How Do You Talk To A Dictator

In Politics on July 24, 2007 by Petr Bokuvka

Bulgarian nurses are free. They arrived in Sofia a few hours ago. A few days, weeks and months ago they were sentenced to death. Literally. No matter what the final court ruling could have been, a European woman in Libyan prison can’t “live”. They were charged with manslaugher of HIV-infected babies [well, with actually infecting them].

Off-topic note: At the same time men of many nationalities are still at Gitmo. Quite a big number of them weren’t found guilty of anything. Yet they stay where they are. The absurd thing is that the U.S. government decided NOT to let go eighty-two prisoners who could have been free to go…simply because in their home land they would face cruel treatment. From one torture to another…

Former Czechoslovakia used to have totalitarian regime, too. Kind of like the one in Libya. And yet during international diplomatic conctacts, as if there had been any, the president was to be addressed as Mr. President and was to be addressed politely. The governing party was tough at (and cruel to) people so everytime the regime would something, well, “nice”, it was twice as surprising.

The Bulgarian nurses are free. It is not anything that anyone can be proud of but this is mostly the victory for Colonel Kaddafi. He knew that imprisoning or even executing the women would not help anything but he stood behing his issues until he realized it was wise to take a step back. Kind of like communists who were tough and cruel to everybody but once in a while they would, “in their great wisdom”, (please, put quadriple quotation marks there) allow someone to travel abroad, even though this person had their passport revoked.

One Czech man used to smuggle drugs from Thailand. He was caught. Later he and his family asked the kind for amnesty which he was finally granted. Again, the king, “in his wisdom” executed his legal powers. I saw the letter they sent him, it was full of extremely polite phrases. Kind of like Your Kind Royal Highness, Please Please Please Please 

I have every reason to believe that the way EU diplomats negotiated with Kaddafi had similar tone. You have nothing to lose and you know the dictator’s idea of fair trial is ridiculous and alltogether different from yours. So that’s how you talk to dictators…[?] Instead of shaking your fist, you must sometimes crawl on your knees… Strange kind of diplomacy… but somehow it works.

“Works”, however, means that he might want something in return in near future. Or next time there is some minor conflict, the dictator will bring this remember-how-nice-i-was-back-then issue up. It is going to be interesting…


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