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Friday, 21 October 2011

Last Days

Last Day 1: Ghadaffi.
Massive gloating over the death of a dictator is unsurprising; though the squalor of the killing will in future be deplored. One great lesson of the Ghadaffi tyranny should be taken on board by the international community: even though it has little been noted over the forty-two years of capricious oppression.

The normal relationships of states are formally conducted between responsible mutually-recognised Heads of State. Some are hereditary monarchs, most of whom have surrendered absolutism in favour of some form of  consensual democracy; the majority are elected Presidents; a few are unambiguously recognised because they have a clear constitutional role such as the rotating Presidency of the State Council in Switzerland. The whole world made an exception for Ghadaffi: the other Heads of State and the governments that they formally embodied treated him as if he were a Head of State, even though he insistently and constantly maintained that he had no international sovereign status. He persisted in the ludicrous assertion that he was a mere 'advisor' to the sovereign Libyan people: yet the rest of the world received him as a 'regular' sovereign. This constantly reinforced his belief that he was above the law: not just Libyan law [which was made and abandoned at his whim] but international law.

Political and Economic order in the world depend on the mutual recognition of sovereign persons who identify states which follow the principles of international law and which maintain within their territories a system of law and order that recognises and protects human persons. Uniquely, Ghadaffi was allowed to behave outside that context for forty-two years, during which Libya was catastrophically oppressed. All the states that allowed him to get away with it were co-conspirators in his tyranny. It is probably a forlorn hope that the lesson will in future be applied by all Heads of State if a similar maverick regime emerges.

Last Day 2: Europe
Surprise, surprise! Germany has not ceded its assets to a French plan for the refinancing of the Euro Rescue Fund. So this weekend's European Summit will no longer be asked to endorse a Franco-German agreement. Before the Ministers gather in Brussels they have been told that there was to be no definitive discussion of the major issues: and this appears supinely to be accepted. Some Heads of Government are more equal than the others. The minor actors must wait until next Wednesday when a Franco-German deal is promised: they need not hold their breath.

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