Tuesday, December 04, 2007

God help us, a new Decentiya is out

Anyone noticing any gems, post them in the comments as we did last time. I note that they're publishing Fred Siegal, who IIRC believes that France is currently going through an intifada. In general, flicking through it, this looks like "Decentiya: The Long March Away From Reality". Tariq Ramadan's "associations" with terrorists is now an established fact that can be used as a premis for other conclusions, apparently. There's a couple of reviews of what look like books of "Islamics Do The Awfullest Thangs!" porn. Irfan Khawaja is apparently having another bite of the cherry at pretending there's a special annex to the Geneva Conventions that lets you do what you like if you declare yourself to be a Good Guy. There's an essay on the ever-popular subject of "Edward Said Was A Bastard", which frankly looks so long it's bound to be full of it (short hatchet jobs are the only convincing ones - the book length numbers are always padded out to conceal the weakness of the material, and end up coming on like those "and another thing" conversations one has in the pub with a chap who feels aggrieved about the location of his neighbour's fence. cf Kamm/Aaro/Wheen on Chomsky). There's an article about the World Bank which uses "Leftist" as a pejorative[1]. And about nine utterly interchangeable articles about various aspects of military matters, all apparently discussed in purely abstract and political terms.

Only interesting (and I don't mean "interesting" in a good way) item - check out this fawning interview between Not The Minister and Josh Muravchik. Sample quote:

Now, I'm not sure that it was a good idea to attack Iraq. I supported it and I oppose drawing down US forces at this point. I enthusiastically supported the idea of a war against terror with military and political components. But it was not obvious to me that Iraq should have been our second target after Afghanistan – it's possible we would have been wiser to focus our attention on Iran, rather than Iraq

No stop laughing you bastards. We need to engage with their ideas.

update: oop, another one:

It's nigh on impossible to have a grown up conversation about neoconservatism in Europe. Let's talk about three typical kinds of 'criticism' of the neoconservatives: that you are warmongers, lying Straussians, and a Jewish cabal.

That's actually A'NTM'J talking, not Muravchik. But nonetheless, it is apparently incumbent on me to take him seriously and respond to him in measured tones. Fuck a bunch of that.

Oh yeh, and Nick Cohen contributes his "afterword" from "What's Left You Bastards?". Summary: liberals think that they deserve to be blown up by terrorists, and they do.

[1] and I note, describes a proposal for excluding the World Bank from the World Social Forum as "raping the settler's wife". This is the sort of peculiarity that seems to pervade the whole of Decentiya this issue - nobody seems to really believe that any of their words might describe anything outside the purely abstract realm of ideas.

59 Comments:

Blogger StuartA said...

Can anyone explain the logic of the following passage in Zarnett's essay?

For instance, [Said] wrote, the notion underpinning the drive for war is that 'Arabs only understand force: brutality and violence are part of Arab civilisation; Islam is an intolerant, segregationist, "medieval", fanatic, cruel, anti-woman religion'. [32] Assuming this to be true, was Saddam's invasion and subsequent occupation of Kuwait not an affront of equal ferocity to Arab civilization?

If you believe that the US was motivated by an assumption that "Arabs only understand force" then Iraq using force against Kuwait should be viewed as "an affront of equal ferocity" to (presumably) the US invasion. Why? Because it entailed the use of force? What is the relevance of the comments on Islam? I just don't see what the gotcha is supposed to be. Has Zarnett forgotten that he quoted Said earlier condemning Iraq's invasion of Kuwait?

Many Arabs... are against Iraqi aggression, are also for a total withdrawal of Iraqi troops, and yet are not at all in favour of a U.S. attack against Iraq. I include myself in this group...

He doesn't actually engage at all with Said's position on Iraq, and yet he appears to think his essay is some kind of serious scholarship. How else to explain this sage observation?

The usefulness of war for analytical purposes stems from the unique analytical duality that it creates.

12/04/2007 02:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Muravchik: "There was something of an epiphany, I guess."

Do I detect a theme amongst Decents/neo-cons here?

12/04/2007 02:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://decentpedia.blogspot.com/2007/08/epiphany.html

12/04/2007 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Rob Jenkins reviews Barriers to Democracy: The Other Side of Social Capital in Palestine and the Arab World by Amaney A. Jamal. One of the orthodoxies of democracy-promotion is the privileged role given to civil society as the key to the dilemmas of sequential democratization. According to Jenkins, this orthodoxy receives 'a devastating body blow' from Jamal, who – after research in the territory governed during the 'Oslo period' of 1993-1999 by the Palestinian National Authority' – concluded that boosting 'civil society' can make democratisation more difficult to achieve. Jenkins sums up Jamal's case: 'Associations operating under the conditions that prevail in many developing countries – even those that are merely 'semi-authoritarian' rather than completely autocratic – may not only not contribute to democratization; in such circumstances, the proliferation of civic associations might actually make things worse. Civil society in non-democratic contexts can inculcate attitudes and behaviours that undercut the creation of a democratic culture.' Tony Blair take note.

This awfully looks like suggesting that some people need to be starved and/or bombed until they love us.

12/04/2007 04:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

off topic but it's worth doing something on Kamm in today's Guardian i think. He both claims that Sarkozy is a 'moderate' and states that Iran poses a clear nuclear threat - which would be ok but what's on the front of the paper...? yes that's reight a US govt report stating that Iran gave up its nuclear weapons programme 4 years ago. all in the timing...

12/04/2007 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

It's not off topic at all, but it's so hilarious that I can't type for laughing.

12/04/2007 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger StuartA said...

Yes, I was hoping for something on Kamm's contribution.

I can't believe it was just unlucky timing for him. The Guardian must have asked him to write this article precisely because the contents of the NIE had just emerged. And yet he fails to mention it at all. They should ask for their money back.

12/04/2007 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Sarkozy is not a moderate but he is an intelligent man. Whereas Ollie is merely clever.

12/04/2007 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Pedantic note: In the Cohen piece, his publisher ('Fourth Estate') is spelled 'Forth Estate'. Yannow, if a journalist can't even get the name of his publisher right, why should we trust him on anything?

12/04/2007 07:00:00 PM  
Anonymous redpesto said...

Looks like Kamm's trying to get up to speed. Then again, the standfirst says: "Intelligence that Iran may have suspended its nuclear programme vindicates Tony Blair's strong stance. Now we must engage with Iranians"

Yeah, right - engage it is then. (And note the Decent TARDIS re. Libya?)

12/04/2007 07:15:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse, anti-kamm rant said...

I thought that The Guardian comment editors might've just played a cruel trick on Kamm, allowing his article into print, given the front page news.

Even so, Kamm is perfectly capable of talking nonsense about old events, not just those which catch up with him. From the Guardian article:

"One authority on WMD, Professor Graham Pearson, wrote of that farce: "It is indeed a sorry state of affairs when the permanent members of the security council lose their resolve to address the dangers posed by a state which seeks to maintain a weapons of mass destruction capability, and the secretary general effectively puts the UN organisations Unscom and the IAEA in the dock rather than the uncooperative and non-compliant state in Iraq." Had there been firmer action, and sooner, the Iraq war might not have happened".

Yes, if we had been firmer with Saddam over those non-existent WMDs that it turned out they didn't have, the Iraq war might not have happened.

And it's the UN's fault too - nothing to do with the pair of UNSC permanent members who decided, all on their lonesomes, to have a war with Iraq.

12/04/2007 08:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

From the Fred Siegel piece:

"That’s why it’s all the more important for Europeans unambiguously to defend Western values on their own terrain, rather than abasing themselves before the likes of Ramadan – who, like the Nazis, is a reactionary modernist"

'like the Nazis', there.

12/04/2007 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

WTF is a 'reactionary modernist'? TS Eliot was a modernist and a reactionary. But in what sense were the Nazis modernist? And isn't modernism dead? Or is there a meaning to the word that I've missed?

12/04/2007 08:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

To be fair to the reviewer of the Palestinian Civil Society book, he doesn't draw any normative conclusions from the study and the "Tony Blair take note" remark is A'NTM'J's own interpretation. I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean - that we should actively discourage the development of civil society in Palestine until it becomes a proper democracy? Alternatively, I suppose it could be read as a roundabout way of defending the Decents' thesis that democracy can be imposed from without and civil society worried about later on.

12/04/2007 08:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

"Neoconitis is now an obstacle to grown-up political debate on the decent left."

12/04/2007 08:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

It's a shame Nick couldn't find any space in his postscript to thank any of the eeevil liberals who had taken the trouble to point out the many howling factual errors in the first edition of his book, including one which forced him to rewrite large chunks of the final chapter

12/04/2007 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Simon, you read the whole postscript? I don't think I got through more than a fifth.

"Neoconitis is now an obstacle to grown-up political debate on the decent left."

I don't know who said that, but isn't that what many of us say about 'Islamophobia'? That some people may be the nutters their opponents say they are, but a lot aren't, and they should be engaged with. However, I'm pretty sure I use 'neocon' in two ways. 1) to indicate persons in power with a certain agenda and 2) journalists (and bloggers etc) who unconditionally support members of 1). And, yes, I am prejudiced against neo-cons in both senses. Dangerous loons or apologists for dangerous loons. I think I use my term of abuse a lot more narrowly than say Martin Amis uses 'Muslims'. He'd include (as far as I can see) Abdul my local newsagent (a non-drinking, brown-skinned, once-a-year mosque attender) in the same class as Osama bin Laden (cf 'get their house in order' type comments). So, point taken but dismissed.

12/04/2007 09:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Hogun said...

Off topic, but did you fellas notice Aaro's appearance at the RCP's annual Battle of Ideas? It's available through the Institute of Ideas website.

http://fora.tv/2007/10/28/Battle_of_Ideas_Democracy_and_its_Discontents

12/04/2007 10:14:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse, anti-cohen rant said...

From the Muravchik interview:

"But the socialist thinks that through politics you can transform human life itself. Michael Harrington – a leader of mine back then whom I admired – once wrote that socialism would create 'an utterly new society in which some of the fundamental limitations of human existence have been transcended.' [5] But no political system can do that. Worse, once you say it can you have a logically sound utilitarian argument for killing some people in order to get there. If those people are standing in the way of the new, higher, happier level of human existence, well…"

Sounds a bit like a number of Decent justifications for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and collateral damage generally.

I am particularly put in mind of NeoCohen's utilitarian argument prior to the Iraq invasion, in (I think) a later edition of "Pretty Straight Guys". He pulls the figure of ooooh...perhaps 5000 civilian dead in an Iraqi war of liberation out of his backside as a reasonable level of bloodletting to achieve Iraqi democracy, given that Saddam will probably knock off that many innocents in a couple of years anyway.

12/04/2007 10:43:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse, more of the same said...

Stop me if this is boring you, but Muravchik might as well just be describing Cohen (in fact, he's grumbling about anti-bourgeois radical lefties):

"the other factor at stake in radical politics of all kinds is narcissism. Perhaps the most important motivation among radicals is thinking of themselves as better than other people. It is often wrapped up in love of humanity or love of nature, but I think it's mostly love of self. This denigration of and hatred for the ordinary imperfect society around us is really just a way of saying 'I am better than other people, the world is stupid and clumsy and fat and homely and I am so much better than all of this. I dream of a world that is worthy of me.' We get the term 'bourgeois' from Marx, so there is a pretence that it is to do with class or economics. But really it's just a stand-in for ordinary people, ordinary life, ordinary problems and ordinary imperfections."

12/04/2007 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger StuartA said...

Looks like Kamm's trying to get up to speed.

My God — that is hilarious! I really thought he'd decided to tackle the NIE by stridently ignoring it. Much funnier that his periodic Iran bluster simply collided with some actual news.

The line he's taking is predictable enough. Earlier today Iran was a terrible threat, therefore we must be hard on them. Now they're not such a threat, so we must be hard on them.

12/04/2007 11:09:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

But everyone thinks of themselves as better than other people. I think the easiest explanation is considering relationships with other people as being like physical distance and then seeing those people without perspective: the further away someone is, the less important they are. People in Birmingham (say) think people in Liverpool (say) are less important than other people in Birmingham. But that's not hatred. Most of us feel that our friends, families, etc are better than other peoples'. It's true enough of radicals, but it's true of everyone.

12/04/2007 11:18:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse - further comment probably unnecesary said...

More Muravchik:

"It would be extremely useful to have a non-party international organisation for people who believe in the dual cause of defending the existing democracies and encouraging democracies elsewhere. And there is one natural leader for this – Tony Blair. That is something important and wonderful he could do, and it would be much more likely to have an impact than the job he has just taken on. He is better than anyone here at articulating the case."

12/04/2007 11:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

"Simon, you read the whole postscript?"

Yeah. The shorter version is that Nick thinks mainstream liberals have lots of extreme and unreasonable opinions, and he illustrates this point by citing lots of sensible and moderate opinions held by mainstream liberals which he disagrees with. (He still doesn't explain why Gerry Healey or John Major's Conservative government have anything to do with the contemporary left.)

12/04/2007 11:28:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse said...

The CiF comments on Kamms non-mea-culpa are a joy to read.

Although it seems a bit cruel to bully the odd kid.

12/04/2007 11:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

Oh and he also approvingly cites Martin Amis a couple of times. Clearly, a man who has 'adumbrated' the thought that brown-skinned people should be strip-searched at airports is exactly the kind of figure to lead the left out of its extremist cul-de-sac.

12/04/2007 11:32:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse said...

Poor Nick, whose social life is full of Foucault-quoting relativist lefties who, after a hard evening's shouting down of tearful US ambassadors from the audience of Question Time, return home to a relaxing evening rearranging the Noam Chomsky section of their bookshelves, in order to refresh themselves for the following day at their job as FE College Administrators, busily acquiescing to a student front-organisation for Hizb ut-Tahrir's demand for a larger room in the Student Union so that they can hold a debate on Palestine.

I mean, that's my life to a tee.

12/04/2007 11:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Jon said...

Joshua Muravchik on the Contras:

"They were victimised by a totalitarian regime and they fought for their land and their freedom... As for ruthlessness, they were less ruthless than the people they were fighting against, and they were in the midst of a guerrilla war. And in 1989, as soon as the regime agreed to hold an election they stopped fighting, participated in the election, and won it!"

I think that's simply utterly disgraceful - where do you start with such nonsense? And no attempt to counter it by Not The Minister.

12/05/2007 02:00:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

I saw no reason to read any further in the Muravchik interview than "Joshua Muravchik is a resident scholar at The American Enterprise Institute".

12/05/2007 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Just got to the bottom of the Siegel review of Lilla and read that it first appeared in City Journal.

So, I've sampled two articles and one is recycled AEI and the other is recycled City Journal.

ANTMJ's internal alarm system is malfunctioning badly.

12/05/2007 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I always thought that - according to the amateur psychologists on the political right and centre - I was a leftist out of self-loathing. Or a predisposition to violence (according to supporters of the Iraq War).

But now, I understand, it's narcissism. A step up, I think.

12/05/2007 08:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see that the 1984 Nicaragua elections have gone even further down the memory hole. This is an interesting process that deserves further study.

By the way: why no comments about the second and third Aaro/Blair TV programmes? This is, after all, Aaro-Wartch. I'm on the other side of the world right now, so would welcome some news about how it all finished. Did Aaro bend over so far that he split his trousers?

12/05/2007 08:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Ann On said...

Equally unhinged is the peice by Lawrence J Haas , a Democrat member of the "committee on the present danger". Haas says that post Vietnam the Democrats went all anti-military, and they still are : " The themes that pervade party orthodoxy include a distrust of the military, an aversion to the use of force, a minimizing (or ignoring) of recent military progress in Iraq, and a failure to clearly differentiate the United States from its enemies." And this will lose them the 2008 election. Becuase the party is controlled by "is controlled by a new and stridently anti-military ‘iron triangle’ of multi-million-dollar donors, grassroots groups led by moveon.org, and leftist bloggers led by the Daily Kos" it is all lefty -and will get beat by the Republican's in 2008. The Democrats oppose the war too much ? Hillary Clinton is some kind of peacenik ? The war in Iraq is a vote winner ?

12/05/2007 08:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Simon said...

The second instalment was about Iraq. Blair denied that the aftermath had been badly planned, claiming instead that 'they' 'fought back' and that this was the reason for Iraq's woes.

It clearly had not occurred to him that part of the reason the war was badly planned is that the US did not anticipate anyone 'fighting back'.

12/05/2007 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew Bartlett said...

The history of Nicaragua has to be rewritten, else exposure of the continuities between the current US establishment and the one that murdered its way across Central America (not limited to the John 'death squad' Negroponte) would firmly cast the Decents (and the Neocons) as villainous opponents of freedom, democracy and human rights.

12/05/2007 09:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps the most important motivation among radicals is thinking of themselves as better than other people. It is often wrapped up in love of humanity or love of nature, but I think it's mostly love of self.

One is reminded of the Nick Cohen approved Amis test of moral superiority...

12/05/2007 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is hard to believe that Max is dead. He was a passionate man - passionate in his iron socialist faith, passionate in the brilliant theoretical writings, passionate in his unforgettably resounding speeches, passionate in his devastating polemics, passionate in his convulsing humour, and, most painful to remember, passionate in the bearhug warmth of his friendship.

From the tribute to Max Schactman, resurrected in 2007 by Decentiya. Schactman, the Trot who became a Cold-War fighter. It's almost touching, this need to find a Decent heritage.

RK

12/05/2007 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Jesus ... from Nick's postscript:

"Cultural relativism explains why a Labour government embraced the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-i-Islaami"

is swiftly followed by

"Just before he resigned, Tony Blair told the BBC that upholding universal standards of justice and democracy must be an aim of British foreign policy."

Is that the same Tony Blair who was the leading figure in the same Labour government?

My guess is that we are seeing the beginnings of a "stabbed in the back by the wet establishment" narrative, similar to that indulged in by admirers of "the lady".

12/05/2007 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the way in which Muravchick commended the bible to ANTMJ as a sturdy guide to reason and the limits of change.

12/05/2007 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Commandante Carmenere said...

So according to Haas, the Democratic Party "is controlled by a new and stridently anti-military ‘iron triangle’ of multi-million-dollar donors''.

Doubtless 'well-funded' too. Typical conspiracy theory, straight out of the 'Protocols', sounds like another item for Engage's checklist of the 'new antisemitism'. Oh, hang on...

But seriously, the only thing I could bring myself to read [apart from the hilarious Schachtman obit already quoted] was the fascinating interview with Mary Kaldor who, like Martin Shaw in an earlier Decentiya interview, stubbornly refused to come up with the 'Decent' goods.

12/05/2007 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the third instalment of Aaro's "interviews" of Blair? Did it happen? How did it all end?

12/05/2007 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

The Kaldor interview is good - 'NTM' sounds quite upset by the end of it - he even invokes 'Scoop' (and he calls him that at one point).

12/05/2007 01:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as an update here's maureen freely on the Manchester debate:

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/12/the_amis_vs_islamism_debate_th.html

Of interest, in particular, is the fact that for a debate on 'terrorism and literature' they saw fit to invite Ed Husain who is only an expert on the former... and that Freely claims that she was told (by amis, i guess) that 'he reads no neocons'. Last name quited in his Guardian piece on Saturday? Francis Fukuyama. main historian quoted in 'Horrorism'? Bernard Lewis. etc...

12/05/2007 02:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry i put that on the wrong thread. can someone delete both of these?

12/05/2007 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

The Kaldor interview is amusing -
"Don't you think that...?"
"No, I don't"
"but what about..."
"No, I disagree"
"But surely..."
"No, you're wrong there"
"If I may play devil's advocate..."
"You'd be wrong"

12/05/2007 03:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

The funny thing is, back in the early 90s I always thought Mary was pretty right-wing, by the narrow standards of those of us on the Left who knew & cared about the politics of the former Yugoslavia. (I remember thinking her stance on the territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina was hopelessly wet and bureaucratic.) Yet now it's proper radical leftists like Paul Anderson and Attila Hoare who've fallen into the Decent embrace.

12/06/2007 12:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Jamie said...

Yes, all Decents talk nonsense; what they say is just obviously funny, not serious.

They supported the US when they stood up in 2002 and told the world Iran had a secret nuclear programme, which Iran then admitted to. Well, okay, so it was true and the international pressure also played a crucial role in them postponing their weapons programme, but it was mere luck. That war against a rogue state next door on the basis of them producing WMD I'm sure played no part in Iran dumping its secret nuclear programme just months later. Of that we can be certain.

Decants also supported that crazy surge of troops in Iraq that....well, okay, so it's stopped a lot of killing and bloodshed, but we were still right to oppose it. Iraq would be much better if just allowed them to get on with the civil war, free from American involvement.

And who can forget Afghanistan. 400,000 extra kiddies maybe alive today, and the people still broadly support Nato almost seven years after the original mission, but the jury is still out.

Yes, who can take Decents seriously? They only run the country, unlike our liberal democratic party.

Bruschetta anyone?

12/06/2007 04:33:00 AM  
Anonymous dsquared said...

I put it to you sir that

a) so far from being right about Iran, your Decent friends were, in fact, wrong.

b) the Iraq war is best described as "a disaster", not "a success"

c) even Afghanistan, an intervention which was supported by (I think) the entire staff of Aaronivtch Watch (but opposed by Nick Cohen), appears to be going to shit, because of the same excess of Decent political bullshit over common sense which caused you to screw the pooch in Iraq and Iran.

12/06/2007 08:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Asteele said...

Here's a question, do you think the staff would reconsider their decision vis a vis Afghanistan in hindsight.

12/06/2007 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

Actually, this part-time member of the Aaro-Watch staff never supported the bombing of Afghanistan, as back in 2001 I really wasn't at all keen on dropping bombs on people, especially after the Kosovo campaign (which was the military intervention which I had, broadly speaking, supported while it was going on, though I changed my mind about that one afterwards). I've gone back and forth on Afghanistan in the years since, but never ended up being especially clear about what I do think about that campaign in 2001.

12/06/2007 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous dsquared said...

thinking about it I was decidedly ambivalent about it myself so probably scratch that one.

The really interesting bit in the Kaldor interview is where she points out that peace, as in the absence of war, is a good thing in and of itself and NTM just basically doesn't quite understand why anyone might think that would be the case.

12/06/2007 02:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from nick's postscript, quoting Amis:
Since it was America that supported Osama bin Laden when he was fighting the Russians, the US armed forces, in response to September 11, "should be dropping bombs on themselves!" And the audience applauded. It is quite an achievement. People of liberal sympathies, stupefied by relativism, have become the apologists for a credal wave that is racist, misogynist, homophobic, imperialist and genocidal. To put it another way, they are up the arse of those that want them dead

I don't understand the link here. pointing out that the USA funded Bin Laden might not be the piece of coruscating intellectual analysis that those in the audience at QT who applauded thought, but it's clearly not a case of making statements mean that the speaker is 'up the arse of those who want them dead'. In fact there's no real link at all.

Nick also continues to cite Amis's strangely hard to find 'quote from Nasrallah', which amis appears to have made up, and he also completely misrepresents the aims of Hezbollah as a result.

It's interesting, too, that Nick is using as his 'evidence' in this postscript two people whose opinions are pretty much the opposite of each other: Martin 'all Muslims = Islamists' Amis and Ed 'moderate Muslim' Husain.

But then again since his book is about leftists making friends with the ultra-right, he's obviously better off going on old quotes from Amis (who has always been a conservative) than, for example, the actions of one self-proclaimed 'leftist' who has ended up endorsing the views of among others Richard Littlejohn in 2007. step forward Nick Cohen.

12/06/2007 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Jamie ...
They supported the US when they stood up in 2002 and told the world Iran had a secret nuclear programme, which Iran then admitted to.
Just for clarity, who does the second 'they' refer to? Did the US tell the world or did the Decents? US intelligence has been disastrously flawed before: 9/11, the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden; the existence of WMD in Iraq and the resistance US forces expected (the invasion was easier than predicted). It seems that if a journalist or a blogger or an academic backs US intelligence, that's just an act of faith. It's got nothing to do with understanding what's happening in Iran. My personal (somewhat conspiracy theory) take is that the substantive intelligence either way is too poor to use, and this latest story is an attempt by the CIA to spin against a possible war as Iran will almost certain fight back harder than Iraq did, and the US cannot spare the forces.

Well, okay, so it was true and the international pressure also played a crucial role in them postponing their weapons programme, but it was mere luck.
The Guardian, however, reported that this international pressure came from "Britain, France and Germany negotiating on behalf of the EU". I don't recall the Decents backing the EU negotiations.
That war against a rogue state next door on the basis of them producing WMD...
Oh is that the reason for today? I can't keep up.
Oh I'm sure played no part in Iran dumping its secret nuclear programme just months later. Of that we can be certain.
Iran didn't 'dump' its program, it 'postponed' it. Iran will join the nuclear club; the question is when. Pakistan which seems to be a much less stable country already possesses nuclear weapons.
Decants [sic] also supported that crazy surge of troops in Iraq that....well, okay, so it's stopped a lot of killing and bloodshed, but we were still right to oppose it.
The surge is working if and only if you accept that the US has two choices in Iraq: utterly unbelievable levels of bloodshed or lower levels of bloodshed. There is another problem: the 'surge' is a return to earlier troop levels. These are unsustainable. If that's the best we can do, then we're going to back to the unacceptable levels of killing we saw pre-surge.
Iraq would be much better if just allowed them to get on with the civil war, free from American involvement.
I know you're being sarcastic, but I agree. At least you admit that there is a civil war, and that there wasn't one pre-invasion. Secondly, a lot of the violence is either directed at the US troops or people who support them (and that includes anyone - like building contracts - who just happens to get in the way). Thirdly, I'm not opposed to the idea of UN and neutral peace-keeping force. No nation-building, no oil companies, and no mercenaries; just troops trying to keep the sides apart.
And who can forget Afghanistan. 400,000 extra kiddies maybe alive today, and the people still broadly support Nato almost seven years after the original mission, but the jury is still out.
Six years. NATO? I thought the Afghan invasion was a 'coalition of the willing.' I'm certain the Australians were on our side. And while I consider the Taliban utterly rotten, I didn't know that they were killing more than 50,000 children per year.

12/06/2007 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Suffice it to say that calling your journal "Democratiya" because it's sort-of Russian looks more and more ridiculous every day.

What is the Decent line on Russia, anyway? Monster petro-tyranny or tough-minded ally in teh war on terror?

12/06/2007 04:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry said...

Dsquared, it's a shame the people of Afghanistan disagree with you about the invasion of their country. They still support it.

The invasion also saved a lot of lives.

http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=655792007

Without the Bush administration revealing Iran's secret nuclear programme in 2002, there would have been no US backed diplomacy for the EU three.

This is about stopping them procuding the full nuclear cycle. If you are honest you will admit that.

12/07/2007 06:51:00 AM  
Anonymous darkhorse said...

I was watching Question Time last night, and much of the audience applauded Simon Sebag Montefiore when he said, "We're not allowed to celebrate Christmas any more!!!!?1111!!!" (exclamations, interrogatives and numbers mine).

As much of Nick's thesis depends on criticising the devil's advocacy of John Humphries (which has Today listeners of ALL political persuasions drowning their radios at one time or another) or applaudissments of the QT audience, which are rather fickley attached to a variety of populist posturing, I think we can conclude that Nick talks bollocks, mostly.

12/07/2007 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Terry, I'm not D2: you flatter me. He's cleverer, funnier, and pithier than I can hope to be.
This is about stopping them procuding the full nuclear cycle. If you are honest you will admit that. Seriously, what is? And what is wrong with Iran "procuding the full nuclear cycle"? (I don't understand your terms, but I'll pretend they're correct for the sake of politeness.) Is the problem that Iran can't be deterred? But Iran hasn't attacked (nuclear) Israel. Why should that change if Iran had nuclear weapons? They're not like light sabres: they can't be used to ward off bullets. Pakistan (nuclear and, if I understand your terms, Islamist) hasn't attacked Israel either.

I can't admit 'that' (or perhaps 'this' - I confuse them sometimes) as I don't know what 'that' is. I read a lot of US blogs; Hugh Huwett (sp?) has claimed that the CIA story is pure spin. I don't disagree; I think all intelligence from countries like Iran is short on substance and long on wishful thinking. That goes for the current "they abandoned nukes ages ago" as much as it does for "Iran is developing the Death Star!" stories of 2003.

Ideally, I'd like multilateral disarmament. That's not going to happen. So: either everyone arms and deters everyone else or we get a situation like "Reservoir Dogs" where all the bad guys (apart from Steve Buscemi) shoot each other. [Bad guys = everyone but the UK, because I live here; if I move, this changes, obviously.]

12/08/2007 09:46:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Juan Cole reckoned the source was a very senior Iranian military officer who defected to Turkey fairly recently. A guy who knew where the bodies were burried was how he put it. Its pretty obvious that there was a revolt in the CIA that forced this intelligence into the public domain, which suggests that the CIA analysts (for what that's worth) take it pretty seriously. It also corroborates what the UN Atomic agency have largely been saying. Iran is a reasonably open society, at least by global standards. Its not Iraq. Its going to be difficult for the US to get good intelligence because it has history there (similarly the UK), and what intelligence they do get will be through exiles close to the Shah who have some pretty severe biases. On the other hand, France and Germany can probably get fairly good intelligence.

Iran is actually a pretty rational actor, which is why I tend to be fairly relaxed about them getting nukes. If you compare them to their neighbours (India, Pakistan and Israel) who also have nukes, or for that matter the US. Their foreign policy is rational, bounded and largely about local stability and Iranian dominance within that. In terms of realpolitik, they're ideal players. They didn't create the Taliban as the west's favourite fratricidal, Pakistani politician did (Bhutto - I mean Jesus, why?). they don't have a long history of invading their neighbours (Israel since pretty much its foundation). And while Iranian politics may be a little nutty, they're pretty sane in comparison to the BJP. In Afghanistan they've been the only power trying to bring stability, and have brough fairly high levels of investment to bordering regions (sure for selfish reasons, but come on). And in Iraq, they seem largely to have been trying to support the more stable and rational Shiite groups until that became untenable. As for Hezbollah, I fail to see why Iran shouldn't support them. There's a good argument for Hezbollah being a stabilising influence in the region (hey, they checked Israeli military aggression), whereas Israel is the local bully.

I wonder if Iran developed nukes because of Iraq next door. That might also help explain the significance of 2003...

12/09/2007 04:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Irfan Khawaja said...

"Irfan Khawaja is apparently having another bite of the cherry at pretending there's a special annex to the Geneva Conventions that lets you do what you like if you declare yourself to be a Good Guy."

Some day--maybe when at last you learn how to read--try dealing with some of the arguments I make against "just war theory," "international war law" and the like. You'll find that it takes more effort than producing quotations like the preceding.

A little attention to what I wrote might have revealed the fact that two of the three authors I reviewed (Kennedy and May) candidly admit to the glaring deficiencies of just war theory and war law. (In fact, the deficiencies of just war theory constitute the explicit rationale of May's book.)If you have a problem with me, you have a problem with them, too. And they're the guardians of your beloved theory! Sad but true.

I know it hurts when people touch your belief structure, but you might want to try having some dignity about it.

12/14/2007 04:52:00 PM  

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