In the manner of all demagogues, Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, is doing his best to divert the attention of his people away from his own disastrous policies and lack of governance by pursuing a divisive, and in this case blatantly racist, course of action.
Mugabe's police forces have begun arresting white farmers who had been given a deadline to abandon their homes and their land, regardless of how long ago they purchased the land or from whom they purchased it. Mugabe says he will redistribute the land to the people, but past practice indicates the land grab will enrich Mugabe and his cronies more than the people.
On its face, the policy appeals to the very worst in people -- promising to give them something for nothing. But, of course, there is no free lunch. And Zimbabwe is about to learn that in a very real and painful way.
A cry for help
Even as Mugabe is confiscating farms from farmers based on race, he is acknowledging that his nation can no longer feed itself. As Rhodesia, the country became an international pariah because of the subjugation of the black majority by a white minority. But there was no question that its farms could provide the food that the country needed.
Now, under Mugabe, the nation is no less racist, but its agricultural system is a shambles.
Even as Mugabe pursues his racist policies as a way of currying favor with the frightened masses, he is asking the world community, through the United Nations, to provide food for his people.
Of course, the world must respond. It cannot stand by and watch millions starve. Even with the best efforts of generous nations, tens or hundreds of thousands of people are likely to die.
But Western nations that are willing to help should provide food directly to the people, not funnel it through Mugabe's corrupt government where large portions will be diverted to the black market, with profits working their way back to the regime.
If Mugabe will not accede to truly independent aid efforts, it will be up member nations of the African Union to prevail upon their neighbor to either step aside or step down. If they don't, the deaths of the innocents that is sure to follow will be on their hands.