Scott Horton Interviews Aran MacKinnon

Scott Horton, April 10, 2008

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Aran S. MacKinnon, associate professor of South African History at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, discusses the history of the Rhodesian independence movement, the post-colonial period in Zimbabwe and the rise of the Mugabe regime, disputes between different ethnic and tribal groups and white landowners, the relative legitimacy of different factions to land claims, Mugabe’s distribution of confiscated land to political cronies and their inability to make productive use of them, the horribly destructive hyperinflation, the brutal crackdowns on residents of shanty towns that had been created by government economic policies, life expectancy statistics, how the predatory nature of the World Bank and IMF help gives Mugabe a credible excuse for the country’s problems, offers by various governments to let Mugabe to seek exile in their countries, the likelihood that he will resort to strong arm tactics to stay in power no matter what the actual results of the recent elections and the opposition leader Tsvangirai’s calls for US/UK/South African intervention.

MP3 here. (39:39)

Aran MacKinnon is an associate professor of South African History, African Rural Political Economy, and Zulu Ethnicity at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Georgia. Dr. MacKinnon has studied and taught history in Canada, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. He is the author of The Making of South Africa: Culture and Politics.

9 Responses to “Aran MacKinnon”

  1. Interestingly enough, Wikipedia says that Mugabe is Catholic. It’s a fat chance that the church would even consider excommunicating him.

  2. I have a number of Zim relatives (by marriage). As such we get frequent updates on what’s going on. They are always on the verge of getting out, but never quite do it. They are convinced that once Mugabe is gone things will soon improve. They work in mining and say that with a half competent government the country will go from strength to strength on the back of its untapped minerals.

    One thing that should be made clear from that interview is the question of life expectancy. All over southern Africa this has plummeted largely for one reason: AIDS. Sure there are food problems as well, but AIDS is by far the biggest factor.

  3. I regret that I find it very difficult not to be scathing over Scott Horton’s interview of Aran MacKinnon. The good professor is somewhat lacking in his knowledge of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe history. What he does know is coloured by his prejudices. His expertise rests on the self-serving propaganda of the British-American-Zimbabwe regimes. The premise of this propaganda is that the whites of Rhodesia were selfish and oppressive exploiters against whom downtrodden blacks fought a courageous war of liberation. It has little bearing in fact.
    If you recognize the mendacity of the American-British ‘Change of Regime’ program in Iraq you will, if you care to study the hard facts, find parallels in the Rhodesian issue. Big Power dishonesty and falsified ‘facts’ were inherent in this earlier meddling of the Great Powers. The Rhodesian affair was a precursor of the kind of abuse that has brought tragedy to unhappy Iraq.
    Let me address just a few of the errors that Prof. MacKinnon propagated either directly or by implication about the Rhodesia that preceded Zimbabwe:
    I grew up in that wonderful land and right into the 1970s the Rhodesian African was generally very contented with his lot in life. There were malcontents of course—as there always are in any society—but they were very few. There were some genuine grievances too—again, as there always are even under the best governance. Yet, how could this general contentment be?
    Western Do-Gooders can point to a raft of figures appearing to point to poverty; to discrimination by whites; to exclusion from the economic wealth of the country; to economic exploitation; to inferior education opportunities; to whites having 70% of the best farming land; and to several other apparent injustices. There is a valid riposte to all of them. Western misunderstandings and misjudgements of other peoples run deep. The Rhodesian-Zimbabwe debacle is instructive in understanding just how deep. Much of long-standing western misperception is born in arrogance. Let us consider a couple of the most promoted of the canards that, at first blush, seem to have validity:
    One of the most pernicious errors is in understanding the land grab issue. Yes, it is true—Rhodesian whites generally had all the best agricultural land. They almost invariably acquired this land with the happy and peaceable agreement of the indigenous population. Today it is forgotten how this came about. When the whites arrived they were amazed to see vast tracts of land that were uninhabited. This was, with few exceptions, the land they settled. It had the good soils. The lands that the tribes primarily occupied had the light sandy soils that were not suitable for intensive farming. The reason the poorer soiled tribal lands were settled was because the African only planted sufficient corn (maize) for his own immediate consumption. His planting methods were primitive. He used a fire hardened wooden stick to scratch up the shallow furrows by hand and found the light soils easiest to work and quite productive enough for his requirements. The heavy rich soils were considerably harder for him to work and actually less productive as a result. The tribes avoided settling on such land.
    The European farmer, however, brought iron ploughs with him drawn by oxen and later by tractor, and these could work the richer, heavier soils much more easily. These rich soils could produce cash crops. The tribes had no concept of cash crops. Thus, the tribes felt no animosity to the European settler. The European did not want the poor lands the tribes were settled on. The tribes did not occupy or need the rich land the European settled on. Harmony reigned. Of course, nobody at the time could conceive that the benign effects of European arrival would trigger an exploding black population and lay the seeds for self-seeking politicians to seek power by promoting envy.
    Another truth—there was a stark difference between white incomes and black incomes. In those years the median annual white salary/wage was around £800 against a median black income of £40 annually. There were three primary reasons for this, and a number of secondary reasons. None of them had anything to do with deliberate white attempts to hold back or exploit the black population. On the contrary, it was widely accepted by Rhodesian whites that prosperity in the black population could only enhance the overall well-being.
    Firstly, the whites had arrived only seventy years earlier into a primitive country where the concept of cash did not exist. Even barter was rare and undeveloped. Inevitably the whites brought with them modern civilisational skills. Very early in the history of Rhodesia, poor and unskilled whites were denied immigration entry because it was quickly recognised that there was a large potential local pool of such labour that had to be protected and advanced. Skilled people obviously attract higher wages and, in turn, build opportunities for the unskilled to become employed, earn, and understudy those skills. Skilled people build capital. Capital leads to investment. Investment leads to jobs. Rhodesian blacks had plenty of common sense and recognised this, even though they did not generally articulate it. Thus they suffered little envy.
    Secondly, the convention quickly developed that most blacks choosing to enter the employment market received significant non-cash supplements to their cash wages that whites generally did not get. Housing, food, clothing, and many other items from blankets to fuel and cooking utensils were routinely supplied by employers. Employers who did not do so were the rare exception and generally had seasonal or piecework jobs to offer that compensated with much higher wages. Africans were used to a frugal existence. The land was abundant, and the tribesman did not have to work—in the sense that Westerners understand—to survive very comfortably and very well. Bad employers found they could not get labour and so had to mend their ways quickly. Competition for labour and increasing skills in the labour force raised wages or benefits steadily year after year. But supplementary non-cash benefits do not show up easily in statistics.
    Thirdly, median African income statistics were pulled down due to many tribesmen choosing not to enter the cash economy either at all or only intermittently. Consider the relative nirvana that they could enjoy if they did not enter the cash economy: They lived on their ancestral tribal lands in their traditionally built kraals that cost them nothing whatsoever to build. They had sufficient land to grow their own foodstuffs, to keep a few cows, chickens, goats. They had no rates to pay, no mortgages, no water bills, fuel bills—no bills of any kind. If they became sick, and it was beyond the local witchdoctor to cure, then the white man’s hospital or the mission doctor would always provide the necessary medicines and care. Such care was either free or provided for pennies to blacks, but whites needing treatment paid the real cost. If there was a drought then the white man’s government or the missions provided the food. No one ever starved or became malnourished in the entire history of Rhodesia.
    Around this time two wonderful white man’s inventions captivated the rural African: The bicycle and the battery operated wireless. Thus many sought a cash earning opportunity in the white man’s economy until they had enough money to purchase these wonderous tools of mobility and entertainment. Immediately upon acquiring these desirables they would quit the cash economy and retire to their rural islands of tranquillity only to venture back into the cash economy from time to time to purchase the consumables required to run or repair them such as batteries, tyres, etc.
    A very real reason for poor African incomes can be directly traced back to cultural attitudes. Individualism as it was practised in the Western world, up until those years, was practically unknown in the tribal cultures. The concept of property ownership was rudimentary. Within the community wealth of any sort was expected to be shared. Thus, like under communism, wealth had little chance of being developed. Why create more than ‘your share’?
    If an individual tribesman had any sort of windfall he was immediately surrounded by brothers, cousins, distant cousins, friends of distant cousins, village headman, sub-chiefs, tribal chief, and witchdoctor, i.e., his entire tribe, for the division thereof. Any such division of prosperity was seen by all as something to celebrate and consume as quickly as possible. Investment of wealth to produce further capital was essentially unknown. This cultural attitude was probably fostered over the millenia by the uncertainties of life in the past. Tomorrow you had a good chance of being dead by disease or accident. More importantly, if you did not consume your good fortune quickly and a neighbouring tribe got wind of it then you could be sure that they would seek to consume it for you—violently. By the time of the white man’s coming this attitude was hard wired. African entrepreneurs were rare, when such souls did achieve any wealth it was even more rare for them to resist the customs of their people and they were quickly stripped clean by relatives and tribe.
    Yes, there was some discrimination by whites. So too was there some discrimination by blacks. It was rarely malicious on either side. It was understood by both sides—even appreciated. Why should there not be? We each cleave to our own, but mean no harm to others in doing so. There was no forced discrimination; neither was there any coerced integration. It was none of the government’s business if people chose to mix or not to mix—and why should it be?
    Rhodesian Africans in the middle of the 20th Century still had the relatively fresh memory of grandparents and even parents who remembered some of the very real benefits that the arrival of the white man brought to them. An incomplete list being:
    The cessation of constant tribal warfare and raids black upon black.
    The elimination of hunger when the rains failed and caused subsistence crops to wither, cattle to die, and food game to migrate to far away water sources.
    The elimination of the constant fear of raids by Arab and black slave traders from the north and the brutal terror they brought.
    The reduction of bad witchcraft and elimination of the worst excesses of such practices from it, such as child sacrifice.
    The reduction of the worst terrors of voodoo-like superstition through education.
    The vast improvement in health brought by Western hygiene and medicines.
    The need no longer to risk life and limb to hunt dangerous wild animals for food or to face them in defence armed only with primitive weapons.
    Education and the wonders and wealth that it unfolded for them.
    Before the arrival of the whites an African female was expected to bear children continuously from puberty until menopause. Of the five—ten children produced maybe two reached adulthood. The perils of hunting wild game for food, snake bite, disease, war, slavery, witchcraft, periodic hunger, all these and more made for a short, dangerous, and fearful life. With the white man’s medicine and peace the survival rate rose to close to 100%. Thus, in 70 years the African population ballooned from well under 300,000 to over 8,000,000.
    For the African generations of the mid 20th century the time before the white man was close enough to remember and shudder. The white man may not have brought perfection, but for many it seemed pretty darn close. Academics like Prof. MacKinnon and others who argue that blacks were oppressed ignore the hard fact that during the years of the so-called ‘oppressive Smith regime’ more than a million Africans immigrated into Rhodesia, much as Mexicans now pour into the United States.
    They especially appreciated education and the vast opportunities it opened to their children and the future. Strenuous efforts were made by the whites to spread and encourage education because it was realised that an educated and prosperous population benefited everybody and promoted stability. Most Africans at that time recognised the opportunity, especially for the children, and appreciated the effort being made. Unfortunately the explosive increase in the population constantly outstripped the capability of the education system to reach more than a small minority. I recall that in at least one year in the 1960’s more than 47% of the entire government budget was allocated just to African education. This money came almost exclusively from the white tax payer. It was never enough. It never could be enough to cope with the explosion in population. Additional and very considerable funds and human resources for education came from missions and the private sector. Still, never enough. Yet, during the much reviled Smith years Rhodesia had more black university graduates than the whole of the rest of Africa put together.
    Then starting around the mid 1950s came the sponsored international agitators with an agenda. It was not an agenda that had the interests of the African at heart…

    The only reason Britain and the US will not touch Mugabe today with the proverbial barge pole is not because of what he is. It is because he is embarrassing with it. After all, the US does not mind supporting the continent’s many bad dictators, from Hosni Mubarak in Egypt to Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia and on downwards. And here our good Professor makes yet another cardinal mistake. He claims that Zimbabwe is of no strategic interest to the West ‘because it has no oil’. What shallow knowledge! What shallow understanding! This land is immensely wealthy in strategic minerals. For instance, only Russia has Chrome of nearly comparable quality. Chrome is a vital metal for the military-industrial complex. Rhodesia was the fourth largest gold producer in the world. It has rare metals and rare earths. That was one of the main reasons for toppling the incorruptible governments of Ian Smith and later of Bishop Muzorewa. They used that wealth for the benefit of the locals and expected the market price when selling to the world. British-American Power Brokers sought to install a corrupt puppet regime that could be manipulated and asset stripped. Mr. Mugabe was just the chap! Only he proved to be not as controllable as hoped.
    Does the present puppet regime in Baghdad have some echoes?
    No genuine liberation war was ever fought in Zimbabwe. Until the Rhodesian population saw that both West and East were determined to force terrorist dictators upon them, they staunchly supported the Rhodesian struggle to stay free. Only when they knew the agreement forced on the Rhodesians at Lancaster House meant that Mr. Mugabe was coming into power did they start to vote for him out of fear and self-protection.
    The Lancaster House Agreement was a British capitulation to bluff and bluster and corruption—a modern Munich Agreement. A betrayal. The iniquities it addressed were imagined. The iniquities it introduced are real.
    Mr. Mugabe once admitted in a tone of bemused wonderment to the Chief of the Rhodesian Air Force, a few weeks after he obtained power, that at the time of the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement he had less than one hundred guerrilla fighters in Rhodesia and was on the point of giving up. A lieutenant of Mugabe confessed the same thing to me a year later in a scornful and polemical appraisal of the ‘toothless British Lion’.
    The British and their poodle on that occasion—the Americans—did not just betray their white kith and kin in Rhodesia; they betrayed the decent and wonderful black population even more. Ultimately, the avarice, cupidity, and stupidity of the Power Brokers who control the British American axis have also betrayed their own populations and their own security.
    China and other mordant interests inimical to the West now have more than mere footholds in Zimbabwe. They will be ruthless.

  4. Mr. Brooks raises a few amusing, though deeply flawed and ill-informed ideas in his response to my interview. These, coupled with his own personal history speak for themselves so I do not want to take further issue with his reactionary and equally irredentist views except to say that they do an enormous disservice to the African people and societies in the region. They are offensive to the historical record which is clear on the massive scale of harm to and exploitation of Africans wrought by the colonial regime in Rhodesia. They moreover do not take into account the absolutely central role Africans had in contributing to the building of wealth and the culture of Zimbabwe despite the oppression they endured during the period of brutally enforced white privilege. If Africans ‘benefitted’ from some elements of the colonial project it was because of their own agency and engagement with what little they could gain access to, and often despite the best efforts of the colonial government.

    To argue, as Mr. Brooks does, that Africans gave over their land in a ‘happy and peaceable agreement’ with whites not only flies in the face of the overwhelming and uncontested evidence to the contrary, it also defies his own logic that Africans did not want to or have to enter into wage labor because they had sufficient land. Similarly, Mr. Brooks raises an old familiar colonial ‘chestnut’ -they myth of the empty land. Here again, Mr. Brooks belies the paucity of his understanding of African political economies which were based on the two pillars of agriculture and cattle-keeping. To argue, as he does, that pastoral lands were somehow ‘empty’ upon the arrival of whites when indeed these lands formed part of a larger, integrated agro-pastoral economy is not only erroneous, but it follows the same sort of logic which applies to the liberation of white farm lands which have been left unproductive for the purposes of land speculation

    I would, moreover, point out that Rhodesia’s dubious international and regional relations -borne of its appalling record of internal ‘governance’ as well as its pernicious clandestine wars against neighboring governments and African nationalist organizations and which led to UDI, the Rhodesian effort to further isolate itself from the community of civilized nations, was proof of its abject inability to come to terms with a modernizing world.

    I would urge listeners and bloggers to consider the history of Rhodesia for themselves beginning with the wars of imperial pacification and, following Cecil Rhodes and the penetration into the region by the British South Africa Company, the establishment of the colonial regime which apparently produced Mr. Brooks’ wonderful land’. I would especially recommend the works of Alan Jeeves, Arthur Keppel-Jones, Paul Maylam, Neil Parsons, Norma Kriger, Terry Ranger, Tim Scarnecchia, and Luise White.

    In the final analysis, I would recommend that Mr. Brooks revisit the historical evidence lest he too be brushed into the dustbin of history.

  5. The paucity of the professor’s response would be amusing if it was not spoilt by an ideologue’s demonization of whites. His language oozes propagation of class hatred using all the accompanying communist/hard socialist stock-in-trade terminology like ‘liberation war’ et al. It is sad.

    He suggests my view/knowledge should be dismissed because of my ‘personal history’, i.e. because I grew up that happy land. It is an interesting concept that a witness’s testimony must be dismissed because he was a witness. He calls me ill-informed!? I lived, worked, laughed, and cried with black Rhodesians.

    He suggests that I am reactionary. An emotive word, of the type aforementioned, designed to be caustic and dismissive. Well, I have no problem with that. Few would consider modern Zimbabwe as progressive—except in decay.

    The professor says my view is offensive to the historical record. There are groups within the social sciences that are politically motivated mutual admiration societies funded by Trusts with social engineering agendas. They seek to mold the truth, not establish it. Charlotte Iserbyt, who was a senior policy advisor in the U.S. Department of Education describes them well. The modern historical ‘record’ largely consists of such academics quoting each other. Seldom is it based on original documentation. They also tend to quote persons whose views have a clear bias. Sometimes this is through pecuniary interest. For instance, many of their sources have comfortable sinecures in NGO’s. They are especially to be found in organizations exploiting the situation; although sometimes it is merely people who had forecast a bright, shining future once the evil white was gone—and are keen to justify the collapse of their position. I am, of course, discussing Rhodesia/Zimbabwe specifically. The professor’s charges of white depredations have some substance in several surrounding territories.

    There was nothing in my original response that denigrated the contribution of the African to building the wealth of Rhodesia. Again, I am glad the professor acknowledges that wealth. Or, perhaps Professor MacKinnon refers to the undoubted boom that immediately followed the creation of the State of Zimbabwe. Well, considering the vast sums that the British, American, and other nations poured into Zimbabwe to purchase influence and assets, and considering the sound condition of the economy that was handed over—despite the economic sanctions that had been applied to Rhodesia—it is hardly surprising that Zimbabwe enjoyed a few years of unbalanced prosperity at the expense of western taxpayers.

    The professor refers to land as ‘their’ (i.e. the Africans) land. Before the coming of the whites, Africans—at least in that area—had no concept of land ‘ownership’ per se. Those who advocate the myth of white theft of black lands fail to explain why it was largely peaceful. True, there were two so-called rebellions. These were barely more than minor skirmishes.

    The professor could indeed have pointed out that the Matabele rebellion WAS because the whites were seeking to occupy some land the Matabele already occupied. (I never said there were no wrongs at all). The Mashona took the opportunity while the settlers and Matabele were preoccupied with each other to launch their own ‘rebellion’. It was aimed more at their traditional enemies than at the whites. This backfired because the Matabele and the whites, having learnt to respect each other, joined forces to stop the Mashona raids.

    Most today would consider the ‘rebellions’ as barely more than scuffles, albeit there was some small loss of life on both sides.

    Were the whites angels in this? No, of course not. But neither are they deserving of the excoriation that, maybe, settlers in the American West deserved. The fact remains, that where the tribes were settled the land was mostly left unmolested.

    The liberal sprinkling of emotive adjectives: ‘appalling’, ‘pernicious’, ‘dubious’, ‘abject’, in just one short paragraph says much about the professor’s agenda. He is short on specifics and backup facts.

    The professor’s assertions of oppression do not gel with the accepted facts that Rhodesia had one of the smallest ratios of police to population in the world; that they went around in the civilian population unarmed; that both Rhodesian police and Rhodesian army were 80% black; that Rhodesian prison inmates were also, one of the smallest numbers in the world per head of population; that Rhodesian blacks were internationally acknowledged as the best educated in sub-Saharan Africa; that Rhodesian blacks were the most prosperous in all of Africa by significant margin; that they had the longest life span in all Africa; that they had equal access to the white voter rolls plus a guaranteed block of black seats in parliament; and that the much reviled Rhodesian antiterrorism action/legislation, while robust, never came near the harsh methods that characterized the British in Northern Ireland or the British, Israeli, and American methods today.

    Finally, I would urge anyone interested, to use both my views and the professor’s views only as a starting point. The only route to truth is to seek original documentation. Don’t pay too much attention to what those with an axe to grind have to say. Yes, that includes me. Probably the most authoritative opinion piece giving a full overview of the Rhodesian side is Prime Minister Ian Smith’s book, ‘The Great Betrayal’. Check it against original sources.

    Don’t trust academics unless they can point to such documentation and are prepared to let you read it yourself. Don’t depend on their slant any more than you should on mine. Few are as impartial as they claim. They have tenures to guard and court historians do not readily defy the Court that they pander to. The gate keepers who helped destroy that nation prefer to bury the facts. Original Rhodesian documentation is getting quite hard to examine. That, in itself, speaks volumes about suppression. However, the British library, old Colonial office records, British government commission records such as the Monckton Commission, are forced to recognise some of the Rhodesian facts. They give the diligent researcher a broader picture than either of the views herein.

    The professor says my views will go into the ‘dustbin of history’—another fine Marxist phrase. He may be right, but Truth trashed or Truth nourished, is still Truth.

    I will not engage this ideologue again in this forum.

  6. Dear Mr. Brooks,

    I am very impressed with your rebuttal of Mr. McKinnon’s interview. You are right in that Mr. McKinnon is an ideologue. In academia today there are unfortunately many of his type that follow a Marxist style doctrine except that they have replaced the class struggle with a race struggle. Every problem in Africa or the developing world can be explained by the West and Whites in particular much the same way that under Marxism all problems were caused by the capitalists.

    There is no grey in this world view. White history in Africa can only be told in terms of White oppression and injustice and the Black struggle for freedom. The reality if infinitely more complicated than that. The fact that there are good and bad people on both sides and that Whites may also have made many positive contributions to African society in the 400 years they have been there are never mentioned.

    This racist world view is even more insulting to Blacks than to Whites. Whites are cast as the oppressors while Blacks are cast as eternal victims, always being outwitted and manipulated by Whites. Even when Blacks engage in atrocities such as ethnic cleansing they are never held to full account. Rather apologists like Mr. McKinnon desperately construct theories to explain how somehow colonialism or lack of Western aid or intervention was to blame for their actions. This is the paternalist type of racism that treats Blacks as somehow less than human and not fully as accountable for their actions as Whites.

    I find it remarkable that Mr. McKinnon refers to you as uninformed. You were living and working in Zimbabwe for a great deal of your life. Breathing the air, eating the food, sweating in the hot African sun, talking and working with your fellow Black and White Zimbabweans while Mr. McKinnon sat in his ivory tower literally a world away reading a book about Zimbabwe no doubt written by another academic. Yet he has the gall to dismiss your argument based on your actually being a Zimbabwean.

    Also telling is Mr. McKinnon’s response to your reasoned and logical rebuttal. He immediately launched into an ad-hominem attack against you. This smacks of deperation and hurt ego.

    Mr. McKinnon no doubt enjoys speaking to groups of young students who know nothing about Africa and impressing them with his great theories. When he meets someone who has actually lived their whole life there and they contradict his ideas he is threatened and responds aggressively.

    Mr. McKinnon, if you would like to truly become an expert on Africa I would suggest living there. I myself am an African and lived there for 24 years of my youth. You may know many facts about Southern Africa but I regret that you have no real understanding of it. I am sure you have been over there and stayed in a hotel and done the mandatory tour of Soweto but unless you have actually lived and worked there for a part of your life you cannot possibly understand the incredible complexity of that part of the world. Of course you will not do this. Why would you leave the comfort of the University to live in South Africa or Zimbabwe where you might find that almost everything you thought you knew about the country is wrong?

  7. Dr. McKinnon clearly operates from a very strong ideological inconsequent prejudices. Nobody would ever dispute that the political situation in both Rhodesia-Zimbabwe and South Africa in the past were far from perfect, but since the past two decades or so the situation is much much worse than ever. Fact is Rhodesia was the fruitbasket of Africa and one of the richest countries in Africa with a relative high standard of education within the African context. He did acknowledge that he belongs to the left. One wonders why the likes of him never protested in instated sanctions in the 1970′, 80′s against the UK over Hong Kong, where there was also colonial minority rule until 1997? But this is typical, the left is never consequent and so much double standards. He failed to inform people that Mugabe was already regarded as a left-wing communist supported by CHinese communists during that time and the bishop Abel Muzarewa was the real moderate, but they always supported the most left wing and instated sanctions against both Zimbabwe and SOuth Africa. The situation, especially in my native SOuth Africa is highly complex, you have to live through it to really understand. Mugabe was hailed as a prophet and saviors in the 1980′s in the West, even as he started killing internal dissidents in the struggle for power, and where is the criticism. It is not only rumours, it is facts and he should go to the Hague to be tried by and international UN panel, buit would you ever expect that to happen? All the little books he has read are unable to inform him about the strong relationship between Mbeki and Mugabe: they are related by family and have joint diamond and other mineral interests in other African countries. So how would you ever expect that Mbeki would be critical towards Mugabe. Even now the West has very selective sanctions, while in the times of Ian Smith they had total sanctions and nonetheless Rhodesia/Zimbabwe managed to remain an affluent country in African context from which most profited, white and black. The average black Zimbabwean would prefer someone like In SMith without even thinking above Mugabe and the West (US, UK especially) and media have a historic responsibility for this situation as well. If no sanctions has been instated decades ago, the situation would have developed naturally and peacefully to the benefit of all. Now it is in such a mess that it would take years to recover. The Zimbabwean currency is worth nothing and drive the whole economies of the neighboring countries also further down. Zimbabwe is – apart from the political oppression – still a relative safe country, but SOuth Africa faces an average of 50 people murdered every day, while the West celebrate SA as a “rainbow nation”. How naive can one be? Everywhere where the US and UK have interfered politically during the past few decades (in its own interest at times), the situation has deteriorated significantly in these countries and Iraq is only the most recent example. Imagine yourself South Africa had invaded Angola for oil back in the years when Communism were through together with he US in favor of Jonas Savimbi? The West would have totally ISOLATED South Africa even more and may even have sent military forces, but when they do it themselves, they are working for freedom of the Iraqis. How hollow can one be? For a more accurate description of the situation, see
    http://barelyablog.com/?p=607

  8. http://www.westga.edu/~history/faculty/AMacKinnon/amackinnonvita.htm
    Mr. McKinnon seems to be a native Canadian who has settled in the US, taught a bit in SA. If he was born in SA or Zimbabwe, he could have provided more a nuanced view and understanding, but he comes from a clear historical left Canadian academic establishment and no impressive CV at all. I assume he cannot speak any African language also.

  9. The moral high ground belong not to those who deceit, Dr. Aran MacKinnon, no matter how eloquently the bias is presented. Where is the truth about a 2002 Genocide Watch Alert regarding the genocide of a South African ethnic and visible minority (see 1 and 2)? Where is the truth about a president of South Africa and his chief of intelligence publicly inciting murder of this same minority (see 3)? It is to Scott Horton and AntiWar.com’s disgrace that they proclaim reverence for truth in the face of main stream media propaganda and then toe the line of main stream media propaganda in denial of truth.

    The moral high ground belongs to Peter Brooks. Hats off to BlueSkies and Stefan. I also lived in Africa for over 30 years. You are right!

    (1) http://www.carteblanche.co.za/Display/Display.asp?Id=2265
    (2) http://www.genocidewatch.org/BoersSlain01.htm
    (3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcOXqFQw2hc

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