Thursday, March 25, 2004

"We have no permanent allies -only permanent interests" - Lord Palmerston

Madness is a strange illness. It has a tendency to strike amongst all sorts of political leaders, and yet, seemingly without any medical treatment or drugs, there apparently is a miracle cure available and the insane become sane.

President Nasser of Egypt was one of the first people I remember in my childhood being widely described as ‘mad’. Shortly after he nationalised the Suez Canal and introduced agrarian reform for the peasantry in the 1950’s, Nasser was vilified in the country as the madman ruler of Egypt. Later, when it transpired he was not going to convert the Arab world to communism and nationalise all Western interests, Nasser was declared sane and fit to sip tea with the Queen.

Since then there have been a string of ‘mad’ dictators from Kaunda to Mugabwe, from the Ayatollah to Arafat, most of whom seem to have incredibly regained their sanity and been welcomed back into the ‘world community’. From pathalogical terrorists to world statesmen, and you can hardly spot the join. Today, one of the most dangerous mad men in recent years less than a year ago, Colonel Qadaffi of Lybia, moves from being the ‘Mad dog of the Middle East' according to Ronald Reagan (people in glass houses, Ronnie) through to being a statesman who can shake hands with our own great world leader. Only a few (Fidel Castro) seem to fail to respond to the miracle cure.

This afternoon I will be attending a meeting of my local mental health nhs Trust. What they would do for a miracle cure that they could dispense which would transform their patients in such a radical way. Obviously it is a cure that, like so much in this world, is only available to the rich and powerful.