This is no way to treat kinfolks, but cousins don't always count. Napoleon described England as a nation of shopkeepers, and shopkeepers are always on the scout for opportunities to pinch a penny. Besides, "loyalty," like "morality," does not apply to nations.
Old Blighty is awash in high government officials blaming someone else for the incredible decision to send the Lockerbie bomber back to a hero's welcome in Libya. They're afraid the Americans will take out their considerable anger on chips and fish-eating surrender monkeys. There are already the usual threats of a consumer boycott, particularly of goods from Scotland, whose government is officially responsible for sending Abdel Baset al-Megrahi home to die. There'll be no more two-ply cashmere sweater sets for Christmas.
Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish justice minister who freed al-Megrahi, insists the decision was his and only his. But nobody believes him. Nearly everyone thinks Gordon Brown, the prime minister, is the true author of the scheme to trade al-Megrahi for the restoration of trade between Britain and Libya. Al-Megrahi was, after all, convicted only of aiding in the destruction of the Pan Am Boeing 747 in which 287 men, women and children including 189 Americans died just before Christmas in 1988. It's not like he killed Lord Mountbatten, Lady Bountiful or the twelfth Earl of Sandwich.
Mr. MacAskill, who feels circumstances beyond his control beginning to close in on him, says he asked the British government for its "views" before releasing the terrorist to Col. Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan tyrant who starred in the nightmares of an earlier generation of Western diplomats.
"They declined to do so. They simply informed me that they saw no legal barrier to transfer and that they gave no assurances to the U.S. government at the time. They declined to offer a full explanation. I therefore do not know what the exact nature of those discussions was, nor what may have been agreed between governments."
Cabinet officers and diplomats, alas, always play the shell game when they have to explain their wretched decisions. Mr. MacAskill is no doubt correct that he was never told of "the exact nature" of his government's deal with Col. Gadhafi. No one showed him the cable traffic, no one showed him the memoranda spelling out what the release of the terrorist would be worth to Britain, no one showed him a written contract with the requisite references to the parties of the first and second part. That does not mean, of course, that he didn't know what was going on. The piano player in the bordello may not know "the exact nature" of what's going on upstairs, but he usually has a pretty good idea that nobody is reading from the Gideon Bible on the bedside table.
The British prime minister is playing the shell game, too, trying to divert attention from the real issue the release of an unrepentant terrorist with lugubrious attention to an embarrassing irrelevancy, the hero's homecoming the Libyans gave the terrorist. The prime minister plays victim, too: "He found the scenes at Tripoli airport thoroughly distasteful," and he has expressed his "dismay" to the colonel and his government.
Only a rube complains when he falls for a trick by an Arab sheik, and Gordon Brown's pathetic excuse is a reminder of what the West has become. Even before the terrorist landed in Tripoli to the hosannas of the mob, the colonel's sons were boasting of the deal their daddy made; Daddy himself said the trade would be "positively reflected in all areas of co-operation between the two countries."
The White House professes to be shocked shocked! that the British would abuse Anglo-Saxon justice so easily, even risking damage to "the special relationship." But these are phony sentiments, too. President Obama makes the apology to those who wish America harm, performed with the full grovel, the grace note of his administration. He went almost to Mecca to bow to the Saudi throne. Why shouldn't the Scots and the British follow the Obama example, to go squishy soft in dealing with terrorists?
Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and this is their thanks to the president for spreading the Obamamania that's making the world such a wet, warm and wonderful place.