On air: Is it ever justified to interfere in another country?

The pressure is growing on Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe to postpone Friday’s Presidential run off elections. South Africa’s governing ANC party has accused the Zimbabwean government of “riding roughshod” over democracy.

The UN Security Council has unanimously agreed to condemn the violence in Zimbabwe and said a fair election would be “impossible”. And in separate comments, ANC leader Jacob Zuma, who rivals Mr Mbeki as South Africa’s most powerful man, said the situation in Zimbabwe was “out of control” and called for urgent intervention by the UN and regional Southern African Development Community.

Military intervention
Writing in today’s Times Newspaper in the UK Paddy Ashdown, the former European Union High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, says military intervention in Zimbabwe would be justified to stop the violence descending into mass slaughter. While British journalist David Aaronovitch advocates intervention, saying it is now the only solution.

We’re not just going to be looking at the issue of military intervention, but all kinds of intervention including aid being sent to a country against the wishes of it’s government as in the recent case of Burma. So is one man’s humanitarian intervention, another man’s interference? Is there ever a time when the moral or humanitarian case is so compelling it justifies interference?

Although Robert Mugabe’s support is eroding, there is still no appetite for military intervention from African countries. But UN rules state that, if a country is unwilling or unable to carry out its responsibility to prevent abuse of its own citizens, then responsibility must be transferred to the international community.

But, what justifies invading somebody else’s country? The most recent military intervention to date – Iraq – is still heavily criticised and disfavoured by the International community. The issue of Iraq has made more and more people around the world re-think the position of military intervention. Is Zimbabwe different and does it justify this type of action OR can military intervention ever be justified?

Here are a few examples of recent International interventions..

Cambodia 1992

What happened: The United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia a 22,000-strong civilian and military peacekeeping force arrived to conduct free and fair elections, and oversee the resettlement of 370,000 Cambodian refugees.

Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge, and other groups like the ‘Khmer People’s National Liberation Armed had been fighting the remains of Vietnamese occupying forces for a decade and had politically alienated and made homeless hundreds of thousands of people.

Mozambique 1992-1994

What happened: The United Nations Operations in Mozambique entered the country to help implement the General Peace Agreement.

Justification: The UN observers entered at the invitation of the government.

Sierra Leone 1999-2005

What happened?
In October 1999 the UN agreed to send peacekeepers to restore order and disarm the rebel groups fighting the government.

A civil war occurred despite UN presence between 1991 and 2001, about 50,000 died. By January 2002, the war was declared over. By 2004, the disarmament process was complete. In December 2005, UN peacekeeping forces pulled out of Sierra Leone.

We’re hoping to bring together some Zimbabweans to listen to previous cases of intervention and when the International community stood by and see what option they prefer.

104 Responses to “On air: Is it ever justified to interfere in another country?”

  1. 1 ZK
    June 24, 2008 at 14:35

    Lord Ashdown’s intentions are good, but misguided. Dan Damon was interviewing the MDC treasurer Roy Bennett on World Update earlier today and Mr Bennett himself indicated that this is a situation for SADC and the AU to solve, not for the world to interfere militarily.

    Is it justified? This depends on the circumstances. Ultimately, in most cases it’s said to have been justified only in hindsight, after a positive result. It’s a good thing that in recent times, military interventions have generally been successful.

  2. 2 parth guragain
    June 24, 2008 at 14:54

    yes it can be justified sometimes.But before attacking another country there should be discussion involviong several countries and use of force should not be excessive.We as different countries of world should attack another country with good intention to improve the condition of that country not to worsen the condition.

  3. 3 Virginia Davis
    June 24, 2008 at 15:13

    I agree with ZK – if there is an intervention it should be from Africa – not the larger
    international community. These incidents, cf Burma, are a time of transition for the world as a “wider responsibility” for the welfare of all citizens” comes to be practiced.

    Virginia in Oregon

  4. 4 Luz María Guzmán from Mexico
    June 24, 2008 at 15:19

    “What justifies invading somebody else’s country?”

    In my opinion, gross and mass violations of human rights. I think the Zimbabwe situation merits interference by the international community. However, I think the UN should do this intervention.

    “The issue of Iraq has made more and more people around the world re-think the position of military intervention. Is Zimbabwe different and does it justify this type of action OR can military intervention ever be justified?”

    I think military intervention should be the last resort to attempt to resolve a conflict. Also, this intervention must be carry on by the UN.

    Not all military intervention is always justified. This was the case of Iraq; we are still waiting for the weapons of mass destruction. But, there have been conflicts -like Rwanda- that merited international intervention and the world stood still watching while thousands of civilians were slaughtered.

  5. June 24, 2008 at 15:21

    International relations should be based on respecting the sovereignty of each country, but at the same time countries shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the excesses that can happen in any particular one. An independent country doesn’t mean its regime is free to govern its people without guaranteeing them basic right human rights and good governance. It’s one thing for a country to choose a political system, but it’s another to have a regime that enslaves its people by not allowing them the right to choose and govern itself through democratic process.

    It is unlikely that the UN will adopt a resolution by which it will have the right to directly topple regimes that have exaggerated its abuses or shown incompetence in governing. The best thing to do is to isolate it economically and diplomatically. Military interventions are an infringement on a country’s sovereignty and it will set a precedent for automatic military interventions in any country surrounded by hostile ones. This is likely to be unpopular by the people themselves as they will see it as an occupation or a continuous domination by foreign powers.

    Military interventions can be possible only in weak countries. But it’s unlikely to take place in countries with heavy military machine like Burma and North Korea. Any force trying to invade them will sustain heavy casualties, not to mention the veto of China to do so. Military interventions can’t be a general rule. As for the diplomatic and economic sanctions against a hostile regime can work if they are taken unanimously. Many regimes survive just by establishing good relations just with a few reliable countries. Mugabe is surviving thanks to the economic ties he has with SADC, mainly with South Africa.

    There are also the political calculations of the worth of a massive intervention in a country’s affair, especially when it comes to military action. NATO military intervened in Serbia because the situation there worsened by genocide was a threat to the image of Europe as a free continent and it couldn’t allow those things happen on its soil when the like of them were taking place elsewhere in parts of Africa like Liberia.

    What remains as a solution is to starve authoritarian and abusive regimes of all the means to survive and to give a boost to the opposition committed to democracy and to hope for the best to come.

    Abdelilah Boukili,
    Marrakesh, Morocco

  6. 6 cinefile
    June 24, 2008 at 15:34

    The best thing to do is to isolate it economically and diplomatically. In all fairness, as David Aaronovitch argues in The Times, these measures have not worked on Mugabe. Not kicking Zanu kids out of Australia, nor freezing assets in Europe and turning the electricity supply off in South Africa is unlikely to work either. After visiting Harare I don’t believe there is the will or the means to mount a revolt within the country. More should be known now that the hitherto pathetic ANC have found their voice. But intervention should not be ruled out.

  7. June 24, 2008 at 15:43

    It is never justified to interfere in another country by a nation in the normal condition but if some nation together (there should be no fraction between the countries) or any International Organization like UN may interfere and the condition should be strengthening of Democracy, Peace and stability of that country.

  8. 8 Paul
    June 24, 2008 at 15:54

    Even after viewing the operation of our brand new machine gun and wistfully looking upon quick and easy foreign occupation strategies, such as our cleansing the Philippine population of ‘anti-colonial insurgants’ back in 1899, two obvious financial questions still remain:
    are there exploitable natural resources and how many U.S. military garisons will be required?

  9. 9 John in Salem
    June 24, 2008 at 16:02

    I can’t imagine a more legitimate reason for international intervention than preventing genocide.

  10. 10 Bob in Queensland
    June 24, 2008 at 16:11

    Is it ever justified? Definitely. There are lots of examples of events and countries where action was necessary.

    Is it presently justified in the case of Zimbabwe? Only “maybe”. Mugabe may have run his country into the ground but he still has the support of a sizeable percentage of the population. Although I’m convinced the MDC won the recent election, it certainly wasn’t a landslide victory.

    ….which brings me to a third question:

    Can outside intervention work in Zimbabwe? I’d have to say “no”, not if it’s an uninvited invasion from outside the region. So long as opinions are relatively split in Zimbabwe and in southern Africa, I don’t think you can force “democracy” on them and have it stick. The solution has to come from within the region with the rest of the world only providing support when actually requested.

  11. 11 Venessa
    June 24, 2008 at 16:25

    I agree with Bob. As much as I would like to see an intervention it should not be done as long as it is uninvited. Nor should anyone go there and force democracy on the region or push any other values of their own culture. Clearly the Africans fear outside interference whether justified or not.

    I’ve said it repeatedly in many posts that the rest of the world can’t expect to effectively help Africa until Africans help themselves.

  12. June 24, 2008 at 16:29

    There are more reasons not to interfere then there are to. As a check and balance, if you have to pay people to side with you, it is not a legitimate coalition. If the people who border the area in question are not going to help, then your cause is misguided. If you find your defense secretary has to beg your allies to send more people, you should question your resolve. If you have to expose an intelligence recourse to hide your true motives for war, you are defiantly not on the path of righteousness. If there are grave conflicts of interest with your “helping” then it is not a valid interference. There are plenty of people in the world that need saving, pick one without a conflict. It is perfectly acceptable to “help”. If you enter the borders of a country and can not give the population at large weapons and training because you are afraid they will turn them against you, then you have no right to be there. If you do not understand the culture, you have no business conducting military operation insides it sovern borders. You can never make people free and remove their oppression if they do not have the resolve and will to uphold it. You can not “give freedom”. “Freedom” is only for the taking of those who desire it.

    Some readers might not hold the depth of thought to see the relevance of the following example, and I apologies.

    I was recently watching a nature show about Polar bears on the discovery channel. in a particularly harsh part of the winter, the bear cub was starving. The mother bear finally found a baby seal trapped under the ice. As a camera man observing this, you are about to see a baby seal get heinously ripped apart while alive. However, if you stop it you will see a starving polar bear cub slowly starve to death. Which one do you help?

    The point is that you can’t just look at these issues as black and white. Look what happened in Iraq. The US invaded under the guise of stopping the “minority Sunnis” from oppressing the “majority Shia”. (Forget how that was a western invention for a second.) Currently we are now funding and training the Sunnis to battle “Shia Extremist” militias. That is the roughest neighborhood in the world. To remain in power you had better be prepared to use violence to oppress your enemies, less you become the oppressed. As an outsider looking in you can’t just look at the scene and say, “we are going to save the baby seal”. You can’t just say, “we are going to save the Shia”.

    World politics, especially one hell bent on peace, is a chess game, not tic-tac-toe.

  13. 13 Andrew
    June 24, 2008 at 16:31

    Come on! World history has always been about the stronger tribes invading and raping the weak. Such is the human condition, our beastly nature, which is why we go against the grain, to buttress nobler institutions like the UN who may represent our idealized aspirations.
    Ever the unending cycle: the concert of Great Power rivalry unleashed in warring.

  14. 14 Nick in USA
    June 24, 2008 at 16:37

    It is definitely justified. Comparing Iraq and an operation by the UN is like comparing apples to oranges. Yes, going into Iraq was heavily criticized, but that’s because the invasion wasn’t conducted by the international community. We went into Iraq despite what the international community wanted. With the links to our current president and oil, it wasn’t difficult for critics to draw a link between oil and our invasion of that country. I’m not claiming those were our motives in this post. I’m just saying that this move was easy to criticize.

    On the other hand, if the international community had backed us, the situation would be very different. There would be no claims of stealing oil or anything of that sort. The UN is such a valuable resource that certain countries have done their best to undermine and steal power from. Instead of making enemies out of France and Germany, we would be allies bonded by a common struggle. It would be a chance for our countries to reconnect.

  15. 15 Nelson
    June 24, 2008 at 16:41

    Yes it is justified when the citizens in that particular country have no other means of helping them selves out. In the case of zimbabwe, the democratic option has being abused and has being made mockery of by robert mugabe. The only means of bringing succour to the poor zimbabweans is for robert mugabe to be removed by what ever means necessary. For as long as he is there, they will continue to suffer. Intervention is a viable option at this point. When two elephants fight. Its the grass that suffers.

  16. 16 Katharina in Ghent
    June 24, 2008 at 16:44

    I’ve already said it in the Talking Points for 24 June: The invasion in Iraq was unjustified first of all Bush &Co. lied about the reasons and while Saddam may have been a terrible dictator, the country was not in turmoil.

    As far as Zimbabwe goes, the country has been for years now in economic troubles (homemade), the political troubles only escalated during the election campaign. From what I’ve heard, things may stabilize now, so then there will be even less reason for the neighboring countries to interfere, and the outside world shouldn’t do it anyway. As far as I know, there is no genocide a la Rwanda going on, so there is little that the UN can do.

  17. 17 Bob in Queensland
    June 24, 2008 at 16:52

    @Nick in USA

    There is one comparison between Iraq and Zimbabwe which IS justified and that’s the “end game”. Unless it is definite that the MDC or some form of “government of national unity” could command general support in Zimbabwe, then the country could descend into years of guerilla warfare and terrorism similar to Iraq. As far as I can see, support for the MDC may be over 50% but there are still enough Mugabe supporters, many with a military background, to make the transition problematic.

  18. 18 Mohammed Ali
    June 24, 2008 at 16:53

    Chloe you did not mention Liberia. In 2003 ECOWAS and the United States of America intervene to stop the war and saw Charles Taylor out. Later the UN sent peace keeping troops that is still in the country. What confuses me is that the International community does not timely intervene in genuine cases like the one in Zimbabwe and at times countries go it alone and intervene in unnecessary situations like what the US and her allies did in Iraq.

    Now here is a serious and genuine situation that requires the timely intervention of the international community through any means to ensure that Mugabe is booted out so that the lives of the Zimbabwe will saved. There can be no substantive reason for intervening in a domestic situation of a country that this.

    Mr. Bush, you asked Saddam out of Iraq and he refused to go, you took him out by force: you asked Charles Taylor out of Liberia, he left and you still pursued him till he’s now in the Hague undergoing trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Can’t you please turn your war machines on Bob Mugabe and ask him to leave or you boot him out forceably. Ok I understand that there is no oil here that would warrant your intervention, but there are millions of innocent lives that need to be saved.

    The world should not sit and allow a replica of the Rwandan situation in Zimbabwe.

  19. 19 Nick in USA
    June 24, 2008 at 17:04

    @ Bob

    Without a doubt, Zimbabwe will be problematic. I don’t mean to claim that the actual military action in Zimbabwe will be any smoother than Iraq, but going in as an international force would allow for an occupying group of foreign soldiers without completely draining the funds of one country. Personally, I don’t have a problem with international occupation in Zimbabwe. Stay until the human rights issues have been rectified. An international occupation is far different from one country, or a couple of countries, occupying another.

  20. 20 Ekene Umeike
    June 24, 2008 at 17:08

    i am Nigerian, and i must say i am quite embarrassed by the lack of action of African leaders. the situation reminds me of something a friend a while back when i wondered aloud why the criminals in the Niger-Delta allegedly fighting for a larger share of the region’s wealth would not kidnap the politicians who are the region’s real problem instead of engineers. he said “how can a criminal attack his own boss?”
    most African leaders do not have the moral authority to speak up against Mugabe – i mean how many of them were really elected by the people. my president Yaradua cannot comfortably criticize a bad democratic process because he is the product of one.
    however, regardless of that i wish that he would be a hypocrite – if that is what it will make him – and intervene. Zimbabwe needs help, the kind of effort that went into fighting apartheid may quite well be necessary.
    a Zimbabwean led rebellion (not necessarily violent) well supported by the outside world would be welcome by me. i would even contribute money for that like i heard was contributed here in Nigeria during the apartheid days and efforts to free Rhodesia.

  21. 21 Mawuli Coffie, Accra
    June 24, 2008 at 17:13

    It is ever justified to intervene under certain circumstances and the situations in Zimbabwe has call for it. The United Nation should intervene for us to have peace on the sub -region. When will African leaders learn to leave the stage when the ovation is loudest ? Uncle Bob call it quit and save your people from hunger.

  22. 22 Mohammed Ali
    June 24, 2008 at 17:14

    Chloe you did not mention Liberia. In 2003 ECOWAS and the United States of America intervene to stop the war and saw Charles Taylor out. Later the UN sent peace keeping troops that is still in the country. What confuses me is that the International community does not timely intervene in genuine cases like the one in Zimbabwe and at times countries go it alone and intervene in unnecessary situations like what the US and her allies did in Iraq.

    Now here is a serious and genuine situation that requires the timely intervention of the international community through any means to ensure that Mugabe is booted out so that the lives of the Zimbabwe will saved. There can be no substantive reason for intervening in a domestic situation of a country than this.

    Mr. Bush, you asked Saddam out of Iraq and he refused to go, you took him out by force: you asked Charles Taylor out of Liberia, he left and you still pursued him till he’s now in the Hague undergoing trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Can’t you please turn your war machines on Bob Mugabe and ask him to leave or you boot him out forceably. Ok I understand that there is no oil here that would warrant your intervention, but there are millions of innocent lives that need to be saved.

    The world should not sit and allow a replica of the Rwandan situation in Zimbabwe.

  23. 23 Carolien from the Netherlands
    June 24, 2008 at 17:22

    @ Venessa and Bob: I think your argument of regional intervention/ pressure is an interesting one. It’s a phenomenon we see more and more as the UN struggles (after intervention) to execute an exit strategy (if there was even one to begin with). On top of this I think that there is a general *intervention fatigue* amongst UN member states, as it is usually the same countries contributing troops, and there are nearly always problems with UN peace (keeping/ enforcing/ building) operations.

    Problem with this idea, unfortunately, is that it seems to be difficult to execute. The African Union mission in Darfur was only partly effective, and since it officially became a UN mission it has been harder than ever for the UN to find countries willing to contribute troops. Perhaps the AU needs to gain more autonomy and credibility before it can realize its potential in this respect. But I do believe strongly that this type of mission is more likely to succeed than any other type of multi-lateral force.

    Interventions in general: yes. Wasn’t the purpose of the UN to “save future generations from the peril of war” or something along those lines? It has an obligation to all its member states to take on this role. Although they should be a little careful and more sensible about their Peace Operations in general. And think of exit strategies that actually work.

    Zimbabwe: If there is a genuine threat of genocide, of course there should be an intervention. As I said before, I think it would be wise for the AU to consider what type of action they wish to undertake in this regard, as I think their mission would be considered most legitimate.

  24. 24 Justin in Iowa
    June 24, 2008 at 17:25

    Yes, there are instances where military intervention is justified.

    The only sort of intervention that would be beneficial to zimbabwe at the moment would be an african force whose purpose was to permit fair elections to take place, and enforce the result. And that’s not likely to happen.

    Zimbabwe is only going to get “better” when people stop believing “promises” and start choosing their leaders based on sound policy and results.

  25. 25 umoh (from Nigeria)
    June 24, 2008 at 17:25

    @Mohammed Ali,

    …”Mr. Bush, you asked Saddam out of Iraq and he refused to go, you took him out by force: you asked Charles Taylor out of Liberia, he left and you still pursued him till he’s now in the Hague undergoing trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Can’t you please turn your war machines on Bob Mugabe and ask him to leave or you boot him out forceably. Ok I understand that there is no oil here that would warrant your intervention, but there are millions of innocent lives that need to be saved”.

    WELL SAID…. only hope those that should hear are listerning. The message here is CRYSTAL CLEAR.

  26. June 24, 2008 at 17:27

    It is never right to interfere with or intervene in the affairs of another country for two reasons:

    Because of the necessity, sanctity and consistency of sovereignty, independence, rights and freedom.

    Because no president would tolerates any interference with or intervention in the affairs of his government or country.

    Prince Awele Odor
    Lagos, Nigeria

  27. 27 Raffles
    June 24, 2008 at 17:49

    In this world ultimately we are one people. A single group called humanity. In our own individual societies we have rules and laws, how we are obliged to act and react, how to live in our society. Hopefully we are moving towards an evolved and enlightened society. One where we live together and respect each other and work towards a common good.

    As such, we interact with each other and whether on a small local scale or international scale where we see injustice we are obliged to act. If we live in an international world, seek to interact globally as humanity then when one part of this global society goes wrong – and I think we can all agree there are some fundamentals of good and evil – we are obliged to assist our brothers and sisters as best we can. if that means interfering in other nations then so be it.

    How can we consider ourselves to be a civilised and decent society when we do not act when others are being oppressed or worse. We are no better than the wrongdoers if we stand idly by and do nothing to help. Do not confuse this with meddling and Zimbabwe as an example, when people are being threatened, abused and killed simply because they wish to express their freedom of thought and expression about their leadership leadership then how can we do nothing.

    Is it ever right to interfere? When people are being beaten or killed… then yes we should.

  28. 28 VictorK
    June 24, 2008 at 17:53

    Intervention can be justified. The circumstances should be such as to make it a very rare occurrence indeed. Intervention should be distinguished from a military attack as part of a pre-emptive, defensive or punitive war. Afghanistan and Iraq are interventions of this kind. What’s being discussed re Zimbabwe belongs to another category entirely, that of external parties making a disinterested intervention in the internal affairs of another county.

    Genocide or systematic and continuing mass murder (thousands upwards) are the only justifications for intervention. Violations of human rights don’t count since not everyone is agreed on what those rights should be (intervention to prevent mass abortion, perhaps?). Intervention should be a last resort, so prior to its happening every step should have been taken to apply alternative remedies, including sending arms to the party in need of help. Intervention should preferably be on a regional basis, by neighbouring states. Where a continent like Africa is concerned this is a naive dream and so extra-continental intervention in the two situations I’ve noted becomes appropriate. In considering humanitarian intervention I think it important to have first attempted to arm the faction or interest on whose behalf you may intervene. Firstly, it may be that that’s all it takes to resolve the situation (as happened, eventually, in the Sudan conflict). Secondly, if they are not prepared to fight on their own behalf then that’s a red light indicating that external intervention is unlikely to lead to a lasting solution (since those whose post-intervention co-operation will be needed on the ground are unable or unwilling to give it), and is probably not worth undertaking. The Burmese seem to fall into this category.

    I am very wary of any attempt to give the UN, or any collection of nations, a right to intervene in the affairs of other countries.

    Zimbabwe doesn’t justify intervention, though I’d like to see arms sent to the MDC if they want them. Bosnia and Kosovo were both justified interventions. Somalia wasn’t. The DR of Congo, a situation that’s hardly ever discussed, would be a much better candidate for intervention than Zimbabwe. Rhodesia or aparthied South Africa wouldn’t have been proper occasions for intervention. Ethnic cleansing, in the absence of murder, is not a grounds for intervention; neither is political or economic discrimination against a section of a population (the kind of thing that would theoretically leave every country open to attack by the UN/World Government).

  29. 29 Anthony
    June 24, 2008 at 17:54

    If you can make it look like you’re the good guy to everyone else, and you’re much bigger than the other country, and it benefits you in some way, then why not? Thats just the way it is and has always been.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  30. 30 Trent West
    June 24, 2008 at 17:59

    Yes there are situations that warranty international intervention. I think it is a little naive to expect or ask a lot out of the African countries to help in Zimbabwe. Mugabe is seen as a hero by a lot of African leaders and thus most are not willing to throw him under the bus. And then there is the financial element of all this, to put it simply African government can not afford any kind of intervention without the help of the broader international community.

    It is a shame that the UN is such a toothless dog. The were sleeping in five star hotels, drinking bottled sparkling water, and yapping when thousands were being slaughtered in Rwanda, people were dying in N. Korea and Ethopia, and Saddam was gasing the Kurds. There are still at it when thousands are being killed in Dufur, and people are dying in Zimbabwe. They are still passing resolutions…..What a sad joke.

    I think the only way for the pressure to work is to send in boots on the ground, and get the Chinese to think higher than their pocket books. The Chinese, Russians, and a few other Asian countries that have been helping Mugabe need to sieze and desist.

  31. 31 Des Currie
    June 24, 2008 at 18:07

    Only if the country is occupied by humans such as yourself is it reasonable to become involved.
    Des Currie

  32. 32 Justin in Iowa
    June 24, 2008 at 18:07

    There’s a question that hs been asked before on the WHYS before, I think, which directly pertains in my humble opinion… When are we going to give the UN some teeth? When are we going to give it the power to enforce what it resolves? Because a UN with the will and ability to act would have been a strong factor in this and many other situations. Even the threat of force, with the will to back it up, would have had influence.

  33. 33 Kathy, Jamaica
    June 24, 2008 at 18:09

    Intervention in Zimbabwe a must. The images of the brutality on the people is disturbing and the leader’s utterances is one of a mad man void of morality. I fear for all the people there, I hope he removed and jailed for crimes against humanity and a leader in put in place that will care for her people. It this a foreign concept in Africa.

  34. 34 Rob
    June 24, 2008 at 18:12

    It is ridiculous to even suggest we should never act in order to prevent humanitarian disasters or abuses. If you saw a helpless child being beaten on the street would you walk by or intervene?! Of course we must intervene! Should we have ignored the Bosnia genocide? I’m horrified that the question is even posed on this program… Should we have compassion and act to help our suffering neighbors who are being oppressed?? Of course! History has taught us the folly of isolationism… let us learn that is helps our own nation when we help others. In addition, it’s simply the right thing to do!

  35. 35 krisjanis
    June 24, 2008 at 18:20


    do you have an example of military intervention that has brought any positive change?

    I have seen no intervention that did not have ‘two bottoms’. Zimbabwe is rich in resources, that’s it!

  36. 36 Nick in USA
    June 24, 2008 at 18:20

    Thanks Justin,

    I’m glad I’m not the only person who wants to give the UN the ability to do their job. So many lives could be saved with a more powerful UN. A stronger UN could have avoided countless conflicts from beginning in the first place. Think of the threat of a coalition of nations with a military and considerable money backing them. Weak african countries like Zimbabwe wouldn’t dare stand up to them. When a single country tries to intervene it’s always to their detriment, but a group of countries could spread the load.

  37. 37 Will Rhodes
    June 24, 2008 at 18:25

    I agree with ZK – international intervention should come from the African nations themselves – the last thing you need is giving Mugabe and ammunition to say that the imperialists are wanting to take back Zimbabwe.

    And, it is about time the international community came out as started saying/acting doing something to help the people of Zimbabwe!

  38. 38 BC, CANADA
    June 24, 2008 at 18:27

    There is a single clear reason intervention has failed in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is because these operations have not been conducted under the auspices of the UN. They were instead essentially invasions by the US and NATO based on a general western political and economic dissatisfaction with the situation. Military intervention should never be conducted unless commanded by the UN. Anything else can easily be construed as imperialist war.

  39. 39 Tom D - USA
    June 24, 2008 at 18:28

    Do you realize how ironic that question is coming from a country that built the British Empire by invading, pillaging, plundering resources, and installing right wing conservative repressive puppet governments in other countries of the world to oppress the people for the British flag?

  40. 40 Klaypso - Vienna
    June 24, 2008 at 18:29

    of course the situation in zimbabwe is terrible. but there are also other countries where people suffer and leaders are corrupt. why does the BBC not cover other countries as much as zimbabwe?
    as much as i feel sorry for the people of zimbabwe, i am really a bit fed up with hearing about it every day…
    what about, for example, ethiopia? Meles zenawi is also a terrible leader, and people are also suffering there because (among others) the governement’s policy. it is covered, but not nearly as much as zimbabwe. why?
    or what about eritrea, egypt, turkey etc………..?

  41. 41 Mark Sandell
    June 24, 2008 at 18:31

    This question didn’t come from a country Tom, it was suggested by people e-mailing us. They come from all different countries, thank goodness.
    The production team of WHYS live in the UK for sure, but then by that criterion all the questions on the blog come from a country.
    all best

  42. 42 Justin in Iowa
    June 24, 2008 at 18:33

    To the speaker who is suggesting taking someone’s life to save another person’s life is not justified…. Should the Nazi’s not have been fought? Should we have let millions of jews be slain and not blinked an eye?

    The fact is, some people, peoples, countries, through their own actions, sacrifice their right to sovereignity and invite intervention.

    The problem with this is that no single country can be impartial enough to decide whether the line has been crossed. Interventions must always be world and regionally sanctioned.

    That was the greatest failing of the US going into Iraq. Not because it wasn’t justified… because it was. But because it was part of a single country and its ally’s agenda and not a world and regional resolution.

  43. 43 Mark Sandell
    June 24, 2008 at 18:34

    Klaypso, we asked this question in Priya’s post yesterday- and you’ll see that many people tried to answer it. Other programmes on the World Service and elsewhere in the BBC have covered the countries you talk about (Ethiopia was a lead on our main national bulletin last week)
    Why not suggest a question we should ask ?
    all best

  44. 44 Justin in Iowa
    June 24, 2008 at 18:35

    Evil Triumphs when good men stand by and do nothing.

  45. 45 Rob
    June 24, 2008 at 18:35

    The problem with the UN and the reason that the US had to act in in the Middle East with a “coalition of the willing” is because the UN is too corrupt and weak to enforce it’s own resolutions. The UN is very happy to throw nasty condemnations at Saddam Hussein or the Taliban, but only the US and willing allies had the guts to actually take action against regimes that will not be moved by diplomacy. I would love for the UN to be the world police, but there is just too much opposition from self-interested countries (i.e. China, Russia) who want to protect their own interests in many negative humanitarian situations (North Korea).

  46. 46 Rob - LA
    June 24, 2008 at 18:36

    I’m quite disturbed even at the question posed by today’s program. If you saw a stranger being beaten next to you as you walked down the street, would you not help the victim if you had the power to act? How horribly selfish and ridiculous to even suggest we should do nothing in the face of such humanitarian suffering in Zimbabwe or other countries. Should we have ignored the genocide in Bosnia? History has taught us the folly of isolationism, let alone the need for compassion!

  47. 47 Prince Awele Odor- Lagos, Nigeria
    June 24, 2008 at 18:37

    It is never right and never justified to interfere with or intervene in the affairs of another country for two reasons:

    Because of the necessity, sanctity and consistency of sovereignty, independence, rights, and freedom.

    Because no president would tolerates any interference with or intervention in the affairs of his government or country.

  48. June 24, 2008 at 18:37

    In this increasingly globalized world it is important to have a body such as the U.N. to determine the need for intervention when leaders or other circumstances rob citizens of their rights. If this body is given the credibility and power to properly regulate countries without the special interests of powerful countries, it would prevent unilateral action such as the U.S. invasion of Iraq and make unbiased intervention a tool to improve not only one country but the world as a whole.

  49. 49 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 24, 2008 at 18:40

    In Zimbabwe, a country is slowly strangled as the world watches, yet again.

    The US intervened in Somalia in the 1990s. The UN actually withdrew from Rwanda and permitted the slaugher of hundreds of thousands. The UN set up “protected areas” in Bosnia, then withdrew to permit the mass murder by Serbs. Right now in Darfur, Sudan pursues its relentless Final Solution with utter contempt for countless UN resolutions.

    The UN is structurally unable to intervene because its charter holds national sovereignty as paramount, rather than individual rights. The US is exhausted from its Iraq adventure. You’re on your own, world.

  50. 50 Andrew
    June 24, 2008 at 18:41

    To invade a country, never do it in half measures. Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    When America went into Iraq, they should have gone in brutally–exterminate all of Sadaam’s followers and their relatives in the context of war, any potential Sunni sympathizers, wipe out any future insurgent threat whilst propping up the allied Shiites and installing a strong-man to rule the unruly hordes. A compliant government ready to co-operate with the oil companies.

    Don’t blame the Americans and Brits. Today, it’s Iraqis killing themselves more manifold than the foreign invaders.

    It’s too late now, in “peace” time conditions, to do a clean sweep. Better for the Americans to get out and let the Iraqis kill and fight among themselves, where from their own carnage, another strong-man emerges. That is the way of the Middle Eastern people.

  51. 51 Francis Owusu
    June 24, 2008 at 18:41

    Yes and a million times yes when it shows that the world cares whether it is in Irag, Sudan or Zimbabwe. The world should stop the rethoric and act to remove this wicked people in Zimbabwe killing innocent people and destroying a whole nation. Shame to Mbeki of South Africa. Shame to China and Russia for their stance but not surprised because of their own democratic records as nations.

  52. June 24, 2008 at 18:43

    This broadcast amounts to an interference and intervention because NO speaker in your studio came from Mugabe’s party or shares belief or conviction with Mugabe’s party. I am sure that no one who would defend Mugabe from the public would be allowed to speak and that my contribution would not be read. It cannot be true that no person in Zimbabwean supports Mugabe’s party.

    Prince Awele Odor
    Lagos, Nigeria

  53. 53 jamily5
    June 24, 2008 at 18:44

    We have thoroughly discussed the military interventions, so I will not elaborate on that type of intervention.
    But, some countries see our “aid,” as a way to control things.
    and, I must admit, sometimes, it is.
    We should give aid without strings attached.
    One of the reasons that many countries resist western aid is that there are unclear and sometimes selfish motives involved.
    I know that people think that it is okay that they have motives: afterall, it is their money that funds the aid.
    But, we can’t act as if we are doing such a wonderful service to others, if we have other motives.
    also, sometimes when we do send people into assist or give aid, we need to be conscious about our own cultural values and not try to westernize other countries.
    Yes, there are boundaries.
    But, just because we give a company aid does not mean that we need to tell them how to conduct their personal lives.

  54. 54 muze
    June 24, 2008 at 18:46

    It really is ironic isn’t it how Britain can’t seem to solve the problem it creates;
    it can’t get enough response here for the malice that’s still in view by the majority of Africans.

    Truth be told Britain can’t write anything but a “much watered down” UN security council draft. What does that say, either they’re not doing enough in order to get Nations like China and Russia to agree, or that they would have gone right back and repeated the mistakes they made the first time.

    No explanation can solve the paradigm that this Nation is in to solve the problems in Zimababwe, because they can’t avoid repeating the mistakes of their own history.

  55. 55 Lovemore
    June 24, 2008 at 18:52

    Zimbabbwe requires intervention and it needs it fast. The kind of interventon I would like to see right now is the grounding of all the ZANUPF Leaders. They and their families must be banned from entering oher countries and have all their assets outside Zimbabwe frozen.


  56. 56 Anthony
    June 24, 2008 at 18:58

    @ Rob in LA

    What if the person getting beaten had just raped and killed that persons little child? You never know peoples reasoning. Bush contributed to the killing of a lot of innoccent people, but I’m sure you still pay taxes.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  57. 57 Mark Duwe
    June 24, 2008 at 19:01

    Interventions are needed and should be carried out such as in Germany in WWII and Bosnia. Iraq is a misadventure of the most evil regime on the planet, the Bush Gang of Neocon Billionaires. In this case the rich are waging war to make themselves richer and care little about anything else.

    The US should be out of Iraq and in Zimbabwe, Darfur, and Myanmar.

    BTW: Can anyone believe that Nelson Mandela is still listed as a terrorist by the government of the United States?

  58. 58 San Romano
    June 24, 2008 at 19:04

    I am waiting to here a response that justifies how anyone in a position of power can defy the rights of basic humanism. When someone can identify a clear justification for ruthlessness towards the innocent then maybe I can agree that interference is never neccessary.

  59. 59 andrew thar
    June 24, 2008 at 19:06

    Of course. And it’s sad to see that enough of such intervention is not taking place in the world. Look at Burma after Nargis, where millions have been left homeless, starving, and where celebrities and ordinary civilians alike are arrested for ‘helping’ those affected. Well, the issue was in the headlines for a few days after the disaster, the so-called ‘humanitarian crisis’, but was quickly forgotten later. And now who cares what’s happening in Burma or how its goverment is misusing foreign donations. The issue there is purely humanitarian, not even political like that in Zimbabwe, but not a single country intervened, perhaps to let junta enjoy sovereignty at the expense of countless innocence lives.

  60. 60 Athina Xylouri
    June 24, 2008 at 19:14

    I would accept intervention only in the case when the party which intervenes is reliable with no other secret purpose apart from helping the opposition parties find a solution for their good.Unfortunately in any case that comes in my mind from crisis situations like Iraq or former Yugoslavia, the interveners always had interest in the areas under emergency positions.
    Intervening delays the finding of a viable position and disunite nations, neibours, civils of the same country. Put dilemmas in people heads having to answer in their mind with whoms side they are and the situation becomes worst. Please leave people alone to solve their problems by themselves with their way, do not intervene, it is a crime. Middle East has already safered enough and unstable situation in Balcania make all of us who live here safer..
    Intervention lead to the dictatorship in Greece in 1973 and even worst there still exist relics in Greeks’ behavour of disunity

  61. 61 Venessa
    June 24, 2008 at 19:21

    Prince Pieray C. P. Odor makes a fine point that surely there are people in Africa who support Mugabe.

    Though the war in Iraq is not a fair comparison; one thing remains as a true comparison. People in these countries have been fighting and killing each other for years. Until the populace of these countries are fed up with such atrocities that are being committed against their people I don’t see how assistance helps. We hear that Africans don’t want western intervention. So be it; respect the request and let them handle it until they ask for the help.

  62. 62 steve b - uk
    June 24, 2008 at 19:25

    All this talk of the British Empire and all other things in the past – this is talk of the past.

    A great leader will refure to the future.

    This may be unpopular. But he (or ‘she ‘to be politcally correct – how much energy we spend in this stupid pc debate! – ) must look forward. Winston Churchill was not afraid to look forward and he was right, although vilified at the time. Similarlry, I think we must look forward.

    So – re ZimBabwe: send in shock troops – the SAS or American equivalent – and remove the bastard Muabwe, Freeze all overseas bank accounts. Send all their offspring back from overseas universitiies,

    Just do it.


  63. 63 jamily5
    June 24, 2008 at 19:33

    It is usually easy for a country to stand on pride and principle.

    yet, their people are starving. It would be the same as a parent who is too prideful to accept help.
    Yet, like I have said before, when help comes with strings, it is less likely to be accepted.
    And, let’s face it, western countries are not known as honest or trustworthy.

  64. 64 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 24, 2008 at 19:48

    What a lot of hot air on the air today. Some very comfortable-sounding professor droning on about being cautious, and how intervention shouldn’t be “the first resort,” blah blah. It’s been YEARS now. When Mugabe is the only human being left alive in Zimbabwe, will the time then finally be right for precipitous action?

    Yeah, sure, “the world” should intervene. But who is the world? The UN is a creature of its member states; helpless when the state is the criminal. Does the UN represent noble ideals? Sure. But it just doesn’t work. The dream is dead. The UN is bloated, cynical, and fatally flawed. The African Union is a joke. NATO is confused and anachronistic. Nobody has a taste for empire anymore. The US record is distinctly uneven. Let’s at least be honest and recognize that UN resolutions and “regional solutions” and navel-gazing academics are worth precisely nothing.

  65. 65 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 24, 2008 at 19:55

    Steve– Winston Churchill saw forward once. He perceived the Nazi threat. He couldn’t see forward to manage the end of empire though. He was possibly the greatest speaker in history, which counts for a lot in my book.

  66. 66 Rob
    June 24, 2008 at 20:09

    @ Anthony in LA

    You can blame Bush for ” killing of a lot of innoccent people” as much as you can blame Churchill for killing innocent Germans during WWII. In both cases, a dangerous and oppressive thug needed to be stopped. This is the only excuse for military intervention and there are several other places in the world that demand such action. There is only justification for violence upon another person when that person is committing violence upon the helpless. Defense of oppressed people oftentimes requires force. This is the way of the world. Rarely will diplomacy make a bully stop his abuse upon the weak. And it doesn’t matter whether the helpless person is innocent or guilty. At the very least, the bully’s stick must be taken away so that the oppressed can be allowed a fair fight to defend themselves…

    Should this be done carefully and responsibly? Of course!

    Has it always been done responsibly in the past? Of course not!

    But does that mean we stop trying to do what is right simply because our plans and strategies are not perfect? Of course not.

  67. 67 steve b - uk
    June 24, 2008 at 20:11

    Hello my fellow HYSYs -Joanthan (sunny San Francisco) and others

    But what do you want to DO?

    talk-talk? Wake me up for the coffee break.

    A UN armed intervention? Ha ha – it would take them years to agree anything.

    The British SAS? They could take Muagbe out in a whisper, but it is politcally incorrect.


    What would you DO?

  68. 68 Rob
    June 24, 2008 at 20:24

    I like the SAS idea…

  69. 69 Nick in USA
    June 24, 2008 at 21:07

    I agree that the UN is bloated and flawed, but why not revamp the whole thing. Give them some power and the ability to use it. First things first, get rid of the veto-ability.

  70. 70 Bekele Woyecha, United Kingdom
    June 24, 2008 at 21:11

    There are times when interventions are the only and successful means to stop the sufferings of millions of people. To my observations, however, it is still premature to say international intervention is necessary for the crisis in Zimbabwe. Before choosing interventions as the only resort, there should be more pressure from the international community on regional governments, especially South Africa and the African Union so that they join hands with governments like Botswana and Angola who have openly criticised the violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe. These governments along with prominent personalities in Africa like Mandela, Joaquim Chissano, Kofi Anan and others should pressurize Mugabe to stop from proceeding with the election. In the mean time, there could be consistent civil disobedience within the country that could bring his regime down. If he does not accept the pressure and proceeds with the election, then his governments should not be recognised and he should be totally isolated. At the same time if Mugabe and his comrades in arm continue the intimidation and killing in spite of all the necessary attempts, then it may be wise to consider intervening so as to help the Zimbabweans breath better air while stopping a possible genocide.

  71. June 24, 2008 at 21:25

    There is no other Justification required other than what we have already seen in Zimbabwe to adopt a Military Intervention! What else are we waiting for? Mass killings, Rape, Torture of innocent civilians, Burning of people’s homes, unlawful arrests of members of the opposition, interference with the work of relief and charity organisations and the media?

    The time is ripe for a Military Intervention for end this unfortunate situation which in my analysis, is likely to metamorphose into genocide, similar to that which took place in Rwanda!

  72. June 24, 2008 at 21:29

    If the Nazis had not crossed into the borders of other sovern nations, the Jewish issue would have been a civil problem, and they probably could have continued their genocide without interference.

    The question in that case that would have needed answered would have been, is there a viable resistance that opposing countries can trust to arm and train? If so, what will be the outcome of their dominance? Will they in turn become the monsters seeking revenge on those that previously oppressed and persecuted them? If there is not a viable resistance capable of supporting their own freedom, then what end can be expected once the current threat is beaten back?

    It sounds like Zimbabwe has a viable revolution that is outgunned and out skilled.

    In Iraq there was too much conflict of interest.

    “the Reagan administration offered Hussein financial credits that eventually made Iraq the third-largest recipient of US assistance.”

    “Under President George H.W. Bush, the U.S. doubled its financial credits for Iraq. Dick Cheney, who was secretary of defense and a statutory member of the National Security Council that reviewed Iraq policy, supported the administration’s appeasement policy.”

    With those kinds of conflicts a nation looses it’s right to act unilaterally. Intervention can not be just.

  73. 73 Carolien from the Netherlands
    June 24, 2008 at 21:58

    @ Jonathan (sunny San Francisco) : Your comments remind me of a book I’m reading, Empire Lite by Michael Ignatieff. If you haven’t already; read it. It kind of makes your point.

    However, I’m hoping to disagree with you now. 😉 The UN needing more teeth is an argument that’s been around for ages- but in its current form the UN is already contested, with the Security Council basically deciding for all member states. It has the power to make international law, send peace ops, and lots more. Giving it more power may make it dangerous, and it was meant to be a peaceful platform. Moreover, it may erode what little legitimacy it has left, with the more powerful states dictating the rest, and the smaller states therefore defecting. It may not always work, but cooperation does have mutual benefits for all, such as global trade, good diplomatic relations and ‘democratic peace’. Let’s not forget what we’ve gained from the international system, imperfect as it may be. We now have the ICC in The Hague, ready to get to work. We’ll have to work with what we’ve got.

    I think certain types of interventions can work, although I’m highly critical of them myself. (East Timor is a good example of where things did work.) I think what is also worth mentioning is that the UN, when it was created, was not expected to do anything but keep the peace in case of a ceasefire. (original peace keeping missions) Since then it has not only had to develop a more ‘robust’ idea of peace keeping/ enforcing, but the number of instances where the missions have been deployed has also increased rapidly. The UN is slow to adjust, fair enough, but the world’s changing fast. Additionally, people have idealized the UN a lot, and in turn get angry if it doesn’t live up to expectations. The UN is often perceived as being responsible for failing to act, when of course strictly speaking it isn’t.

    Regional interventions is a relatively new idea that I think deserves a chance. It’s certainly better than doing nothing at all.

  74. June 24, 2008 at 22:04

    What if somebody had stopped the genocide that took place in Americas starting in the 1500’s? Would you say that the US has been a net gain or loss for humanity? Our upstart was no less heinous then the ones we chastise today. It is equally soaked in the blood of the Native Americans.

  75. 75 Justin in Iowa
    June 24, 2008 at 22:16

    Lets just pull off the gloves and second guessing, and just say what we mean when we say we want to give the UN teeth.

    We don’t really want to give the UN teeth, because the UN isn’t worth much. Its a paper tiger that nobody respects. Not to mention what has allready been meantioned, that the security council is basically the decision making body so the UN at large doesn’t have as much say.

    No, we don’t want to give the UN Teeth…

    We, or at least I, want a worldwide governing body sanctioned by the countries of the world, with both its own dedicated military force and diplomatic, judicial and research arms, and gaurantees for support from its member participants.

    Not that that would ever happen, but one can hope, some day…

  76. 76 Robert
    June 24, 2008 at 22:44

    This may sound harsh but I fear that intervention in many countries will not achieve anything. Violent intervention from outside doesn’t work to remove these people from power.

    If it fails (Britain and Suez, US and Iran ) the the regime will be empowered The rulers followers will be boosted by the apparent superiority of the government. The detractors of the government will be silenced by fear of the consequences.

    If it does remove the government do we in the international community have the stamina to work through the mess that a sudden regime change will bring? You simply have to look at Iraq to see the problems that will follow.

    The examples of interference listed in the intro are not really interference. They all contain phrases such as “invitation by” or “to support the general peace agreement”. In this case the international community has provided support, intervention is when it is done without the support or permission of the government. The political pressure needs to be to force the rulers of a country to see it as support and not interference.

  77. 77 Rob
    June 24, 2008 at 22:48

    Bringing up events from 500 years ago and using them to apply a certain amount of guilt or correlation with current situations is fruitless. Let’s not try to assert blame for things that happened before the printing press…

    But Dwight raises a good question. If the holocaust had been confined to Germany and there was not an international security threat from HItler, would the world have intervened? I’m afraid to offer that I think the world would have stood by.

    But it is my optimistic view that the global culture in the 21st century is quite a bit more concerned (and rightly) with humanitarian justice today – though it does still play second chair to national security. Therefore in our somewhat more enlightened era, I should think (and hope) that the world would stand up for what is right – helping the helpless…

  78. 78 David
    June 24, 2008 at 23:27

    No justification whatsoever to invade other peoples countries. The invaders are nothing more, but bullies.

    Economic blokade will hurt those who are already hurting. Try diplomacy aiming at government of national unity and you will succeed.

  79. 79 Bryan
    June 24, 2008 at 23:27

    I can’t access the BBC News website without seeing Robert Mugabe or Morgan Tsvangirai staring out at me. There’s a “Have Your Say” on the site and of course the last two “World Have Your Say” programmes have been wall to wall Zimbabwe and we are reminded of the situation in the country in just about every World Service newscast. I’d hate to know what’s on BBC TV.

    So tell me, guys, is anything else going on in Africa apart from the latest bout of mindless brutality from the supporters of an African tyrant?

    The UN sat and twiddled its thumbs when close to a million Rwandans were slaughtered in a hundred days. And the “international community tiptoes around Sudan as the slaughter of Africans under the direction of the Arab Khartoum government soars well over two hundred thousand while China and Russia continue to supply the arms for the killing and China vetoes any UN resolution that’s a bit too tough on Sudan, out of interest in Sudan’s oil. And what about the Congo. Anybody know the difference between it and the Democratic Republic of Congo? I seem to vaguely remember it had something to do with Zaire. Anybody know how many millions have been slaughtering one another in those countries? Does anybody care? Hell, it doesn’t seem to be much of a fashionable cause, does it.

    Actually I’ve got no doubt that if Morgan Tsvangirai had to gain power in Zimbabwe due to the intervention of whoever or whatever, the cycle of violence would simply continue. The West is so easily fooled by the word ‘Democratic’ in the name of a political party. Why does the West continue to push for democracy in Africa when it continually disappoints?

    I’m sure this will be a hugely unpopular suggestion, but why not recolonise Zimbabwe? Under Ian Smith and his fellow white Rhodesians blacks were second class citizens but there was relative peace, no shortage of jobs, food on the table and the white farmers ensured that Rhodesia was the bread basket of Africa. Now it’s the basket case.

    Is that scenario actually worse than people starving in their hundreds of thousands, living in fear and being raped and brutally hacked to pieces for backing the wrong party?

    I guess the ‘liberal’ left thinks nothing could be worse than colonialism. Hell, the people of Zimbabwe are being starved and savaged to death by a brutal madman. But at least they are not under white rule!

  80. 80 Mike G
    June 25, 2008 at 00:07

    I have followed this debate and others with interest and have had an interest in what Mugabe has been up to for a while, with it has to be said, growing disgust. Is this debate not entirely superflous? Consider this; Adolph Hitler, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein. Robert Mugabe…..his name does not sit uncomfortably with these others and lets not forget, the world went to war over Hitler and Hussein!!
    It appears that we are debating whether intervention is justified and yet surely the debate should be how long is the world prepared to sit and watch Mugabe abuse his power by slaughtering his own people before the world decides enough is enough.
    I suppose it all comes down as to whether it is acceptable to allow Mugabe to continue his activities.
    If the debate decides that intervention is not the answer, Mugabe will have been effectively given a mandate to continue his atrocious behaviour in the full knowledge that the rest of the world neither has the power or determination to do anything about it.

  81. June 25, 2008 at 02:08

    Were the world governed justly by a justly appointed federated global government–which obviously it is not, then this question would have been asked and answered long before.
    Persecution of a people by a government or its military, by corporate vested interests or by any other entity; the abuse, criminal neglect, or endangerment of any population by any other or by any entity CANNOT AND MUST NOT BE ALLOWED, MUCH LESS TOLERATED. No man has a mandate to abuse any other!
    The crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda, Bosnia, Somalia, Darfur, Haiti, even in Afghanistan and Iraq, stand as witness of the world’s shame and guilt. The criminal neglect of a people’s basic human needs of which the governments of Burma, now, and of North Korea in the past, have been guilty–which the world knew, witnessed and tolerated speak loudly of mankind’s failure and its betrayal of human rights, of itself and one another.
    IN A NUTSHELL: Any government incapable of or unwilling to secure and ensure The People’s basic needs for shelter and food, health and safety from wanton harm; any government guilty of perpetrating abuses upon or neglecting its citizens through any agency for any reason, thereby loses legitimacy and the right to govern and MUST BE REMOVED, through interference if need be.
    Right now, this more than amply describes Mugabe’s position and the UN’s duty to interfere and remove him from office. Not to do so is to become accessory to his crimes and as guilty of them as we are guilty of crimes in Rwanda, Bosnia, Somalia, etc.
    What nations and peoples are guilty of is, at best, criminal apathy and, at worst, criminal compliance through non-intereference. We wish not to be disturbed, involved, imposed upon or, worse, judged to be warmongering or self-serving. We hide behind convenient misconceptions and wrongful interpretations of ‘sovereignty,’ ‘self-determination,’ ‘legitimacy’–terms that no longer apply to nations that deny the rights of citizens.
    Ousting Hussein was one thing; occupying the country, attaching its oil fields to US profit and its lands for US bases–this is quite another. Illegal, criminal and unjustifiable. Bush saw fit to remove Hussein; why not Mugabe? Crimes are the same; profit and gain are not, that’s why! This the sickness of our world: profit and gain!
    It is EVERYONE’S DUTY UNDER GOD’S AND HUMAN LAWS to aid those in need; to protect the weak from abuse by the strong; to prevent criminal harm done to others under any and all circumstances; to stop evil on its tracks. We don’t need authorities or legal experts to validate this maxim: the truest validation and guidance lies within, in every man’s and every woman’s heart. There, when not corrupted by fear and self-interest, we all KNOW what is right. Even children will run to help and protect, where they haven’t yet been taught to fear and hide or hold back.
    East and West, North and South–the world IS SICK, its sickness is our doing and our burden. It may also be our undoing.

  82. June 25, 2008 at 02:24

    It is some how diffcults to know what is really going in Zimbabwe. It will look like the wicked world leaders wanted to include that country one of their element of runing political propaganda around the world. When some zimbabweans were murdered in S Africa most of world leaders, United Nations and church leaders never said any words why south Africa govt led people to be killed in their country in cold blood. Neither zimbabwe govt nor opposition leader need show the good work of their country around the world. Perhap they needed something through this wicked activity. I’m not support of zanu nor of mdc. Can any support of these two party tell to the world, What is RED card? Red in traffic light, Red flage in war time and what is the colour of blood?. Therefore, it is for this evil leaders of this world sings their wicked and political propaganda but one day the universes MAKER will pays you back with wicked plans of your murders world wide.

  83. 83 Mark Duwe...from Indy
    June 25, 2008 at 04:37

    I wish some foreign force would come to the states and free us from this crazy war pig.

  84. 84 Anis
    June 25, 2008 at 06:22

    What action was taken when Saddam Hussain was slaughtering his people even before 1990 and after 1990 war? No intervention was even discussed.

    What happened in the case of Rwanda? Nothing.

    What happened in Sebrenica? Nothing. 8000 male civilians were slaughtered and no one did anything.

    So what happens in Zimbabwe should not be a matter of military action by any community. I suspect Tsvangrai is being used by vested interests. He is creating more drama than you can see at Broadway. There is nothing to suggest any slaughter taking place in Zim.

    Mugabe is fighting white dominance by proxy and that is being opposed by a few in the West. It is their media that is hyping the issue. The role of media is enormous here. I saw Steven Sackur of BBC interviewing Iraqi oil minister over the security proposal by America. This deal, if it goes through will make Iraq a country totally a colony of USA. And Steven Sackur was interrogating this oil minister like any CIA agent will do. This interview was like a master putting all pressure to reveal his mind. I did not see a friendly or civilised smile in the face of Steven Sackur. What a shame this media is, I felt.

    At best, coming back to the subject, UN can summon Mugabe’s representative to discuss the issue threadbare with all the international community to determine what is actually happening in the country. A stupid lady reporting from Johannesburg and one stupid man venturing into Zimbwabwe and discussing the matter with Tsvangrai’s intention-suspected party cannot be taken as final report. That report is one sided and full of treachery. No one can take law in one’s own hands like Bush did in Iraq. Mugabe must be talked to, he may have many things to explain to the curious onlookers in the International Community. But I am sure the intentions of the West looks suspect. The case is being built up for a final stab.

  85. 85 Bijay Ahuja
    June 25, 2008 at 07:24

    As if possible everybody who lives on the earth is concered one or another way with either or way I am first stupid who says yes beacuse earth is my home not a country ….
    The management Guru is says that you can define this things as under.
    1 worldbank loan on the country
    2 universal estate
    3 currency management
    4 nations security probs
    5 Right to information act worldwide(Information Technology)
    6 global export import policy
    7 Right to work (global HR policy)
    8 Global Water rescoure Mangement
    9 Technology distribution Rights
    10 Global Human Rights Act
    the best thing is when u cant say anything just say one thing “I dont know”

    Bijay Ahuja

  86. 86 Ogola Benard
    June 25, 2008 at 07:26

    Ouch! Orwellian Mugabe despotic error. Mugabe regime has become insignificant, has lost credibility and is now frivolous for fear of being reclusive from the world.- its your crime!
    This half becked empty vessel Mugabe should not be seen as a demigod.There is need for intervention so that the people enjoy and exercise their obligation to exist in the zimbabwe.
    ” They can shout in the SU and washington”= with his croaky throat. Once Mugabe is to clench in power, there is going to be a crime wave of spike, oppression,nepotism,arbitrary arrests and wrongfull detention and unemployment especially for the opposition and those who did not support him for a vote.
    There will be economic plunder, abrogation of the constitution and lack of pres freedom a method typical of african states.
    Robert should ask himself why the whole world has come up against him? Its not even Ian smith?
    Mr Mugabe, in a democratic society and governance, there exists the press!The press is arecherche!

  87. 87 Anis
    June 25, 2008 at 07:27

    To David: You are yearning to see divine intervention in this Zim story when you write ‘one day the universes MAKER will pays you back with wicked plans of your murders world wide’. You know no divine intervention took place when Jews were crucifying living Jesus, no divine intervention took place when apartheid was in place in Zimbabwe or South Africa, no divine intervention took place when millions were being slaughtered by Nazis and even Israelis killing Muslims in Palestine. Bush would not have won the election and not killed so many Muslims.

    God died 2000 years ago. I am an atheist because God does not help. If he is there then he must be blind, deaf and dumb. I don’t need Him.

  88. 88 Ogola Benard
    June 25, 2008 at 07:27

    “They can shout in the US ans washington”

  89. 89 Kelvin Kamayoyo
    June 25, 2008 at 08:07

    Dear BBC,

    When l hear about and watch on your television what is happening in Zimbabwe l feel like crying. The problem of Zimbabwe must be quenched immediately if not today by doing the following:

    1. Military intervention as the most sharp and effective methodology because Mugabe and his thugs are just cowards and even the so called war veterans are now most of them very old to fight. Therefore, they can’t put up a good fight at all, by the way one good example is the so called Republican Guards that Saddam so over proclaimed but you all saw when the Americans & their allies advanced they seem to have dissappeared in thin air.

    2. Mbeki must be fired from being the mediator because he has behavioured like a loyal school boy to his teacher Mugabe. Mugabe and his ZANU-PF selected and stupid Steering Committee that is busy mobilising thugs to harrass innocent citizens that are not even armed should be condemned and in the post – situation they should be charged for crimes against humanity. It appears Mugabe and his thugs are ready to go for war and they feel they have the capacity to offer an equivalent opposing force against an AU- SADC joint military batallion this is all because of the short stint his arms has had in Congo DRC and even in Angola. Mugabe and his arm fools must now know that Zimbabwe is a landlocked country and as such engulfying that nation in time of war will not be a difficulty thing to do. By the way the entry points to Zimbabwe if war was to start will be several due to the willing country masses l mean the neighbours are showing willingness to sort out the problem of Zimbabwe and if the solution is to unsit Mugabe by way of invading the country then they will definantely allow troops to use their countries i.e. air space, roads, rail lines, water marines and even underground if that is an option given the circumstances.

    3. The SADC had tried through the able leadership of our President Levy P. Mwanawasa to find a quick and more diplomatic solution at an early stage of the problem but other Presidents within the region were very indifferent to the efforts hence this germination of an outburst of Zimbabwean crisis. As a result of this indifferent by a few SADC Heads of states l have enormous doubt that deploying an AU-SADC Force would have significant impact in quenching the problems facing Zimbabwe, however, at the moment what we need is the deployment of British or American forces just like what the British did in Serra leone.

    4. The US & Britain should immediately intervene by sending just a handful of their troops not African troops because some of them could be traitors and would just lead to a systematic delay of removing Mugabe and his stupid youth thugs who instead of concentrating on their education and future leadership training are being fooled by Mugabe and older veterans.

    Let the world embark on ACTION now at least we have heard substantial talk about the crisis.


    Kelvin Kamayoyo


  90. June 25, 2008 at 08:41

    Venessa credited my contributed by characterising it “a fine point” and she went on to defend her characterisation of it by saying: “surely there are people in Africa who support Mugabe” . Thank you very much for your sensitivity and democratic morality Venesssa, for identifying one truth in what I said.

    The other truth, and the real message that I wanted to pass on, is that the BBC only broadcast the view of the opposing side. T he studio discussion did not accommodate any supporter of Mugabe’s side, and no one who spoke from the public said anything in favour of Mugabe’s party. That speaks the practice of dictatorianism, totalitarianism and bigotry on the party of the BBC. These are worse than the crimes of Mugabe. These are the points that I wanted to share with the truly democratic, honourable and moral discussants.

    Let me add that Whoever advised Mr. Morgan Tsavgirai to drop out of the election did him a very great disservice, and accepting that advice shows that he is a stooge and, therefore, unfit to be the president of any country in this age of globalisation.

    Prince Awele Odor
    Lagos, Nigeria

  91. 91 Anis
    June 25, 2008 at 09:30

    Kelvin Kamayoyo: I must admit that BBC’s propaganda is hitting its target audience well. It has aroused your emotions just as it was designed. But Mr Kamayoyo, you must try to assess the reality yourself as propaganda can completely show you a different and sometimes absolutely opposing views.

    Please consider the case of propaganda before the Iraq war. The propaganda that Iraq had WMD was well orchestrated that even the best of informed people believed that Iraq did have WMD. Those who voted in favour of attack on Iraq were – Tony Blair and the British Parliament, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and many more – all of them regretting today their actions.

    So, think again before you commit yourself to such an atrocious view. My personal view is that it is 90% bogus, purely appealing to save the white minority. And bring back the colony by proxy. Tsvangrai is a traitor in the sense, Challaby was in Iraq, Hamid Karzai is in Afghanistan etc. Tsvangrai is a drama artist and may fit somewhere near Broadway. More than 75% Americans believed in that propaganda and now more than 70% of them believe they were duped by that propaganda.

    BBC is part of that group which supports removal of Mugabe and bringing in Tsvangrai who will be like Hamid Karzai – a puppet in the hands of some kind of colonialist. The last thing we need is revival of colonialism. And one another last thing we need is the people within our own houses who take encouragement from outsiders to topple governments just for the sake of coming to power. Tsvangrai is one such individual, I suspect. Taking the help of OAU is legitimate and I think that should be encouraged in Africa.

    You may comment as you wish. I am not from Africa.

  92. 92 Pangolin- California
    June 25, 2008 at 09:36

    The people of Zimbabwe need to pick up weapons and defend their own interests if they cannot settle things by democratic means. Looking over their shoulders for the world to help will only distract them from the attention needed on their enemies.

    The rest of the world will do little or nothing just as we have done in Burma. We can’t sieze any valuable resources so you aren’t worth our time. Africa will have to settle this dispute in their cousin’s house or not.

    Democracy is cheaper than warfare and feuding; this is a lesson that has to be learned the hard way until it gets ground into the bones of the survivors.

  93. 93 Mark
    June 25, 2008 at 11:53

    It seems to me that it is perfectly justified to intervene or even attack another country when they present a threat to your own nation’s security. I think this is true with or without UN approval. The UN was created under the naive assumption that nations would agree to allow military action when there was a threat to one of them but it became clear almost immediately that the whole notion was seriously flawed and it never worked. Nations are indifferent to the threats to others or place their own self interests in the continuance of the government which poses the threat outweighing the danger of the perceived threat to some third nation. Iraq was a case in point. Iran is another

    The genocide of WWII was never supposed to happen again but we saw it over and over and it was tolerated all over the globe in places like Uganda, Cambodia, Ruwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sudan, and elsewhere. People scream when the US takes military action to protect itself that it is acting as the world’s policeman but it wants the UN to be just that. The UN was never intended to stop genocide or remove national governments that practiced it. The signers of the charter also naively believed that after WWII the world had lost its taste for that and wouldn’t do it again.

    If Europe and Africa want to sort out the mess they created, let them. I as an American do not want to see my tax dollars or soldiers used to solve other peoples’ problems. Let them be used in Afghanistan and Iraq where they do me some good instead.

  94. 94 matty
    June 25, 2008 at 12:07

    i guess zimbabwe might be a walk in the park for nato and the un, but what happens to iran when they get the bomb?

  95. 95 Anis
    June 25, 2008 at 13:46

    Mark: By your logic Afghanistan and Iraq have every right to hit back at USA if they can? But they do not have the might to do that.

    So it all boils down to who is powerful and has the monkey idea of imagining threat from another country. Just go and destroy because there is WMD all targeted at USA? Good boy, Bush will give you some kind of award. There are a few crooks in America still left. Most of Americans have realised the folly of such ideas.

    Iran is readying an erect stuff pointed behind you? Is that your view too? Bush is propagating this idea now. But he has lost his mental balance. Mandela said that in 2003 when Iraq attack plan was in final stages of execution.

    I hope sense will prevail on the last few crooked Americans left; the country is already hopelessly listing on the wrong side.

  96. 96 Anis
    June 25, 2008 at 13:54

    Tsavngrai has sought a negotiated settlement with Zimbabwe Government. He is coming to senses. Good idea, unless if he is again trying some monkey skill with the help of his foreign (British in particular) mentors. God save him then.

    No military intervention should be allowed in any country unless the invader is ready to install an administrative set up to run the country in future. Proper hand over of administrative system must be a pre condition to any such attack. The failure to satisfy this basic crterion should be punishable.

    Keep Iraq in mind before attempting any such adventure.

  97. June 26, 2008 at 00:26

    Many folks are digressing by focusing on specific examples – and then saying ‘therefore yes or therefore no’.

    I think the answer to the question is YES. Yes it is justified to invade other nations AT TIMES.
    Imagine a world – this world of nation states – if all the ridiculous people that make their way to power KNEW that “no one was coming – no matter what”.

    The real debate is about WHEN – under what circumstances…

    The wheel here is already invented… Just War – Verifiable mass killing of non-combatants – The dangerous management of strategic resources. i.e. An upriver country that shuts off water to the downstream nations…or renders it otherwise unusable….

    That’s just a few I can think of…. You gotta be real….as long as resources are commoditized – until there is enough of everything for everybody… you’re gonna have this…. you better TRY to manage and regulate it.

  98. June 26, 2008 at 11:38

    the only thing thats never justified when two are fighting or in any conflict,is for you and i to be quick to say that the peacefull solution can only be attained by only the two.any intervention should be fair and not like the one in somalia or those seeing tsvangirai to be the angel.

  99. 99 Mark from kansas
    June 26, 2008 at 11:50

    When there is obvious Genocide, or severe human rights abuses. Other wise it should not be anyone elses business to interfere.

  100. 100 James Chibanga
    June 26, 2008 at 12:56

    i have been listening to bbc’s interview with Mr Morgan Tsagari ,the man is of no hope anymore, Please the international community don’t stand and watch,help or else the Kenya situation might just unfold in Zimbabwe. The African Leaders, are busy draging their feets while Zimbabweans are suffering,may be it is because most of their governments are not so legitimate. Mr Morgan was the only hope for ,now that he sounded the way sounded on programme some greater force must be applied to oust Bob and his minions.

  101. 101 James Chibanga from Lusaka
    June 26, 2008 at 13:10

    Mr Mbeki is Uncle Bob Hidding something big FOR you that you didn’t want to burn his house , because you thing it will be exposed? The fate of people of Zimbabwean lies in the hands of Leaders like you. So ACT now or else the future will Judge you hashly.

  102. 102 John Hansson
    June 26, 2008 at 15:48

    The Zim situation has again illustrated, beyond any shadow of doubt, the hypoctacy of politicians black or white

    Mandela is being praised for having said that the Zim leadership^has failed, listen to those words, failed ??? it also took this hard core communist 7 years to make any whisper at all, suitable now that he is in the UK & is being treated like a demigod especially by the leftist media

    Not only the S.African ANC / CP have actively supported Mugabe, & what is not clearly reported by the leftist media is that some S.African govt. ministers have used similar treats in their speeches

    In 1992 Mugabe was honoured by the queen at buckingham palace, did no one then mentioned to the palace how much Matabele blood from the Matabeleland massacres he had on his hands

    Mandela did never critisize Mugabe, even with plus 3 mil. Zim. regugees in S.A. also has that homy man NEVER said a word about the happenings in Darfour, time you start judging Mandela by his deeds, not by the swallow the leftist media glorification of the man, you know if it is to good to be true ………..

    This scenario will repeat itself in S.Africa in the future, farmers are being killed @ lothers are leaving the land, importation of food is just around the corner, repeat Zimbabwe,

    As to the 1994 & 1999 election, why did the same media not inform us about the fraud comitted & ballot papers being destroyed as happened in Durban, my wife was amongst the chosen ANC simpatiser vote counters & can attest to the huge number of Inkhata ballot papers that were NOT counted but quietly destroyed

    Foor for tought isnt it

  103. 103 kelvin kamayoyo
    July 13, 2008 at 09:57

    l ready Anis’ comments about the Zimbabwe case of 25 June 2008 with interest. I must hastly mention that when the BBC airs any programme its spectrum or stratum of audience is wide and is not discriminatory has any one who feels and has substance has the right to freely participate without fear or favour. As such l expected Anis to be open and give freely his identity so that his comments could be taken with substantial confidence as from one who is well informed rather than just saying he is not from Africa as one may ask what thrust does that statement has to the issues you have raised rather than convincing one that you are a crone or beneficially of Mugabe’s ruthless regime at the expense of the most poor Zimbabweans. Please, let us be oevrtly and just when looking at these issues if we feel our stomaches are filled up by the ruthless regimes and seee the awful treatment they are extending to the people it would be wise not to comment cause you are distoriting the facts.

    By the Anis l am Zambian a country just next to Zimbabwe for your on information and as such one can not say l have no facts about the happenings of Zimbabwe. I see the Zimbabweans flocking in Zambia day and night such that some of them are not even reported by our beautiful and well informed BBC station so the issue of BBC propoganda is out of being a point of gravity in your accusation which has no substance. Anis l begg to know which country you come from or may be l attempt to guess you come from Russia or China or maybe you a frirend of Mbeki! Anis must understand that the Zimbabwean people are currently suffering and that is a fact l do not need the BBC to break this news to me unless an allregic to facts like you seem to be in this case.

    Russia and China are not countries to trust when it comes to bringing democracy, peace and security to any country later alone in their own countries. These two countries have allowed racist, corruption and injustice to floursh and now they want to export these awful commodities to have market access into Africa particularly Darfur, Sudan and Zimbabwe by supporting bad governance and undemocratic.

    Russia and China have Abused their veto by rejecting the UN Resolution to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe. Anis has some sweet words of to why Russai and China had to veto such an effective resolution on Zimbabwean leaders and not the ordinarily citizens. Off course some Zimbabwean minister claim that the sanctions would have spiral adverse effects on the ordinary citizens an argument that cant come to pass and holds no water at least to me. Sanctions which were aimed at Zimbabwean leaders were targetted and would have been strategic ones to effectively cripple their links but China and Russia due to their selfish and greedy have gone ahead to frustrate this positive effort, SHAME on that action! Lets us engage in positive dialogue in order to find a better and sustainable answers to most of the problems affecting our countries and the global. I wait to hear from crones of Mugabe and possibly from Anis.

    As for Morgan Tsvagarai he should be careful in the current perceived negotiations so that he is not dupped into government of national unity and later assassinated. This Mugabe regime is ruthless and is capable of doing anything that could make them stay into power perpetuity. I am soory to mention the issue of Benzair Bhutto it was really a sad thing but that is what can happen if an opposition leader moves near a ruthless regime that cant provide the necessary security and doe not care about the well being of any citizens apart from the life of their power. It is not difficulty for me to conclude that the environment currently for as long as Mugabe lives it is not a safe place for Morgan to effectively work and bring about the much longed peace by the Zimbabwean people.


    Kelvin Kamyoyo

  104. September 10, 2009 at 14:20

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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