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  • That we've already withdrawn from Zimbabwe.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 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 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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