ion, the USA, with huge resources for study and analysis could blunder a second time in forty years (the first was in Viet Nam) into a hopeless war. How could people with so much intelligence – with a big and a small i – set out on a path with seemingly no thought for where it could end?
Yet they have done it. And, as in Viet Nam, the leadership’s only response to its own failures is to send in more and more troops. I cannot think what it must be like to be a soldier in a war when ever day you ask yourself, ‘what am I doing here?’ How the most powerful nation on the planet, which prides itself on being a democracy, can shut its eyes and stumble into such a quagmire begs belief.
It is history in the making but it is also a parable. In our own way we are not much better. Whites in Zimbabwe must surely wonder about their attitudes in the 1950s, 60s and beyond. How could they blunder on content with their neat kerbs and bougainvillaeas indifferent to 96% of the people they lived among? Many of them did it in good faith and were good people but Julius Caesar’s ‘we are all honourable men’ is just not good enough. And black people must surely wonder about how they relaxed in the 1980s and 90s and allowed all political initiative to slip from their hands. Raising a multi-coloured flag and going home to watch soccer is simply not good enough.
So here we are in 2007 with the following headlines: ‘Raw sewage discharged into Harare river,’ ‘Judiciary reduced to begging,’ ‘Zimbabwe health sector faces collapse,’ ‘Woman dies in labour as striking doctors turn screws,’ ‘Three illegal gold miners die in police custody,’ ‘Unable to raise bus fares Zimbabwe teachers miss start to school.’ What is going on? What are the attitudes that permit a country to stagger on in this way? Does anyone care?
I am in trouble! I have become
like a harvester in summer time,
like a gleaner at the vintage:
not a single cluster to eat,
not one of the early figs I long for.
The devout have vanished from the land;
There is not one honest man left.
All are lurking for blood,
every man hunting down his brother.
Their hands are skilled in evil:
the official demands …
the judge gives judgment for a bribe,
the man in power pronounces as he pleases.
The war in Iraq is a global issue. It raises all sorts of questions about attitudes. Attitudes towards other people and perceptions of them can lead to hideous crimes as we know from even the scantiest knowledge of history; the slave trade, the Holocaust. What is utterly perplexing is how a rich nat