I'm not quite sure what to say about the news that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber has been released from prison on compassionate grounds. I can remember the tragedy very well, but I also remember that the events of his trial were dodgy too. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I think he was a patsy and is innocent, rather that certain things that we know happened around the events leading up to the attack that were not allowed to be disclosed at his trial. I believe Private Eye catalogued much of the problems.
Given this it does, I'd say, make the whole affair not quite as black and white as one would it to be. This is not conspiracy theory world but rather that certain questions mean that the conviction may not have been safe. However, just because a conviction might not be safe it doesn't mean that i the meantime you let the person out of prison. However, when they're dying and they're foreign, there can be shade of grey that come into play.
If you then throw in some realpolitik foreign policy consideration, dilemmas around moral or ethical righteousness go out of the window in favour of national interest. We just don't know what sort of deal may have been cut behind the scenes that servers the national interest on this point. It is of course easy to scream about weak lefties giving into terror, but sometimes there may be something you might be getting in return in the backdoor world international affairs that might outweigh any concerns, and on this w just don't know I think.
Let me put it like this, I don't believe for one second that the Scottish Government made the decision alone. Nor do I believe for one second that Britain didn't get something of vital value in return. The simplistic view that this was either an act of compassion or an act of surrender just doesn't cut it for me, I think there are multiple shades of grey that are being missed and that we will probably not know for a very long time.
There has been some commentary, from people like Donal and Iain about how the decision (which as I say I don't believe was made by Scotland alone), will affect US/UK relations. In the interim it might have an affect, but long term I don't think it will, crucially though because I think there is more to this than meets the eye I don't see why it matters anyway.
A nation, when acting abroad, will always defer to its national interest in a situation. Supporting America in Iraq was, I still believe, in the national interest of Britain because of the vital long term strategic interests in the Middle East, yes I am talking about oil. Likewise, I'm 100% sure that there is more to the release of al-Megrahi than it initially seems, and whatever it is, its probably more important and long term than a brief public frostiness with the White House will be.
I'm not offering any evidence to support this view you understand, rather to quote Donald Rumsfeld, "there are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know."
As an aside however, I was rather tickled in a terrible sick joke way by this apparent picture of al-Megrahi's plane.
What fool chose steps for the plane that said that?
Hat Tip: JailhouseLawyer for the pic.