Diplomatic hostilities resumed today between Zimbabwe and the rest of the world, as Barack Obama lead several countries in pouring condemnation on Robert Mugabe’s regimen. The decision to uphold trade sanctions against Zimbabwe for another year is hardly surprising, but what is really noteworthy is Obama’s choice of rhetoric:
The crisis constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the government of Zimbabwe [...] has not been resolved. These actions and policies pose a continuing, unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States.
Seems rather similar to a certain G.W. Bush nearly six years ago:
I’m not comparing Obama to Bush, or suggesting that an Iraq-style campaign against Zimbabwe should be undertaken. However, it seems like ‘threat’ is a very active noun for Barack to use, and it suggests escalating action in the near future. He may not refer to terrorism, but the choice to call this an ‘extraordinary’ threat sets up Zimbabwe as an unavoidable issue.
The main reason the UN has not interfered in Zimbabwe so far is that the only threat Mugabe poses is to his own people. Whilst his actions and policies may result in a domestic humanitarian crisis, it is not a crisis of international relations. Therefore the rest of the world contentedly sits on the sidelines and prefers to act via aid rather than intervention or, dare I say it, regimen change.
One thing is clear: Zimbabwe cannot stay the way it is for much longer.