Washington Babylon — January 8, 2009, 9:21 am

Regime Change or Assassination? The media mulls foreign policy options in Zimbabwe

I’ve mentioned here on previous occasions how the American media covers foreign news through the prism of United States foreign policy. If the U.S. government deems a country to be a hostile state, the American media will devote significant time and energy reporting on that country’s political and economic problems. But if you’re on our side, and especially in you’re providing us with oil, you can get away with murder (literally).

Today’s Washington Post has yet another op-ed piece about the terrible human rights situation in Zimbabwe ( “a cancer called Mugabe”). That follows up on an opinion piece last month from Richard Cohen of the Post, who essentially called for the United States to assassinate Mugabe with a predator drone. And shortly before that, on November 30, the Post ran a lengthy piece on Zimbabwe titled, “Land of Broken Trust; Though Widespread Brutality Has Ebbed in Zimbabwe, Political Violence Simmers and Threatens to Reignite.”

I did a Nexis search cross-referencing the words “Zimbabwe” and “human rights.” That search turned up 66 stories in the Washington Post, 122 stories in the_ New York Times_, and 55 stories in the Los Angeles Times. I also did a search cross-referencing the words “Equatorial Guinea ” and “human rights.” Equatorial Guinea is the small African state friendly to the United States, the third largest producer of oil in sub-Saharan Africa, and home to billions of dollars in American oil company investments. Its led by regime even worse than Mugabe’s, but because it’s on our side the American media can’t be bothered covering the country.

Incidentally, that second Nexis search turned up four stories in the Washington Post (none of which were actually about the human rights situation in Equatorial Guinea, but mentioned the country only in passing), and no stories at all in the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times. Which means that in the last month alone, the Washington Post has written three more stories about the admittedly wretched state of affairs in Zimbabwe than have been written about the appalling human rights situation in Equatorial Guinea in the past year by America’s three leading newspapers.

The Post piece today decried China’s support for Zimbabwe. It called Beijing a “Mugabe enabler,” and said it was about time that China began practicing “mature diplomacy” and halted its “hands-off” policy that has “allowed Mugabe to stay in power.” Just change the relevant words so that were talking about the United States and Equatorial Guinea, and you’d have a very sensible editorial about a situation over which the United States actually has some control, given its great influence over the regime of Major General Teodoro Obiang. But I’m guessing it’ll be a long time before any major American news outlets works up any interest in that type of reporting.

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 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

July 2015

Dressed to Kill

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Wrong Prescription?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Travel Day

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Fugue State

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

One Day Less

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Speakeasy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In order to understand how Marty’s could survive as an institution, I returned a year after my first visit to spend a week at what was sure to be the world’s bleakest comedy club.”
Photograph by Mike Slack
Post
The Lost Land·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I had first encountered some of these volumes—A Swiftly Tilting Planet, The Giver—as a child, and during adolescence, they registered as postcards from a homeland recently abandoned.”
Photograph by the author
Article
Wrong Prescription?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Whatever the slogans suggested, the A.C.A. was never meant to include everyone.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery
Post
Introducing the July Issue·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Trudy Lieberman reports on the failed promise of the Affordable Care Act, Sarah A. Topol explores Ukraine’s struggle for a national identity, Dave Madden spends a week in Hollywood’s toughest comedy club, and more

Photograph by Stanley Greene/NOOR Images

Number of insect fragments allowed by the FDA in a standard jar of peanut butter:

153

It emerged that, in trying to count her rings, marine geologists had accidentally killed a 507-year-old clam named Ming.

A resident of Chalk Level Township in Missouri discovered the bodies of three dogs packed inside dog-food bags.

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