Wednesday, 21 May 2014

"Prince Charles's comparison of Putin to Hitler 'risks an international scandal'..." saying out loud what everyone is thinking. Hint: if you don't want to be compared to Hitler, don't behave like Hitler in 1938. And go easy on the Mein Kampf quotes.

I remember when Charles refused to shake Idi Amin's hand at Jomo Kenyatta's funeral in 1978. As a kid, I couldn't understand why everyone else was sucking up to this monster. A few months later, Amin annexed part of Tanzania. The Tanzanian leader Julius Nyerere responded by invading Uganda and overthrowing Amin. This earned Nyerere the condemnation of the Organisation of African Unity, which - as far as I know - had offered no criticism of Amin when he was killing tens of thousands of his own people. Such is international diplomacy. I'm well aware that international - or interpersonal - relations cannot exist without large doses of hypocrisy, but there is a limit and sometimes straight-talking is refreshing. An overdose of diplomacy can be fatal too. In the case of the Organisation of African Unity, decades of twofaced behaviour earned it such a reputation as a dictators' club that eventually it had to be disbanded and replaced by the African Union.

(NB: I'm also aware Charles shook Robert Mugabe's hand by mistake at Pope John Paul II's funeral in 2005.)


  1. Charles got it right of course. Not that it takes a great mind. Unfortunately, I understand that his private remark at a public function was technically a public statement.

    Mugabe has an honorary doctorate from my school, the Moscow University. I remember reading about it when I was still a child, in the early 1980s. That's how I learned the expression "honoris causa". He was billed as humanity's best hope, at least in Africa.

  2. Unlike Putin, Mugabe has no problem with comparisons to Hitler. According to Martin Meredith's "The State of Africa": "Mugabe remained indifferent to the vortex of lawlessness and violence he had created, for that is what kept him in power. He claimed to be acting in defence of the ‘sovereignty’ of his people, going so far as to compare himself with Hitler. ‘If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler ten-fold. Ten times. That is what we stand for.’