Washington Babylon — May 7, 2008, 8:29 am

Africa’s Worst Dictator: No, it’s not Mugabe

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.

Gary Busch writes of the weekend voting in Equatorial Guinea:

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.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

May 2015

Black Hat, White Hat

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Beyond the Broken Window

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In Search of a Stolen Fiddle

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Displaced in the D.R.

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Quietest Place in the Universe

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Displaced in the D.R.·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“How is it possible that my birth certificate is invalid if I was born here?”
Photograph by Pierre Michel Jean
Article
The Quietest Place in the Universe·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Gaitskell and his colleagues are approaching the revelation of a new order, a new universe, in which even light will be known differently, and darkness as well.”
Painting by Sebastiaan Bremer
Article
The Test of Time·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“One by one his books dismantle the idea that art consoles, that art contains truths, that art expresses the soul. He insists on the artificiality and createdness of his narratives.”
Article
Saving the Whale, Again·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“While the other Wall Street behemoths are currently tapering their derivatives trading, Citi has been expanding its own.”
Illustration by Ross MacDonald
[Browsings]
On Broadway·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Photograph by the author

Chance that an American would give up at least one week of life to avoid taking a pill every day:

1 in 3

Iowa urologists reported that only a minor portion of locker-room teasing arises from “the presence of excess foreskin”; most teasing targets small penises.

A pair of Russian film directors asked President Vladimir Putin to invest $18 million in a new restaurant chain intended to drive McDonald’s out of the Russian market. “Every project these days,” a Russian television personality said of the proposal, “must be smothered in patriotic sauce.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“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.”

Subscribe Today