By Stephen Gowans
The idea of demonizing a country’s leadership is to portray the political situation in the country as akin to having a thorn in your foot. Nothing else matters but getting the thorn out.
The war on Iraq was sold as an exercise in extracting a thorn named Saddam Hussein. Nothing else mattered – not how many would be killed, maimed or left homeless by war, and not even whether there were really any WMDs. All that mattered was getting rid of the thorn. Even high-profile left-wing critics of US foreign policy said the world would be a better place once the thorn was gone.
Except the world didn’t become a better place. The rape and torture rooms George Bush said Saddam Hussein operated were replaced by rape and torture by US troops. Numberless people lost their lives. Millions lost their homes. The death and destruction that would have been caused by Saddam Hussein, was nothing compared to the death and destruction US forces brought. For Iraqis, the US exercise in thorn removal was, remarked William Blum, like going into the hospital with an ingrown toenail, and coming out minus two legs.
If you believe civil society scholars, NGOs and opposition parties – all linked by the same sources of Western foundation and government funding – there’s a thorn in Zimbabwe that must be got rid of. Nothing else matters but getting the thorn out.
This obsession blinds people to what’s left after the thorn is removed.
Anyone not so obsessed can see. If the civil society scholars, NGOs and opposition parties who are agitating to get Mugabe out are funded by corporate wealth and imperialist governments, then what succeeds Mugabe will benefit corporate wealth and imperialist governments. That is, unless corporate wealth and imperialist governments are presided over by morons who dole out cash to people who are working against their interests.
If the obvious is lost on the thorn-obsessed, it’s not lost on others. Here’s what David Blair, writing in the Irish newspaper, The Independent, predicts that a Mugabe successor would do:
Reduce the size of the civil service.
Privatize the publicly owned companies.
Slash military spending.
Allow white farmers to return.
Repeal land ownership laws which make all agricultural land the property of the state.
Restore private title deeds.
Is Blair wrong? After Slobodan Milosevic was forced out of office in Yugoslavia, the opposition – a carbon copy of the one in Zimbabwe – came to power and did exactly what Blair predicts Zimbabwe’s opposition would do: slash and privatize.
The beneficiaries, not surprisingly, were corporate wealth and imperialist governments. These were the sources of funding for the civil society groups that ran Milosevic out.
The thorn – or what was made into a thorn, by propaganda and the miseries that attended military aggression and economic warfare – was gone, but the promised relief never materialized.
Instead, the lives of ordinary people became poorer and more uncertain. They returned to their proper place: to be screwed by Western investors, corporate executives and the modern-day equivalents of self-confident Englishmen in pith helmets and jodhpurs.