.... half the dictators in the Middle East always have a warm place in their hearts for George Galloway. I have seen evidence that this familiar anti-democratic leftism has taken hold in parts of the LSE, but my sources are clear that most of those involved with Saif were following the lead set by Tony Blair after he successfully used the invasion of Iraq to force Gaddafi to abandon his arms programme.Writes Nick Cohen ( Lord Woolf's conflict of interest at the LSE, The Observer, Sunday 3 April 2011).
Blair deserves no blame for his entente cordiale. Had he not neutralised Gaddafi, the regime would now have weapons of mass destruction to use against the citizens of Benghazi. The fault lies in the British establishment's determined pretence that Libya was no longer a vicious state, a pretence that was very profitable for BP, and the PR companies, lobbyists and academics Saif Gaddafi recruited.
The notion here, that Gaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons programme in 2004 because he was afraid that his was another regime under threat from USA and UK military action, can hardly be used as a pretext to argue that the Iraq War was still a good thing after all.
Blair's rapprochement with Gaddafi in 2004 was necessary because the Iraq War, essentially an oil grab, had plunged the nation into chaos, sectarian warfare and thus led oil prices to soar: that occasioned both Gaddafi's 'fear' that he could be 'next' and the need of Western powers to secure access to Libya's high quality oil.
Nick Cohen perpetuates that dealing with dictatorships is all about oil profits only and not, as David Strahan puts it in The Last Oil Shock that wars such as Iraq were due to "geostrategic desperation". It's this hunger for oil that led to supporting dictators and invading Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein.
Whether its backing dictatorships and selling arms to them or promoting "regime change" through imposing democracy, the endgame has continually been the race to control oil reserves when faced with accelerating global demand ( esp from China ) and the need for diversification of supplies.
The British establishment never ceased regarding Gaddafi's Libya as a "vicious state": it was prepared to ignore it as the need for Libyan oil, an important source of supply needed for Britain's high octane consumer car and supermarket economy to continue. That had been spelt out by the impact of the Road hauliers strike in 2000.
Ironically, George Galloway stated on Sky News that the current intervention in Libya is about BP's profits and not about the fact many global and regional powers-including Iran- are competing to control oil and gas and using it as a tool of geopolitical influence. Controlling oil is not about price and profit but national power and prosperity.
The fact is that people do not want to hear that war, destruction, anarchy and dictatorship are the necessary consequence of the pathological struggle to control oil and nothing to do with corporate profiteering, a sentiment common amongst anti-capitalists despite the fact living standards in the West depend upon it.
Yet the Stop the War Coalition leaders and those like Milne and Pilger never mention that because they want to profit from the cheap outrage that comes with directing ire at the political classes, as if they alone profited from a car economy, cheap EasyJet flights, and exotic supermarket products.
Cohen too wants to suggest that when BP supports regimes with dictatorships, it is about profits but when the USA and UK invade Iraq it is not about control of oil supplies, something mechanically written off some as a "conspiracy theory" because they portray those emphasising the oil factor as being concerned with oil prices.
Cohen ignores the continuities in British foreign policy to maintain the idea that there is an easy distinction between rationalising the existence of dictatorships and the creed of the "pro-liberationist" left that wants to remove 'rogue regimes' by military force and fight a' war on terror'.
The reality is different: over dependence upon oil necessarily undercuts the promotion of democracy in Arab nations where "the curse of oil" ensures Orwellian doublethink from states wanting access to abundant and cheap oil. As well as to benefit from the inflow of Arab petrol money.