Reaction to coup right

U.S. officials have taken the traditional stance regarding this week’s military coup in Zimbabwe: This country does not interfere in the internal affairs of other nations, they said.

That simply is not true. In essence, it amounts to diplomacy-speak for, “We’re not certain what happened or what the United States should do about it.”

Reports Wednesday were that Zimbabwe’s army has taken control of the government and is holding President Robert Mugabe under house arrest. That would appear to be a blessing for Zimbabweans.

Mugabe, 93, has been the virtual dictator of Zimbabwe since the country, formerly Rhodesia, was established in 1980. His rule has been marked by repression and economic chaos. Virtually single-handedly, Mugabe has taken a once-prosperous land and made it an economic basket case.

But, as some world leaders have pointed out, it is too early to say whether getting rid of Mugabe will change things for the better.

For now, then, U.S. officials’ reaction to the coup is appropriate. But if Mugabe is replaced by a substantially more democratic regime, this country should support it against the almost inevitable challenges from within and outside Zimbabwe. That country’s 16 million residents have suffered much, both under Mugabe and prior to his takeover. They deserve a chance at freedom and prosperity.

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