The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Willful Naiveté

Many of my left-of-center friends have adopted a mime suggested by the DNC and mimicked by Barack Obama. They suggest that electing John McCain would effectively result in “Bush’s third term.”

There’s no point in delineating the profound differences between Senator McCain and President Bush, the mime is embedded, and logical argument is fruitless. So, smiling, I often suggest (as I’ve done in this blog) that electing Barack Obama may very well result in Jimmy Carter’s second term.

I’ll admit that some of my left-of-center friends are thrilled at the prospect, conveniently forgetting the disaster that was the Carter Presidency—four years in which Carter’s misguided policies led to economic stagflation, unemployment rates approaching double digits, interest rates above 18 percent (that’s right, 18%), a foreign policy that installed the Ayatollah Komeni and Islamofascism in Iran —a country that was a staunch US ally and is now hurtling toward nuclear weapons.

Today, I learned of another debacle associated with the worst President in my lifetime. Jimmy Carter played an important role in helping Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to power. That’s the same Mugabe who is correctly reviled by human rights advocates as a murderous dictator and thug)

James Kirchick describes Zimbabwe’s leader:
Mr. Mugabe is one of the nastiest dictators in Africa — he has inflicted a "silent genocide" by starving his own people. The effects of his authoritarian rule have been made all the worse by his staying power. In more than 27 years as head of state, Mr. Mugabe has turned one of Africa's most productive economies into a shambles. A country whose currency once beat the British pound now boasts an inflation rate nearing 10,000% per annum and a land that once exported beef and grain now has a population desperately in need of food and humanitarian aid.

How did this man come to power? You have to go back to the years of the Carter presidency:
In April of 1979, the first fully democratic election in Zimbabwe history's occurred. Of the eligible black voters, 64% participated, braving the threat of terrorist attacks by Mr. Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party, which managed to kill 10 people. Prior to the election, Mr. Mugabe had issued a death list with 50 individuals he named as "traitors, fellow-travelers, and puppets of the Ian Smith regime, opportunistic running-dogs and other capitalist vultures." Nevertheless, Bishop Abel Muzorewa of the United Methodist Church emerged victorious and became prime minister of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, as the new country was called.

Yet the Carter administration, led by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, would have none of it. Mr. Young referred to Mr. Muzorewa, one of the very few democratically elected leaders on the African continent, as the head of a "neo-fascist" government. Mr. Carter refused to meet Mr. Muzorewa when the newly elected leader visited Washington to seek support from our country, nor did he lift sanctions that America had placed on Rhodesia as punishment for the colony's unilateral declaration of independence from the British Empire in 1965.

Messrs. Carter and Young would only countenance a settlement in which Mr. Mugabe, a Marxist who had repeatedly made clear his intention to turn Zimbabwe into a one-party state, played a leading role. Mr. Young, displaying the willful naiveté that came to characterize Mr. Carter's mindset, told the London Times that Mr. Mugabe was a "very gentle man" whom he "can't imagine … ever pulling the trigger on a gun to kill anyone."

After coming to power with Carter’s help, Kirchick notes that Mugabe “killed about 25,000 people belonging to a minority tribe, the Ndebele. In spite of this, in 1989, Mr. Carter launched his "Project Africa" in Zimbabwe, a program aimed at helping African countries maintain food sustainability.”

It appears that Carter's “willful naiveté” had some very unpleasant costs.

As an aside, it’s interesting that Jimmy Carter regularly accuses Israel of “criminal” activities when they defend themselves from murderous attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian groups. Oddly, he’s silent on Mugabe. Now you know why.

The ruinous legacy of the Carter presidency occurred because an inexperienced, ideologically Left-wing Washington outsider convinced the American people that hope and change would lead us to a better country and a better world. Sound familiar?