Shouldn’t Joe Biden be on the lengthening list of leaders that human rights champions want banned from the Queen’s funeral? I ask the question with pain and humility as no US national would like to think that way.
Even so, it’s right to consider the issue of lily-whiteness and political guest lists.
Some British MPs are saying they don’t want the Chinese to show up because of their record on the Uighurs. Some British activists say the Saudi Crown Prince (“MBS”, as he is known) shouldn’t be allowed in at all because he has Jamal Khashoggi’s blood on his hands. Still others come over all self-righteous and say it’s quite right that the Russians, Venezuelans, Afghans and Myanmar aren’t on the guest list.
To which there are two responses. No one – country or individual involved in international politics – can possibly be described as lily-white and pure. If one set out to compile a guest list of the lily-whites, it would probably be a very short one indeed. (The British themselves wouldn’t be on many guest lists, considering their role in the Mau Mau uprising, Jallianwala Bagh etc.)
In any case, that emotive term – blood-on-their-hands – was recently used by a friend of mine in Haiti, in reference to the US record on the Caribbean country.
For those who don’t follow Haiti, a country I know and love from having lived there a few years, the situation is imploding. As I write, almost every street in the capital Port au Prince has flaming barricades, disparate gangs reign over disparate parts of every neighbourhood, the banks are closed, embassies are shutting, shops are being ransacked and the factories have either been set on fire or forced to fall silent. My friend in Haiti tells me on the phone: “It’s all over, or very nearly. And the US has blood on its hands”. My friend, incidentally, is American and has lived in Haiti several decades.
So, here’s what the US has to do with the current violent instability that will literally blow up Haiti, rendering it a state without any administrative state. In the year since Haiti’s president Jovenel Moise was assassinated and an unelected “acting” prime minister, Ariel Henry, took charge, the US government has neither pushed for elections nor accountability, nor anything else. All it has wanted is the ability to fly in deportation flights loaded up with Haitians migrants. As would any politician anywhere in the world, Mr Biden has an eye on the mid-term elections.
Does it make the cut for the Queen’s funeral guest list?
Decide after we look at the rest of the US government’s record on Haiti – there’s a great deal more and we’ll address that next.