From Socialist Voice, May 2011

Royals, old and new: Their empires and their Irish lackeys

We Irish have a great fighting tradition, haven’t we? We like to celebrate 800 years of resistance. But, alas, there is also an 800-year tradition of subservience; for every rebel there was always a lackey.
     Now, of course, our rebel days are officially over, but the lackeys haven’t gone away, you know. And of course we love a royal. Even a disreputable casino operator can come here on a state visit if he has pretensions to royalty, especially if he has “Irish roots.”
     All our state and private media have worked themselves up into a state of orgasmic excitement over the wedding of an English “prince,” the pathetic scion of a degenerate family. That he wore the uniform of a colonel of the “Irish Guards” is regarded as a source of national pride rather than shame.
     When his father came here on a state visit in 1995 the then Taoiseach, John Bruton, put on a display of servility that shamed the nation, saying, “You represent in your person everything we aspire to” and declaring it the greatest day of his life.
     To crown it all, we are about to suffer a state visit from the relic of English feudalism, who is very profitably employed to keep up the pomp and ceremony of a British Empire in terminal decline. Who could object were it merely a visit by the head of a friendly state, or just a trip by an unpleasant old lady with her appalling husband? What will be more shocking will be the reassertion of our lackey tradition by our Irish royalists.
     Expect to see a far more servile display than even John Bruton could muster. Not only the British ruling class feels a nostalgia for the old empire: the Irish lackey establishment shares this nostalgia.
     The political basis for this was the ambition of Irish businessmen, home-rulers and unionists alike, to be accepted as junior partners in the empire. Nowadays they offer their obeisance to the the imperial powers of today, the United States and the European Union; but they haven’t forgotten the old empire. Of course Britain is still imperialist, even though it fully accepts the hegemony of the United States.
     For all that, our politicians know on which side their bread is buttered. Their adoration of the old queen will be far exceeded by their display of loyalty to the new empire when Barack Obama arrives on our shores.
     Once again the wearisome ritual of discovering the “Irish roots” and visiting the “ancestral home,” loudly proclaiming the Irishness of the warmongering imperialist incumbent of the office of president of the United States.
     Kennedy’s war in Viet Nam, Reagan’s war on Nicaragua, Clinton’s bombing of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Somalia, were all ignored in our celebration of “one of our own,” as will Obama’s current military adventures.
     Now we are about to adopt another of the same tradition, who for all his protestations of change continues the policies of his predecessors. The language has changed, of course: the motivation is now “humanitarian.” To Bush’s credit, he never made any claims to morality or humanity. Obama has continued Bush’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and started a new “humanitarian” war in Libya in alliance with the old imperial powers of France and Britain.
     Their intervention has sidelined the original democratic opposition to Gaddafi, and they are sponsoring a motley collection of long-term agents of theirs, ex-members of Gaddafi’s government, and Islamic fundamentalists linked to Al-Qa‘ida.
     Of course it’s not about oil, just a humanitarian intervention to save civilian lives. If you can believe that you can believe anything.
     President Obama, like many of us, is fascinated by the new technology, and Libya provides another opportunity to try out new weapons, such as the “predator drones”—pilotless aircraft that enable an operator at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada, to sit in front of a computer and blow up a wedding party in Pakistan with the click of a mouse.
     You may have heard on the radio Pat Kenny dispassionately discussing the technicalities of these and other weapons with supposed experts, such as Tom Clonan. You may also have heard that, on St Patrick’s Day, Obama thanked Enda Kenny for the continued availability of Shannon Airport to the US military (and CIA flights also, though they weren’t mentioned).
     Those of us who are not party to the views of the Irish establishment should let it be known that we reject Obama’s wars, whether he is part-Irish or not, that we do not accept the right claimed by the United States to intervene militarily anywhere it likes in the world, whenever it suits its imperialist interests, that we reject the “humanitarian” excuse.
     When Britannia ruled the waves it wasn’t for humanitarian motives; neither do humanitarian motives inspire today’s imperialist powers.
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