiluba was bad but nothing like so bad as Moi.

    Moi was a classic example of a corrupt Big Man regime. What's annoying is that the damage he wrought was largely hidden behind a veneer of stability created for the tourist trade. Remember the world bank funded Kiambere dam fiasco, I mean project? To name but one! But you don't need me to tell you that.

    I hope Kenya can find it's way out the the mess he left behind.

    As I said, I think things are improving at least in some respects but it's painfully slow. I would hate to see the economic and humanitarian progress made reversed by global warming for example.

    Safe trip if you go.
     
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