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Fool Me Twice; Shame on Me

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Fool Me Twice; Shame on Me

Posted by John Norris on February 5, 2009

Fool Me Twice; Shame on Me

To follow up on Maggie’s excellent Zimbabwe post above, I wanted to highlight a gentle disagreement with a former colleague. Don Steinberg, a deputy president of the superb International Crisis Group (full disclosure: I used to work at Crisis Group so I might not be the most objective), has a new piece out on Zimbabwe this week. Don argues:

The international community must show solidarity with this agreement and act quickly to shore it up. This is not the time for foot-dragging because we do not like all aspects of the agreement and really would prefer to see Mugabe get his rightful comeuppance.

Hmm. Setting aside the important issue of accountability, I would warmly share Don’s assessment if we had seen the slightest sign from Mugabe that he is actually willing to respect any political agreement he has made in the last five years. Can you name one agreement that he has respected in that time? I cannot.

Promise after promise on land, fair elections, humanitarian assistance, and human rights have been broken again and again. Humanitarian assistance has been used as a crude weapon against opponents, entire shanty towns have been razed, and the economy and health systems destroyed in order to allow Mugabe and his cronies to systematically loot the once most prosperous country in Africa. Isn’t the onus on Mugabe to show movement and not on the international community to rush in with bags of money and aid like Charlie Brown running headlong yet again at a football that is already showing signs of being yanked away?