Thursday, March 15, 2007



Highlighting the hypocrisy

While torture and human rights abuses aren't on Helen Clark's agenda when she goes to Washington, they are very much on Winston Peters' agenda in the case of Zimbabwe. Peters has strongly criticised the Mugabe regime's violent crackdown on protestors, and is promising that New Zealand 'will do what it can' to push for change in Zimbabwe. The double standard couldn't be any clearer: we will criticise our enemies, but not our friends.

Not only is this hypocritical, it also undermines our stance. Regimes with poor human rights records can point to our silence on US abuses and use it to undermine our criticism. Mugabe will allege that he is being singled out because he is poor and black, while the US is white, rich and powerful - and he'd be at least partly right. If we want to be taken seriously, we must be impartial, and reject torture and human rights abuses, no matter who they are committed by, and regardless of whether we hope to gain a free trade agreement from them. Otherwise we're not supporting universal human rights, but instead using them as a selective weapon.

8 comments:

This comment has been removed by the author. Posted by Awataha Ancient Mariners : 3/15/2007 08:52:00 PM

Mugabe is in a league of his own when it comes to being worthy of critique. there are nth korean desposts and iraqi terrorists pointing at him and saying "hey I'm not that bad!"

GNZ

Posted by Anonymous : 3/15/2007 10:12:00 PM

In fact one has to wonder how close he has to be to wiping out the entire population of zimbabwae before we do somthing other than wagging our fingers at him.

GNZ

Posted by Anonymous : 3/15/2007 10:19:00 PM

I/S,

You state "[i]f we want to be taken seriously, we must be impartial, and reject torture and human rights abuses, no matter who committed them." Evidently you mean taken seriously by Mugabe. But why should you care what Mugabe thinks?

You should reject torture because it is the right thing to do, not because a torturer and despot like Mugabe might think better of us for it. And it is wrong to say that we can't criticise Mugabe unless it comes with an even-handed plate of criticism against the US. Mugabe is deeply evil and deserves no less criticism than a bullet through the brain.

Posted by Brian S : 3/16/2007 12:04:00 PM

Mugabe is rich and black - at the expense of everyone else in Zim.

Having said that Zim is nothing like North Korea - at least it wasn't in '01 when I went there. It's a fucked up country for sure, but it isn't a total paranoid totalitarian state. That might just be due to lack of ability amongst Mugabe's goons, rather than want of trying.

Posted by Rich : 3/16/2007 04:45:00 PM

Still - Nth Korea has more or less twice the life expectancy of Zimbabwae. I expect most of the public assets function more or less as they are supposed to, and if your minding your own business in your house there is almost no chance of someone rushing in and raping your wife and children.

Although I imagine that national radio could be more annoying in nth korea and you are not likely to get any support if you protest.

So yeah a nicer place to visit but to live? maybe not. Of course we are comparing a rubish tip with a sewerage pond.

GNZ

Posted by Anonymous : 3/16/2007 07:14:00 PM

Brian: I don't care what Mugabe thinks; I care what he says. And in this case, I want to deprive him of a particularly noxious argument, which due to the legacy of colonialism in Africa seems disturbingly persuasive.

That said, I also think the US's behaviour is worthy of criticism on its own terms. What they are doing is wrong, and we should tell them that. It's what a good friends, who shares the values they claim to hold dear, would do.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/16/2007 08:43:00 PM

Not sure who would be influenced by Mugabe - except for people like yourself who want to do what he asks in order to give him less stuff to complain about and certain deeply racist or uninformed groups who really aren't open to logic anyway.

Mugabe is playing a game by offsetting somthing he doesn't like (white people, collonialism, the opposition, freedom of speach etc) against other things he doesn't like for example our critique of him or whatever.

1) you can't entirely deny him these sorts of arguments
2) you are being controlled by him (ie its ok to agree with him, but to do so only as a result of somthing he says, or might say, seems a bit worrying)

GNZ

Posted by Anonymous : 3/17/2007 09:06:00 AM