Saturday, December 06, 2008

Lech Walesa & the Killer King

Workers in Poland including one Lech Walesa once struggled against an undemocratic, unaccountable Stalinist bureaucracy. Fast forward several decades to a scene in that country which beggars belief: the one time Solidarity leader giving a prize named after himself to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia for his contribution towards "inter-faith dialogue, tolerance, peace and international cooperation", and his charity work. The goal of the €100,000/$126,500 Lech Walesa Prize is to "reward those who work for understanding and cooperation among nations in the name of freedom and the values of Solidarity".

Does the giving of this prize suggest alternate realities exist? The Saudi Arabia we know about is one where people are detained and tortured without trial, homosexuals are beheaded, adulterous women executed, trade unions and non-muslim religions are proscribed and where the death penalty awaits those alleged to be guilty of a hundred "crimes" Perhaps the prize for Orwellian doublespeak should go to Gordon Brown. 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." But what are these prizes and diplomatic visits about? Peter Tatchell said of King Abdullah's first visit to the UK in 20 years (during which, of course, he was given the blood-red carpet treatment, and exchanged pleasantries with the Queen and Prime Minister): "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." Correct. Killing is one such business interest and buisness is good. You will recall that 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. Remember also the deal to buy 72 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter planes from Britain at a cost of almost £4.5 billion.

Needless to say, Brown, Windsor and former trade union leader Walesa are not alone in kowtowing to some of the world’s worst human rights abusers. 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. Churchill said 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, Brigadier Packenham Walsh stated "Winston says at heart he is for Franco'". 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." Another late royal parasite, the Queen Mum, once sent a copy of Mein Kampf to a friend in the pre-war years and noted: "Even a skip through gives a good idea of his obvious sincerity." And so on. Big business, profits and class privilege go hand in hand with corruption, hypocrisy and human rights abuses. True freedom, understanding and cooperation cannot exist in a world of competing nations but only in a world without countries, 'nothing to kill or die for and no religion too'.

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