Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest

Photo Source Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court | CC BY 2.0

Imagine Western reaction if a British or American citizen had been detained in Russia or China then subjected to months of solitary confinement followed by being put on trial for less than five minutes without legal representation or an interpreter, and finally sentenced to life imprisonment.

The media in Britain and the US would have gone berserk with self-righteous fury and demanded that drastic and economically draconian measures be taken. The government in London would even have taken time off from their futile Brexit fandangos and demanded an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to condemn the dastardly treatment of an innocent person, and no doubt there would have been US Congress demands for sanctions, along with portentous declarations from politicians and commentators about free speech and violations of human dignity.

On the other hand, in the case of the torment inflicted on British academic Matthew Hedges in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), followed by his conviction and sentencing on November 21, the UK’s response was mild to the point of being grovelingly placatory. Prime Minister May told Parliament that “We are deeply disappointed and concerned at today’s verdict. We are raising it with the Emirati authorities at the highest level.”  The US was totally uncritical, which is not surprising as the official State Department line is  “The United States and the UAE enjoy strong…

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