If heads of state, aka Putin and Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), can order the murder of their opponents at will, even in other national jurisdictions, where does it all end? Are these people above the law?
It seems so. Sanctions and even removal from power seem irrelevant. That old nasty piece of work, Mugabe, for instance, lives in some style outside Harare after a lifetime of murdering and stealing. Much the same can be said for Jacob Zuma of South Africa and alas many others. MBS locked away his cousins for massive corruption into a 6 star hotel for a couple of months – shame!
Is there a difference between murdering your own people at home or when they are away? Sounds a bit like a football fixture or vacation rental. Of course this is not funny. Monsters roam the world in all shapes and sizes and the world seems a long way off a solution.
What seems to me to be the point is, that we have to stop somewhere. The MBS murder of his opponent Jamal Khashhoggi in Turkey seems so dire in every respect, that all right minded people should demand that MBS be put before an international criminal court.
Trump, another amoral simpleton, will find a way to mitigate the Prince’s action, an accident maybe? Give me a break!
Will MBS be made an example of in an international court? Of course not. Money they say makes the world go round. Maybe the World Bank can do MBS down but somehow I doubt it.
I’ve been around a bit, and one of the most vivid memories was of my first visit to Jeddah in the 1970’s. I was stuck by the strangeness of it all and even had a booking foul up which meant I was marooned over the weekend in Jeddah (Friday). I wondered about and my curiosity was peaked by the crowd outside the rear of the Red Sea Palace Hotel. I chanced upon the most revolting dehumanising thing I have ever witnessed, namely a public execution. I did not tarry but scuttled off, shaken to the core.
Since then the Saudi regimes of the various so called royal rulers have continued to routinely chop off heads of anyone who they disagree with or those who are deemed to have offended the religious beliefs of the Kingdom’s rulers.
Human rights have been and remain the last thing Saudi royal family consider. They rule by fear and have no truck with the idea of self determination or even self expression. The idea of the noble Arab raising from the desert tribes is truly nonsense, and without oil Saudi Arabia would be nothing. With oil it could be one of the best educated and progressive countries in the world, alas that has not turned out to be the case.
Are we surprised then when the Saudi regime bumps off in the cruellest way a dissenter. Sadly we are not, which begs the question of why does the West espouse the Saudi regime. The reasons are many, including not allowing China/Russia to have control over an important energy source, the biggest pocket book in the world to buy anything from fighters and bombs, as well as hospitals and luxury goods and property in London and Paris. Also I believe an honest desire to influence these primeval Saudi rulers towards democracy and the respect of human rights.
Clearly this last objective has failed miserably. The issues of the pocket book remain. Who cares if the Saudis kill and maim and starve children in Yemen? Nobody if they can make a buck from selling the Saudis militaria. Should we care?
Please, I hope we do, and we should lobby our Parliamentarians to stop this trade no matter what the cost. A Yemeni child or a Saudi journalist or those Saudi citizens awaiting a barbarous beheading should be given the chance to live. What price on them?
Followers of this blog will know that I’ve been banging on about centrist messages as the only way to go in a civilised world. The trouble with this centrist doctrine is that centrist ideas can been seen as entirely compromise. Surely the centre ground of political thought is a balance between the right and left? Does that mean that the centre is neither one thing nor the other? Does it have no identity of its own? I like to think in the affirmative.
Balancing the needs and aspirations of all societies is mighty difficult and observers will note that the world is exceedingly short of balanced rulers, regimes or governments. We have always claimed that the idea of freedom is the key and that democracies will lead to the balanced way.
Yet half the world, may be more, is ruled by totalitarian or authoritarian governments, aspiring democracies struggle to come to terms with the past let alone plan for the future.
The very foundation of democracy the UK is struggling to establish or re-establish its democratic model which seems to have been at least confused by the bureaucratic model of the EU. There has emerged a backlash against the idea of a Federal Europe despite the evidence that the EU has presided over a peaceful amalgam of European nations for the longest period ever. The Brits of course are an island nation and have been insulated from the horrors of invasion. They see themselves as naturally set apart from Continental Europe.
It is dreadfully sad then to see this former beacon of democracy sliding toward populism both right and left. To hear the exaggerated nonsense from the formerly admired Jeremy Hunt, the histrionics of Boris Johnson and the wild proposals of the extreme left.
What is missing right now is leadership. In some ways as I have already said, it is hard at the centre to emphasise the difference that a balance brings. Leadership, charisma, and honesty are in short supply, but needed now more than ever.