To many in the West these days, America is the villain. They scold at every turn, pretty much no matter what we do as a nation. They decry our foreign policies. They moan about our efforts at globalization. They screech at any use of American force. They carp endlessly that we do too much, or too little or the wrong things or don't get the world's permission before we do anything at all.
But they turn a blind eye to the ongoing, self-inflicted genocide that is Zimbabwe.
Suffer the little children is a phrase never far from your mind in today’s Zimbabwe. The horde of painfully thin street children milling around you at traffic lights is almost the least of it: in a population now down to 11m or less there are an estimated 1.3m orphans.
Go to one of the overflowing cemeteries in Bulawayo or Beit Bridge and you are struck by the long lines of tiny graves for babies and toddlers.
A game ranger friend tells me that hyena attacks on humans, previously unheard of, have become increasingly common. “So many babies, not all of them dead, are being dumped in the bush that hyenas have developed a taste for human flesh,” he explains.
Under the weight of the general economic meltdown — the economy has shrunk by 40% since 2000 and is still contracting — the health system has collapsed and a populace now weakened by five consecutive years of near-starvation dies of things which would never have been fatal before. A staggering 42,000 women died in childbirth last year, for example, compared with fewer than 1,000 a decade ago.
A vast human cull is under way in Zimbabwe and the great majority of deaths are a direct result of deliberate government policies. Ignored by the United Nations, it is a genocide perhaps 10 times greater than Darfur’s and more than twice as large as Rwanda’s.
Genocide is not a word one should use hastily but the situation is exactly as described in the UN Convention on Genocide, which defines it as “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”.
Our homegrown internal critics throw charges of "ethnic cleansing" against our own government. Because it is easier to posture against an internal political opponent and paint him as evil than to actually see the real evils in the world and actually do anything about them. It is easier to carp and moan and poke sticks at countries you know, deep down, will never try to hurt you in return, than it is to address real evil. It is easier to pretend that a thoroughly corrupt United Nations, increasingly dominated by thuggish regimes is effective than to admit they don't actually do much good at keeping monsters down.
Zimbabwe is dying and the West damns America. And when it is dead, they will also blame America.