Daily Archives: November 6, 2007

Gideon Rachman

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first invite to address a joint session of Congress. Nicolas Sarkozy will adore his moment in the limelight tomorrow. Anybody would. But it will probably be particularly special for a man who, according to his estranged wife, sees power as "a Stradivarius" violin. Tomorrow’s speech will be like playing solo in Carnegie Hall.

Still, if he examines the list of around 100 world leaders to have been granted a similar honour, Sarkozy might be given pause. Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin were assassinated. Ferdinand Marcos and the Shah of Iran were overthrown. Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam was murdered in an American-backed coup. Bettino Craxi, Syngman Ree and Carlos Salinas were driven into exile. Roh Tae Woo of South Korea was imprisoned for treason, mutiny and corruption. Being honoured by Congress is obviously a dangerous business.

It seems unlikely that Sarko will meet any of these grisly fates. The man whose example should really serve as a warning is Tony Blair. Blair is still alive and making speeches. But his address to a joint session of Congress in July 2003 – interrupted by innumerable flattering ovations – now looks like a low point rather than a triumph.

 

Gideon Rachman

Pakistan stability cartoon

Sometimes it can be fun to be the bearer of bad tidings. On Saturday night I was able to stroll over to a senior member of the British foreign policy establishment and tell him that a state of emergency had been declared in Pakistan. Lawyers, politicians and human rights activists were under arrest. The senior member looked suitably concerned, got out his BlackBerry, called up the news and began to read. “Oh dear,” he said.