Tuesday, November 28, 2006

In our valley of tears

When we read stories, like this one in the Catholic News Service, comparing deaths from chaos in a Third World country to Iraq, what should we make of it? More people are dying from starvation and disease in Zimbabwe under President Robert Mugabe than are killed in the war in Iraq or the conflict in Darfur, said Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. He claimed about 3,500 people are dying each week in his country from a "unique convergence of malnutrition, poverty and AIDS."

"Cemeteries are filling up throughout the country, but no blood is being spilt," he told a private meeting of politicians and church leaders in London Nov. 22. "People are just fading away, dying quietly and being buried quietly with no fanfare, and so there is little media attention."

As many people die prematurely in Zimbabwe in one week as in one month in Iraq when the violence is at its worst, he said. In October, 3,700 people died in Iraq.

The mortality rate in Zimbabwe is also a thousand per week higher than the Darfur region of western Sudan, where a genocidal campaign by government-backed militias against local tribes has claimed an average of 2,500 lives a week since 2003.

Archbishop Ncube said World Health Organization figures reveal that life expectancy in Zimbabwe is the lowest in the world -- 34 years for women and 37 years for men.

Well, any number of trite and snarky observations can be made, some of which may nonetheless be true.

  • That you can kill more people with a well intentioned peace than with a well intentioned war
  • That Zimbabwe was all about transferring power to a dictator and Iraq about taking it from him
  • That you can't compare Zimbabwe and Iraq until you can compare apples and oranges
  • That Zimbabwe is a strategic backwater while Iraq is in the world's fuel dump
  • That Bush isn't so bad
  • That Bush isn't so bad only compared to Mugabe
  • That Mugabe has and had friends in all the right liberal places but Bush does not
  • That we've already withdrawn from Zimbabwe. Why not try Iraq?
  • and so forth and so on

But I think it is fair to observe that both cases represent problems to which a satisfactory solution has not yet been found. Zimbabwe represents the kind of death by benign neglect which descended on Rwanda, Darfur and the Congo. A kind of silent catastrophe that was largely left to the AID agencies, the UN and the NGOs to solve. Iraq represents something different; the challenge of asymmetrical warfare to West. Bishop Ncube thinks the "international community" has already withdrawn as far as it possible to go from Zimbabwe. So far we don't even think about it any more. That's how far we've gone. But he rightly points out that simply because we don't hear the tree fall in the forest doesn't mean it doesn't fall. And the question is why it should be any different with a problem like Iraq. The challenge of terrorism forming within the chaos of the Third World will remain with us until we learn to meet it. We haven't learned how to yet. And it's not clear that solving this problem is optional.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hate your "Read More!" link...

e.g. He claimed about 3,500 people are dying each week in his country from a "unique convergence of malnutrition, poverty and AIDS."

Then "Read More!"

I really hate that exclamation mark - I feel guilty everytime I want to "Read More!" after an appetizer of bad news.

Lose the exclamation mark. Or replace it with ":(" or the like.

I'll feel better... and that's what's important!

11/28/2006 05:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wretchard wrote, "...[T]hat Zimbabwe was all about transferring power to a dictator and Iraq about taking it from him..."

The Left points to the chaos in Iraq as proof of their dictum that the use of military force by the West is always worse than any evil it is intended to redress, while simultaneously pointing to the evils spreading across the heart of Africa as proof that the only suitable redress is a vast transfer of wealth.

11/28/2006 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

What to do, indeed? Africa seems to defy solutions. Short-term rescue props up tyrants and puts honest men out of business. Long-term solutions crumble and flow awy before anything is solved.

I have said in my annoyance, arguing with liberals "Look, Iraq doesn't have to become Switzerland. Becoming Brazil or Cambodia would be enough." But Zimbabwe would be grateful to be Iraq. How do I answer that?

11/28/2006 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Asst.Village Idiot:(Hey I've filled that position in the past-There may still be a village or two looking for their idiot).
I went to Ouagadougou,Burkina Faso ,West Africa last year.A friend of mine went there today.Now its a peaceful place,but still...With an annual per capita income of around $300 ,no resources,lots of people,its miles from nowhere compared to anything I've ever experienced(even including Viet Nam,circa 1968-69).Now Mugabe is a particularly vile a-hole who turned a healthy post colonial economy into a cesspool,but still they have more going for them than Iraq does to the degree that Islam doesn't have a foothold in Zimbabwe.
The real lost causes of Africa are Sudan,Somalia and maybe soon Nigeria and Kenya as radical Islam gains an audience amongst the dispossessed.The Jihadists are making a strong play for Africa because it is rich in resources and manpower for world conquest.We have special ops guys (a la Rumsfield's new army) operating in Africa.Africa will yet speak and we will hear it whether we want to or not.

11/28/2006 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

For a brief but fecund exploration of Ledeen’s truth telling, read TigerHawk, now.

The trouble with Michael Ledeen

As a treat, you will also see Mr. Ledeen’s comment.

11/28/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Well, there are victims and then there are victims.

The ones we care about, or are directed to care about by Elites, are the ones getting the ink and media attention and Hollywood treatment. The focus shifts as certain groups within the Elites in the USA, Europe, and Asia also shift and diminish or grow in power.

Thus the world is silent or just getting away with a cheap "awww, isn't that a shame!" about places like Tibet, Cambodia, and Zimbabwe, the Communist democides...while it lavishes attention on "preferred victims". Not a bad deal if you are the 3 small countries that, pre-Iraq, got 40% of US aid and diplomatic attention, 60% if Egypt is added - but it sucks if your are Myanmarese.

Other mass murders, not just in Africa, get the historical amnesia treatment. Yes, few are aware of King Leopold's hell on earth in the Congo in the late 19th century, but few are aware of the deliberate famine and Kulak liquidations that killed 8 million.

Frankly, the ugly truth is we or the Elites hold some human lives more valuable and more worthy of our attention/intervention, than others.

Thousands of movies about the Holocaust, museums everywhere but nothing marks the 40 million Chinese murdered by the Chicoms. Few school texbooks mention it other than "Mao's planning errors", no movie has ever been done in the USA about them. Or the Lithuanian's holocaust. Or the Great Hindi Holocaust from 800 AD to 1948 that took an estimated 80 million. Burchered by Muslim swords and arrows.

At least America has a good excuse with Darfur and the Congo - we can honestly say to dark folks we don't care much about that we have a too-stretched-thin military steadily diminished and attrited away since Bush I days. And that we are fully committed since Iraq started. So the two African hot spots are not going to get the bail-out. Honestly. We'd be saying the truth.

The irony of do-gooder organizations that demonize the US for any transgression or "waging illegal war without the UN's full permission" are now looking to us to rescue the "noble Darfurans" or the "Congolese victims of genocide". Despite the "full endorsement of the UN's high moral authority being the only way such "rescue" into a sovereign nation may be conducted, being lacking with the Russians and Chinese saying "no" instead of the French backstabbing.

Geee, sorry Progressive NGOs! Have George Soros and Kenneth Roth see if the French and Belgians are free...

11/28/2006 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

Nothing like a dose of reality to wake people up. Thanks.

11/28/2006 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


There is a perfectly logical and non-nefarious reason for the "thousands" of movies about the Shoah. At the end of the war, America had millions of boots on the ground, followed by thousands of news media assignees. Then, as now, if it bleeds it leads. And the death camps offered the perfect production lot. As with horror films, audiences had an insatiable appetite for the macabre films of mountains of emaciated Jewish corpses being BULLDOZED into mass graves.

Truly, C4, there was no Zionist conspiracy to hog the limelight.

As to "dark folks we don't care much about", your prejudices are showing again. Speak for yourself.

11/28/2006 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger anonymous said...

"When we read stories, like this one in the Catholic News Service, comparing deaths from chaos in a Third World country to Iraq, what should we make of it? "

The conclusion is obvious: The international community should join together and remove bloody, incompetent dictators from power.

11/28/2006 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

As to "dark folks we don't care much about", your prejudices are showing again. Speak for yourself.

No, I'll speak for all of the West and Asia. Even the Arabs.

Darfur and the Congo slaughter will end up like the Rwandan genocide - nothing being done but moaning about it - because people don't care about them that much. Not even you, Buddy, if you drop the false huffiness. They think black Africa is doomed to savagery. The Tsunami was different and got our full attention because we knew the Asians were capable of rebuilding. So our time and effort and money wasn't a waste..

And the idea of ignored genocides because they weren't photogenic or we weren't there in person does not explain the explosion of Holocaust movies, TV shows, and lawsuits that started 30 years after the war. Before that it was just a few flicks and a few best-selling books. Nor does it explain the paucity of movies on the Japanese Killing Machine that butchered 12-15 million. We were "there" for that, and the Japanese being avid shutterbugs filmed hundreds of hours of footage from their liquidations and POW camps. We just passed on it. Why the thousands of Holocaust-themed movies vs. the dozen or so that covered other democides? It just means one type of human matters to the Elites - other humans don't.

It happened after 30 years of only moderate attention because the Elites shifted in relative power in the groups that comprised the Elite - so they decided to go back and re-hype it.

Why the larger democides of communism are ignored is the Elites hold their lives were less valuable and also a determination to not "bin" communism in with "evil Nazism". After all, many in the elites think communism was great, just not "done" properly.

11/29/2006 12:40:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


I don't know where you grew up, but in my neck of the woods, every semester, we spent many hours practicing pathetic techinques for nuclear survival. And, hours were dedicated to assemblies where films depicting the evils of Communism were the fare.

Your fervor again causes error when you speak of either the Japanese or the Chinese. Despite your belief to the contrary, thousands of films were produced and viewed at cinemas all across America showing in morbid detail the barbarity of the Japanese. As to the Chinese Communist manufactured famines and relocations, the West had NO access - sad but true.

If your argument is that human beings are brutes in need of salvation, well, C4, you are a little late to the party; we Jews have been saying that for millenia.

C4, throughout our entire history there have been men like you: ever ready with the convenient excuse. They are gone, C4. Nothing but fossils remain of their civilizations, cultures, and societies. Why, C4, why?

11/29/2006 01:21:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

Face it. If GWB were a social-liberal Democrat, regardless of what he has done while POTUS, he would be given a pass by the MSM instead of constant sniping.

If he were black and not caucasian, he would be given a pass by half the world's population, whether liberal or conservative, simply because of his ethnicity.

The nation of Robert Mugabe suffers from this same racist bigotry that gives a pass to tyrants wordwide as if the world is involved in some type of college enrollment quota program.

11/29/2006 07:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The article asks where is the international community, and one has to wonder if there is such a thing. How can the problems of Africa be solved when the world is split into camps of the hand-wringers, the disinterested, and especially the self-interested allies of African dictators?

The UN has enshrined African dysfunction, corruption and reverse racism as the righteous Third World way. The African Union is about grievance for money, which one suspects fills a lot of private coffers. As long as their particular niches of funding and politics are preserved, predominantly leftist NGOs are less offended by murderous despots than they are by American sensibilities and any political values we would export/ impose on failing African regimes.

Europe screws the dark continent over trade and bio-engineered crops issues out of health considerations-- for its own economy. China, France and India nail down their oil concessions where blood seeps into the crude. Chirac receives Mugabe in Paris. The Arabs are forcibly taking land for Islam and terror outposts. Certainly not all, but too many western humanitarians advance the cause of Africa to advance their brand of politics, and their Progressive-leftist politics are inimical to any real social-economic advancement there. Even when western countries send aid, our best intentions are siphoned off by middlemen, tyrants and local politics and culture.

People who snark that the US is all about the oil and that’s why we’re not in Dafur are clueless as to how China and France may be somewhat complicit in the genocide there to secure their oil rights. They’re the same ones who complain about our military venturism and cultural imperialism elsewhere, and especially about how ineffectual American troops are when deployed to stabilize foreign lands with foreign cultures. Helping an Africa ravaged by corruption and savaged by bloody ghouls is somehow supposed to be either easier than the Iraqi, Afghanistan and Kosovo projects or at least be as disastrously do-able, but nobody explains the logic.

In the sixties, I helped my grandmother rip material and roll bandages for the large CARE barrels she packed for Africa. Today the world still cares, but still also about its lucrative business deals there, NGO fiefdoms, and its enlightened refusal to become cultural hegemons and neo-colonialists who would impose a little sanity and order on corrupt, diseased African regimes. Seems we're a bit corroded and sick ourselves, pity all round.

11/29/2006 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Grey said...

Bush declared Darfur a genocide two years ago -- since then, the UN, Amnesty, and Human Rights Watch have just ... watched. And Talked. And threatened ... more talk.

The idea of the UN is to talk, instead of act, and blame the bad results on the rich to justify massive redistribution. Such adi will be "for the poor" but, of course and inevitably, will go to the corrupt local leaders.

Allen, why is it that so much is made of the 6 million Jews murdered, but so little of the 3 million Gypsies and 1 million others murdered in the same death camps?

Because the Jews really ARE special -- look at their average US SAT scores, or the number of Nobel prizes, or successful companies, or the number of symphanies written or conducted or performed, by Jews.

The average world hates and has always hated the "above average" performer. Making the rest of us feel small, inferior.

Which is also why so many hate America. But unlike the mildly racist/ exclusionist Jews (NOT to marry a non-Jew), America is open to folk from all over (though no longer to all comers). [See the interesting purity of Jews thru Y chromosome gene research, going back to Abraham.]

11/29/2006 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

tom grey,

The exclusivity you reference is not racial; it is religious. Recall, Ruth was a convert.

11/29/2006 11:43:00 AM  

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