Meeting in Japan, the leaders of the G-7 industrial powers (plus Russia, with which President Clinton made it the G-8) are stymied over how to punish Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, who is this month’s election-stealing nation-ruining violence-cultivating tyrant-in-the-news. Our leaders are bogged down in the usual default mode of urging UN sanctions, while the tyrant-of-the-month’s pals — in this case, the seven African rulers on hand to shake down the developed world for yet more aid — say no.
While they’re all having that fascinating off-the-shelf discussion, here’s one way the leaders of the democratic world could at least begin punishing Mugabe, with zero harm to anyone but Mugabe and his cronies. Launch a public campaign to kick Zimbabwe off the 36-member governing boards of two of the UN’s biggest aid agencies: UNICEF and the World Food Program. What Mugabe’s regime is doing with these seats in the first place is an intriguing question. Kicking him off would be a two-fer. It would take away some of the perks he still enjoys on the UN stage, and it would be at least one small step toward cleaning up the UN. If the Bush administration won’t raise the issue, Obama, McCain, whaddaya say?