Sunday, July 18, 2010

تحسبهم جمعا وقلوبهم شتى

There is a great article by the Independent today about the release of Megrahi. I know we can only speculate on what actually happened, but as the saying goes "there is no smoke without fire" and the alleged "deal in the desert" has left more than just a suspicion of what Mr Blair might have agreed on with the immortal Colonel. What is interesting, as it always is in such articles, is the timing of it all. You see in September last year there was an outcry, but the fact is that nobody was asking that Tony Blair be questioned in front of a US Sentate Committee. Fast-forward till today and you find the Americans are very unhappy about the whole Gulf of Mexico fiasco with BP, referred to erroneously by Obama as "British Petroleum".

We're being told that all of this is because British-American relations are at an all-time low. The reality is probably much simpler. There is a change of the guard in both the United States and the United Kingdom. It is no coincidence that a period of Republican rule in the United States largely overlapped with New Labour's dominance in the United Kingdom. Obama and his Democrats have no interest in the realpolitik of Bush, nor does Cameron appear interested in the pragmatic politics of Blair. This does not mean there will be a change of foreign policy for either country, only that, with the change of emperor, the old guard face either exile, the sword, or to drink poison. There is certainly nothing that dramatic on the cards for Blair or Bush's acolytes, but we can expect a metaphorical slap on the wrist.

The fact that BP has been "hung out to dry", so to speak, does not indicate any concern by the United States about the environment or making big-business accountable. It is about the bottom line, money. The United States has not been having a good decade and we can expect it to turn on more and more traditional allies if things get worse there. BP was also once known as the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, and it played a key role in overthrowing Prime Minister Mossadegh in the famous coup that brought the Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, back to power. One journalist stupidly wrote that it is lucky the company doesn't have its old name, presumably because idiots like him will assume there is some connection to Iran. Kermit Roosevelt has some very interesting things to say about American and British collusion, and the assistance of the AIOC during that period.

The fact that BP's alleged involvement in all this is now the subject of American scrutiny tells us that nothing is permanent, and old friends could potentially become enemies again. But that is going too far. If the American's have any sense, they will wrap up this faux-pas, some matters must never be brought to light no matter how bitter an argument is, and this Megrahi affair is one of them. A quiet wrapping up of this story should be expected.

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