Reading the Guardian on a cramped charter flight is not the most comfortable experience especially when you come across an awful apologia by Martin Jacques. His theme is familiar, the "comprehensive failure" of liberal interventionism, lifted straight from the Douglas Hurd school of conservative thought and bolstered by a highly selective reading of recent history.
This section is typical of the genre.
… we seem to think that we have some unalienable right to lecture Zimbabwe on its iniquities. Yet Britain's culpability for the country's plight - from tolerating Ian Smith's declaration of independence to the disgraceful land deal that guaranteed the privileged position of white settlers - is second to none. Notwithstanding all of this, the British feel they enjoy incomparable moral virtue on Zimbabwe.
"Second to none" eh? So the last 28 years of Mugabe is of nothing compared the egregious effects of British colonialism. So it was the British who pushed inflation into millions of percentage points, led to widespread starvation, falsified the election results, tortured and murdered ordinary voters for the crime of voting MDC, and has reduced the country to desperation. I am so sorry. What wicked people we must be. And, of course, the diplomatic triumph, so "patronisingly scorned", is Thabo Mbeki's!
Whenever I read pieces like this I am struck by the tone of reasonableness and the constant calls for understanding. However, what we are being asked to 'understand' are the desires of governments, not of their beaten, tortured, starved, cheated and desperate people.