The Curmudgeon


Friday, May 12, 2006

Old Friends

The Vicar of Downing Street's sermon to the Indonesians a few weeks ago has borne sweet fruit; the authorities are "virtually certain" to drop all the charges of corruption against Britain's former ally and aid recipient, Suharto. According to John Aglionby of the Guardian, Suharto is ailing, is aged 84, is ailing as a result of two strokes, ruled for thirty-two years, is ailing with brain damage, was deposed a year after Tony came to power, and is ailing in hospital after colon surgery. The ailing former president's praiseworthy activities during his years in power, including substantial butchery among his own people as well as those of East Timor, were enthusiastically supported by the United States and hence by Britain. This was obviously a matter of principle since, as Tony himself has told us, the mention of oil as a motivating factor in our dealings with other governments, no matter how fragrant, is the mark of a demented conspiracy theorist. The idea that BP or Britoil's interests in the region might have helped resign successive British governments to the demise of a few tens of thousands of troublemakers is thus clearly on a par with the idea that the Vicar of Downing Street might have some ulterior motive, beyond the then much-proclaimed influence of "ethics" on foreign policy, for opposing a war crimes tribunal either for the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975 and the concomitant butchery, or the Indonesian intimidation campaign in 1999 for which Britain considerately supplied the Indonesian armed forces with jets. I am sure that, in accordance with the ethical dimension of British foreign policy, the packaging for the jets was clearly marked "For Legitimate Self-Defence Only", or at least that a memorandum of understanding was obtained; but it seems odd that Tony should be unwilling to take the Indonesian government to task for having so flagrantly disregarded his instructions. Perhaps compassion holds him back. Suharto is ailing, after all.


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