Blaming America: First, Last And Always

by James Kirchick | July 16, 2008


The Nation's Robert Dreyfuss weighs in with his thoughts on Sudan and Zimbabwe.

He doesn't like that the International Criminal Court has indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Why? Because Russia and China -- those paragons of democracy and human rights -- were opposed. No mention is made of China's suborning genocide in the Sudan in exchange for oil. Dreyfuss cites the opposition of unamed "world diplomats" who "concluded that the consequences of indicting the Sudanese president were unpredictable and probably both dangerous and counterproductive." But such fears are silly, and not just because nothing is likely to become of this indicment. As Suzy Khimm wrote yesterday, "to argue that such risks should stay the hand of the ICC at the risk of 'breaking the peace' is absurd, mainly because there isn’t any kind of meaningful peace process that’s currently underway." Rest assured, Robert, nothing is likely to violate the precious "national sovereignty" that you and others on the far Left are so concerned with protecting when it comes to rogue states and third world thugs. You can thank Iraq, in part, for that.  

As for Zimbabwe, who's to blame? Not Russia, which last week vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have imposed a weapons embargo on the country, travel sanctions on Robert Mugabe and his inner circle, and appointed a UN mediator. Nor can China, which joined the veto and has been supplying Mugabe with weapons for decades, be faulted. No, it's the United States. Dreyfuss attacks our UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, "the one-man wrecking ball and neocon strategist" for daring to criticize his Russian counterparts. Like his Nation colleague Mark Gevisser, Dreyfuss defends the sham "negotiations" led by Thabo Mbeki to create a "unity government" between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai (Dreyfuss makes no mention of the fact that Tsvangirai long ago rejected Mbeki as a mediator, given his shameful predisposition to keeping Mugabe in power). Moreover, a "unity government" with the likes of Mugabe is impossible, as anyone who has followed the past 4 months, never mind the past 28 years, of Mugabe rule would know. 

Drefyss says that "the Bush Administration's muddled pursuit of democracy-by-force has made the entire world suspicious of America's motives in world crises." I'm willing to concede that there's a small grain of truth in this sentiment, but it's not really relevant pertaining to the question of Russian and Chinese behavior vis a vis Sudan and Zimbabwe. Does Dreyfuss really think that if the Iraq War or Guantanamo Bay never happened, China and Russia would now be condemning the human rights situation in either country? No less a global "prestige" obsessive than Tom Friedman attacks this shallow way of thinking in his New York Times column today, making the rather obvious point that no matter how low American "popularity" in the world may have fallen as of late, an international system with less American influence is demonstrably worse -- by any measure -- because authoritarians like Russia and China will readily fill the void. 

Dreyfuss, however, is just the sort of man who, as Friedman writes, "would prefer a world in which America was weaker, where leaders with the values of Vladimir Putin and Thabo Mbeki had a greater say, and where the desperate voices for change in Zimbabwe would, well, just shut up." What makes someone think this way? Could the fact that Dreyfuss was (or still is?) a member of a "fascist" cult have something to do with it?

--James Kirchick 

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/blaming-america-first-last-and-always