Criticizing the Saudis

One of the black marks, in my view, of the Theresa May regime, was distancing herself from remarks made by her foreign minister, Boris Johnson, who (mildly) criticized the government of Saudi Arabia for being behind proxy wars. There is little doubt in most people’s minds the reason for this swift action was damage limitation. While for certain countries this might be fair game, this is not the case with Saudi Arabia, who experience shows will pull the plug on lucrative trade deals if upset. (As an aside, when I had my well paid job as software engineer for Marconi, when its chief (Lord Weinstock) found out the King of Saudi was concerned our project for him will deliver late, all hell let loose! The moral being that we could upset those deemed as small fry but could not upset the Saudi chiefs).

Special Representative of the Secretary-

This brings me nicely to a story titled: “Sweden’s feminist foreign minister has dared to tell the truth about Saudi Arabia. What happens now concerns us all”. The subtitle to this is: “Margot Wallström’s principled stand deserves wide support. Betrayal seems more likely”. Her stand was pointing out in pretty stark terms why some of the enactment of Saudi policies has been detrimental to women (and from where I stand this is one of many examples over the years where Saudi have perpetrated serious human rights abuse). This has caused an as expected adverse reaction by the Saudi authorities and a reaction to the reaction by Swedish business leaders who recognize (rightly) their businesses are likely to suffer as a result.This could be translated as the need not to bite the hand that feeds you (in this case the Saudis).

If I were to study the art of diplomacy down the ages, I would expect to discover the cardinal rule you need to butter up to those likely to do the country your represent most harm (or good). On the diplomacy stakes, it might be that Minister Margot will score low but on the principled stakes (unlike our own Theresa May but like Donald Trump, when he took a phone call from the Taiwan leaders when he was inaugurated as President) I reckon she scores high when it comes to acting with principles. We live in interesting times but also sad times when we have to pander to bad guys to get by.


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