Saturday, June 25, 2005

The shame of the "super-soft" squidgy power

There is something particuarly shameful about the craven attitude of Britain towards its former colony Zimbabwe, and its homicidal dictator Mugabe. Not least is that our policy has been subsumed under the EU's common foreign policy and we are no longer free agents in this matter.

Instead of outright condemnation Рand more Рtherefore, we have to sit and listen to El Presidente Jos̩ Manuel Barroso express his "disappointment" with the African Union's silence on the clearance programme being undertaken by Mugabe, which may have made as many as 300,000 people homeless.

Thus, it is not Jack Straw – or Tony "Care" Blair – making the running, but Barroso. It is he who has been discussing Zimbabwe with South African President Thabo Mbeki. And all Barroso can come up with is the statement: "I was disappointed with the statement made by the African Union… Questions of human rights should be the concern of all people... these are universal values and everybody should respect those values."

If this is the EU's "soft" power, you can keep it. It is not so much "soft" as "super-soft" to the point of being squidgy – like an over-ripe Camembert, and just about as much use.

If ever there was an argument for "hard" power, on the US model, this is it. Mugabe's regime is so corrupt, all it would take would be the appearance of the 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, and it would fold. And if we need the money to finance an expedition – well, our MEPs are currently costing us in the order of £80 million a year. Get rid of them and we'd have change left over.

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