The Malta Independent 18 September 2019, Wednesday

Why are we delusional?

Victor Calleja Sunday, 7 July 2019, 08:52 Last update: about 3 months ago

We, the country of amazing minds and super-mega achievements, live two realities: the local one, a huge bubble of grandeur and the other beyond our shores. There, away from the coddling embrace of our frontiers, we are of little significance. We are the small dog that barks, which few care about, listen to or even acknowledge.

This was a truth which divided our politicians of old. Labour, especially the firebrand Dom Mintoff, tried to make a dent in the sky by acting all-important. He went on about the grand divide between west and east and we – tiny, dotty Malta – according to the old Dom, were the connection between these two ideological poles. He believed the divide was between western ideals and the east of old, led by the now defunct USSR. East versus west – or, as Mintoff loved to rant, Cain (the west) against Abel (the east). 

Mintoff made it a point to dance on the international airwaves by courting allies which he hoped would scare the west to give him not just money and assistance but also importance. He loved being in the world spotlight. He even managed to put a spanner in the works of a big European meeting discussing security in Europe.

In 1975 there was a Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) which sought better relations between the communist bloc and the west.

Malta was a member and the final declaration needed a consensual vote from all members. Mintoff from tiny Malta decided that he would not sign unless a clause was added to the declaration. He stalled the process for quite some time, to the general annoyance of all.

The little dog barked and yes the world, or Europe, had to listen and accommodate him.

Back home he was the national hero. Not just to his blind-as-batty followers but even to some of those who opposed him. They liked his stance. His shooting higher than our size or importance turned quite a few of us into awed admirers.

Thankfully, few politicians opposed to Mintoff took a similar attitude. The Fenech Adami and Gonzi era was a good time to stop basking in the spotlight. We shunned the bright lights, just did our own thing, made our position clear but did not overstep the mark of our puniness.

Opponents saw this as a huge drawback. Some even said we lacked a backbone. I believe this was the proper way with no pomp, no talk of silly importance: we just pulled up our socks and slogged away. We worked at building a solid base that could be trusted and with a resulting good reputation.

A PN government faced many problems but tried to find a solution without escalating them. In foreign matters, and even in keeping the country’s reputation on unshaky ground, they were masters. They did it without too much spin and with little barking on the international scene.

Over these last few days we have witnessed another Labour shenanigan which again shows us how we inhabit a different realm of reality.

In the Malta context, Joseph Muscat acts like the overlord of a fiefdom where we, his humblest servants, bow to his command. He, like Dom Mintoff before him, thinks he is a geo-political player in the international world. He thinks he has an amazing power here, there and everywhere.

He acted nonchalant about desiring a plum position in the EU. But it is a widely known fact that his dream was to move on from Prime Minister of Malta to head of the EU – or be very close to the head. He believed he was in the running and many around him thought he was owed it because of his smile, his guile, his gait and the weight he would bring to the EU institutions.

To some in Malta – his followers who think he is a demi-god – it is the EU that has lost out and not our own beloved Muscat, Prime Minister of a little island in the Mediterranean which sometimes acts like a chihuahua – barking away, believing the whole world is in awe of its bulging silly eyes.

Malta under Joseph Muscat has been a horrendous story of corruption, wrong friends abroad, reputational failure and much more. Yet some still feel that our prime example of a politician overwhelmed by corruption is capable of taking over an international behemoth.

We truly are delusional when our thoughts extend beyond Kalafrana and Mellieha.

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