Ransom and RealPolitik


This week there was good news: Lybia finally decided to commute the sentences of five Bulgranian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who have been in jain for the past eight years on bogus charges of having infected some 400 children with the HIV virus. All evidence points to the fact that the children were infected by faulty hospital hygiene prior to the foreigners’ arrival on the scene.

The nurses and the doctor were extradited to Bulgaria where the Bulgarian government promptly pardoned them. But this is only part of the mysterious story. As part of the deal struck with the Lybian government to release the foreigners, a $460 million payment was made to the Lybian children’s families through an international aid group. And better yet, the EU has made a series of other promises to Lybia, including the very special attention of Sarkozy and his wife. Sounds like a ransom payment and a whole lot of RealPolitik to me.

Everyone in Europe is now opening their doors to Lybia and promising to normalize relations. Even Condoleeza just made statements that Lybia’s recent activities were promising. Meanwhile Lybians are angered by Bulgaria’s pardon as having violated the terms of the agreement, so Bulgaria is considering now forgiving an important Soviet period debt that Lybia still owes them.

But, why is Sarkozy so involved. Apparently this has even annoyed quite a few in the EU. But, hey, we all know that Lybia has oil and is very close to Europe. It is an ideal source of energy for the Europeans. Thus, Europeans can feign brokering a humanitarian deal to save the lives of the medics (which essentially equates to paying a ransom) while they get a major economic benefit in return. This is what is in the deal for all of Europe. Lybia also needed to save some face, so they idea of receiving aid money and even better economic relations seemed to seal the deal.

But, what’s in it for France in particular? France not only gets all of the obvious economic benefits, but they also get to reinforce their role as the key power broker in the region. They have been trying to push their weight around in Lebanon and continue to pull the strings in much of Africa.

We usually see the US playing geopolitics all the time, wearing its political and economic interests on its sleeve. Finally, we get to see some of the same from our European brothers. It’s all RealPolitik, mon ami.


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