Monday, November 05, 2007

Wealthy Human Rights Abusers Welcomed in Britain by a Rich Octogenarian in a Red Hat

BBC online news at 2.30 pm today reported:

"King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has been welcomed ceremonially to Britain by the Queen . . . The Queen greeted him on Horseguard's Parade at the start of his first visit to the UK in 20 years . . . Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Minister for the Middle East Kim Howells joined dignitaries to welcome the king as he arrived at the central London parade ground with the Prince of Wales".

Nothing wrong with this you may think; perfectly normal high level diplomacy that goes on, week-in, week-out, without comment. That is until you recall the words queen+saudi+kingof Gordon Brown at the Labour Party Conference just over a month ago. Speaking of dictatorial regimes, the prime minister said: "A message should go out to anyone facing persecution, anywhere from Burma and Zimbabwe: human rights are universal and no injustice can last forever."

By comparison Saudi Arabia is arguably a far worse human right abuser than the ruling juntas in Burma and Zimbabwe. So what's going on here? Why is the British ruling elite kowtowing to some of the world's worst human rights abusers?

Well, perhaps human rights activist Peter Tatchell hits the nail on the head when he says: "The Killer King''s visit is about business, very big business. And under Labour, as with their Conservative predecessors, money-making trumps human rights every time."

Mr Brown and Mrs Windsor, like the true representatives of British capitalism plc that they are, will grovel in front of King Abdullah and his hangers on knowing full well that in Saudi Arabia people are detained and tortured without trial, that gays are beheaded, that women who commit adultery are executed, that trade unions and non-muslim religions are proscribed and that the death penalty awaits those alleged to be guilty of a hundred "crimes".

Of course, Saudi Arabia has a lot of what Zimbabwe has not - namely oil. It is also a big purchaser of British weaponry, a very big purchaser, and where there are mega profits to be had you can bet your bottom dollar those human rights abuses can be quietly brushed under the carpet. Brown might honestly hate what he is doing, but he's "batting for Britain" here. He simply has to bite his lip because his job as the front man for the executive of British capitalism is to represent the interests of big business.

As Johann Hari wrote in yesterday's Guardian: "The truth is that the British Government – and all Western societies – are so addicted to Saudi Arabia's oil that they feel they can't speak back. They are terrified of seeing the petrol that lubricates our economy (or the arms deals that butter it) being turned off, as it was in 1973 oil crisis."

And with this in mind you begin to appreciate why, in December 2006, the Labour government shut down a Serious Fraud Office investigation into the £40 billion al-Yamamah arms deals, which purportedly involved backhanders of £1 billion being paid to Saudi government representatives.

Again, last month the Saudis arranged to buy 72 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter planes from Britain at a cost of almost £4.5 billion - the biggest export order yet for the aircraft, and a lot of that is sheer profits, and if you want to stay in power, if you want big business supporting your election campaigns, then you shut your mouth and don't mess with those profits.

So while the human rights campaigners demonstrate and newspaper columnists kick off about more Labour Party hypocrisy, the truth is that this is the business world functioning normally; this is what it does.

And of course, chumming it with fascists, dictators, state terrorists and human rights abusers is nothing new. Blair had a very close working relationship with the leader of the world's number one rogue state George W Bush. Margaret Thatcher thought the moon shone out of General Pinochet's arse.

Go back in time and we find Churchill saying this of Hitler's coming to power: 'The story of that struggle, cannot be read without admiration for the courage, the perseverance, and the vital force which enabled him to challenge, defy conciliate or overcome, all the authority of resistances which barred his path'.

And commenting on Spain in 1937, Churchill, Brigadier Packenham Walsh, said "Winston says at heart he is for Franco'".

And, Edward VIII, after giving up the throne to marry divorced American Wallace Simpson in 1937, visited Germany and met Hitler, voicing admiration for his policies. He once remarked while on a visit to the USA: "It would be a tragic thing for the world if Hitler were overthrown."

Even the late Queen Mum, sending a copy of Mein Kampf to a friend in the pre-war years, commented: "Even a skip through gives a good idea of his obvious sincerity."

If you want to get to the core of the problem then campaign to abolish the damned profit system. Don't whinge about the flies hovering about the shit - get rid of the damned turd. At the end of the day big business, profits and class privilege go hand in hand with corruption, hypocrisy and human rights abuses.

John Bissett

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