Saturday, November 18, 2006

Blair, Musharraf and the Euston Manifesto group

The idea that Tony Blair's motivation in backing the invasion of Iraq was a desire to spread democracy in place of military dictatorship was one of the central arguments of the 'pro-war left'.


So they will presumably be perplexed by the news that Britain's prime minister is today in Pakistan to court president Pervez Musharraf, the former general who seized power in a coup in 1999. The two leaders are pictured left, during an earlier meeting.

It looks like the Pakistani strongman is in for a tidy little bung, too. Before Blair returns to London, he will pledge to double development aid to the regime over the next three years. What's worse? Verbal praise for a tyrant's 'courage, strength and indefatigability', or handing over a cheque for £480m?

The government that started out promising us an 'ethical foreign policy' ends up operationalising straightforward 'our son of a bitch' realpolitik of the crudest kind. Fair makes you nostalgic for the good old days of Douglas Hurd.

OK, OK. It's true that comparison with Saddam's Iraq, Musharraf's Pakistan is military dictatorship lite. But it's bad enough. In the words of Amnesty International: 'Arbitrary detention, torture, death in custody, and extra-judicial execution are rampant.'

So let me put a couple of questions to the Euston Manifesto supporters that read this blog. For the sake of consistency alone, shouldn't you take down that article by Tony Blair from your website?

Alternatively, if both the Euston Manifesto group and Respect are happy openly to endorse British politicians that openly support third world military dictators ... what is morally to choose between them?

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