Monday, April 14, 2008

Could the 21st century be China's century?

When the Berlin wall fell, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Nelson Mandela was freed, it seemed as though the worldwide march towards democracy was unstoppable. We in the West assumed that economic progress was tied to democratic progress. China's meteoric rise has gone to show how wrong we were. To quote Charles Moore from Saturday's Telegraph:
We in the West have been brought up to think that to be rich, you have to be free. But Deng had no such thought. The Chinese communists had once proclaimed the defeat of capitalism: they now proclaimed its rebirth in their own interests.....

....As the choice of Berlin for the Olympic Games in 1936 marked Hitler's success and international acceptance, so the choice of Beijing for 2008 marks China's. But only since the Olympic torch started its would-be triumphal progress round the world have we begun to notice this virtual fait accompli, and to resent it.
He also makes an interesting note about critics of America...
We have spent much time in recent years complaining about America's abuse of power. Sometimes the criticism is justified, but we have hardly begun to consider the alternative, and how appalling it would be.

Whenever we attack America, we do so in the knowledge that it has a visible system of self-correction that might listen to us. It has a constitutional structure which is built to accommodate differing views. China has nothing of the sort, and never has had.

It has become fashionable amongst the European intelligentsia to attack America for every ill in the world from global warming to capital punishment. Have they even begun to think about what the world would be like if China became the world's biggest military and economic power. That day is drawing ever nearer, and I have a feeling that even "old Europe" will look back nostalgically to the 1990s when America was the world's sole superpower.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thabo Mbeki, Mugabe's partner in crime

For too long, the world's media has let Thabo Mbeki off the hook. He has been much criticised for the failure of his "quiet diplomacy" towards Mugabe. It's now clear that he has been anything but an honest broker. He has actively supported Mugabe, and done everything possible to frustrate efforts to remove the 84 year old despot from power. The smiles and warmth that the two leaders display towards each other in front of the world's media says it all.

If this is the way the leader of Africa's largest democracy behaves, what hope is there for the rest of Africa? More ominously, what future is there for South Africa? If I was a citizen of the rainbow nation right now, I'd be looking at my passport.

Now even pirates are having their human rights breached

Every day brings another daft news story about how either terrorists or criminals have had their "human rights" breached. The latest story that I read must be a belated April fools joke, but apparently it's true. The Royal Navy has been told by the Foreign Office not to detain pirates because doing so may breach their human rights.

Alongside the recent ruling that Abu Qatada has indefinite leave to remain here, it's another nail in the coffin of sanity, and it does little to advance genuine human rights. Whilst Al-Qaeda suspects remain free to carry on planning out atrocities here, genuine asylum seekers facing ill treatment and in many cases certain death are routinely deported to dangerous places such as Zimbabwe and Iraq. As Joan Bakewell recently highlighted in the Independent:

The fuss over this man's right to stay in the country is all the more surprising considering how many and how often otherwise worthy and innocent people are returned to their country of origin. Earlier this year, Ama Sumani, a 39-year-old Ghanaian, was deported home even though she was undergoing treatment for cancer, a treatment that would not be available in Ghana. Friends protested and saved money to help her. But their pleas went unheard. She was returned home and died in Accra alone and friendless just a month ago.

There are other stories to wring the heart: Iraqis now being sent back because it is judged that life in Iraq has improved. Any one of these individuals would make a better humanitarian case for remaining here than Abu Qatada.

It's clear that we could have been rid of Abu Qatada years ago. France is also a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights, but its judiciary loses no sleep over deporting terror suspects to countries where they may face ill treatment. Where there's a will, there's a way, but much of England's judiciary clearly have their own political agenda and are determined to do everything in their power to undermine the governments war on terror. In the light of this, it was an act of staggering naivety on the part of Tony Blair to sign the European Convention of Human Rights.