Captain Hindsight

Well it looks like my job here is done. Goodbye everyone!
If you're a South Park enthusiast I bet my last cent that you must be pretty familiar with Captain Hindsight. Just in case you do not know, Captain Hindsight is a fictional super-hero in the Trey Parker/Matt Stone mould who is fortunate enough to have, well, the  power of...extraordinary hindsight. Thus, in one example, Captain Hindsight saves the day not by rescuing people trapped in a burning building but by suggesting ways the tragedy could have been averted by placing fire-escapes in the higher floors and by building a reinforced structure on the roof so that a helicopter could have landed on it. When the wisdom is spoken everyone is relieved - the day is saved and everyone can go home. The only catch is...the building is still burning.


Nobody other than Trey Parker and Matt Stone could come up with a more perfect analogy to "oh-what-a-shame-it-was-to-be-associated-with-Ghaddafi-in-the-seventies-and-eightees". Oh yes, what a perfect harmonious country Malta would be if it had absolutely no ties with Libya back then and how the Labour Party would have prospered if it hadn't been so. Yes, I bet today it would have been perceived as a bastion of democracy. Thus did Lawrence Gonzi spake and saved the day.


There seems to be some incy-wincy problems with all of this though. Just to mention a few:


Geographical Proximity


The most obvious link to Ghaddafi is that Valletta, unfortunately for all of us, happens to be a mere 221 miles (356 km) away from Tripoli. That's like, a half-hour flight on a Boeing 747. In fact, it's faster to get to Tripoli than to get to Mellieha from Valletta these days. This leads to an entire mish-mash of perks and goodies such enhanced trade links, market access, migration and migration control, consular relations, etc, etc.


Political Current (Zeitgeist)


Linked to the above point, it would be pretty naive to assume that Malta would be absolutely uninspired with the political movement that spread across the Maghreb and the Arab World in general - the one that ousted monarchs and gave rise to Peoples' Presidents and Brother Leaders instead. The Arab-socialism that peaked in the 60s must have been more in tune with the ideologies of people like Mintoff and KMB who are nationalists at heart (and by nationalists I do not mean PN-Gonzi-Eddie-etc - I mean simply and purely 'nationalism', i.e. Malta l-Ewwel u Qabel Kollox). At the time, this framework of pan-arabism was a better ideological tool in the struggle against colonial rule and becoming an independent and sovereign nation with no-strings-attached than acceding to the Treaty of Rome surely. With hindsight, we now realise that these new Arab Leaders actually turned out to be full-fledged dictators and we wouldn't have known it if Gonzi did not point it out to us.


Cash Cow (Mooo)


Mintoff is renowned for being a manipulative son of a gun and getting his way even with the more esteemed statesmen. I am told that at one point, if it weren't for the millions of dollars (or Liri) poured into Malta's coffers courtesy of Ghaddafi, the entire post-independent civil service of Malta would have collapsed because at the time there just wasn't enough money to go round.


***


The downside to all this is that perks and favours have to be returned. As the saying goes "it takes two to tango". Another one is "nothing comes for free". Thus the Arabic Language became compulsory in all state schools and Ghaddafi's infamous Green Book a relic of the "IN-YOUR-FACE-REAGAN" enthusiasts of the day. This is Realpolitik and if you come and tell me that the current administration, indeed any administration in the world, bases its entire diplomacy on purely-ethical premises and considerations than you must really be naive. Of course, the once beloved neighbour next door has now become enemy number one. That's the way the cookie crumbles.


The more disturbing aspect of this entire debauchery of historical revisionism is in using a brutal dictator such as Ghaddafi against your political adversary to score political points. It's just as absurd, if not a whiff more revolting, as exploiting a revolution for economic gain (tourism in our case).  But then again, that's political realism served on a platter right there.


Ultimately nobody can tell what the future will hold. Do we know, with absolute certainty that the Jibril and Jalil of today will not become the Ghaddafi of tomorrow? Did we know with absolute certainty that the liberating army in Egypt would hijack an entire revolution as Mark Camilleri so aptly put it? No, we did not. But do not fret. Captain Hindsight will set us right.


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2 Responses to Captain Hindsight

MarkBiwwa said...

Excellent post, and good to have you writing again!

Andrew Sciberras said...

Thanks a bunch Biww. A little rusty definitely but rather keen to get back into the whole blogging shebang. One step at a time though.

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