British Prime Minister David Cameron was the first Western leader to visit post-Mubarak Egypt. He said all the right things about democracy and yadda, yadda, yadda. Initially, I was impressed until I saw this:
David Cameron's efforts to promote democracy in the Middle East by becoming the first foreign leader to visit Cairo were overshadowed as it emerged that he will spend the next three days touring undemocratic Gulf states with eight of Britain's leading defence manufacturers.
After a hastily convened stopover in Egypt, where he spoke of being "inspired" by protesters, the PM began a long-scheduled trade mission by landing in Kuwait, a key military ally. Britain has approved 1,155 arms export licences for Kuwait since 2003, worth a total of £102.3m, according the Campaign Against the Arms Trade.
There was a shitstorm over the timing of the trip. One good thing that's come of it is this:
Britain faced embarrassment over the weekend when it was forced to revoke arms export licences to Bahrain and Libya amid fears that British arms may have been used in the violent crackdown on protesters. Cameron, who is seeking assurances that no British arms were used against protesters, insisted that Britain has some of the toughest rules on arms exports in the world.
They do? Really? As an American, I suppose I should be relieved that not all the shit being thrown at protesters was made in the USA. But I'm horrified that the UK allowed any sort of arms sale to Libya; especially now that Gaddafi's personal role in ordering the Lockerbie bombing has been confirmed by one of the rats scrambling off the demented dictator's sinking ship. So much for being tough on terrorism. Of course, the Posh Boy will turn around and blame the Artful Dodger and the Labour Government. So it goes.
As for Cameron, the mask of moderation that he donned when in opposition has proven to be a poor fit. In power, the Posh Boy has turned into a regular old member of the nasty Thatcherite party as he gleefully takes an axe to the National Health Service. He, however, has the Liberal Democrats as useful idiots, patsies and fall guys. The Posh Boy may be a malaka but he's no fool.
Cameron's merchants of death tour of the Middle East has made me think of George Bernard Shaw's classic play Major Barbara. The title character joined the Salvation Army as a way of rebelling against her arms merchant father, Andrew Undershaft. It's well worth a read and the next time the 1941 film version pops up on TCM check it out. It features stellar performances by Wendy Hiller as the title character and Robert Morley as her odious albeit witty father who was part of the original MOD Squad. No, not the campy Sixties teevee show, the MOD Squad from Thank You For Smoking: Merchants Of Death. The Posh Boy is now their teaboy...