Monday, February 25, 2008

Martin Kettle tells us what very serious people think

... in the course of fighting an argument against the liberals in his head who don't want to recognise the independence of Kosovo. Apparently they're as bad as the Rwandan genocidaires, or something. The problem with Iraq is that a lot of people are apparently using it as an argument for not invading Kenya (Kenya?) Kettle is a really useful guy - if you ever want to engage in an uninspired boilerplate rant against a caricature of the most moronic version of Decency, then he is there - just as it looks like you've created a total strawman, there's Martin Kettle. The trouble is that even winning an argument against Kettle isn't particularly satisfying, as it just proves that the very stupidest possible version of any Decent argument doesn't work. Future generations will have forgotten the original sense of "the pot calling the kettle", and will only know it as a proverb against the equivalent of strawmen; "that's like the pot calling the Kettle an idiot".

Meanwhile, still turning over in my mind the fact that there was a humanitarian intervention in Rwanda. Operation Turquoise. It was a horrendously ill-planned invasion, more or less totally counterproductive and clearly aimed more at domestic political goals than any sincere attempt to help. This is the normal kind of humanitarian intervention. It is all very well to say that humanitarian interventions should not be done like Turquoise, but nobody has a plan to make them resemble it less. In related news, taking the Kosovo invasion as a model is setting the bar pretty fucking low too.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right: Kicking Kettle is way too easy, not least because he seems to be unaware of his own pomposity (Glenn Greenwald over at Salon has been ripping into the 'Serious' pundit strategy for ages; I suspect Kettle got infected with the same disease when he was the Grauniad's US correspondent). I had a good laugh when Kettle invoked the late Hugo Young in support of his position, not least because Young ripped into Blair for misleading the country into war, and also because Young was a far better columnist than Kettle will ever be.

One other point: were 'we' really signing up for Kosovan independence when 'we' intervened? (And wouldn't that explain why the Kurds are expecting their turn soon?)

[redpesto]

2/25/2008 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Were we signing up for Kosovo independence when we intervened?"

Err, no! Independence for Kosovo wasn't mentioned. In fact independence for Kosovo has only been on the agenda fairly recently. When Europe intervened first in Yugoslavia in 1990 (to help it break up nicely!) the stated intention was to break it up into its republics, and Kosovo wasn't a republic. Even in 1999 the stated intention wasn't independence for Kosovo. That idea has appeared in the last couple of years.

Kettle has obviously got the bat-signal from somewhere that he ought to think up a justification for Kosovo's independence and to make people think that it was inevitable all along. This dog's dinner of an article was the result. I love the way he accuses unnamed people of confusing humanitarian intervention with other interventions and then goes on to do the same.

If the Kurds want independence, they had better identify a site for a giant US military base (which might be tricky with all those mountains).

Guano

2/25/2008 11:14:00 AM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

Yes, "Serious" people. I also liked his "this is not a precedent", without bothering to tell us why it's not a precedent. Credit where it's due to Marko, at least he tries to give a plausible argument (usually involving "The Bear") as to why South Ossetia shouldn't get independence too.

2/25/2008 11:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon: When Europe intervened first in Yugoslavia in 1990 (to help it break up nicely!) the stated intention was to break it up into its republics, and Kosovo wasn't a republic.

Which foreign policy wonk didn't notice the ethnic composition of Kosovo? I knew about it in the 1980s, so I wasn't surprised when the shit kicked off. I wonder whether the 'international community' got played re. Kosovo's independence? Fair do's now they've got it, but Kettle's a fool for thinking agreeing with a disengenuous 'fait accompli' makes him a 'Serious' commentator.

[redpesto]

2/25/2008 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

He's got form

2/26/2008 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Oh, mate. If the Kurds want independence, they had better identify a site for a giant US military base (which might be tricky with all those mountains).

No mountains in Kosovo? Idiot.

Further, that TEH EVIL US BASE, Camp Bondsteel by name, is so much part of TEH EVIL that it doesn't have a runway. Some power projection, eh.

2/27/2008 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Oh, and by the way, the uberdecent Foundation for the Defence of Democracies has been kicked out of the US Democratic Party for treating with the Republicans.

2/27/2008 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger donpaskini said...

Oliver Kamm's website is currently featuring an argument between him and Melanie Phillips on this very subject. It plumbs depths that Martin Kettle can only imagine.

It does, though, suggest a whole new genre of 'Decent vs wingnut', where noted internet commentators take time out from agreeing with each other about the Islamofascists to have hilariously wrong arguments about the issues of the day.

2/27/2008 03:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Oliver Kamm's website is currently featuring an argument between him and Melanie Phillips

I don't know what you did in a previous life, Don, but I think you must have paid it off by now.

2/27/2008 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Say the Decents: "the leftists are damned
If they don't all support Uncle Sam."
But we'll all go to Hell
If our choice is Mad Mel
Or the website of Oliver Kamm.

2/27/2008 05:00:00 PM  

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