One of the big events of 2011 so far has been the wedding of Prince William, second in line to the British monarchy. It inspired a huge upwelling of popular affection for our Royal Family, that I must respect as a democrat, even if I am deeply disappointed in my compatriots as a republican. So, the opinion of the British people, and most certainly of Her Majesty's Government, is that a hereditary Head of State, to whom all mere elected officials are constitutionally answerable, is a Very Good Thing indeed.
What can have been so special about these peoples ancestors, that simply being their distant descendants is proof of fitness to rule? Just this; that the ultimate founder of every Royal House, seems to have been a charismatic soldier, able to both inspire their troops and terrify their subjects. Thus, the British monarchy bases its claim on putative descent from Alfred the Great and William the Conqueror, both of whom strongarmed their way to the English throne at the heads of bloodthirsty armies. (A team fronted by Tony Robinson spotted a glitch in the line of descent, for a TV show a few years ago, but the rightful heir they identified had renounced his peerage and settled in Australia as a common working man of republican views, and was not impressed by the news.) It therefore seems a reasonable deduction, that the establishment of monarchic dynasties by charismatic but terrifying soldiers should also be a Very Good Thing in the eyes of both the British people and their Government.
Another of 2011's big events is that when Libya's state stability suffered one of its occasional wobbles, several major Western Powers who should have known better pitched in to stave off defeat for the losing side.
The Arab region has just a clear idea of what a king should be as the West, and without the liberal traditions of post-Christian secularism to soften their thinking, generally expect and accept levels of good and bad behaviour from those who fill the role of king, that have long been relegated to children's fiction North of the Mediterranean Sea.
Muammar Ghaddafi is enough of a Twentieth Century Boy not to consider crowning himself, but he has shown all the hallmarks of a Great King in the way he has risen from his military background to put himself at the front of Libya's popular revolution and rule with a capricious mixture of genuine concern for the well-being of his subjects, savage disregard for the well-being of his enemies and sometimes wise, sometimes strange ideas for the bossing around of everybody. And he has been grooming his sons to carry on the family business.
Now, I can see how America or France could find a fig-leaf of moral principle, to dress a cynical attempt to put in a Libyan government that owes them a big favour, when it is time to sort out oil deals. But how, oh how can Her Majesty's government send Her Majesty's Forces to depose Colonel Ghaddafi for ruling in the very style Her Majesty's own authority derives from?
I must admit that I would not care to live in Ghaddafi's Libya, myself, but then I have not been raised with a head full of traditional Arab values, and I would be a sad misfit residing in any Arab country under any regime. My points are that Ghaddafi is not so bad by the values of his own civilisation, which is a neighbour of our own, not an extension of it, and that he embodies the very qualities our own nation sees as lying at its heart. Our pursuit of an unnecessary war against him is wasting resources and sacrificing lives in a grand act of arrogance and hypocrisy. His hands may be even less clean than the average long-serving statesman, but we really cannot indict him and justly leave our own aggressors, like Blair and now Cameron to go free.
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