It would take someone with the meticulous discrimination of Mr. Greenwald (of www.Salon.com) to understand that one does not throw one’s weight behind the oppressed of the earth because of any faith that they possess moral standards superior to their oppressors, and if one does, one is likely to be disappointed. The oppressed have experienced brutality – how could they not do likewise given the chance? “It seemed the way grown ups did, and we had not made the world.”
In the far distant struggle of the Patriotic Front against the Selous Scouts we were losing 900 men a month at the height of the carnage, farm boys, no match for the trained killers and their weapons, and another nine hundred the next month – we drowned those f*ckers in blood, but we did win, thereby establishing Mugabe as the first African leader to inflict a signal defeat on superior white forces, a position of prestige he used to the full to turn his country from the breadbasket of Africa into a graveyard, and inflict cruelties on his own people that would have made the smirking “Smitty” blench and taken the plastic grins off the faces of his Rhodesian followers. So were we wrong?
Not at all. The oppressed ended up with their fate in their own hands, just like the rest of us, and the Selous Scouts were free to get in line at the Haringey Job Centre, or for the more stubborn ones, end up in other African courts for smuggling in weapons to foment a coup – they also had their fate in their own hands.
Mugabe turned out to be a monster, but we needed a monster to deal with the Selous Scouts – Joshua Nkomo, who turned up at Heathrow Airport to ask for asylum would not have served to do the business. This proves little except “what all schoolkids learn/that those to whom evil is done/will do evil in return,” and not necessarily to those who did it to them, either.