23 October 2015

Another Afterthought

A Further Afterthought

            In 1954 Nikita Khruschev the Soviet President, himself half-Ukrainian, decided that the Crimean Peninsula should be part of Ukraine and not, as it had been since Tsarist times, part of Russia.  The transfer made very little difference at the time. Both Russia and the Ukraine were simply provinces within the Soviet Union. It is probable that it didn’t even occur to Mr Khruschev that the residents of Crimea – or anyone else – should be consulted about the transfer. In 2014 Russia annexed (or recovered) its lost province. This was achieved without, I believe, a single casualty and to the general satisfaction of the residents of Crimea.  

            There was outrage in ‘the west’, within the EU and within NATO.  Economic sanctions have been imposed on Russia (a response to these has contributed to the ruin of British dairy farming); highly provocative military manoeuvres have been held by NATO in Poland, and our much depleted army has managed to send a few troops to strengthen the resolve of the Baltic States to resist a ‘Russian invasion’.

            In 1950 China invaded and annexed Tibet.  There was no justification whatsoever for this.  It has been reported that 10,000 died in battle as the Chinese took over. There has been a resistance that continues to this day. Thousands of Tibetans, including many Buddhist monks and nuns have been killed or imprisoned.  The Dalai Lama, as representative of that resistance, lives in exile and has been welcomed in many western countries.

            Has ‘the west’ applied similar crippling economic sanctions on China, and carried out similar military manoeuvres in the Pacific area?  Not a bit of it – and our government has led the general kow-tow to the Chinese government.  The President of the one-party government of China has been given an official welcome by our Queen on his State Visit to the UK.  He travelled with the Queen in the State Coach to Buckingham Palace where he and his wife were to be honoured guests at a royal banquet.  During that same day hundreds of British steel workers learned they were losing their jobs, at least partly because of the dumping of Chinese steel at prices lower than the cost of production!  I was pleased to note that the Prince of Wales (for whose sometimes controversial views I have a great deal of respect) managed to absent himself from this official bean-feast.

            The government’s attitude to Saudi Arabia is, if possible, even more contemptible.   The biggest danger facing both ‘the west’ and Russia today is IS (self-styled Islamic State)    Have our rulers really not noticed that Saudi Arabia provides the inspiration and the model that IS would like to see world wide?  The Saudis practise, within their own borders, the beheadings, amputations and public floggings that IS (and other similar organisations in Africa and elsewhere) are trying to spread world-wide.  Oil-rich Saudi Arabians have financed IS activities in the past and possibly still do so today.

It is bad enough when they exact their extreme interpretation of Sharia law on their own people but surely when a British citizen becomes a victim it’s time for the government to take action.  Seventy-four year old Karl Andree, a retired oil executive who has lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for many years was, and is, just such a victim.  The Saudi religious police (Saudi Arabia’s equivalent of the Gestapo and KGB) discovered two bottles of home-made wine in the boot of his car.  For this ‘offence’ he was arrested, tried in a Saudi court and sentenced to a year’s imprisonment plus, on his release from prison, a public flogging of 360 lashes delivered in monthly instalments.    

This might have become a shining example of how the British Government looks after the interests of its citizens even when they are abroad.  Surely one might have expected swingeing economic sanctions (with all NATO and EU countries invited to take part) and armed battle ships of the Royal Navy ordered to patrol the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

But – we buy oil from Saudi Arabia and they buy weaponry from us.  Moreover as a result of the Government’s doctrinaire privatisation of our public services I have little doubt that in at least one of those British public services one or more wealthy Saudi Arabians are substantial shareholders. Our government couldn’t possibly risk all that for the sake of one British citizen who should have known better anyway.

It is possible that Cameron and Co did make a discreet protest ‘behind the scenes’.  We’ll probably never know, but if there ever was such a protest it was quite ineffectual.  Karl Andree has served the twelve months in a Saudi prison and now faces the likelihood of regular public humiliation and pain as the 360 lashes are imposed.   He is in poor health and is unlikely to survive this barbarous punishment for something that in almost every other country in world wouldn’t have been considered to be a crime at all!

Those 360 lashes, administered in public have stirred our Government into action.   No there won’t be any sanctions against Saudi Arabia, nor British warships in the Red Sea.   But David Cameron, our Prime Minister has written a letter to the King of Saudi Arabia pleading for clemency!  According to the Daily Mail our Foreign Minister is quite convinced that Mr Andree will be spared the public flogging – well, we’ll wait and see.  I hope he won’t be expected to write a letter of thanks to the King of Saudi Arabia – or to Mr Cameron!   Oh – a final touch:  Saudi Arabia now has a representative on the United Nations Committee for Human Rights!

          Now China is being added to the list of ‘untouchables’ - we mustn’t upset the Chinese because they’ll control all our nuclear energy! Goodness knows what other shares in Britain’s vital services are held by the Chinese or other foreigners. The self-satisfied. mendacious, self-seeking hypocrites that we (not me personally!) have elected to rule us, have sold off the UK’s independence piece by piece. And they have the impudence and effrontery to denigrate Jeremy Corbyn as ‘anti-British’!

            One of the few compensations for being very, very old, is that I won’t for long have to live in the uncaring, cruel, selfish and greedy world into which David Cameron and George Osborne are leading us.


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