22 May 2017

Hitchens and the standard

Like clockwork, Peter Hitchens keeps matters in perspective, as any good journalist should, and is at hand with the requisite bucket of cold water.
After attacking restrictions on free speech in Iran (which is a good deal less repressive than Saudi Arabia), Secretary Tillerson was then asked by a reporter if he had anything to say about human rights in Saudi Arabia. He left without answering, according to the New York Times.
In the end, selective interventionist outrage over Assad, over the Houthis (again, some of the poorest people in one of the poorest countries on the globe), over Iran or over Russia: in the name of consistency and even common decency, all of that should be treated with the derision it deserves. Particularly when juxtaposed with this brown-nosing of a régime which treats non-Muslims, non-Sunni Muslims, non-Arabic Sunni Muslims and women like dirt, which uses barbaric forms of corporal and capital punishment, which funnels vast quantities of money to terrorist groups, and which, again, wages a heinous offensive air war against the civilian populace of one of the poorest countries on earth, and is rewarded for doing all this with a head seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council. The elder Tory tradition of the great Lord Salisbury, realism, non-intervention and ‘splendid isolation’ – a tradition now represented only by the likes of John Baron and (perhaps with reluctance) Peter Hitchens himself – would have a ready answer for the sort of blatantly cynical, ersatz-idealistic grandstanding that the American government is now transparently engaging in.

It is a telling judgement on our politics that, outside a handful of truly maverick statesmen like Dennis Kucinich, Tulsi Gabbard, Ted Lieu and Paul père et fils, neither of our major parties here in the United States has such an answer. Nor does that sorry excuse for a party that styles itself ‘Conservative’ in Great Britain. Again, Hitchens puts it best:
I am so sorry, but after this incoherent but unpleasant oration, and after the whole extraordinary visit by President Trump to Saudi Arabia, in which the ghastly ‘special relationship’ between Washington and Riyadh has been laid bare as exactly what it is, I find it quite impossible to take seriously any future outrage on the subject of repression or liberty expressed by the US government while these gentlemen remain in office. Whatever it is that bothers Washington about Syria or Russia, it is not the freedoms of the people there.

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