Is Hillary being soft on Mugabe?

Zimbabwe, 29th anniversary independence celebration, April 18, 2009 Yesterday, Secretary Clinton received a compliment from the deputy prime minister of Zimbabwe, the country infamous for hyperinflation and its president, Robert Mugabe. Referring to Clinton’s congratulation to the people of Zimbabwe on its 29th anniversary of independence, Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara said, “The West should have done ...

586570_090421_Zimbabwe2.jpg
586570_090421_Zimbabwe2.jpg

Yesterday, Secretary Clinton received a compliment from the deputy prime minister of Zimbabwe, the country infamous for hyperinflation and its president, Robert Mugabe.

Referring to Clinton's congratulation to the people of Zimbabwe on its 29th anniversary of independence, Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara said, "The West should have done what Mrs. Clinton did in congratulating Zimbabwe on its Independence Day."

Zimbabwe, 29th anniversary independence celebration, April 18, 2009

Zimbabwe, 29th anniversary independence celebration, April 18, 2009

Yesterday, Secretary Clinton received a compliment from the deputy prime minister of Zimbabwe, the country infamous for hyperinflation and its president, Robert Mugabe.

Referring to Clinton’s congratulation to the people of Zimbabwe on its 29th anniversary of independence, Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara said, “The West should have done what Mrs. Clinton did in congratulating Zimbabwe on its Independence Day.”

Given what a thug Mugabe has been, the happy tone of Clinton’s message might seem odd, but Clinton may simply be trying to respond positively to whatever tiny signs of improvement Zimbabwe has made. This anniversary was the country’s first under a coalition government formed to end bloody political violence. Additionally, Mugabe’s tone in his Independence Day message was markedly different from previous years’. He called for “national healing” and said, “As Zimbabweans, we need to create an environment of tolerance, and treat one another with dignity and decency, irrespective of age, gender, race, ethnicity, tribe, political or religious affiliation.”

Zimbabwe has a long way to go on “national healing.” White-owned farms are still being invaded, for example. Perhaps Clinton and the Obama administration are using a “catch more flies with honey than vinegar” strategy when reaching out to the world’s strongmen. Let’s hope they aren’t taken advantage of.

Photo: DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP
Tag: Africa

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