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The situation in Zimbabwe is an outrage and I can understand why the Bush administration, and the entire Western world, is appalled by President Robert Mugabe’s anti-democratic depredations. As has been widely reported by the American media, opposition parties won control of the national assembly in a March balloting, and Mugabe finished second behind an opposition leader in presidential voting, triggering a run-off as neither candidate won an absolute majority. The opposition is threatening to boycott the run-off, since it says that its candidate won the first-round election outright and “has ended Mugabe’s 28-year rule over the once prosperous country whose economy is in ruins.”
Does the world really think that President Bush will stand for this assault on democracy? Even now, Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl is surely recruiting a pundits’ brigade to bombard the nation’s op-ed pages with stirring denunciations of Mugabe’s assault on the administration’s “freedom agenda.”
Meanwhile, you probably haven’t heard much about the weekend voting in Equatorial Guinea, the pro-American, oil-rich nation led for the past 29 years by Brigadier General Teodoro Obiang Nguema. “The West African state voted Sunday in parliamentary and local elections whose outcome was a foregone conclusion for observers, amid opposition charges of voting irregularities and harassment,” reports AFP. “According to first partial official results, the president’s [party] won 100 percent of the vote in some constituencies in the election to parliament.”
The best result by the “major” opposition party came in the Luba district, where it won 0.7 percent of the vote. (Incidentally, that party’s leader, Placido Miko has been repeatedly arrested and tortured by Obiang’s security forces.) Maybe I missed it but so far I haven’t heard any wailing and gnashing of teeth about the results in Equatorial Guinea from Bush or from the nation’s op-ed pages.
Strangely enough there were no protests from a cowed and beaten population nor street demonstrations. Apathy and disgust were the rules. There was also no protest or demonstrations by the ‘international community’ against this travesty of the political process. No UN Security Council protests were made… Poor Zimbabwe doesn’t have oil, ergo it can be a target for the ‘international community’. Equatorial Guinea has masses of oil and this buys them immunity from scrutiny and protest. The ‘international community’ is corrupt and morally bankrupt. It is unlikely to change.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”