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Thursday, September 22, 2011 

Mr Cameron goes to New York.

Yes, it's that time of year again. In what seems more and more choreographed with each passing twelve months, it's that bizarre version of musical chairs played out at the United Nations general assembly: Mahmoud Ahmadenijad takes the opportunity given to him to say something vaguely outrageous in front of the planet's dignitaries and television cameras, and out walk those who have somehow found the strength to sit through the terminally dull orations of those who went before him. It's an utterly pointless exercise, especially when Ahmadenijad's obsessions are so dull and if anything, far less controversial than the average tin-foil hat wearer's beliefs. As well as the usual allusions to the Holocaust and how the most well-documented event in modern history obviously didn't happen, he this year brought in a reference to the "mysterious September 11 incident", making him topical if nothing else.

Best practice would be to just treat Ahmadenijad's ravings as the delegates do every other speech: in silence while paying as little attention as they can. Instead the walkouts are ever more contrived, just as Ahmadenijad's reaching for a new sweet spot each year is. When you've already made reference to the lack of evidence underpinning the Holocaust and suggested the United States itself carried out 9/11, the only place left to go, other than Nibiru, the four horseman of 2012 or sovereign citizenry is back to slavery. Should it not be, Ahmadenijad asked, an obligation upon the slave masters or colonial powers to pay reparations to the affected nations?

With the day's cabaret taken care off, by happy coincidence next on was a certain David Cameron. Last year he was excused from attending as Glam Sam Cam had just given birth to Florence; this time, and sadly considering how many times he's had to return from holidays due to various emergencies, he couldn't find a reason not to turn up. With those who didn't walk out thoroughly warmed up by the Iranian president's knock-about antics, Cameron wasted no time in delivering his A material:

You can sign every human rights declaration in the world but if you stand by and watch people being slaughtered in their own country, when you could act, then what are those signatures really worth?

Well, quite. Obviously, this doesn't apply in all cases: Mexico for instance, where around 40,000 people have been murdered over the past four years in a drug war which gets grimmer with each passing week, where the complete dismemberment of the victims of the cartels is common place, and where 35 bodies can be dumped in the street in broad daylight (NSFW). Or Bahrain, where the Saudi-backed royal family (literally) flattened the uprising with nary a squeak of protest from those self-proclaimed upholders of humanity, Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy. Just because we can't possibly intervene everywhere, as we were so sonorously reminded early on in the Libya campaign doesn't mean we can't intervene somewhere, preferably somewhere which is close by and where it's determined the military operation is likely to be over fairly swiftly. This is of course why a month after the fall of Tripoli NATO is still diligently protecting the civilians of the new Libyan army by continuing to bomb the holdouts in Beni Walid and Sirte.

In fairness to Cameron, and to come out of full cynicism mode for just a second, he plays down the NATO role in the Libyan revolution ridiculously, giving all the credit to the forces which are now failing miserably to take the two remaining hold out cities. The reality is that if NATO hadn't taken what was a limited UN resolution putting in placing a no fly zone while calling for a ceasefire to be followed by negotiations, and instead used it to intervene in a incipient civil war and from there facilitate eventual regime change, then the two sides would now still be deadlocked, Benghazi protected but all the other major cities likely under Gaddafi control. Just as everyone can welcome the downfall of another hated dictator and human rights abuser, you still can't get away from the fact a UN resolution was at best very liberally interpreted and at worst was used as the fig leaf to overthrow a sovereign government. When Cameron then lectures everyone on what a good thing this was, it's little wonder that rather than slapping him on the back and congratulating him, China and Russia are rather put out, and their recalcitrance over Syria is directly related to it.

Naturally, having spoken so many fine words about how deserving the Libyans are of their new found freedom and how everyone must help them to build their democracy, Cameron comes to the unpleasantness over the Palestinian attempt to gain recognition from the security council of their state and remains sitting on the fence. Of course they must have a viable state of their own, but only when the Israelis agree to it. Never mind that the Palestine papers brutally exposed how there is no partner for peace when one side refuses to compromise, Israel knowing full well that it can continue to colonise the West Bank without fear of sanction from the US, making a return to the 1967 borders an impossibility, only negotiations between the two sides can settle the conflict. Any attempt to jump start them by doing the one thing they previously haven't tried is simply unacceptable. Don't these Arabs know their place, which is to make our leaders look good while the economy collapses, and then only speak when they're spoken to the rest of the time?

In this at least Ahmadenijad is honest. He acts like a buffoon and gives ridiculous speeches because he is a buffoon and is ridiculous. Our leaders instead simply make it up as they go along, condemning this and ignoring that, knowing all too well of the contradictions and weaknesses in their arguments. Consistency is impossible; get used to it.

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