Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Why Zimbabwe Won
The tragic failure of the African Union to take any steps to sanction the fraudulent and violent regime of Robert Mugabe was a given as soon as the despot sat at the table. Because Mugabe knew his audience, or what was to be his jury.

Mugabe, correctly, told many other leaders that "their claims to power were no more legitimate than his," and chastised other for holding even worse elections than he did.

The tragedy for Africa is that Mugabe is right. And because he is right, Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, remains an open wound, hospitable to radical Islamist groups (Somalia, Kenya, South Africa etc. for al Qaeda. The west coast, from Sierra Leone to Cameroon, for Hezbollah, and the Congo as a free for all, for criminals, terrorists and rogue states) and rapacious militias (the Lord's Resistance Army) and countless criminal gangs (Nigeria being the prime example.)

It didn't help that host Egypt and main AU financier and mover, Libya have such wretched histories of their own in terms of elections.

In addition to Mubarak and Gadaffi, here is a partial list of those sitting in judgement of Mugabe and his thuggish regime, as I wrote about for the Washington Post
Outlook section in April 2006

-Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, who has plundered his tiny but oil rich country since seizing power from his bloodthirsty uncle in 1979. He routinely wins 90 percent of the votes cast in his elections, but is greeted as a "good friend" by Condoleezza Rice when he visited Washington in 2006.

-Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso, in power since 1987 (following his participation in the murder of his best friend and predecessor in the presidency, Thomas Sankara). Campaore was a prime player in fueling the wars that swept Liberia and Sierra Leone, and a staunch ally of Liberia's Charles Taylor. (Taylor is the unlucky one who got caught, and is now standing trial for crimes against humanity in the Hague).

-Omar Bongo, who has ruled Gabon with an iron hand since 1967, when LBJ was trying to decide how to get out of Vietnam. He has made his son the minister of defense to ensure loyalty in the armed forces and brooks no dissent. Concerned about his international image, he was in contact with now-disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff in the summer of 2003. Abramoff asked for $9 million to help Bongo cozy up to the Bush administration, according to documents later released by Congress. It is not clear if the deal was consummated, but on May 26, 2004, Bongo met with President Bush.

Idris Deby, who has ruled Chad since 1990 and routinely racks up large margins of victory because he keeps his opponents locked up or in exile. Deby agreed to a series of stringent conditions on how his country's new oil wealth would be spent on health and education in exchange for the World Bank financing needed to build a pipeline from his landlocked nation to the Gulf of Guinea. His first purchase with the oil money was weapons worth $4.5 million for his security apparatus.

The list goes on, but I am out of time. Who among these giants of democracy, freedom and good governance could cast a stone at Mugabe's antics? Not one. The verdict had to be acquittal on every count, lest they be the subject of action next time.

And so the continent will suffer, and the security of all of us is at peril.

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