THE PLANK MAY 17, 2008
You probably haven't heard of James McGee. He's our Ambassador in Harare, Zimbabwe. He's also a black man, which frustrates the sick worldview of Robert Mugabe. Here's an excerpt from a news story earlier this week that made me smile:
The diplomats involved in the incident at a roadblock on the edge of
the capital, Harare, had just completed a tour of hospitals and an
alleged torture camp when police demanded they prove they had official
permission to visit the sites.
At one point, a police officer
threatened to beat one of Mr. McGee’s senior aides. The officer got
into his car and lurched toward Mr. McGee after he had demanded the
officer’s name. The car made contact with Mr. McGee’s shins, but he was
Mr. McGee climbed onto the hood of the car while his
aide snatched the keys from the ignition, then the diplomats used their
mobile phone cameras to take photographs of the officer.
Mr. McGee insisted the convoy be allowed through and the 11 vehicles passed through after about an hour.
The men and women of the foreign service put themselves through great sacrifice, but rarely do we hear of stories like this in which an actual Ambassador would put his own life on the line to send a message to a totalitarian, murderous regime: America is watching you.
Update: Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has cancelled
his return to Zimbabwe (where is due to compete in a hopeless June 27
presidential runoff election), out of fear of an assasination plot (the
third) against him. And the cargo from that infamous Chinese ship -- 3-million rounds of assault rifle ammunition, 3000 mortar rounds and 1500 rocket-propelled grenades -- has finally made it to Harare, having docked either in Angola or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One shudders to think how these instruments of violence will be used, given what's occurred over the past 2 months. Seeing that the region's major naval power, South Africa, was never going to do anything to prevent this ship from reaching Mugabe, how could American or British naval interception -- or, barring that, blowing the ship out of the water -- not have been morally justified? Time to put AFRICOM to use.
-- James Kirchick