Jeff Flake: Wrong on Mugabe, Wrong on Castro

Sunday, July 10, 2016
From GotNews:

Same GOP Senator Who Backs Obama’s Cuba Policy Praised Socialist Dictator Robert Mugabe

A GOP senator who backs increased trade with the Cuban dictatorship once praised the policies of socialist dictator Robert Mugabe.

Jeff Flake of Arizona favors ending the embargo with Cuba but his 1987 BYU master’s thesis raises profound questions about his judgment backing the socialist dictator.

Might he be wrong about what will happen with Cuba?

The entire premise of Flake’s thesis, “Zimbabwe: Rhetoric vs. Reality,” is that Mugabe really isn’t a Socialist and is “on the side of the West.”

After a visit to the country with exposure to the amount of private enterprise and limited government interference in the economy, as well as recognizing the viable existence of a second party, one would clearly see that Zimbabwe is more on the side of the West,” Flake wrote.

Flake doubted that Mugabe really was a socialist. “What is the reason for Mugabe’s continuing lip service to socialism? Perhaps Mugabe never believed in following the socialist path at all,” he wrote. “Mugabe may have come to the conclusion that the socialist model of development is bankrupt in the African context.”

Flake continued arguing that “despite the Marxist-Leninist rhetoric, Zimbabwe has not moved towards a high degree of socialism under Mugabe.”

Flake was wrong. Mugabe’s Zimbabwe became one of the few countries in the world to accept aid from North Korea and its white farmers have largely fled the country thanks to repeated collectivization schemes.

(Read Flake’s pro-Robert Mugabe thesis here.)

Nevertheless Flake draws on that African political experience to guide his views on US-Cuba relations, according to a profile piece on Flake in Politico. He served as a Mormon missionary in South Africa and helped draft the Namibian constitution as executive director of the Foundation for Democracy.

Flake was the only GOP senator to applaud Obama’s stance on Cuba at the State of the Union address on Tuesday (though U.S. Senator Rand Paul is said to be a supporter of the policy).

Flake has only once discussed his views on Robert Mugabe. “When I was a graduate student and Senate intern in the late 1980s, I wrote a master’s thesis that proved to be a rather shallow attempt to explain Robert Mugabe’s hold on the Zimbabwean electorate nearly a decade removed from independence,” he wrote in 2013. “Twenty-five years later, that hold on the electorate has long since been exposed as brute force and chicanery.”

Why should we believe he’ll be right about Cuba?