Mugabe: Still looms large in Zimbabwe
In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Canadian PM-of-the-day Jean Chrétien and his British counterpart Tony Blair sat down for a cold and probably inexpensive beer in Johannesburg, South Africa, to discuss their respective country's involvement. Chrétien used the time to persuade Blair not to guide Britain into the looming war, obviously to no avail.
He argued that oil reserves were the lone motivator in the choice to depose Saddam Hussein over Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.
Five years and another brutal election later, the argument to intervene in Zimbabwe can still be made.
While Hussein was a tyrant of eye-opening extremes, Mugabe, from a Western perspective, remained relatively quiet as a thuggish one-party ruler. He was for the most part outside the domain of international attention – far from the attention that Hussein was getting. In 2002, Chrétien gave the Zimbabwean strongman a chance to show the world his legitimacy, allowing Mugabe to proceed with elections under scrutiny of impartial advisors.
Instead, the worst-case scenario – violence, intimidation, and, overall, an unjust political process – was confirmed. So then-PM Chrétien banned Zimbabwe leaders from attending a G-8 summit on Canadian soil.
Now, with another fraudulent election in tow, Mugabe is still on the world’s radar, if only in passing. With the exception of dubious sponsorship-related appearances, Chrétien is not.
Although he doesn’t have the same flair for appearances on the world stage as his successor, Chrétien has only political capital to gain from continuing his lobby against leaders like Mugabe.
So it’s unfortunate our former prime minister, who was of the mind that Mugabe should be pressured out of his ill-gotten office, has not been motivated to take a public stand.