>A story from the Christian Science Monitor about links between the Egyptian regime and North Korea from the 1970s to the present. So Mubarak, the dictator used as a gendarme to enforce a regime oriented towards the West and Israel, in the belief that Arabs cannot be trusted to make reasoned political judgements through the political process, has close economic and technological ties to Kim Jong-Il, one of the dictators most detested in the West, and rightly so, for his internal repression and foreign policies which mix vulgar criminality, terrorism, and destabilising brinkmanship. I certainly hope that a new Egyptian government will emerge that will seek compromise with Israel and good relations with Western democracies, and will share liberal democratic principles with these countries. Equally, it is necessary top condemn the immorality and short sightedness of a Western and Israeli policies of supporting Middle Eastern dictatorships as the basis of Arab agreement with Israel. If Israel cannot negotiate with Arab democracies now, how will it do so in the future, and how can it guarantee that democracy will be permanently blocked in the region. I refer to comments by the current Israeli Prime Minister, and some strident pro-Israeli commentators in the West. I can only hope they are not typical of Israeli public opinion, or of those in the West who feel affinity for Israel.
I can’t say what lies behind this in detail, but it does provide an insight into how ‘rogue’ states may suit the allies of the states which define them as outlaws. It’s hard to say how much this relationship was endorsed by the US or the major European powers, but they must at the very least have been aware of it and tolerated it. In this it seems, the rogue state was a convenient source of aid for a thuggish gendarme ally, presumably in providing co-operation that was economically, or politically, inconvenient for western powers.
My reactions to this story mix some moral disgust with some intellectual interest in the ambiguities of power, and international relations. Just as the pro-Western Mubarak evidently finds criminal elements in Egypt useful as unofficial regime thugs, and finds Islamists useful to make secular people fear democracy; he finds it useful to have a technological and economic partnership with an enemy of the West, and the West finds it useful to overlook that.