Monday, 31 January 2011

Letting the genie out of the bottle

Well thank heavens it's the end of January. I'm never sure why January was's interminably dull, grey, cold and inhospitable. And of course we have to deal with The Boy's Mum's anniversary. Seven year's down the road, it remains as poignant as ever.

They say the two topics you should never discuss are politics and religion, but I find them both wonder I studied politics at uni. But that was in the days of the Soviet Union, so a goodly portion of my time was spent Kremlin watching, and after its collapse I wonder if it was time well spent. If it happened now, I'd probably be demanding my money back.

Away away in Arabia, the political landscape is changing and changing fast. I look on in a mix of interest and amusement. At the Iraq Inquiry Blair talked about being in the business of 'Nation Building'. Well you can hardly say that he's being successful in Gazza where the local population are deprived of the basic materials they need to build. And it was him that refused to condemn the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the hope they would crush Hezbollah. The long-term net result of that is that it looks as though the Lebanese may well gain a pro-Syrian government again, and the West will have lost an important middle east ally. Let's not get into Iraq or Afghanistan...oh...oh we have already. Of course one place where he has been successful nation building is Iran - no longer held in check by Iraq, it is becoming a regional super power with a nuclear capability. No wonder the Israelis are worried.

In Egypt, we can't be sure of the outcome, but my money is on a less Western-inclined leadership which gains legitimacy through the ballot box. If that happens, it is really only a matter of time before other pro-Western states like Saudi Arabia begin to tumble like dominoes. It's interesting that we have tried to impose democracy on countries that are not ready for it, and have failed - Iraq and Afghanistan, yet where a desire for democracy is deeply ingrained, the west is unlikely to benefit from it. I can't help also recalling that in Palestine, Hamas won the last free elections...which the west refused to accept, creating the current impasse.

The Foreign Office must collectively be cacking their pants at the prospect. Decades of diplomacy are unravelling before their eyes, leaving the west at its weakest in this key region, just as oil supplies which are vital to the western economies, are beginning to dwindle. No wonder western governments such as the UK and US are sticking their nose in (where it's not wanted) and suggesting that Mubarak cuts and runs...their suggestions that he introduces reforms are wholly unrealistic and they must know that...they desperately need to gain favour with whoever succeeds him. If the military comes to power, we will have a temporary solution, but not one that will give the people what they are seeking.

The storm clouds are really beginning to gather around Israel, and that will undoubtedly increase their already mega-high levels of paranoia. Who knows how they will react. They didn't react well when peaceful charities tried to take supplies to Gazza, slaughtering nine of them, so I can't imagine it will be well, and in my head I can already see a mushroom cloud. The beneficiaries of all this are likely to be Russia and China. Our hand in this game of poker looks remarkably weak. I blame Bush and Blair..and Obama who failed to act on the brave words at the start of his presidency.

In April whilst The Cat and The Boy are off skiing, we were planning to head to Jordan. We may need to rethink our plans.