Thursday, 19 February 2015

Grim reaping

There's an expression, isn't there, about sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind? I fear we are seeing its truth in the world today.

The West (and yes, I suppose I mean our government and its allies, encouraged by public compliance) has persisted in presuming to know what's best for other sovereign nations, especially but not exclusively in the Middle East. Parties of both the left and the right have waded in where angels fear to tread. And so in our name the government launched a war (with our big American brother) on Saddam Hussain's Iraq; then we encouraged the Syrian rebels to rise against President Bashar al-Assad and provided air-cover for the rising against President Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.... Well, I'm not so sure it does now. Now IS is carrying on its bloody business not so far from Europe in the chaos that is Libya. The trouble is, as Egypt's president said, is that we leave unfinished business - which extreme jihadists willingly complete, with dreadful results.

We do have a fanatical belief in Westminster-style democracy as the fit-all for every political situation. It's arguably the least worst model, but it's clearly far from perfect. Shakespeare shared the Elizabethan fear of usurping the throne from the monarch. It was like dethroning the sun from the sky. It's a tradition which went back centuries. Respecting the emperor was something Paul enjoined on the early Christians, even though Roman emperors were as corrupt as the worst of modern dictators and not known for their benevolence towards the peaceful Jewish sect. The reason is what we read in the news every day - that, whenever you create a power vacuum, all sorts of contending forces come and try to fill it; and the ensuing chaos is hellish.

Even in Ukraine where we weighed in on the pro-European side the result is proving counterproductive, provoking the Russian bear and dividing a previously united nation. What is hard to understand is the lack of imagination of our policy-makers. One question should not be too hard for them to ask themselves, and that is this: "What would we, as the British people, feel if China or Saudi Arabia were to tell us how to run our country and then do all in their considerable power to bring about the change they prescribed?" No doubt what the answer would be.

Hopefully 2015 won't be the year of the whirlwind.

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