zimbabwe renaissance societyWe live in a strange world. The recent developments in Ivory Coast and Libya illuminate how misguided we, the general public, are by the pronouncements of the liberal media- the mouthpiece of global powers. If anything, we were made to believe that military interventions in Libya and Ivory Coast were necessary to protect the wishes of the masses in the respective countries and ultimately, to save lives. However, after doing a little research, this writer wonders, firstly; if the NATO powers and France in particular are genuinely interested in the well-being of Ivorian and Libyan citizens, and secondly; if peace will ever return to Libya and Ivory Coast.

It should be mentioned that Laurent Ggagbo is fortunate to have made it out of his bunker alive, and that in fact, he should have ceded power months ago-the moment the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced that it didn’t recognise him as president. However it is interesting to note that Frederic Daguillon, the spokesperson for the French forces in Abidjan announced that “there wasn’t one single French soldier at the residence of Laurent Ggagbo.” Yet, media reports mention that an aid to Ouattara said “Ggagbo had been handed over by the French to the legitimate government.”

John Hari, writing for The Independent says NATO is acting like the military wing of Amnesty International when they say that their intervention in Libya is in order to protect civilians. He writes: “Yet, since 2004 the US- with European support – has been sending unmanned robot-planes into Pakistan to illegally bomb its territory.” He goes on to say that “the US’s own former senior military advisors admit that even when the intel [intelligence] is accurate, for every one jihadi they kill, as many as fifty innocent people die.” He also writes that the war in Congo is the deadliest since Adolf Hitler marched across Europe, and that in the Congo conflict, he saw armies of drugged and mutilated children and women who had been gang-raped and shot in the vagina. Apparently, he says, more than 5 million people have been killed so far – and even though the west knows about these atrocities, there has been no NATO intervention there to date.

David Cameron did recently state that just because one cannot intervene everywhere, it doesn’t mean one should not intervene somewhere. This point is noted. However, this writer is trying to demonstrate that military intervention is always injurious, and that it should only be considered as an option after diplomacy has completely failed. As it stands the African Union (AU) is still flip-flopping in Libya, trying to convince the conflicting sides to agree to a cease-fire. Well, this should have happened before the NATO guns got involved, and president Zuma and his brilliant foreign policy advisors should have stressed diplomacy before voting in favour of a no fly zone. Regrettably, the voices of AU persuasion are currently being muffled by thundering NATO bombs and concomitantly western powers debate on whether or not to arm the rebels – a contentious issue it seems, as Belgium expresses opposition and Germany insists there should be “no military solution.”

It has also been reported that in Ivory Coast, ethnic and political cleavages are as deep as ever, with pro-Ggagbo youth militias arming themselves with Kalashnikov rifles. Furthermore, French forces are patrolling Abidjan, much to the ire Ivorian citizens. A report by Daniel Howden recently read, “On a Charles de Gaulle bridge, a young man in a filthy vest was pushing a cart loaded with firewood. When he saw the French convoy with its helmeted machine gunners coming the other way, he gave them an angry thumbs down. Not far away was a roadblock manned by men without uniforms who were waving guns and threatening people. Abidjan faces a long road to recovery.”  Elsewhere, Reuters reports; “But while Ouattara will assume the presidency he has claimed for the past four months after the disputed election, he will have to confront long-standing ethnic divisions, years of economic stagnation and a worsening humanitarian crisis.”

So what’s the relevance of all this? It’s simple: Zimbabweans should not emulate the so-called ‘popular revolutions’ of the Maghreb. The situation in Ivory Coast demonstrates the long-term consequences of war, while the situation in Libya demonstrates that leaders will not always heed the demands of so-called protesters. The United Nations has reported that some three million Libyans are currently in need of humanitarian aid. The question then arises: why should Zimbabwe follow such a trajectory? As it stands, Zimbabwe is improving, albeit very slightly and slowly.

In light of this, my hat’s off to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who urged his MDC-T party supporters “to live peacefully with their political rivals in Zanu (PF).” He was speaking at the burial of the first MDC-T mayor Engineer Alois Vhuramayi Chaimiti at the Masvingo Cathedral on Sunday the 10th of April 2011. Certainly, any statesman who promotes peace is worthy of honour. When one looks at Ivory Coast and Libya today – mere shadows of what they were six months ago, one can appreciate the value of quiet diplomacy.

Tau Tawengwa is the Secretary General Of Zimbabwe Renaissance Society.