Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Drink Your Milkshake

"That's not an excuse, as some would argue, to claim that Arabs or Muslims can't do democracy – the so-called Arab exception... For me, that's a prejudice that borders on racism. It's offensive and wrong and it's simply not true."
So says David Cameron, in answer to a question that nobody asked, to a parliament that exists upon the mere whim of the Emir of Kuwait.

There's been plenty of fun at Cameron's expense today, as yer internet critters gleefully pointed to Britain's record of flogging weapons of mayhem and destruction to numerous enemies of the people, and why not do so?  It's undeniable, and Cameron blatantly doesn't have the stones to look the nation in the eye and ask, well, would you rather that China picked up all those fat defence contracts rather than a wholesome, job-creating British arms dealer such as BAE?

The mad scramble by Britain's few remaining Blairites to exonerate our once-Dear Leader from charges of up-sucking to dictators has been nothing short of hysterical, a floor-rolling, knuckle-chewing knee-slapper.

Oh, of course we thought freedom and democracy were important in the Middle East vis a vis Iraq, but why can't we understand the necessities of the diplomatic strategies and the careful balance between pragmatic engagement with the arse and blah?

Such attempts to cast avarice as principle remind me of that old Onion headline, Desperate Vegetarians Declare Cows Are Plants.  Look, petals!  Stalks!

And even better...
Amused by number of people who objected at overthrow of Saddam now complaining that we didn't overthrow Gaddafi - David Cairns MP, today on Twitter
Har-de-har! 2

Of course, nobody is asking Cameron whether Arabs deserve democracy, just as nobody is suggesting that Britain should've invaded Libya in 2006.  Cameron wishes to avoid explaining why he's punting bullets, stun batons and spiked bollock-shockers around the region, and Blair's amen corner aren't keen on discussing his privately funded heavy-petting sessions with the mad Colonel.

You just hold out your hand...
You know, I'm not shocked or even particularly outraged by any of this stuff.  It may be repellent, but I've long since come to expect business interests to trump highfalutin rhetoric about human freedom.  I already know that the lofty waffle about invading Iraq in the name of democracy was cover for an ugly truth - namely that the world's attitude to oil-producing countries is determined by their willingness to play pattycake with the rest of us, and human rights can dangle.  Gaddafi is every bit the murderous shit Saddam was, and yet...  Well, you know.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that when Cameron hawks arms or Blair goes all suckee-suckee-five-dollah with tyrants, that's not a flaw in the system.  That's the system working at maximum efficiency, doing what it does and has evolved over long decades to do - keeping the precious spice melange oil flowing to the rest of the planet in an orderly fashion.

There's nothing conspiratorial about this, given we're talking about the mindless, faceless behemoth of global commerce here.  Certain countries produce a vital commodity for a demanding market, and the rest is straightforward economics - production, supply, demand, consumption.

I mean sure, a recalcitrant supplier here or there might occasionally need correcting 1, say with a major bombing campaign or a secret service coup, but that doesn't demonstrate intelligent control of the system any more than you could command the white blood cells in your body to take biological baseball bats to a virus.

So it's entertaining to see the Prime Minister explaining why Arabs deserve democracy, when he's standing slap-bang on top of 104 billion barrels of high-octane democracy-Kryptonite.

Would the region have developed into a series of viable liberal democracies if the entire population of the Earth weren't falling over themselves to hand the meanest and most vicious of their citizens a bajillion dollars a day?  Who knows!

Hell, some of you will have read DuneAs fiction, it's a po-faced shaggy dog story, but as a primer on modern geopolitics, it's a damn sight more illuminating than the Times.  There's a reason why the Harkonnens and Atreides aren't Fremen, and the Padishah Emperor Shaddam sure as shit isn't modelled on some tinpot colonel with an army of foreign-trained goons.  As Gaddafi's thugs are slaughtering the brave protestors, I have to remind myself and others that he didn't buy their guns 'n' ammo with saved-up nectar points.

Maybe Steve Bell could whip us up a snappy cartoon depicting the petrol leaping out of our cars and flying French jets over the Tripoli skyline?  That'd be just as apt as digs at Cameron and Blair, I think, and it might just convey the message that individually, we're not quite so divorced from proceedings as we like to think we are.

1  That's "Correcting", pronounced as it is in The Shining by Grady the former janitor - "I corrected them, sir. And when my wife tried to prevent me from doing my duty, I corrected her". 

2.  And while I'm at it, I'll add that yes, it's good news that Gaddafi doesn't have access to chemical weapons.  If he'd had them on top of his warplanes, his helicopters, his artillery and his machine guns,  he could've killed more or less the same number of people, in just as horrible a manner as he's doing right now.

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