While searching the Internet for what else presidential candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain were up to in the Senate, I came upon what Obama had to say in the Senate on March 15, 2007, about the riots, killings and repression in Zimbabwe over a year ago. His statement was obviously intended for the record and not as a point of vigorous debate. It is an interesting trail mix of truths, gaffes, and glosses.

The occasion was Robert Mugabe’s reaction to protests by the chief opposition to him during a prayer meeting, during which participants were beaten and jailed. Morgan Tsvangiral, head of the Movement for Democratic Change and a presidential contender, was severely beaten, and scores of followers imprisoned. One protester was shot and killed.

Of course, Obama expresses his plastic outrage over the events – as plastic as Hillary’s smile and McCain’s grin – and urged the United States, the United Nations and the European Union to more stringently oppose Mugabe’s government.

“Mr. President, the United States must continue to stand strongly against the Mugabe government’s abuses of power in Zimbabwe. We must join with our European allies, the United Nations, and – most importantly – the countries and institutions of the region to press for positive change in Zimbabwe. That means a peaceful democratic transition in 2008, and support for economic growth and opportunity – including the lifting of sanctions – once the dark cloud of Mugabe’s rule is lifted, and Zimbabweans are able again to reach for the new horizon they deserve.

“I call on President Mugabe to immediately release all political detainees and repeal the ban on political rallies, to end the use of violence and torture in the jails, permit a free media and abide by the rule of law….”

This was transparently a statement meant for press and public consumption. But if it were a sincere statement, did Obama really expect a murderous dictator to heed the urgings of a junior senator from Illinois? Does the statement reflect a genuine understanding of the true nature of collectivism, of tyranny, of power held for the sake of power? Does it reflect even a milligram of comprehension that Mugabe is a thug who has no “good side” to appeal to, that he is beyond reason? No, to all questions. But, then, Obama wants to negotiate with Iran, another dictatorship, a regime that wants to destroy this country.

One thing Obama glossed over was the character of the “sanctions” imposed by the U.N. and the European Union. These were against any and all financial dealings with members of the government, designed to prevent Mugabe and his minions from profiting from any foreign aid or subsidies and moving the lucre to safer havens abroad. They were not directed against the country’s economy. If Zimbabwe’s economy is in so dire a condition that it is practically nonexistent, it is a consequence of Mugabe’s policy of looting, skimming, and redistributing the chaff and the scraps to hangers-on and the “public.” That’s Marxism in practice, sanctions or no sanctions. A cursory study of the Soviet Union, Red China, or Cuba ought to have driven that lesson home for Obama – provided his collectivist sympathies permitted him to search for the truth.

Obama also demonstrated his ignorance of history. In his Senate statement, he claimed that

“When Robert Mugabe became president over a quarter century ago, there was great hope. {There’s that “hope” again.] Zimbabwe had emerged from British rule, claiming its freedom and its future for itself.”

Well, no. Zimbabwe did not emerge from “British rule.” It emerged from Rhodesian rule. Ian Smith declared Rhodesia independent in 1965 and withdrew it from the British Commonwealth. What followed was a brutal guerilla war led by Marxist nationalists Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, a war which Smith might have won had his government not been pressured to negotiate with Mugabe and his allies by Britain and the United States for the sake of “black majority rule.”

Smith himself advocated white supremacist rule in Rhodesia, and while there can be no legitimate argument for that policy, either, it is likely that blacks would have fared far better under Smith’s rule – Rhodesia prospered under greater economic sanctions in this period than Zimbabwe has under far milder restrictions – than they have under the total racist collectivism of Mugabe.

Obama does not mention or even allude to in his Senate statement the plight and fate of the whites in Zimbabwe under Mugabe. They are invisible to him. Presumably, under Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s tutelage, he thinks that they got what they deserved. Nor does he mention or allude to the fact that Mugabe is a killer whose political “career” began as a butcher of defenseless whites and blacks during the struggle for “liberation.” In Obama’s universe of moral equivalence, one man’s killer is another man’s “freedom fighter.”

The question is: Does Obama believe that a “freedom fighter” is one who fights, not against tyranny and oppression, but against freedom? Listen to his campaign rhetoric, and judge for yourself.

For the full transcript of Obama’s Senate speech, click here.