Last Year in Politics

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So… politics…

It’s been quite a Christmas. First we had the fiasco of the Copenhagen talks, where the political great, the elected elite, waved at the cameras, told the news they were going to save the world and then turned into bickering school children. The rich nations ganged up on the poor nations. The ‘emerging powers’ complained. No one wanted to cut emissions. No one wanted to spend money they could save. The interests of the whole human race (potentially) were at stake. The interests of business took precedence. While the leaders of the free world (and the enslaved world) kicked dirt in each others eyes, oil companies were digging up Tar Sands, burning the oil and spending the profits. Lets be honest, Copenhagen was never going to be worth the kerosene expended on the jets to take the leaders to the conference. None of them really wanted to stop global warming; they just wanted to protect their own interests. And sometimes it’s in their interests to make it look like they care. But when the crunch comes they don’t. And they never will.

Outside the conference the Danish police smashed demonstrators over the heads with batons, tear-gassed them, arrested them en-masse and threw them into specially constructed prisons that looked more like the cages at Guantanamo Bay. Welcome to 21st Century European Democracy. Leaders make wild promises which they don’t mean, oil companies do anything they like and protestors get brutalised. But don’t forget, we live in a free society. Unlike the rest of the world.

Then the press exploded with the news that Iran is definitely about to build a nuclear bomb and blow up everything everywhere. A bit like Iraq were going to all those years ago. Mohammed Ahmedinajad paraded around in front of the cameras like a Bond villain, and suddenly everyone forgot that the last time we decided to have a war with a country in the Middle East, lots of people died for no reason at all and Enron and Halliburton made a big chunk of profit. But this is different obviously. Why? It’s happening now, not in the past. And things are only wrong with the benefit of hindsight.

Interestingly enough, when people go out and protest in Iran, the police come out, beat them up, sometimes kill them, and throw them in prison. Much in the same way as they did in Copenhagen. And London. But for some reason, when it happens over there it’s a ‘violation of their human rights’.

Then on Christmas Day someone lit some explosives in their pants on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit and nearly brought down a plane over a densely populated city, which would have killed hundreds- perhaps thousands- of innocent people. Janet Napolitano, Obama’s senior security official, said there was no indication that the bomber was acting as part of a larger plot and warned against speculating that he had been trained by Al-Qaeda. But no one really wanted to listen to that, it didn’t fit the agenda that paints every Muslim in the world as potentially part of a big global network of mad terrorists that want to kill us just because we’re not Muslims too. So when a group based in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attempted attack, calling it revenge for the US air raids in their country that it claims killed about 50 people, no one really wanted to listen to that either.

Now don’t get me wrong here. In my book there is absolutely no justification for killing or trying to kill lots of innocent people. There is no logical mind that can see that as worthwhile, no matter what the benefit is in profit or power. And there is no logic in saying that the US airforce killed people in our country, so we’re going to kill lots of people who had nothing to do with it in the US. But in both instances, people decide to blow things up for no logical reason and innocent people are killed or nearly killed. Obama promised to do whatever it takes to strengthen America’s security and bring the perpetrators to justice. Call me cynical, but I don’t think that’s going to involve never bombing civilians in Yemen again. Which probably means civilians in America and elsewhere are still going to be at risk from those seeking retribution.

Obama himself probably won’t be though. I’m betting they check to see if you’ve got bombs in your underpants before you get on a plane with him. So he can sit back quite comfortably and say and do what he likes, letting other people suffer the consequences. A bit like Ahmedinajad. A bit like the leaders at Copenhagen. A bit like the CEOs of oil companies. A bit like all politicians, all business leaders. They’re the ones with the private jets and riot police.

Welcome to 2010.

Happy New Year.

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