In Praise Of James Mcgee

by James Kirchick | 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 not injured.

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 

 

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/praise-james-mcgee