Skyrocketing to the top of the prime-ministerial polls, sleek-but-shallow Brit politician Nicholas Clegg apparently misses Saddam. And Clegg’s not alone in the resurgent dictators’ fan club.
The shiny young face of the UK’s usually lagging third party, the Liberal Democrats, Clegg may upend British politics in the May 6 elections. One key to his stunning rise has been his dismissal of the “special relationship” with the US as out of date and worthless.
President Obama’s cool with that, but it’s hard to see who would respect a decoupled-from-Washington UK in the morning. Anti-Americanism plays well in Britain, though. (What, no Obama effect?).
Anti-Americanism is the first refuge of the scoundrel.
Still, the real danger from Nick Clegg isn’t that he’s going to change everything, but that, behind the campaign flash, he’s the most ideologically backward party leader Britain’s seen since the 1970s. He damns Cold-War thinking, even as he wallows in it.
And Clegg isn’t alone. Around the world, bright-young-thing politicians are turning back the clock. While fashionably damning nukes, they embrace the worst practices of the past with enthusiasm.
To wit: Clegg made a very public point of calling the intervention in Iraq “illegal.” To the likes of Clegg (a perfect name for a Dickensian villain), it was legal for Saddam to torture, rape and massacre his own countrymen—under the bloody notion that whatever happens within a country’s borders is that state’s business alone.
Of course, Clegg and Co. also overlook Saddam’s two wars of aggression against neighboring states, while averting their polished gazes from the budding democracy in Iraq. Clegg’s point is just that “America is bad.” It’s lazy, destructive—but effective—politics.
Does Clegg truly believe that Saddam deserved to remain in power? Or that the world would be a better place if he still ruled?
At 43, Clegg’s even younger than our own new-model president. But the two men have in common a heartbreaking (and bone-breaking) sympathy for murderous dictatorships–as long as the dictator’s roots are on the left.
The immoral notion that a strongman can seize power, then do anything he wants to his countrymen with impunity because his state’s borders are sacrosanct—what I’ve called “the sovereignty con”–has excused immeasurable suffering.
President Bush, for all his practical errors, grasped that a genocidal dictator’s claims of sovereignty are bogus, that the only true legitimacy comes from the will of the people.
Bush did a great thing inexcusably badly in Iraq. Still, for a few years, dictators shaped up. In the end, though, a critical new ideal—that dictators can be held accountable for their inhumanity—was discredited by incompetence on the ground and the stunning bias of the media—whose propagandists, once suckled by Saddam, would sacrifice the lives of others to “get Bush.”
The Bush-haters won (Congratulations! Why not visit a few mass graves on your next eco-friendly vacation?). Now we’re back in the old, monstrous tradition of tolerating dictators.
The establishment media are fine with that. When a journalist of authentic conscience, such as the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl, does get into print with a column describing “Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista thugocracy” in Nicaragua, he gets a grand total of six column inches.
Where’s the outrage, either from our elected leaders, or from wannabes such as Clegg, or from the media over Hugo Chavez’s destruction of Venezuela’s once-proud democracy? At this month’s Nuclear Vanity Summit in D.C., Obama literally embraced Argentina’s corrupt and scheming President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Clegg’s pure white-bread, but Obama would be the perfect man to take on African dictators, such as Zimbabwe’s barbarous Robert Mugabe. And what has our president done for human rights in Africa? Nothing.
This convenient, murderous belief that what happens in Country X stays in Country X condemns billions of human beings to political slavery and, too often, to death. It means that we continue to pretend that Afghanistan and Somalia are an actual countries, or that the brutal oppression in Eritrea is nobody’s business but that of the country’s dictatorship. Or that Tehran’s butchers have every right to gun down, imprison, rape and torture protesters.
Well, Nick Clegg, who has an unexpected shot at becoming Britain’s next prime minister, may miss Saddam. But Iraqis don’t.
As for the US, it seems that the only borders we don’t regard as sacred are our own.