Before his 2003 trip to the continent of Africa, President Bush claimed that his administration had been “outspoken” on the issue of elections in Zimbabwe as “a democracy in Zimbabwe will improve the lives of all the citizens of that important country.” Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, recognizing the regional intricacies of the situation, wrote an op-ed that pushed for South Africa to “play a stronger and more sustained role in resolving matters in Zimbabwe.”
Two years later and with a new Secretary of State, the Bush administration claims to still regard Zimbabwe as an “outpost of tyranny” to which the “United States must help bring freedom.” Now a recent report by the Human Rights Watch documents “a climate of fear and intimidation” in the run up to “next week’s parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe.”
So will President Bush live up to the promises of his inaugural address and his rhetorical commitment to democracy? Will Secretary Rice publicly stand by the Zimbabwe people as she did with the Iraqis? If over two months ago Secretary Rice was ready to declare the time for diplomacy as now, will the Bush administration finally stop their four years of dallying and put pressure on the Southern African Development Community to really bring a semblance of democracy to Zimbabwe?
Or when Africa cries freedom, does the Bush administration just stay silent?