Saturday, September 16, 2006

Memory

Matthew Turner has a post of Nick's Evening Standard latest. It's not online, and Nick's blog can't be relied on to reproduce his Evening Standard columns. So this is all I have:

He ought to know Labour is an immensely soppy party. Only an institution drenched by lashings of sentimentality could have embraced unilateral nuclear disarmament not once but twice in its history.

Matt says that Nick used to support CND, and I'd be surprised if this were not the case. I did a bit of Googling for "Nick Cohen" CND and found a couple of interesting pages.
Dangerous Liaison. Nick in The Grauniad (apparently) and reproduced on the Yorkshire CND site. It's possible that Matt and I are wrong and that Nick didn't support unilateral nuclear disarmament, but the following paragraphs are unmistakeably Cohen.

Every now and again the mask slips and staff officers speak plainly. The US Space Command - which coordinates the technological ambitions of the Amican army, navy and airforce - recently set out its 'Vision for 2020'. A Star Wars system would project military power 'across the full spectrum of conflict'. In other words, the US could attack without out fear of reprisal as well as defend itself. The Cold War doctrine of mutually assured destruction is falsified. America can destroy without being destroyed.
The British, meanwhile, could just be destroyed without having the vicarious satisfaction of knowing that our generals had exterminated hundreds of thousands in the minutes before the mushroom clouds bloomed, America needs the Fylingdales and Menwith Hill bases in North Yorkshire to pinpoint warheads. Any enemy of America would want to take them out. A defence system which protects America, but not Britain, will make Britain, in the words of Stephen I. Schwartz, publisher of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a 'prime target in the event of nuclear war'. If you want to overwhelm your enemy, you must overwhelm his defences. Only in this case America's defences will be on the Yorkshire Moors.


Nick may not have wanted unliateral nuclear disarmament, but he comes across as uncomfortable with nuclear weapons and our alliance with the US. Funnily, this argument (which certainly appeals to me) seems dry and cynical: I don't see any "lashings of sentimentality".

Blair wants to be perceived as tough on defence because in his mind Labour support for CND helped keep the party out of power in the Eighties by exposing it to the taunt that it would weaken Britain's defences.

I like "in his mind." Blair's mind didn't appeal to Nick in those days.

Blair was quite right. It is bizarre to accuse him of not loving his country The sole difficulty for his fellow citizens is the country he appears to adore like a cow-eyed teenager is the United States of America.

In May 2001 he spoke at a Forum on U.S. Missile Defence. The chair was Bruce Kent. The other speakers were Professor Paul Rogers, Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, Caroline Lucas, MEP, South East England, and Lindis Percy of the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases. His actual words aren't recorded, and whoever took the minutes or added them to the web page, may have added a little CND spin. Still:

He described how Missile Defence undermines the basics of British conventional wisdom. In a recent Observer article he reiterated that "Star Wars can’t defend Britain" and that the establishment is exposing the country to an unprotected attack from America’s enemies. At the same time the UK is saying very little to oppose the US as it proposes to abrogate bilateral and multilateral arms control treaties. Blair has told Bush that Britain shares 'American concerns that they are highly unstable states who are developing nuclear capabilities. We have go to look at all the different ways, including defence systems, that we can to deal with that threat.'

Nick really hated Blair in the late 90s and the early 00s. And "America's enemies" couched like (assuming that those were his words) implies that Nick did not, at the time, take it as read that America's enemies were our enemies. He doesn't seem to upbraided the audience for their sentimentality.

2 Comments:

Blogger Matthew said...

Cohen's left a nuge trail of ranting about nukes, including one choice piece where he describes US action in Sudan and Iraq (pre-2003 of course) as 'state terrorism'.

But just to confirm he was once a supporter this was written THIS year:

"The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, whose demonstrations older readers may have marched on with me"

9/17/2006 08:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Backword Dave said...

How dare he call me an older reader?

Thanks Matt.

9/17/2006 04:12:00 PM  

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