Last Thursday’s UN Resolution 1973/11 did more than just belatedly clear the Libyan air of the one-sided aerial assaults by Gaddafi’s troops. The resolution also cleared the air of a lingering suspicion that the scheming Colonel had managed to get away with hypnotising the international community into an inert bubble of passive gobsmackedness. He had not. As green troops honed in on Benghazi and as we held our collective breath for the inevitable bloodbath in the eastern rebel stronghold, the UN Security Council finally voted to impose a no-fly zone over Libya (and a bit more).
Britain and France (for spearheading the vote) and the US (for belatedly seeing the light) became the new symbols of the fight for liberty and democracy. They were the West’s answer to the Libyan rebels’ plea for support. There were also five abstentions on the day. None of the permanent members exercised their veto but the five abstentions carried the weight of five nations’ conscientious objection to the means being suggested. The abstention roll call is a roll call of giants who refused to commit to decisive action to prevent an impending bloodbath: Russia, China, Brazil, India and Germany.
Lay down your arms
Thankfully for the international community, Malta did not have a vote on the Security Council resolution. I’d hate to see the likes of Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama wait for our nation’s representatives to fret about who to pass the decision-making buck to in such a situation − referendum? free vote? who knows? We cannot however hide from the geopolitical reality of the situation and, after having milked what we could of our “heroic” acts of bravery in the “evacuation”, we now find ourselves bang in the middle of the effective area for enforcing a UN mandated no-fly zone. What would OUR conscience say?
After a couple of hours (over 15 but who’s counting?), during which we had to “suffer the ignominy” of being tagged as a British military base on some lax international news channels (so much for 31 March − but thank God for the Malta Tourism Authority for setting them right), our conscience finally dragged itself to a podium and addressed the gathered assembly of journalists.
But back to the conscience. Our Prime Minister found some time to stay away from the hotline with Libya or from the god-awful diversion of “the divorce referendum question” and addressed the nation. This was in a way our moment of truth. Which side would Malta be on? Would the neutrality question raise its hypocritical head again, almost 30 years on from the infamous “compromise”? Would the heroic George Cross Island once again become a fortress and bastion for the forces of liberty and democracy?
Fear and Loathing
Well, watching Prime Minister Gonzi at work was an experience. I did not see an assertive Prime Minister on the podium. I did not see a leader of men who put his country on the same side as those who would do their utmost to help their brothers in distress. Gonzi looked more like an Archbishop. You could fill the gaps in his press conference by inserting the Maltese “jekk Alla jrid” (if God wills).
If God wills, the guns will be put down. If God wills, the Libyan leader who threatened bloodshed in the Mediterranean basin will suddenly develop a human side and will not proceed with the massacre. If God wills, there will be no need to enforce the no-fly zone because there would be no more fighting. If God wills, we will not need to send planes from our island. If God wills, we will remain the selective Florence Nightingale of the Mediterranean – the unsung heroes. If God wills, the Malta Tourism Authority will remain the only authority reminding the world that all we care about is tourism – and that, hey, we are not a British base, we are an independent republic that freed itself of the Brit oppressor (and Nato) in 1979. Jeez… haven’t you guys seen Gensna?
On the one hand, there’s British Prime Minister Cameron saying “to suggest that we should pass a resolution like this and then sit back and hope that somebody somewhere in the Arab world will act instead of us is profoundly wrong.” We get Archbishop Gonzi being the non-committal apologist worried of shaking the hornets’ nest of anachronistic neutrality clause or of standing on the side of liberty. We do not even get a condemnation of Gaddafi and a clear “Get out!” We get a half-baked prayer that hopefully the arms are laid down and that there will be no need to enforce the no-fly zone. Yes. And the ugly monster will go away on its own. Is this really a position based on conscience and principle? I’m not too sure about that but the impression we seem to be giving is of a country lacking the serious attributes to stand tall among nations. Ah, but we sure have a great big conscience.
Free vote and free conscience
Archbishop Gonzi’s video to his flock was not the only one to drop into my inbox this week. We also received Inhobbkom Joseph’s vid following the parliamentary marathon vote on the question to be asked for the referendum. It was a gut wrenching performance by the paladin of Maltese Progressives that begs the question: Does he know no shame? Joseph’s fans still swim happily in the belief that the divorce question is somehow interlinked with the survival of this government. Joseph does nothing to dispel this confusion for the sake of a clearer divorce debate. No. He actually tells us “this is not about the referendum or divorce”.
Yes siree, the horse has spoken. So there you are, you stupid, peddling peasant who has been celebrating a great victory for the progressive modern Malta being catapulted into Europe by Joseph and his Fawning Horde (+JPO and Mugliett). You thought it was about divorce? Hell no. It isn’t.
You have been GIVEN (thanks Joseph) the right to express your opinion on 28 May. It’s an expression that will count for Jack Shit come the vote in Parliament following the referendum. Because the same party that is claiming to be dragging us kicking and screaming into the Europe of modern progressive values DOES NOT HAVE A POSITION ON DIVORCE. It has a position on “frijvowts”. It gives its MPs the “frijvowt” on the referendum question. It gives the people a “frijvowt” to say what it thinks on divorce AND it will give another “frijvowt” to its MPs to vote on the eventual Bill in Parliament ACCORDING TO THEIR CONSCIENCE.
That means that this sniggering geezer who is so patronisingly smug about moving Malta closer to Europe (puhlease) would love to have y’all believe that the “frijvowt” is actually a yes to divorce. IT IS NOT. Because the probability is that even with a positive referendum result (and Joseph is not doing much to encourage that), the chances are that the 69 eejits voting “according to their conscience” shoot down the Bill. Godbless.
Balls and bollocks
Two videos. Two men addressing the nation. Two supposed leaders that represent our country. They only managed in their own way to make me squirm with anger and disgust. I know for a fact that they made many others want to leave − rip up their passports and conscientiously object to being a part of this country full of men abusing their objectionable consciences. Twice, in the space of a week, we have had to suffer the arguments of supposed leaders of men who are hiding behind convoluted reasons that they like to attribute to conscience. The end result is that we have leaders and potential leaders who have abdicated their decision-making responsibility − all in the name of a conscience that is increasingly hard to decipher (and justify).
It’s sad. Very sad. In both cases the lives of men are at stake. On the one hand our PN government is failing the rebels in Benghazi, Misratah and more on the flimsy excuse of a neutral conscience. On the other our supposed PL Progressive Leader has failed to grab the bull by the horns and forge together a party that asserts the right to divorce and remarry in the 21st century. Taking us into Europe is he?
I’ve got a new slogan for J’accuse for 2011. It’s proving to be more and more true as the year unfolds. It’s best said in Italian and I guess this week really proved its point: “In un paese pieno di coglioni, ci mancano le palle”.
This article and accompanying Bertoon(s) were published on today’s edition of The Malta Independent on Sunday.