Hypocrisy seems to be high on everyone’s list since the rebellions started in the middle east. The media have been reporting that the great and the good have been fraternising with defunct Arab establishments.
First Sir Howard Davies resigned as director of the London School of Economics because of a connection with the, now out of favour, Gaddafi regime and now we discover that Prince Andrew has “entertained” a leading member of the deposed Tunisian dictatorship at Buckingham Palace
Yes, from what I can gather Muammar Gaddafi is a shit. Yes, he has been ruthless and abominable in his dealings with the Libyan people. But hold on, don’t we know some other people like that. Didn’t Tony Blair invite Chinese president Jiang Zemin on his first satte visit to a Western country? Didn’t the New Labour government arrange for three white transit vans to shield Jiang Zemin’s eyes from people in the UK protesting against the despicable treatment of the Tibetan people by the Chinese regime?
I am not saying that we should not do business with the Chinese. It’s too late for that now.
What the West needs is less grand standing on human rights and more disciplined rules on engagement with undemocratic regimes. Democracy should be understood as a great prize. Experience in democratic countries has shown that it is something which is difficult to achieve and requires constant vigilance to maintain. It is not something that we can order a nation to introduce overnight. It needs time to grow and mature.
So we should not go around the world condemning every regime which does not measure up to Western standards of democracy. We should, however, encourage democracy and prefer democratic regimes over authoritarian regimes.
A good start would be for democracies to agree to refuse to grant Most Favoured Nation trading status to undemocratic regimes.
In the words of Elvis: A little less conversation and a little more action.