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Wikileaks and Democracy In Zimbabwe 669

Posted by samzenpus
from the loose-ips dept.
OCatenac writes "The Atlantic has an interesting story on the collateral damage of exposing diplomatic communications in Zimbabwe. From the article: 'The reaction in Zimbabwe was swift. Zimbabwe's Mugabe-appointed attorney general announced he was investigating the Prime Minister on treason charges based exclusively on the contents of the leaked cable. While it's unlikely Tsvangirai could be convicted on the contents of the cable alone, the political damage has already been done. The cable provides Mugabe the opportunity to portray Tsvangirai as an agent of foreign governments working against the people of Zimbabwe. Furthermore, it could provide Mugabe with the pretense to abandon the coalition government that allowed Tsvangirai to become prime minister in 2009.' Undoubtedly there are lots of things that our governments hide from us which should not be hidden but it's a shame that no one from Wikileaks could be troubled to consider the potential repercussions of this particular exposure."
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Wikileaks and Democracy In Zimbabwe

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  • Mugabe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:14PM (#34704008) Journal

    Why exactly some decent Western power has had that vile repugnant monster Mugabe filled so full of holes you could use him as a soup strainer is beyond me. That incompetent tyrant has turned Africa's breadbasket into a ill-run starving madhouse.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wowbagger (69688) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:22PM (#34704090) Homepage Journal

    "Why exactly [hasn't] some decent Western power has had [sic] that vile repugnant monster Mugabe filled so full of holes you could use him as a soup strainer is beyond me.

    Because you cannot bring about Democracy by force. Either the people are ready for it or they are not, and the single best test of "are they ready" is that they overthrow the tyrant (bonus points for NOT filling him full of holes, but trying him in a civilized manner).

    If "some decent Western power" fills the sovereign leader of a foreign country full of holes, they immediately invalidate the adjective "decent".

    Moreover, since the people aren't ready for Democracy, the result will just be the rise of a new tyrant.

  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:23PM (#34704116)
    While Ellsberg supports Assange and what they are trying to do, in actuality he redacted many names and even entire sections of diplomatic reports that assessed the allies of the US who were secretly supporting the Vietnam war, like Poland.

    He felt he wasn't doing the world any favors by exposing the murky dealings and backroom pacts that make the globe spin, and may delay his goal of a swift end to the Vietnam war.

    Assange has no goal, and that is part of his problem. His treatise is to make the world more open, as if the very nature of classified conversations and secret deals between nations offends him, so he is to bring a giant flashlight to things regardless of what happens.

    He has some very large bombshells to drop, such as I believe he has documents which tie Bank Of America to the Feds knowing that CDOs had no accountability, and that most mortage notes didn't have legal basis, and then of course TARP money - much of which is unaccounted for despite being taxpayer money. But like his bombshells that showed US helecopters attacking what may or may not have been journalists in the street, it did nothing. Nothing has changed despite Manning smuggling that video from the Apache gunning those guys down, including wasting their van that had children in it. I don't think it altered the US Army's engagement policy one iota.

    Despite all these findings he has, nothing will change and his duress which may cause him to continue to reveal all kinds of things without edit, he simply WILL cause collateral damage. The question is, is it worth it? To see how the bankers and the financiers and the heads of state control the world and the wealth in the world? Will it REALLY help democracy and display capitalism's flaws? Haven't we known that since Marx?

    I hope Assange or his followers continues, but does do more selective editing. the truth is not always its' own reward, as we are now seeing.
  • by ConaxConax (1886430) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:24PM (#34704124)
    There will be never be democracy in Zimbabwe with Mugabe in power.
  • Derp. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:25PM (#34704128)

    But Lord High Julian never made a mistake and ALLL information needs to be free ALL the time.

    When it comes to my government once again fucking about in a country it has no business meddling with, absolutely.

  • by kaptink (699820) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:27PM (#34704150) Homepage

    I had no idea there was democracy in Zimbabwe. I was under the impression that Robert Mugabe bullied his way into power and has fixed it so he never leaves? Is this not right?

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BlackSabbath (118110) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:30PM (#34704184) Homepage

    Mugabe doesn't NEED ammo. Do you think he's survived all these years because of legal niceties and the ability to prosecute people on facts? He don't need no stinkin' facts! He's a dictator and dictators have never needed facts to support their case. The fact that this ONE time the facts give him some support is irrelevant. The implication of your comment is that its Wikileaks' fault (specifically "Lord High Julian") that Zimbabwe will now continue to be under dictatorial rule. Bullshit.

    He will continue to rule for as long as the people of Zimbabwe do not rise up and thrown the bum out. If the people of Zimbabwe are more concerned at Tsvangirai's connections to Western powers than Mugabe's rape of the nation then that tells you what their priorities are. The western powers are even less interested in Mugabe than they are Kim Jong Il and even if they were - it ain't their job to tell other peoples how to run their states.

  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:30PM (#34704190)

    If the cable proves that Tsvangirai is working with foreign governments to subvert Mugabe, shouldn't the people of Zimbabwe know that? It seems like it would be in their interest to know.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:33PM (#34704226) Journal

    Sorta like Saddam Hussein and his sons running Iraq. But Jesus, did America catch hell for doing something about it. We still are.

    We caught hell for that because we put Saddam in power and supported him for decades. When you have to take out the same guy you put in, it makes the game itself look ridiculous. All the players hate it when you make the game look ridiculous.

    If it's one thing I've learned, dictators are protected by larger nations so that they may be used like pawns and creating stalemates in global diplomacy. Nice huh?

    We are one of the worst offenders in that regard.

  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:35PM (#34704260) Homepage

    do we blame the woman and her short dress for her being raped?
    do we blame the parents and their inattentiveness for their child being molested?

    BadAnalogyGuy? Is that you?

    Do we blame the best friend who tells the stalker where their victim is living? Yes.
    Do we blame the reporter for telling the mafia where the witness under protection is? Absolutely.

    Wikileaks exposed information actively damaging those fighting for reform in Zimbabwe. Only a blind, idiot apologist would try and excuse those actions. Just say it: Wikileaks fucked up. You can do it.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:37PM (#34704284) Journal

    I don't see how they've managed to call this undemocratic - nothing undemocratic has been done yet. Even though your or I might dislike Mugabe, him gaining popular support is part of the democratic process. It's the exact point of democracy. I am surprised at how they manage to label this as undemocratic when just as bad smear campaigns make the local television stations in the US.

    What happened was Anti-American. Not Anti-Democracy. People need to stop using Freedom, Democracy, Liberty, and other similar terms as synonyms for America. Mugabe would be a fool to scrap the democratic process if he had popular support of the people, and any under-handed rigging for the next elections he might set up could be just as possible in the States as anywhere else.

    It's funny, as AG he brings up charges against the Prime Minister which might have been, in fact, not in the interest of the Zimbabwe people (knowing how the US likes to exploit developing nations and all that).

    However, worse crimes are done by US Officials and the judicial system does nearly nothing about it. I wonder which state is actually more democratic right now.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Abcd1234 (188840) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:38PM (#34704296) Homepage

    He will continue to rule for as long as the people of Zimbabwe do not rise up and thrown the bum out.

    And they are far less likely to do that if the only voice of reform is painted as a western puppet and a traitor.

    But yeah, you're right, I'm sure wikileaks is completely innocent... they can't *possibly* fuck up.

  • by vadim_t (324782) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:40PM (#34704314) Homepage

    This case:

    Tsvangirai (good) hiddenly supports sanctions against his own country to harm his opponent, Mugabe (bad). That scheme comes to light, possibly spelling doom for democracy. Shame on Wikileaks for screwing it up.

    Now let's try in reverse:

    Mugabe (bad) hiddenly supports sanctions against his own country to harm his opponent, Tsvangirai (good). That scheme comes to light, possibly spelling doom for the tyranny and opening way for glorious democracy. Glory to Wikileaks for uncovering Mugabe's shady deals.

    I don't like double standards. Christopher R. Albon seems to be saying that the end justifies the means, and so long that the end is democracy, pretty much anything goes.

    IMO, the problem here is not with Wikileaks. It's one of two things:

    A. Tsvangirai isn't all that saintly, and not that much better than Mugabe, so he must to resort to underhanded means to defeat his oponent.

    B. The people don't really want democracy. They either like Mugabe for some reason, or he convinced them his oponent is worse, or just don't give a damn. Whatever the issue in such a case should they get this democracy it's unlikely to make things all that much better for them, because democracy requires people who care, and parties willing to represent the will of those people. If the people don't care, or all the choices are horrible, it's democracy in name only.

  • Re:wrong way round (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NEW22 (137070) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:43PM (#34704362)

    Dude, don't be such a dick.

    If you don't understand, basically I mean: You disagree with somebody about something. Rather than just make your point, you go on with the "...jackass" "You're a naive, apologist twat. Grow up." Infer the poster live's in him mom's basement, and that's so pathetic, etc. Basically, you just acted like a dick. You showed no respect or manners.

    Please don't. It makes the world suck more for no good reason.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kalirion (728907) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:44PM (#34704384)

    Assange is to blame as well.

    To invoke Godwin's Law, would you have supported a leak of where all the Jews were hiding in Nazi Germany? Only the Nazis would be to blame for what happens next, right?

  • by Senes (928228) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:45PM (#34704386)
    It doesn't necessarily mean that what Tsvangirai is doing is illegal or immoral. Mugabe is just misrepresenting information and using it to fuel his own propaganda machine. Wikileaks isn't at fault either; they're not passing judgment on anyone.

    It seems like what is happening here is that Tsvangirai is trying to cooperate with 'western' governments, and Mugabe is painting this as an evil action which needs to be stopped.
  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:46PM (#34704418) Homepage

    It's not wikileaks' job to keep things under lock and key.

    It's the responsibility of every thinking, breathing adult to act, well... responsibly.

    Or, I suppose if you found out the PIN for your friend's bank card, you'd make sure to post it on Facebook for everyone to see?

    Further, it is naive of you to think Mugabe needed this information to achieve his aims.

    It's moronic of you to believe it hasn't helped. Reality, with it's actual events and consequences, proves you wrong.

  • by jeff4747 (256583) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:50PM (#34704474)

    Good thing that cable was leaked then. Now Mugabe can beat back the reformers again.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:53PM (#34704544) Journal

    Assange is to blame as well.

    To invoke Godwin's Law, would you have supported a leak of where all the Jews were hiding in Nazi Germany? Only the Nazis would be to blame for what happens next, right?

    No, but if diplomatic secrets were given to party A, and party A went to five separate well known and well respected papers to redact those diplomatic secrets, and people were then harmed by unredacted material, I would blame the papers, not the person who went to the papers. You do realize that Assange, responding to criticism that he was not redacting confidential information, made a deal with five venerable papers of record in various countries, and gave them the cables to redact, right? So Assange is still not to blame, the papers are. Nice attempt at deflection though.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shaitand (626655) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @06:59PM (#34704612) Journal

    "if the only voice of reform is painted as a western puppet and a traitor"

    If the shoe fits. Are you saying it was wrong of wikileaks to expose a western attempt to manipulate a people into overthrowing their leader?

    The people of Zimbabwe are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves if they want to live under a dictator there is no need for western govs to manipulate them.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @07:01PM (#34704624)

    And they are far less likely to do that if the only voice of reform is painted as a western puppet and a traitor.

    And Mugabe doesn't need Wikileaks for this, it was merely convenient. Do you think that someone who shoots people because they bother him has any issues lying about people?

  • by c6gunner (950153) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @07:06PM (#34704698)

    However, worse crimes are done by US Officials and the judicial system does nearly nothing about it. I wonder which state is actually more democratic right now.

    This is the kind of mind-blowing stupidity that make me lose all hope for humanity.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TFAFalcon (1839122) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @07:11PM (#34704752)

    If all information about Mugabe was free, even his supporters would probably lynch him.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IICV (652597) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @07:16PM (#34704804)

    Here's the money quote from the article:

    The topic of the meeting was the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by a collection of western countries, including the U.S. and E.U. Tsvangirai told the western officials that, while there had been some progress in the last year, Mugabe and his supporters were dragging their feet on delivering political reforms. To overcome this, he said that the sanctions on Zimbabwe "must be kept in place" to induce Mugabe into giving up some political power. The prime minister openly admitted the incongruity between his private support for the sanctions and his public statements in opposition. If his political adversaries knew Tsvangirai secretly supported the sanctions, deeply unpopular with Zimbabweans, they would have a powerful weapon to attack and discredit the democratic reformer.

    In private, he says "Keep these sanctions up". In public, he says "Down with sanctions you evil western foreigners etc".

    When the cables were released, surprise surprise, his opponent capitalizes on the fact that he says one thing in private and the exact opposite in public - and arguably, the things he says in private are detrimental to his country (he was basically saying "USA, it's totally okay for you to keep on penalizing our entire country because one political party refuses to play ball"). The citizenry, now that they know this guy is not necessarily acting in their best interests, turn against him. It's not really their fault that his opposite number is a complete asshole.

    Maybe he shouldn't have been a two-faced liar? That would have kept this from happening. Pity integrity is apparently something that happens to other people.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BobMcD (601576) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @07:30PM (#34704994)

    Saddam never changed, though. He was an evil, ruthless bastard when we put him in power, we knew how he would act, and we didn't care until he turned against the status quo.

    But you know what the real bitch of it is? Poor old Saddam never actually did any of the stuff he wanted us to think he was going to do. There just weren't any WMD's, and really there never were ever going to be any. I think history's final review will show that he was actually the most 'effective' ruler of that province in a very, very long time. Sometimes, like when you're forcing three disparate people to share the wealth of one tiny corner of an otherwise inhospitable province, it really could be that a despot is the best choice.

  • Re:Derp. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Martin Blank (154261) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @07:31PM (#34705002) Journal

    What if the internal politics include genocide, or involve practices that involve significant oppression of a given group? Do you keep trading with them (tacit acceptance of their internal policies) or do you stop trading with them (indirect disapproval of their internal policies)? The latter is definitely something that could bring about political change if they need the trade and will not get it unless they change their ways.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by angus77 (1520151) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @07:42PM (#34705132)
    What you missed was that "by force" meant force by another country. As in, one nation cannot force democracy on another (except nominally).
  • Re:Mugabe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @07:46PM (#34705168)

    There just weren't any WMD's, and really there never were ever going to be any

    I think the thousands of Kurds who died in nerve gas attacks would beg to differ, if they were alive to do so.

  • BFD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rainer_d (115765) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @07:48PM (#34705186) Homepage
    As if anybody really cared about Zimbabwe. Mugabe didn't exactly fall out of the blue sky last year.
  • by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @07:49PM (#34705196)

    I don't see how they've managed to call this undemocratic - nothing undemocratic has been done yet. Even though your or I might dislike Mugabe, him gaining popular support is part of the democratic process. It's the exact point of democracy. I am surprised at how they manage to label this as undemocratic when just as bad smear campaigns make the local television stations in the US.

    I must have missed it in class when they suggested using militias to beat, torture and kill opposition supporters as being a part of the democratic process. Sure he might have won anyways, but don't pass this off as a legitimate will of the people situation. A legitimate will of the people does not require crimes against humanity to be expressed.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @07:53PM (#34705244) Journal

    You do know who sold him that nerve gas, right? The good old US of A. No one was calling them WMDs when he was gassing the Kurds, that phrasing came in the push for war. By the time we started accusing him as opposed to covering up for him, he had none left, so what BobMcD says is arguably true.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms.infamous@net> on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @08:07PM (#34705392) Homepage

    Wow, must be nice to be able to judge, without reservations, someone in a corrupt, violent, third world country who is trying to weaken a brutal dictator. And to do it from the comfort of your pleasant, suburban existence.

    I think that even from my reasonably comfortable suburban existence, I can judge that trying to weaken a brutal dictator via lies and deceit is a highly non-optimal strategy, and gives us reason to suspect that the person engaging in such actions may have their own interests in mind more than the interests of the people living under said dictator.

    The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend; sometime he's just an asshole of a different stripe. Failing to realize this has been one of the reasons that American foreign policy has been so brutal and stupid.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flyingsquid (813711) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @08:48PM (#34705778)
    And Mugabe doesn't need Wikileaks for this, it was merely convenient. Do you think that someone who shoots people because they bother him has any issues lying about people?

    You can't have it both ways. Either Wikileaks and Assange are responsible for what happens when they release information, or they aren't. You can't say that they're heroes when a leak promotes democracy, but that when a leak sets it back, they're off the hook. If Wikileaks wants the credit when good things happen, then they also get the blame when bad stuff happens.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms.infamous@net> on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @08:49PM (#34705784) Homepage

    I see. So for example, Adolph Hitler should have been allowed to do as he pleased with the Jews. Is that what your telling me?

    That was, in fact, the policy of the U.S. and other Western powers. We did not go to war with the Nazis to save Jews, we did it because they were invading other nations. In fact, reports of the Holocaust were being downplayed [wikipedia.org] as late as 1943.

    There are alternatives between letting a nation engage in genocide without comment or penalty, and invading that nation.

    What is so difficult to understand about such a simple concept of "right" and "wrong"?

    Apparently, it's difficult for you to understand that "right" and "wrong" are not always such simple concepts.

    Many aspects of Hitler's programs were based on American policies like the genocide of Native nations and forced sterilization in the name of eugenics. Should other nations have invaded us to stop our actions? Where do you draw the line?

    The question of using deadly force is never a "simple" question, and I fear anyone who thinks that it is almost as much as I fear tyrants and dictators -- for such people are all too likely to foolishly support tyrants and dictators who promise simple, black-and-white solutions.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by copponex (13876) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @08:56PM (#34705832) Homepage

    But yeah, you're right, I'm sure wikileaks is completely innocent... they can't *possibly* fuck up.

    Sure, they can fuck up. But they would have to kill millions of people and subvert dozens of democracies to start to match the misery caused by secret dealings by the State Department and the Executive Branch.

    There's some parable involving removing the speck from someone else's eye while you ignore the log in your own, but since most Americans are Christians, they've probably never heard of it.

  • Re:Mugabe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @10:05PM (#34706320) Journal
    Quite frankly, The Atlantic should be bitterly ashamed of itself for that ghastly piece of drivel.

    Wikileaks revealed a cable, the contents of which included the fact that Tsvangirai, while pretending to be against sanctions against Zimbabwe while at home, sucking up to the electorate, was in fact in favor of them. The Atlantic says that this is a blow to democracy. Srsly? Do they actually think that "Democracy" is just some kind of game show, where you get to line up and put your little scrap of paper in the box every few years, to decide which of the competing politicians you find more mediagenic? Some kind of variant on "Survivor"; but with more national pride?

    Unless your "democracy" is to be a cargo-cult sham, where you go through the motions and get none of the effects, people must be able to(and must be willing to, which might ultimately be the harder part...) vote for positions and platforms represented by politicians, not for politicians-as-characters. The fact that one of the major contenders actually represents the exact opposite of his stated position is, y'know, just a teeny bit relevant...

    Now, if The Atlantic holds the view that, since Mugabe is just such a scumbag, his removal is more important than democracy; they ought to say so. It isn't hard: "Hey, Raison d'etat, bitches! Getting rid of an obviously bad dude is clearly more important than a bunch of little people getting to know what they are casting their cute little ballots for. Maybe when they are all grown up and sophisticated, like us, they will be ready for real democracy; but, for now, the important thing is making sure that they get what they need, not what they claim to want." See, that was easy, use it with my compliments.

    However, if The Atlantic actually values "democracy" in Zimbabwe, they should be celebrating the fact that the people thereof now know more than they did before about who and what they are voting for. Instead, we get this pusillanimous drivel. Pathetic.
  • Re:Mugabe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by linuxrocks123 (905424) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @10:23PM (#34706418) Homepage Journal

    Whether it is a mess or not is something Germany can decide for themselves and resolve themselves. They have every right to support and empower Hitler and the rest of the world has no right to push them toward values they believe you're right.

    More bluntly: you're a moron.

    ---linuxrocks123

  • Re:Derp. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sco08y (615665) on Wednesday December 29, 2010 @11:38PM (#34706918)

    But Lord High Julian never made a mistake and ALLL information needs to be free ALL the time.

    When it comes to my government once again fucking about in a country it has no business meddling with, absolutely.

    Right! We need a way to figure out what is the legitimate scope of what our government can do in the name of national security.

    We can't exactly poll the entire American people, but maybe if we had some "representatives" of the people elected by a "vote", those representatives could confer with the elected President to determine a policy that, as best as possible, represented the will of the people...

    That is, until, some asshat decides to disenfranchise all 300+ million of us by completely derailing that foreign policy.

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." -- Karl, as he stepped behind the computer to reboot it, during a FAT

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