• Senator Robert Menendez: a study in arrogance.


    Above left, is Alexander Graf von Hoyos, Freiherr zu Stichsenstein, Chef de cabinet of the Imperial [Austrian] Foreign Minister who drafted the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia that was presented in Belgrade by the Austrian Minister on 23rd July, 1914. Fürst zu Stolberg-Wernigerode who was eager for war and concerned that Serbia might accept the ultimatum was assured by von Hoyos that, “….the demands were really such as to make it really impossible for a state with any self respect and dignity to accept them….” Above right is Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary at the time, who upon being informed of the terms of Vienna’s communiqué diplomatique, was moved to comment that he had “never before seen one State address to another independent State a document of so formidable a character.” Essentially, what Austrian demanded of Serbia [following the assassination on 28th June 1914 of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip] was for Serbia to allow the Austrian government to conduct a criminal investigation with the power to call witnesses [under oath] on Serbian soil.

    With remarkable and historic timing, on 23rd July, 2010 [96 years to the day of Hoyos’s ultimatum] Senator Robert Menendez junior US Senator for New Jersey wrote to Jack Straw “inviting” him to testify before the Senate. Senator Menendez also requested Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and the Scottish Prison Service’s medical chief, Dr Andrew Fraser to attend upon him along with Tony Hayward, BP’s CEO. All have refused to testify.

    Senator Menendez’s request is a most extraordinarily arrogant one to make. Mr Menendez has rescheduled the hearing for September and issued fresh invitations to all potential witnesses. Interviewed on BBC2’s “Newsnight” Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said he was happy to offer a visiting US senator “the courtesy of a meeting”. But he said there was “no way on Earth” Scottish ministers would formally give evidence to a committee hearing of a foreign legislature, even if it was held in the UK. “It’s a point of principle that you’re not responsible to the committee of another parliament. I don’t think there is a recorded case in history of a serving American secretary going to another jurisdiction to give evidence to a committee of another parliament. That applies to the Chilcot Committee, it applies to coroners’ inquests in England, it applies to extraordinary rendition and all the other controversies the US has been involved in. You shouldn’t ask other people to do things that your own government would never dream of.”

    So far the reaction of David Cameron and William Hague to this senator’s arrogance has been spineless and pathetic. But then, what should one expect?

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