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Don’t Invade Zimbabwe


The situation in Zimbabwe provides an excellent example of how U.S. foreign policy should operate all over the world.

Like most public officials everywhere, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is desperately trying to maintain his grip on power. Unfortunately, his bag of dirty tricks goes far beyond the various forms of character assassination and ballot-access barriers that are employed by U.S. incumbents against their political opponents. Mugabe and his military goons have been systematically kidnapping, torturing, and murdering the supporters of his presidential opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai. The violence situation has gotten so bad that Tsvangirai decided to withdraw from a runoff election scheduled for tomorrow in the hope of preserving the lives and limbs of his supporters.

What should the U.S. government do in this horrific situation? Should it invade and occupy Zimbabwe? Should it attempt a regime-change operation? Should it assassinate Mugabe? Should it impose sanctions and embargos? Should it buy Mugabe off with foreign aid?

The answer is: None of the above. It is no more business of the U.S. government to intervene in the affairs of Zimbabwe, no matter how horrible conditions are there, then it is for, say, the Swiss government to do so.

Is there anything the United States can do to help people in Zimbabwe? Yes. Here are some ways:

1. Americans should be free to travel to Zimbabwe and do whatever they want to support Mugabe’s opposition, including armed revolution if it comes to that. What such Americans should not be permitted to do is enlist the U.S. government to come to their aid. They must take individual responsibility for their convictions and actions.

2. Americans should be free to send money and other aid to people in Zimbabwe on a purely voluntary basis. They should not be permitted to enlist the taxing power of the U.S. government to assist them with foreign aid.

3. Americans should be free to engage in economic activity with Zimbabweans. No sanctions or embargoes. Building up the economic base of the private sector is one of the most effective tools against tyranny.

4. In a larger context, Americans should be devoting their efforts to establishing a model free society here at home to serve as an example to the people of Zimbabwe and the rest of the world. This would include the end of such things as kidnapping, torture, militarism, rendition, and military tribunals at the hands of the U.S. government and the complete restoration of such principles as due process of law, right to counsel, habeas corpus, right to confront witnesses, and trial by jury. It would also include the complete restoration of economic liberty to the American people.

5. In a similarly larger context, Americans should restore their heritage of open borders, which would send a message to the world that the beacon in the Statue of Liberty has been relit, sending forth its light to people all over the world, especially those suffering tyranny, oppression, or starvation. The message would be: “We will not permit our government to come and save you with soldiers, bombs, missiles, and bullets, which would kill and maim hundreds of thousands of you. Instead, you should know that if you are able and willing to escape your plight, there is at least one nation to which you can come that will not force you to return.”

Given the interventionist debacle in Iraq, which has killed and maimed thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, fortunately there are few Americans who are calling on the U.S. government to invade and occupy Zimbabwe, despite the lack of democracy in that nation. The same holds true, of course, for such nations as Vietnam, North Korea, and China, where there is a lack of democracy and a willingness among Americans to live with that fact.

The same policy of nonintervention (i.e., no invasion, occupation, or assassination) that Americans embrace for Vietnam, North Korea, China, and Zimbabwe should be applied to every country on earth. The time has come for the American people to end the U.S. government’s role as the world’s international policeman and welfare provider, a role that inevitably only makes a bad situation worse.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.