Political Promise

SNP correct not to indulge Washington

In Graeme Morrison on July 31, 2010 at 7:39 pm

By Graeme Morrison

The drawn-out saga regarding the Lockerbie bomber’s release has been yet another exercise in American chest beating. President Obama’s promise of change has certainly not permeated the realm of foreign policy, in which American arrogance has reached new heights. If it were not frustrating enough that Obama engaged so cavalierly in anti-British rhetoric in response to the oil spill in the Mexican Gulf, the finger-pointing that has taken place over Megrahi’s release has been desperate, ignorant and to tell the truth, typically American.

Despite what one thinks about the decision of the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacKaskill to release Megrahi on compassionate grounds, we must first recognise that it was a decision made in good faith. Having made clear my opposition to many of the SNP’s domestic policies, I found myself in some rather uncharted waters by actually supporting the SNP’s robust defence of their choice. Moreover, that MacKaskill and Alex Salmond refused to indulge the US Senate in their invitation for a hearing in Washington, was bold and refreshing. Put simply, why should a government have to answer to a foreign power over a judgment they made in perfectly honest circumstances. In truth, I reckon the Americans have got off lightly by Salmond’s refusal to go to Capitol Hill. We can all remember how George Galloway defended himself with great vigour only a few years ago. Salmond would have presented an even more demanding challenge.

If anyone was fortunate enough to have tuned into Newsnight Scotland when John Bolton was faced off against Scottish Minister Christine Grahame, both the ignorance and arrogance of the American political class shone through. We were told the Scottish Government was a ‘branch’ of the British government, that Britain made the decision on Megrahi and generally that the Americans were void of any responsibility in the Gulf crisis. It was an embarrassing way for the Americans to pass the buck onto all things British. The SNP accepted full responsibility for their decision. Surely, if MacKaskill and Salmond are ever to attend Congress, it will require the Americans to show some humility and demonstrate an understanding of the facts.

In sum, the purpose of this post is to convey my sense of disappointment in how the attitude of the US towards other nations continues to be one typical of a bully. I should stress, however, that there is nothing improper with the desire for truth in the Megrahi situation and the oil spill story. Until America relaxes its ego, politicians like Salmond and MacKaskill are vindicated in refusing to kowtow to Washington.

*Note: My references to ‘American’ is representative of the United States as a nation-state and not of its citizens.

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