Notes From the Margins…

The Good Nations Club

  • January 21, 2013
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As politicians keep telling us, the world is a dangerous and unpredictable place, and some parts of it are more dangerous and unpredictable than others.     For years a handful of virtuous nations have been toiling in the world’s peripheral places, from the mountains of Afghanistan and the Swat Valley, from the Euphrates River to the Gaza Strip,   in an attempt to bring order, security and democracy to what David Cameron calls the world’s “ungoverned spaces”.      

Bombings and fullscale invasions; ‘regime change’ and proxy wars; Special Forces and military advisers;   acknowledged and unacknowledged extra-judicial executions; assassination-by-drone;   torture and ‘extraordinary renditions’; shadowy alliances with ‘terrorist’ organizations in Iran and other countries – all these methods have been part of the Good Nations Club’s attempts to wrest the world’s chaotic spaces back from assorted terrorists, jihadists, narcotraffickers, warlords and gangsters.

Any slacking in these efforts, the members of this elite club insists,   will only increase the number of ungoverned, lawless spaces which  al Qaeda and its cohorts will then transform into ‘terrorist bases’ in order to threaten us with dirty bombs, suicide attacks, botulism and WMD.

Just as al Qaeda, to paraphrase Jeff Beck, seeks to be everywhere and nowhere,   so the Good Nations Club must do the same, matching it at every turn by sending more bombs and missiles, more advisers and weapons systems into the world’s peripheral spaces.

And these efforts are not only intended to ensure global security.   The members of the Good Nations Club share such a deep love of freedom that they are ready to ‘intervene’ at the drop of a hat, even in countries that are ‘governed’ –   when these regimes use violence against ‘their own people’.

It’s little more than a year since the West’s former ally Colonel Gaddafi was sodomized with a knife and shot dead in the culminating act of the Good Nations Club’s efforts to prevent a massacre in Benghazi – a denouement which once caused  Hilary Clinton to break into schoolgirlish giggles.

One of the architects of Gaddafi’s downfall was Nicolas Sarkozy, an ardent member of the Good Nations Club, whose party allegedly received £40 million   from the Libyan dictator for his 2007 election campaign.   Now France is saving Mali, just as it once saved Benghazi.  Because even as the Libyan civil war has now turned Libya into another of the world’s ungoverned spaces, fallout from that conflict also spilled into northern Mali, where former Tuareg fighters with Gaddafi’s regime poured across the border,  newly-armed to the teeth and paved the way for a radical Salafist resurgence that has now become a justification for a fullscale French military intervention in the Sahara.

The French satirical magazine Le Canard Enchainé  took a rather downbeat view of the French mission in the Sahara, in a report on Francois Hollande’s visit to Abu Dhabi on 14 January to help seal an arms deal with the United Arab Emirates.  Hollande’s sales trip is one of many similar expeditions to the Gulf in recent years by representatives of the Good Nations Club, looking to bolster democratic forces in the region by flogging weaponry to autocracies and absolute monarchies.

France has done well.   During his trip Hollande spoke to a pilot of the French Dassault Rafale fighter plane – 60 of which France is seeking to sell to the UAE.  According to Le Canard, Hollande told the pilot that the   French intervention in Mali would “show [potential buyers] all the qualities of the Rafale”  and described this impact as “a very important part of your mission: to demonstrate that French equipment is the most effective … Thank you for your dual role: both operational and … commercial!”

We should not allow Le Canard‘s suggestions of ulterior motives to call the virtues of the Good Nations Club into question.     As David Cameron put it, with a typically robust response to the attack on the Amenas gas facility in Algeria:

“What we face is an extremist Islamist violent al-Qaida-linked terrorist group just as we have to deal with that in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, so the world needs to come together to deal with this threat in north Africa. It is similar because it is linked to al-Qaida, it wants to destroy our way of life, it believes in killing as many people as it can.”

Faced with statements like this from one of the GNC’s leading representatives,   who could fail to admire the altruistic concern for the world’s dispossessed and the strategic foresight and sense of purpose that binds its members together?    For the Good Nations Club, there is no political or security problem that can’t be solved by militarization.

And even when these interventions generate more chaos, instability and violence that act as galvanizing episodes for ‘al Qaeda-linked’ Islamic radicals,   the Good Nations Club march on in search of another ungoverned space to fill with soldiers, bombs, and missiles.

It’s an obligation granted to only a few nations, and you can bet that they will not fail to act upon it, even if it takes years, or ‘decades’ as Cameron now insists will be the case in North Africa.


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  1. Nik H.

    21st Jan 2013 - 4:04 pm

    Wow, I didn’t know that Hilary-Clip. Quite scary if you ask me… guess that’s the kind of laughter that could get you burnt at the stake by the locals around my area here in Styria some 500 years ago.

    Apart from that I couldn’t agree more on your analysis of the “GNC”.

    By the way Matt, think you pulled a “semi-Griffiths” there: 🙂
    “[…] whose party allegedly received £40 from the Libyan dictatorfor his 2007 election campaign.”
    40 Pounds would be somewhat in the balance, but those were some 40 million according to your link!

    • Matt

      21st Jan 2013 - 4:27 pm

      Whoops! Amended! Thanks Nik.

  2. Nik H.

    21st Jan 2013 - 4:44 pm

    No problem!

    Watching the Presidential Inauguration 2013 on at the moment. What a soppy, self-righteous bonanaza! My Halleluja-o-meter is in the red area and about to explode.

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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