DAVE goes walkabout in the Maghreb. Oh dear. David Cameron’s grandstanding visit to Algeria and Libya last week was the West’s latest exercise in megaphone diplomacy – the worst conceivable response to the mounting geopolitical crisis in North Africa, largely created in the first place by Western powers.
(“Anything interesting on Al Jazeera, Fatima?” “Just pictures of the chief infidel dogs, in our capital cities, telling our governments what to do…”)
Try a localised micro-parable. When David Cameron occasionally visits Scotland, a Pavlovian reaction that extends beyond the demented cyber-Nats shouts aggrievedly that he should keep his nose out of Scottish affairs. Multiply that resentment by a very large factor and you have some notion of how well received the visits of Western “statesmen” are in the Arab souk. Cameron took the head of the SIS, Sir John Sawers, with him to Algeria. How clever was that? It seems the senior British intelligence officer is now just part of the PR composite created by Downing Street to enhance Dave’s image on a foreign policy “initiative”. The very existence of MI6 was not officially acknowledged until 1994, now ‘C’ is a bit player in the celebrity culture.
The iconic news footage of the week was of Dave addressing the trainees in a Libyan police academy in identical terms to those he would have employed at Hendon; he left to choruses of “God is great!” which makes one wonder what liberties the interpreter took with his message. The overall effect of this exercise was to impress upon thinking observers the alarming futility of Western policy in North Africa and the growing impotence of European and American governments to contain the forces they themselves have helped to unleash. There is an enormous crisis developing and the clowns who have conned Western electorates into handing them the levers of an increasingly illusory power are aggravating that crisis, not defusing it.
American foreign policy has long been an extended oxymoron: the treaties of Versailles and Trianon are testimony to that. Then, briefly, in the post-Second World War era, sobered into a sense of reality by the responsibility of being the first atomic power and the challenge of the Cold War, the United States grew up. It talked soft (the Marshall Plan) but carried a big stick. When the State Department considered co-opting as an ally the dictator of some strategically significant country it did not anguish over what quota system he was implementing as affirmative action to promote dyslexic lesbians, but what it would cost to buy him as “our bastard”. Then came Vietnam and the United States allowed itself to be destabilised by its own pampered, hedonistic youth. Finally, under Jimmy Carter, American foreign policy turned ethical and it was open season on Uncle Sam.
When a country adopts an “ethical” foreign policy it is a signal to its population to take a crash course in the language of whatever nation constitutes its principal threat. Over the past four years the motor-mouth Hillary Clinton has travelled the globe assiduously alienating every nation and culture that does not conform to her Beltway liberal delusions. Short of appointing Gloria Steinem as ambassador to Saudi Arabia it could not have been worse. Britain and the European Union have followed the same course. Russia and China have not, which is why the clever money is on their inheriting the earth, in terms of future geopolitical alliances. Few individuals more perfectly encapsulate the naivety of Western policy than the hapless Dave.
Libya was Dave’s Iraq (“How am I doing, Tony?”). Gaddafi voluntarily renounced a nuclear weapons programme, which was the West’s sole legitimate concern. Where is he now? So, how encouraging is that for the ayatollahs in Iran to make the same gesture? The one thing Gaddafi did was guarantee stability in an important North African state. Today militias, not a parliament, rule Libya: the Al-Massiba brigades control the Libyan-Tunisian border, the Saraya el-Hamra brigade is used by the “government” to police Tripoli, the Salafist militia Ansar El-Sharia killed the US ambassador in Benghazi. The first post-Gaddafi government fell last October when a militia from Zawiya stormed the parliament. Good to see democracy in action, even if to the uninitiated it looks like warlordism and anarchy.
BBC commentators were almost incontinent with excitement over the ludicrously named “Arab Spring”, as was Dave. Today, Egypt is fast becoming a failed state and the West, undeterred, is still doggedly trying to overthrow the only government that can stop Syria descending into untold anarchy and bloodshed. Turkey is being drawn into the debacle, Israel is bombing Syrian soil, everywhere jihadists are making gains. Could someone from the Downing Street policy/shambles unit please explain in what way this serves Britain’s interests? «