Sunday, 25 January 2015

Disapproval over honouring Saudi despot - don't mention West's own tyranny

The grovelling tributes of Western leaders over the death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah seems to say it all about the special treatment reserved for our tyrant allies. 
You only have to read Glenn Greenwald's scathing piece, contrasting Obama's curt statement on the passing of Hugo Chavez, an elected leader much-loved by his people, who nationalised his country's oil to try and help the poor, with the deference reserved for Abdullah, a virulent dictator who held his subjects in a state of fear, while appropriating that state's vast oil wealth for a tiny elite. 

Predictably, no such commentary is remotely evident on the BBC, with its craven obituary, token references to Saudi human rights 'problems' and tame inference about Britain's 'difficult-but-strategic alliance' with the Kingdom.       
Alongside much of the liberal media's safely-measured output, some notable Tories have, seemingly, expressed more specific 'outrage' over the West's fawning of a despot whose country has committed every human rights offence in the book, including the beheading and degradation of women.  
Ex-Tory MP Louise Mensch was apoplectic over the issue, launching a tweet-stream of despairing invective: 
It is so unacceptable to offer deep condolences for a man who flogged women, didn't let them drive, saw guardian laws passed, & STARVES THEM
Her additional ire is, apparently, directed at the West's top men:
F--- you Saudi Arabia and shame on the supine male leaders of the West @David_Cameron @BarackObama
The Sun also proudly announced her as one of their columnists, amplifying the message of Britain's 'abandonment of decency': 
Cameron’s fawning over dead Saudi despot shames UK, says @LouiseMensch:
And here's Mensch again, now even more dispirited that even one our 'most respected' female world leaders could be associated with such a fiend: 
fawning: if you want to be really depressed, not only did Miliband, Cameron pay tribute, @ said "personal friend"
Later, reflecting on her own 'boldness', Mensch imagines what her fate might be if she had ever made high office:  
I guess if I ever had made it to minister, I would be being sacked today.
Mensch also rushed to commend Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, who had previously tweeted her apparent disgust.
Flying flags at half mast on gov buildings for the death of Saudi king is a steaming pile of nonsense. That is all.
Yes, all very noble. Yet, one might ask Mensch, Davidson and all those hailing their interventions: what primary moral honour are you actually assuming in those flags and government buildings, what kind of conduct are you expecting in all those leaders?  
In truth, ex-UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sir William Patey is the more 'useful' voice here. He, at least, is 'up-front' about the issue: look, they're our allies, and we don't really give a f### what they do, whether beheading women or exporting terrorism, so long as they keep our arms companies in business, the oil flowing and our geopolitical interests secure.
Mr Patey, seasoned diplomat, doesn't, of course, say that. But the essential message is contained in his nicely tempered language and intimations about 'continuity', 'pragmatic alliance' and 'patient reform'. Thus: "King Abdullah went as fast as he thought the population of Saudi Arabia would bear." A lovely turn of imperialist phrase, making it helpfully clear just how much Britain and the West have ever cared to make a fuss over human rights. 
UKInc is, in this elementary sense, precisely expected, indeed entitled, to lower its flags and have its political and royal retinue honour Mr Abdullah. That's because the Windsors, Cameron, Blair and the rest of Union-Jack-Britannica are all part of the very same terror-inflicting network. Why would they do anything else? More immediately, why would we remotely expect them not to be doing such things as lauding Abdullah? 
Why would a state that's helped wipe-out Iraqis in their hundreds of thousands, caused mass carnage in Afghanistan and Libya, supported Israel's slaughter in Gaza, been a leading party to rendition and torture, armed sundry warmongers to the teeth, and overseen multiple other mass miseries around the globe be acting any differently over Abdullah's death?
The problem is not denunciation of the Saudi despots. It's the base assumption that 'we', as some kind of 'paragon state', have any moral worth or 'authority' in the first place to tell 'them' how to behave.
Doesn't it say so much about the twisted propaganda that Mensch and Davidson can so readily show such disapproval, that so many approve their disapproval, and that none of this includes the same, or greater, disapproval of what our own terror state and despot leaders really stand for? 

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