Saturday, 24 July 2010

BP stands for "Bad Poodle!"

Rewards for Justice?

Recently the furore surrounding the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi has been reignited, there has been talk of "transatlantic tensions" and the "damage" to the "special relationship" between the US and the UK - which is of course only discussed on the Queen's side of the pond. Never mind the fact that al-Megrahi was convicted due to the testimony of a man who not only gave around 20 false descriptions of him and failed to identify him in court, but was rewarded for his testimony with payments. Tony Gauci received in excess of $2 million, and his brother Paul received a payment in excess of $1 million, from the US Department of Justice - as part of the "Rewards for Justice" programme. Never mind the anonymous witness, a CIA informant, who received $4 million upon al-Megrahi's conviction. The debate is about the UK's standing in the world, or more specifically in Washington. The innocence or guilt of the man is no longer up for debate.

The matter at hand is whether or not the devolved Scottish Parliament released al-Megrahi so that BP could secure its "commercial interests" in Libya. But more importantly, for David Cameron, how will the British government look in the eyes of the American government after this - the "special relationship" is at stake they claim. US Senators have accused BP of having a hand in al-Megrahi's release, which is another twist in the tale of BP's oil spill in the Mexican Gulf and the outrage surrounding it. Though BP has admitted that it did lobby the British government to further prisoner transfer negotiations between the UK and Libya, but has insisted that it did not lobby to ensure al-Megrahi's release. Considering that BP has $900 million offshore drilling operations in the region, undoubtedly the company was acting to avoid disrupting such interests. It wouldn't be the first time that BP has been a source of agitation and turmoil, though usually for others and not us.

British Petroleum may have been used by Americans in their tirades about the company, which were laughably deemed "anti-British" by the British press, but the company was once called the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company as its primary source of oil was Iranian in origin. The company became known as British Petroleum in the early 1950s. This was just after Mossadeq had been elected in Iran and nationalised the country's oil reserves. The British government soon acted to subvert Mossadeq's government. With the support of the US, and the active participation of the CIA, this "subversion" eventually led to a coup in 1953, the nationalist Mossadeq was removed from power and bringing back the Shah to govern Iran. BP continued to operate in Iran, though had been diminished, until the Iranian Revolution of 1979 that overthrew the Shah and subsequently led to the oil reserves being nationalised once more. This drove BP out of Iran and the "War on Terrorism" was soon underway.

 A "Special Relationship"?

This neatly brings us back to the issue at hand. After the establishment of the Islamic Republic, tensions quickly began between the US and Iran due to the hostage crisis and the war with Iraq. It was in 1988, just months before the Lockerbie bombing, that the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner, killing 290 people including 66 children. The US wrote this off as an "accident" and Bush I went on to reward the ship's captain "for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as commanding officer." In the aftermath of 9/11, it reflected the widespread ignorance as Bush II asked "Why do they hate us when we're so good?" But it has been argued that the Lockerbie bombing, just months after the Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down, could have been retaliation from Tehran. Though we may never know as Thatcher squashed the attempts at an independent inquiry just before she left office.

That instance tells you of the true nature of the "relationship" between Britain and America. Thatcher squashed an independent inquiry, which could have brought a link between the way Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down and the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 just months later. But the British government were not involved in gunning down the Iranian airliner, just as in 2003 the invasion of Iraq was not conceived by Blair but by American neoconservatives. Nevertheless, the UK media still assumes that Britain has a major role in international affairs, even though we are more or less an appendage of the US. Take Trident, Britain's last claim to power in the world, as we have the power to liquidate entire countries - but only with the permission of Uncle Sam. The "special relationship" between the UK and the US is nothing but window-dressing and Britain is more like an obedient lieutenant than a partner. The only country in the world that has anything like a "special relationship" is Israel.

The furore around the premature release of a so-called "terrorist" is more about the incompetence of the UK government to follow the party-line in Washington than it is about al-Megrahi or the "War on Terror". This is the reason that al-Megrahi's guilt is not even a matter of debate, the debate is on the standing of Britain in the world (a euphemism for the White House). If al-Megrahi is guilty locking him away would be meaningless and merely hypocritical. As there are wanted terrorists being harboured by the American government, like Orlando Bosch who blew up a Cuban airliner and killed 73 people on the CIA's watch. Bosch, and others like him, are wanted throughout Latin America for a host of terrorist atrocities. If we want imprisoning al-Megrahi to mean more then we should extradite men like Orlando Bosch to face trial immediately. But no, Bosch and his friends remain free while we expect standards of justice to be upheld in our case. It is hypocrisy in the most literal sense of the word, we extend standards to others which would not extend to ourselves.

Related Links:
US and UK in standoff over Senate's Lockerbie Investigation
Grounds of Appeal 
BP admits to 'lobbying UK over Libya prisoner transfer' 
BP Oil Spill: US politicians accuse BP over Lockerbie terrorist

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