Does international politics have to be this obtuse, to put it kindly?
Those that don’t follow the British Press closely may have missed the news that Peter Mandelson, the unelected Lord appointed to run Britain’s Trade and Industry Department, was guest at a shooting party with the son of Muammar Gaddhafi . Here’s how the Guardian Newspaper ran the start of the article:
The Spectator has reported that Peter Mandelson joined Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s son at a country house shooting party. Photograph: Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty ImagesHe [Mandelson] talked of being “intensely relaxed” about the filthy rich, and no one could say that Lord Mandelson doesn’t like their company. After twice facing criticism for consorting with billionaires in Corfu, it emerged tonight that the business secretary joined Colonel Muammar Gaddafi‘s son at a country house shooting party.
Mandelson and Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi were guests at Lord Rothschild’s Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, the Spectator said. The magazine reported that Cherie Blair was also in attendance, although neither she nor Mandelson are reported to have taken part in the shoot.
Let us be clear about this. The Gaddhafi regime is the antithesis of what the free world believes in, namely a dictatorship that has ruled by iron fist for decades and was indeed part of the axis of evil.
Of course, it suddenly became non-evil overnight, mostly because it gave up (or appeared to give up) trying to develop a nuclear bomb.
Leaving aside the fact that making a bomb does not per se make you evil, (unless we are to consider that the US, France, Britain, Russia, Israel are “evil”, too) the point is that the regime has not changed in its fundamentals since the old black and white days of George Bush.
So once again, the question arises, why are western leaders cosying up to these scum? This is a strong word, but do we or do we not agree that dictators are scum? Evil people who deny basic freedoms to their peoples?
Do you know any benevolent dictators? White-bearded philosophers out of the Plato/ Solomon mould? I sure don’t …..
Of course, these scum regimes are all in the UN, even though I had thought that all members had to sign up to the Universal Charter of Human Rights. Apparently not, however, another piece of humungous hypocrisy.
The Gaddhafi regime is the same one that is guilty of numerous terrorist offences, including Lockerbie (though there is distinct murkiness surrounding the whole saga) and in Britain the shooting by a Libyan Embassy staff member of Yvonne Fletcher, a British policewoman, for which nobody has been brought to justice even though the British police are said to know who was responsible.
However, leaving aside the question of how to deal with nasty dictatorships (and is joining shooting parties with the heir apparent really the right way?) I am fascinated by the apparent idiocy of Lord Mandelson in associating with these people.
Exactly which segment of the British population – let alone American – is he going to try to sell this to? America may not interest him overmuch, but one imagines that he wishes to prolong his career in British politics. If so, he has a funny way of going about it.
His image will take an enormous bashing, and Mandelson is, or used to be, totally focused on image, spin, PR and “the message”. What message does the thought of him jollying along with the son of the dictator of an evil regime convey to us? Has the spin guru of the British Labour Party lost his rudder?
Of course, there could be a hidden (or rather obvious) agenda. It could all be to do with sshhhhh ……MONEY. Is he therefore working tirelessly against his conscience (and knowing this will do him great personal damage) in the financial if not moral interests of the British people (who weren’t of course asked if they want their country cosying up to dictators) or could it be – oh Dear, are we being too cynical? – that he has a more personal interest in mind?
Does he deep down seek to become as rich as the man he helped to sell to the British public, Tony Blair himself, who incidentally is about to be embroiled in a potentially-devastating enquiry into the Iraq war?
And unfortunately, the news broke on the day after we discovered that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, found guilty of the Lockerbie bombing and released because he was dying, has in fact survived for three months with no apparent end in sight. Yes, only three months ago Gaddhafi bambino was helping to arrange the hero’s welcome that Megrahi received in Libya. As is well-known, Mandelson met Gaddhafi’s son one week before the alleged deal was done for Megrahi’s release, so they are old jet-set mates.
We believe in “freedom” and “democracy”, don’t we? We may have to share the planet with dictatorial scum, but do our representatives really have to grovel and sup with them?
It doesn’t feel good to be honest ….
By Chris Snuggs