Thursday, March 01, 2007

Shaking hands with a torturer

What is it with Helen Clark and torturers? First, she shook hands with Pakistan's President Musharraf - an unelected dictator who presides over the widespread use of torture and state impunity. Then she did it with General John Abizaid, the US general responsible at the time for the occupation of Iraq, who bore command responsibility for the abuses of Abu Ghraib and the massacre of Fallujah, and who reportedly deliberately looked the other way on torture committed by US forces. And now she's going to Washington to shake hands with president Bush

Just in case anyone has forgotten, this is a man who lied his way into a war which has now led to the deaths of 655,000 Iraqis. A man who is now planning to do it all again in Iran. A man who authorised an illegal and immoral system of disappearance and torture, in which suspected terrorists are kidnapped, flown halfway around the world, imprisoned in "black sites" in foreign countries, and subjected to strapado, waterboarding - techniques used by the Spanish Inquisition, the South American juntas, and the Nazis.

Any decent person would refuse to meet with such a person. Any decent person wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire. And our Prime Minister is going to shake his hand on our behalf.

It's nice to know where Labour really stands, isn't it?


Was it Abizaid who described the US massacre in Fallujah as "Humane and compassionate"

Posted by Anonymous : 3/01/2007 12:38:00 PM

I/S - there's high principle, then there's practical politics. You or I can refuse to shake hands with anyone (from politicians we simply don't like to those we accuse of heinous crimes). Helen Clark is in a rather different situation.

I guess she could decline the invitation to the White House, but if news of that broke she would be widely vilified by ... well, almost every public commentator except you.

Can you imagine the NZH Editorials, the foaming rants on rightwing blogs, etc?

At the JP II's funeral (I think), Charles Windsor was seated near Robert Mugabe, and shook hands with him. An unpleasant act for Chuck, perhaps, but that's political/public life.

Posted by dc_red : 3/02/2007 08:22:00 AM

Especially now that political America has become the evil step-mother of the world.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/02/2007 08:56:00 AM

> Can you imagine the NZH Editorials, the foaming rants on rightwing blogs, etc?

The problem really is it would be awkward for HC and she would be crippled in her ability to get stuff done internationally, mostly the former.

Any politician who acts on principle and picks fights with half the politicians they meet will soon be treated like a pariah for breaching the rules of etiquette amongst world leaders.

besides the NZ public would hate her for being inept at playing the game. In reality people want a politician that gets results as opposed to one that has good intentions but fails.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/07/2007 10:15:00 PM