Arab uprisings expose the moral gymnastics of the Left
written by: Nick Wood
Only the liberal Left can combine hypocrisy, smugness and intellectual confusion in equal measure at much the same time.
Back in the Eighties, leftish icons such as Michael Foot, Neil Kinnock and Tony Benn railed against Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan when they went toe-to-toe with the Evil Empire (also known as the peace-loving USSR to its Western fellow-travelers).
Confronted by legions of Guardian-reading, BBC-watching harridans at Greenham Common, Mrs T insisted on installing Cruise missiles to match the Soviet's SS20s stationed in Eastern Europe. She even deployed Michael Heseltine in a flak jacket to keep order.
The Beeb and its dreary press allies were naturally horrified by such a war-mongering stance by the leaders of the West (who equally naturally guaranteed and indirectly funded the BBC's right to take up the cudgels on behalf of those well-meaning liberals in the Kremlin). But Reagan and Thatcher were right and the Evil Empire imploded less than a decade later.
The same defeatist caterwauling accompanied Mrs T's robust response to the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands. To the dismay of the Beeb, she prevailed 5-O all too quickly, making it almost impossible to carp for long, though there was always the Belgrano, not least because it was sailing away from the goalmouth when it was sunk - not a rule familiar to veterans of WW2 Atlantic convoys.
Fast forward to 2003 and the Bush/Blair swift overthrow of Saddam. Briefly silenced, the Left were soon in full cry (Bliar/war criminal) when Al Qaeda and its terrorist chums wrecked the peace. Bush's surge turned the tide, but too late in the day for a rethink for the squeamish disciples of Michael Moore and Newsnight.
Bush and Blair saw freedom and democracy as an indivisible good - to be applied as much on the Arab Street as the leafy glades of Surrey or Massachusetts. The moral gymnasts of the Left reviled them for their simplicity and naivety.
But what has happened now? All of a sudden - totally unpredicted by the legions of the so-called Arab experts (not least in our hand-wringing Foreign Office), murdering despots across North Africa and beyond are being challenged by the Arab Street.
Reagan once tried to polish off "Mad Dog" Gaddafi by blitzing his tent, provoking howls of outrage led by Kate Adie, then the darling of the BBC lefties, who appeared on the supposedly journalist-banned streets of Tripoli in 1986 to denounce this wicked act.
OK, so Gaddafi backed off from funding terror and WMD, though not until after the overthrow of Saddam. For all that, he did not get the Nobel Peace Prize or an invitation to the White House.
The Left remain sanctimonious and confused. A man they once defended as an Arab nationalist bravely standing up to the West (and supplying the IRA) is now excoriated for machine-gunning protesters in his own land.
There is a clearer and simpler way of looking at this - a view expounded by the conservatives Reagan, Thatcher and George W Bush and the honorary and late-coming conservative Blair: murderous despots are always wrong and should be given no succour. If they ever repent of their crimes, they should stand down immediately from power.
Image(s) courtesy of: FlickR/ Yasuki Omori 2010