Saturday, February 09, 2008

Saturday Open Thread

What is 'Decency'? I seem to remember someone asking why Michael Gove qualified as a Decent when he's a Tory, though I can't find the post now (and it may have been on another blog, anyhow). BB posted on Michael Gove last year.

I was going to post about the 'family resemblances' between Decents but these are harder to identify. Male and middle-aged seems to be a common factor. They seem to share a Panglossian view of 'democracy' (and I use scare quotes, for reasons I'll explain in a bit: they never do): everything is for the best in the best of all political systems. I find this a little odd, as a considerable number of them (Stephen Pollard and Oliver Kamm come to mind) are quite hostile to Gordon Brown. To me, the common factor is one of style. George Orwell put it very well:

The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable." The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.


I thought about naming names, but I'll leave that to you.

Also, predictions. Nick will have filed his copy too early for the Archbish controversy, but probably after Super Tuesday, so the US primaries look worth a punt. ("Would you trust a man called Hussein whose surname rhymes with the FBI's most wanted criminal with the world's only superpower?"). Aaro may go for the Rowan Williams line, perhaps in the JC, and I'd like to think he'd try for the Guardian angle Jewish Beth Din could be archbishop's model. The obvious problem is that it's not clear from the sharia speech itself what Williams is thinking (if anything).

62 Comments:

Anonymous bubby said...

Think you might be wrong about this one old boy. My money is on Nick going for the beardy one tomorrow. It is just too big a target, and Nick has become such a monomaniac these days on the theme of 'deluded liberals surrendering to islamofascism'

I mean FFS he now shares canapes with the crowd at Policy Exchange purely on the basis of their shared interest in the TGISOOT. The 'old Nick' would have given such people short shrift.

2/09/2008 09:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I've just read Williams's speech. Possibly I should have left it until the morning (when I'll be sober), but really. It's worth reading - he rather specifically doesn't say that official recognition of sharia courts is 'unavoidable', for instance - but yes, it is mightily unclear exactly what he is saying. He seems to go from "of course this doesn't mean challenging the status of the legal system" to "of course we shouldn't think in terms of not challenging the status of the legal system" without really changing gear.

On 'democracy', yes indeed. Some while ago I took a ton of flak from the SIAW mob for objecting to Eustonism on the grounds that Democracy, if you’re a socialist (or any other form of radical), is a goal to strive for, not a state already achieved. Taking up the cudgels for one relatively undemocratic status quo against another is a mug’s game.

On reflection 'mug's game' is a bit strong - and in fact I qualified it a few days later by saying that in practice it ['taking up the cudgels' etc] may be locally appropriate or even necessary, but it doesn’t follow that we should treat it as a political principle.

2/09/2008 11:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Clarification said...

Michael Gove cannot be a Decent if he's a Tory. Decent is shorthand for Decent Left - those who identify with the Left, and vote Labour (mostly).

Tories of an equivalent group are Neocons or Atlanticists, who have some overlap with the Decents.

2/10/2008 01:37:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

The essence of decency is principle 3 of the EM which moves quickly from the idea that human rights are universal and that it is just as bad to have your fingernails pulled out in one place as another, to a far more questionable set of propositions about culpability. (The picture is further confused by a sideswipe at "relativism".)

Once you've signed up to the culpability for human rights abuses tracks objective badness of human rights abuses thesis, then the whole "whatabout", "singling out" apparatus more or less follows. From this in turn, we move on to the dark speculations about the motives of those who think differently, that are the stock-in-trade of Harry's Place and Normblog.

2/10/2008 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

My interpretation is certainly closer to Captain Cabernet's than Clarification's. I find the 'left' part pretty tenuous. They do seem to be united in a normative or evangelical project to smear or insult non-believers, which is coupled with strange mind reading powers concerning motives (always bad) of their opponents.

2/10/2008 09:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I don't really see the 'culpability' bit in item 3, CC#1; I'd say it codifies the old 'double standards' / 'singling out' complaint. For what it's worth, my reaction was

Imperial favour is capricious, God knows - Milosevic and Saddam Hussein were both men we could do business with, in their time - but the idea that it’s not appropriate to draw attention to the crimes of the current favourite is grotesque. There are only so many campaigning hours in the day, and they’re better employed pushing at closed doors than those that are already open.

I suppose the riposte to that would be that Israel and post-invasion Iraq (say, for example) aren't just US clients but democracies, on which see previous point.

2/10/2008 10:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Bubby wins. It's actually a column about Scientologists, but it takes this weird little swerve in the middle:

All in all, Rowan Williams seems a more deserving target for mass protests this weekend. Say what you will about Scientologists, but at least they haven't come out against the emancipation of women and equality before the law.

He gets worse.

2/10/2008 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Yes that was a bit quick of me, but I think (in context) "culpability" is a fair gloss on "to be condemned" or "deplored". The point is that they move from a claim about objective badness to another claim about the attitude that it is appropriate to take to different human rights abuses. All kinds of things might block the move, but the two most obvious would be

(a) that democracies are specially culpable for wrt to equally bad human rights abuses, because they have special duties wrt to the upholding of human rights. (The decents go ape when people say this of course.)

(b) abuses by others are less culpable because the misfortune of growing up under X regime should diminish your responsibility for bad actions. (Decents typically cry racism at this one, but it seems obvious that those who have been systematically brutalized by poverty or violence might lose their moral compass somewhat, and that we ought to cut them some slack).

2/10/2008 11:10:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Actually Phil I think we were probably both right. I imagine that Nick had written his copy for this week prior to the Archbishop’s comments, but like a sober alcoholic stuck in a locked room for 36 hours with a four pack of Special Brew, the temptation was just too much.

Since this is an open thread on Decency I would really like to revisit the discussion that focused on the question of why Decents seem so singularly lacking in a sense of humour. I have come to the conclusion that part of the reason for this is that they really believe, very earnestly, that they are engaged in the GISOOT and what they do is terribly, terribly important. Because of this they take themselves awfully seriously. This is very clear in their reaction to HP regular Benjamin, a likeable, humorous cove with an agreeable writing style. Gently mocking but never aggressive, Benjamin’s criticisms are always well thought out, argued, and more often than not right on the money. No one appears to irk the HP Decents more than Benjamin as can seen by his frequent bannings. I think there are two reasons for this: 1) Deep down they know his criticisms have merit, and this causes a degree of discomfort and 2) They hate the fact that he spends so much time critiquing without offering a comprehensive plan for saving poor benighted soul living under oppressive regimes.

‘All you do is carp and mock, when was the last time you wrote a detailed manifesto laying out concrete proposals for muscular interventionism’ they cry.

Sadly, and rather pathetically they really do believe that they are ‘big players’ who have a key role in the ideological struggles of the 21st century, rather than a bunch of deluded bubble-boys bloviating into the ether.

Self importance and a sense of humour are negatively correlated, and this is nowhere better illustrated in the figure who lies at the apex of puffed up pomposity, Oliver Kamm.

2/10/2008 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that the Decents can really be classified as 'decent left' any more. They've lsot that by 1) mostly being right-wing masquerading as left-wing and 2) since the main tenet of their hatred for the 'indecent left' is the 'association with people of dubious political beliefs', they are spectacularly unaware of the extent to which they are associating, completely openly, with people who don't even bother to pretend to be left-wing or even centrist. The idea that Nick Cohen can keep a straight face accusing others of 'siding with homophobes' on a programme in which he sides with Richard Littlejohn says it all.

A case in point on the 'no sense of humour' front was a piece about how Palestinians are '3 times as likely to have been killed by a Palestinian than by an Israeli' on HP this week, a piece of spectacularly bad 'statistical analysis'. In any case someone brought up the fact that once again the regulars were using decent telepathy to identify antisemitism in their opponenets, to which they responded by... explaining that decent telepathyis proven to be correct! hurrah for self-awareness.

2/10/2008 11:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What would the people here describe themselves as?

Bruschetta Boy - or, rather, Dsquared - avoided this issue a few weeks back by invoking the Geneva Convention as the ideological glue binding this site together.

Unfortunately it was part of a thread where several stalwart commenters revealed their longstanding grievance over Blair and Clinton's illegal war against the glorious Serbian nation and its leader Slobodan Milosevic.

Clearly you guys don't like to argue amongst yourselves in this echo chamber - even so, it was surprising how EJH's revisionism was avoided like the plague.

SO do you guys all think of yourselves as "Left"? Does it matter?

What do you guys agree about other than hating "Decents"?

This is very clear in their reaction to HP regular Benjamin, a likeable, humorous cove with an agreeable writing style.

Oh dear...

No one appears to irk the HP Decents more than Benjamin as can seen by his frequent bannings.

Oh dear...

I think there are two reasons for this: 1) Deep down they know his criticisms have merit, and this causes a degree of discomfort

Nobody has posted more on HP than BEnjamin.

If the rare times he's been "banned" had anything to do with "discomfort" about his "criticisms" - why's he been allowed to say the same thing over and over and over for four years?

and 2) They hate the fact that he spends so much time critiquing without offering a comprehensive plan for saving poor benighted soul living under oppressive regimes.

Nobody expects such a thing from Benjamin.

All Benjamin does is critique. On any subject. He's been offered "guest posts" at HP on the subjects he says HP should be covering - and he has never bothered to deliver.

Nothing is expected of Benjamin these days because he has nothing to offer. He doesn't want to offer anything.

Little wonder he appeals to you as a victim of Decent puritanism.

Because, of course, it's you that is despised for never providing an alternative - comprehensive or otherwise - to help benighted souls under oppressive regimes.

Hey - fuck the oppressed - how about providing an alternative to the Iraq war that is honest and realistic? And generally popular?

You can keep the Baath dictatorship - cos the French and Russians have their oil contracts. But for sanctions to end something needs to "change". Especially cos people are a little worried about "dirty bombs" etc...

Do you sell out the Kurds or the Shia? Or both?

Come on you guys - It's 2002. Hans Blix has just reported that Iraq "is NOT complying with UNSC resolutions. It seems unthinkable - doesn't Saddam know how the Yanks are itching for a war?

But the anti-decents are on the way! With their alternative. Their plan. Something they all agree on (at least enough for this statement of intent):

Go for it, guys:

2/12/2008 02:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I know: let's not invade! And then let's get some people from the Lancet to estimate how much worse we haven't just made things.

I mean, really. You think being against the war is something to apologise for?

2/12/2008 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Unfortunately it was part of a thread where several stalwart commenters revealed their longstanding grievance over Blair and Clinton's illegal war against the glorious Serbian nation and its leader Slobodan Milosevic.

Clearly you guys don't like to argue amongst yourselves in this echo chamber - even so, it was surprising how EJH's revisionism was avoided like the plague.


Isn't it curious how people who make postings like this are unable to put their names to them?

2/12/2008 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Incidentally, as well as the typically smeary stuff above, this is real Decent Tardis stuff:

Come on you guys - It's 2002. Hans Blix has just reported that Iraq "is NOT complying with UNSC resolutions. It seems unthinkable - doesn't Saddam know how the Yanks are itching for a war?

I can just imagine all of them in July 1914. "Look - what are we going to do about German expansionism? What's your alternative?"

2/12/2008 09:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know: let's not invade! And then let's get some people from the Lancet to estimate how much worse we haven't just made things.

SO the status quo then? The hugely expensive maintaining of the no-fly zones and the crippling (to ordinary Iraqis) sanctions regime?

Don't you ever ask yourself why the Shia majority, the major victims of the incompetent post war occupation, still overwhelmingly support the overthrow of the Baath by coalition forces?

I mean, really. You think being against the war is something to apologise for?

Of course not. Which is why I never said or implied as much...

I do think that being "against the war" was, and is, a very easy position to take. As proved by this site - in fact, this thread - being "against the war" apparently means never having to accept any responsibility for the consequence of that choice, which is why any discussion of offering a united alternative policy is impossible (and, therefore, dimissed out of hand).

Whereas being "pro-war" automatically makes one a "neo-con" or a stooge.

And requires not just an apology, but a penitence.

Now, please try and answer some of my questions with integrity.

Isn't it curious how people who make postings like this are unable to put their names to them?

Isn't it curious how the "anonymous" directly above my post, doesn't seem to attract such approbrium?

I guess he/she, like me, has forgotten their Blogger ID and simply can't be fucked going through the malarkey again. It's just simpler...

Of course this allows people like you an excuse not to address my points/questions. But I'm guessing you wouldn't, because you couldn't anyway...

But, please, prove me wrong and argue that this site should agree that the NATO action in Kosovo was an imperialist act of aggression under false pretence etc etc...

This is what you believe EJH. Isn't it?

Incidentally, as well as the typically smeary stuff above, this is real Decent Tardis stuff:... I can just imagine all of them in July 1914. "Look - what are we going to do about German expansionism? What's your alternative?"

Why not try imagining an answer to the hypothesis rather than, yet again, avoiding it?

In fact, it's not even a "hypothesis" - it's historical fact. The only thing "hypothetical" about it is the uniformly agreed upon, alternative Foreign Policy response of the anti-war movement.

In fact - let's make it simpler. What's the preferable alternative Foreign policy options in late 2002 as agreed by this website.

Please try and be serious about this. Because if you can't even bring yourselves to discuss it...

2/12/2008 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

being "against the war" apparently means never having to accept any responsibility for the consequence of that choice

Well, yes. We thought in 2002 that the consequence of that choice would have been better, for more people, than going to war. We still think so now, and there seems to be evidence to support us in this belief. And, er, that's it.

The onus is on supporters of the war to justify their position. (Actually it always was.)

I guess he/she, like me, has forgotten their Blogger ID and simply can't be fucked going through the malarkey again. It's just simpler...

Of course this allows people like you an excuse not to address my points/questions. But I'm guessing you wouldn't, because you couldn't anyway...


Tell you what, call our bluff. No messing around with Blogger, just a nickname of choice and the URL of a site where we can find you. Failing that, just put first name, last name at the bottom of your post. Easy.

2/12/2008 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

This is what you believe EJH. Isn't it?

It sounds like a caricature of what somebody might believe. What I'd like you to do is direct me to anything I've written that says so. I'd also like you to attach a name to your next posting.

2/12/2008 05:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, yes. We thought in 2002 that the consequence of that choice would have been better, for more people, than going to war.

Which people? Iraqis? Americans? British? French? Russians?

We still think so now, and there seems to be evidence to support us in this belief.

Except that, as always, you refuse to acknowledge the reality that the majority of Iraqis overwhelmingly support the removal of the Baath by Coalition forces.

And, er, that's it.

Yes... and it's pretty pathetic isn't it? You, Tony Benn, George Galloway, David Duke, Douglas Hurd and the SWP all agreed that "war is bad" and that's all you ever had to agree about.

Aren't you embarrassed by this constant denial of responsibility?

The onus is on supporters of the war to justify their position. (Actually it always was.)

I supported the war because I thought there was a chance for a global and united gesture to be made against a vile regime which continued to flout UN resolutions.

When France and Russia chose massive Oil contracts with Saddam over UNSC authority that hope was lost. As was any hope of curbing US administration financial experiments on the Iraqi economy.

I looked around at alternative policies. There were none. Except making deals with Saddam.

At least the US and UK promised democracy. They delivered on that. At great cost.

Sorry, but I don't hate myself for supporting the liberation of Iraq.

I wish France and Russia had come on board.

I wish people like you had spent just a moment to suggest a UNITED UN mission was preferable IN THE ABSENCE OF AN ALTERNATIVE POLICY.

But I've made these arguments before. Many times. I've answered repeatedly.

But none of you have ever bothered to even try answering my question. You're so scared of each other you can't face asking hard questions.

2/12/2008 05:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

as always, you refuse to acknowledge the reality that the majority of Iraqis overwhelmingly support the removal of the Baath by Coalition forces.

I'll see your opinion polls and raise you the death toll, the destabilisation of the region, the blatant flouting of international law and the even more blatant contempt for the British and US public. They lied to us, in order to launch an illegal war of aggression, resulting in massive excess mortality in Iraq and a nightmare of internecine conflict that shows no sign of tidying itself up any time soon. What counterfactual is that supposed to be worse than?

I've made these arguments before. Many times. I've answered repeatedly.

Have you? How would anyone know?

Name, please, or those of us whose track records are more easily located will feel free to ignore you.

2/12/2008 06:47:00 PM  
Anonymous dd (see how easy it is?) said...

Hello, anonymous person who always forgets his blogger ID, doesn't understand how to use the "nickname" function and makes unsupportable and offensive slurs. Good to have you back. Did you know that Marko Attila Hoare has also been on hiatus recently[1]?

The hugely expensive maintaining of the no-fly zones and the crippling (to ordinary Iraqis) sanctions regime?

whereas the war has been both cheap and a boon to ordinary Iraqis?

Whereas being "pro-war" automatically makes one a "neo-con" or a stooge.

no, the causation is the other way.

In related news, you'll be wanting a) a name and b) corrections to the factual mistakes which dog every single paragraph starting with the words "I supported the war because", before you get the good faith discussion you so transparently don't want.

[1]I mention this only for conversational purposes and because it's true; textual evidence would give at least as much support to "brownie" of Harry's Place, plus a couple of others.

2/12/2008 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

When France and Russia chose massive Oil contracts with Saddam over UNSC authority that hope was lost.

This is, incidentally, my favourite of the pre-war Decent talking points. The French and the Russians opposed war because of their oil contracts, whereas Dick Cheney was motivated by a love of freedom, laughing children and magical ponies. And with a straight face, too!

I also love the part about the Shi'ite majority favouring the toppling Saddam - of course they did. That's tribes for you, always cheering on the cluster-bombing of their enemies... Not exactly mad for secular democracy, human rights and equality, though, as a glance at the Iraqi Political Football will show.

2/12/2008 07:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

What counterfactual is that supposed to be worse than?

Better than, dammit.

A fiver says it's not Marko - he generally writes more thoughtfully, more self-importantly and in longer sentences, and I don't believe he was lying through his teeth when he said he didn't do anonymous comments. A Mars bar says it's Brownie - whoever that is. Not that we'll ever know anyway. (Anonymity, we hates it...)

2/12/2008 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

As for me, I've been blogging since 2002, though not back to the Hans Blix WMD moment. I also started out as a non political-blogger. My blogging and political evolution started around January 2003 and continued throughout that year. I have a record of what I believed at that time, and most of it was doubting and timorous.

2/12/2008 10:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll see your opinion polls and raise you the death toll, the destabilisation of the region, the blatant flouting of international law and the even more blatant contempt for the British and US public.

Ignoring the point about Iraqi popular support for the overthrow of the Baath regime is one thing.

Trivialising the point by a bizarre and grotesque poker analogy is, however, pretty shit.

Name, please, or those of us whose track records are more easily located will feel free to ignore you.

This is surreal. You have an easily located track record of NOT answering the question of what alternative foreign policy you would have supported on Iraq?

It's just a question. Why are you all so terrified of even discussing it?

and makes unsupportable and offensive slurs.

Er... Such as?

whereas the war has been both cheap and a boon to ordinary Iraqis?

Of course not. Which is why I never said or suggested as much.

But you know that. You just want to avoid having to answer the question. If you support the status quo pre-invasion then just say so! No wonder you're so paranoid about Decents. You hate yourself. I believe it's called transference.

you'll be wanting a) a name

Why?


and b) corrections to the factual mistakes which dog every single paragraph starting with the words "I supported the war because",

Such as?


before you get the good faith discussion you so transparently don't want.

Oh... come on! All I've asked is that you discuss an agreeable alternative amongst each other.

Fuck's sake...

2/12/2008 11:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Ignoring the point about Iraqi popular support for the overthrow of the Baath regime is one thing.

Trivialising the point by a bizarre and grotesque poker analogy is, however, pretty shit.


One point distorted and the rest ignored, and all wrapped up in a tone of high moral outrage. You're really not bad at this trolling lark.

In the unlikely event that the poker analogy was really tripping you up, here's the point I was making. I am willing to concede that polling data may suggest that a majority of the surviving population of Iraq is pleased not to be living under Saddam Hussein. I haven't seen this data, but I'm willing to take your word for it. However, as far as I'm concerned this putative benefit of the invasion is outweighed by its negative consequences, notably the death toll, the destabilisation of the region, the blatant flouting of international law and the even more blatant contempt for the British and US public.

You have an easily located track record of NOT answering the question of what alternative foreign policy you would have supported on Iraq?

I've got a track record of saying what I think and putting my name to it, thus enabling other people to refer back to what I've said on earlier occasions. I would recommend it to you if I thought you had any interest in debate.

2/13/2008 12:31:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Why are you all so terrified of even discussing it?

Why are you so terrified of saying who you are?

Er... Such as?

"war against the glorious Serbian nation"

2/13/2008 07:23:00 AM  
Anonymous mastershake said...

At least the US and UK promised democracy. They delivered on that.

presumably that includes the removal, at US insistence, of al-Jaafari?

2/13/2008 09:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democracy? Iraq? Here's an interesting little column from August 2002.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/jul/28/iraq.guardiancolumnists

Guano

2/13/2008 02:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

Jesus, how hard is it to provide a name.

Various costs of the war for Iraqis.
Huge numbers of internal and external refugees (in the millions. The number 4 sticks in my head, though that sounds too high. It is too high, right?), who will have course lost everything.
At least, very conservatively, half a million excess dead Iraqis. At least.
A civil war between Sunnis and Shi'ites - and despite all the bullshit about ancient hatreds, this is a very new situation.
A nasty and brutal totalitarian, but massively weakened, secular regime has been replaced by a strong, brutal and nasty religious regime. Hurah.
Cholera outbreaks all over Iraq.
Huge numbers of children facing malnutrition (i.e. - even if they survive, they will have mental and physical deficiencies for the rest of their lives).
Economic collapse.
Food and oil shortages (the latter essential to keep things like fridges and air conditioning operating during the summer).
Infrastructure collapse.
The destruction of a vaste swathe of Iraqi and Babylonian heritage.
Terrorists operating under the name of Al-Quaeda in Iraq who are so brutal even Bin Ladin thinks they're too extreme.
Total break down in law and order.
Targeted assassinations of professors, doctors, scientists and other professionals in quite extraordinary numbers.
Vicious kidnappings on a vast scale.
Woman forced to give up their jobs, studies, etc - due to threats from both religious extremists, kidnappings and random rapists. We have set back women's rights in Iraq back by at least a generation, probably 2-3.
Oh, and in place of Saddam's regime of random imprisonment and torture we now have the US, US proxies AND Shi'ite militias operating policies of random imprisonment and torture.

2/13/2008 05:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus, how hard is it to provide a name.

Obviously as hard as discussing what alternative foreign policy you would have supported back in 2002/2003.


Various costs of the war for Iraqis...

What prompted you to write this? What point do you think you are making?

No one has suggested that post war Iraq has been anything other than horrendous.

Yet, despite the cost, the majority of Iraqis still support the removal of the Baath by coalition forces.

Why do you think that is?

Ponder this as well - the sectarian killing and rise of Shia death squads began several years after the war.

After several years of rampant, indiscriminate murder of Shia civilians in markets by Sunni "resistance" and international Jihadis.

This is what the minority Sunni elite unleashed on the Shia majority as punishment for being liberated.

SO it's quite important to think about why Shia and Kurd Iraqis still think liberation outweighs the cost.

Which is why you should probably discuss what alternatives you would have supported other than the US/UK invasion.

It's not a trick question. It's not a trap.

2/13/2008 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Why do you think that is?

Well, I told you already - because a majority of the Iraqi people belong to different sects from Saddam, and have mightily enjoyed watching the Americans smash their tribal enemies to smithereens.

I suppose it could be because a horrific failed state subject to theocratic rule enforced by murderous militias is a nicer place to live than a horrific police state ruled by a tyrant...

It's not a trap...

Oh, yes it is. It's a giant mantrap with neon signs pointing at it reading This way for a lecture in the realities of a parallel-Earth Iraq that I have just pulled, fully-formed, from my anus.

Been there before, and I don't fancy another fantastical voyage into the depths of the Decent colon.

Thanks for asking, though.

2/13/2008 09:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"war against the glorious Serbian nation"

I've revisted the thread and you're absolutely right.

You made clear your support was for the nation of "Yugoslavia" as represented by Milosevic's Serbia.

I apologise.

The French and the Russians opposed war because of their oil contracts,

Yes they did.

You don't deny this do you? You just think it irrelevant?

whereas Dick Cheney was motivated by a love of freedom, laughing children and magical ponies.

No. He was motivated, as was the US Administration, by self-interest.

As were the French and the Russians.

But you can't acknowledge that because then you wouldn't be able to spout "illegal war" with self-righteous justiication.

If you agree with the French and Russian position, fine. Say so. It's puerile and cowardly to pretend that anyone who points out the French and Russian motives at the UNSC must also be childishly naive about US motives.

It's not really honest is it?

I also love the part about the Shi'ite majority favouring the toppling Saddam - of course they did. That's tribes for you, always cheering on the cluster-bombing of their enemies...

Now, that's pretty damn honest.

At last someone is open in their contempt for the Shia Iraqis? PResumably the Kurds come i for the same treatment? That's %70 of the Iraqi population dealt with then.



Not exactly mad for secular democracy, human rights and equality, though, as a glance at the Iraqi Political Football will show.

Yeah, those warmongering, tribal, Shia majority scum. How dare they support a war of aggression against the minority Sunni elite.

How does everyone else here feel about Flying Rodents' naked contempt for the Shia Iraqis?

I find it refreshingly honest. Presumably Rodent would have strongly supported the status quo in our "alternative policy" hypothetical - perhaps even lobbied for sanctions to be lifted as the French and Russians were doing.

2/13/2008 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

It's puerile and cowardly to pretend that anyone who points out the French and Russian motives at the UNSC must also be childishly naive about US motives.

Or "accurate" to use a more accurate term.

Yet, despite the cost, the majority of Iraqis still support the removal of the Baath by coalition forces.

Notice what a crock this claim is, since it's unaccompanied by other observations as to how many Iraqis would like the US to fuck off sharpish, for instance.

As well as being unaccompanied by a name.

An opinion which does not merit having a name attached to it does not merit polite dicussion, see.

2/13/2008 09:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I told you already...

Err... yes. You've made your feelings about the majority of Iraq's people quite clear.


Oh, yes it is. It's a giant mantrap with neon signs pointing at it... Been there before, and I don't fancy another fantastical voyage into the depths of the Decent colon.

It's certainly no trap for yourself.

Most people avoid this question because they fear the only answer they can come up with is one which, inevitably, strengthens Saddam's power.

This doesn't mean they support Saddam. But it does mean that they can't, in all good faith, throw Iraqi corpse counts at anyone and everyone who thought liberation was the better option.

Why? The same reason why the people who make lists about the disasters visited on Iraqis since the invasion won't acknowledge that the Shia who suffer most, still support the liberation.

Because if the Shia can take 600, 000 deaths and still prefer it to life under Saddam then those people using the Iraqi death toll as a "gotcha" to anyone who supported liberation...

Well... You can see the dilemma.

But it doesn't apply to you! You couldn't give the slightest shit about those tribal, anti-secular, theocratic authors of a failed state.

Which makesme wonder? Why are you so afraid of being honest about Frnech and Russian UNSC actions?

2/13/2008 10:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or "accurate" to use a more accurate term.

How was I not "accurate"?

Notice what a crock this claim is, since it's unaccompanied by other observations as to how many Iraqis would like the US to fuck off sharpish, for instance.

It's not a "crock". It's a fact.

I love how you make it a "crock" and a "claim" not because you have any evidence to the contrary - but simply because it's not accompanied by "other observations".

It wasn't "accompanied" by those "other observations" because they are not relevant. As you well know.

What's relevant is how the majority of Iraqis feel about the removal of the Baath regime.

Knowing this, how would you approach an alternative foreign policy in pre-war Iraq?

As well as being unaccompanied by a name.

It's now got to the point where complaining about this, rather than engaging honestly, makes you look petty.

An opinion which does not merit having a name attached to it does not merit polite dicussion, see.

Cool. Have a discussion with Flying Rodent about those tribal Shia Iraqis.

All I want is for you guys to discuss alternatives.

2/13/2008 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Is it still here?

Well, I'm off to bed now and maybe it'll be gone in the morning.

Night, John-Boy. Or "******" as he would be now.

Some bedtime reading

2/13/2008 10:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I've seen those polls. They prove that the effect of more US troops has improved Iraqi opinion.

Anyway, it doesn't have anthing to do with the issue of support for the initial invasion.

Are you in denial.

2/13/2008 11:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

All I want is for you guys to discuss alternatives.

Your conduct here does not suggest that this statement is accurate. You've done very little other than denounce, distort, smear and sneer, all the while insisting that you're being reasonable and we're the ones who are arguing in bad faith. In short, you're acting like someone who wants to start a fight rather than someone who wants to debate anything with anyone. And you're doing it anonymously, despite being repeatedly asked to give yourself a name.

That's good trolling. Nice flamebaiting, and I particularly like the coat-trailing - expertly done. Hope you enjoyed trying to irritate us as much as we enjoyed trying to shut you up.

kthxbye

2/14/2008 12:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your conduct here does not suggest that this statement is accurate.

My conduct here has been to ask a question - from that moment on I've answered every "meanwhile", clarified every misconception, pointed out flat out lies.

No one here has answered my question.

In fact, if you guys were to have the discussion, I would not be involved.

You've done very little other than denounce,

Huh? Where've I "denounced"?

Bit rich given I've been denounced by all and sundry for the crime of being "anonymous".

distort

THis is simply embarrassing. Read the thread again...

Go on - read it all...

Every single reply (or, more accurately, evasion) to my question has been a clumsy segue into an unrelated issue.

Besides - How can I distort an opinion none of you are willing to discuss?

smear and sneer,

Who have I "smeared"? EJH? I apologised for that. You guys should discuss his feelings about Yugoslavia.

Flying Rodent dug his own grave. Again - you guys should discuss his feelings about the tribal warmongering Shia...

all the while insisting that you're being reasonable and we're the ones who are arguing in bad faith.

Again - read the thread once more.

Read it...

See how no one's answering my question? See how everyone pretends its about something completely different?

How can I accuse you of arguing in "bad faith" when no one will actually address the issue?


In short, you're acting like someone who wants to start a fight rather than someone who wants to debate anything with anyone.

Hmm... You do read this site don't you? You are aware that it's content is aggressive and combative; while its comment boxes are utterly devoid of debate or contrary opinion?

In short, I dont want to start a fight nor am I interested in the debate I've suggested you should have.

I just want you guys to discuss what alternative foreign policy you would have supported in 2002/2003.

I wouldn't dream of getting involved. I'm genuinely fascinated -

Look, if nothing else this thread has elicited an honest, if brutal, opinion from Flying Rodent.

And you're doing it anonymously, despite being repeatedly asked to give yourself a name.

Whereas the various other "anonymous" posters who just happen to agree with the strcit line here have NOT been asked the same thing.

Come on. We all know that I'm not going to "give myself a name" simply because you've all made such a ridiculous fuss about it.

And we all know it's irrelevant.

And we should all know that carping on about it is making you all look not just petty but a little bit sad...

I promise - if you guys discuss alternative foreign policies (amongst yourselves!) then I'll come back at the end and thank you under my full name.

That's good trolling. Nice flamebaiting, and I particularly like the coat-trailing - expertly done. Hope you enjoyed trying to irritate us as much as we enjoyed trying to shut you up.

The irony is that my first post was a reaction to Bubba's description of "Benjamin" and his relationship with Harry's Place/Decents.

You must be a little bit ahamed of yourself, Phil - you must know that I've not trolled, flamed, or done anything other than respond to statements made here about "Decents" (which I presume I'm one of, having supported the Iraq war and liberal intervention as a principle) - and asked you guys to talk about what unites you other than hating Decents.

I must admit I'm a little shocked by the response. Not least your last post - I mean... the thread's there for all to see. I ask very simple questions. Everyone avoids them. The only honest moment was Flying Rodent. And even after Rodent's admission that the majority of Iraqis still support the overthrow of the Baath - being bloodthirsty tribes - EJH STILL linked to BBC polls that had nothing to do with the issue in question.

I just dont understand why you can't have this discussion amongst yourselves?

Is it because you're afraid you're all like Flying Rodent?

Or because you'll have to confront the fact that EJH remains aggrieved for being looked askanced upon when he insisted on describing greater Serbia as "Yugoslavia".

Isn't the cost/alternative a discussion to be had with Norm Geras? In hindsight what would he have supported, having acknowledged that the deathtoll is too costly.


Whatever. Just... please.... Don't make a song and dance about being "trolled" or "flamed" on a Blog that doesn't have any dissenting views.

I've been perfectly reasonable. And you know it.

Some of you must be a little embarrassed at how this thread's played out? That only Rodent was honest enough to say what he feels. Someone has to address that? It's not what you all think - so say so!

2/14/2008 02:03:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Morning all. Hope you slept well.

Has it gone yet?

2/14/2008 08:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not what you all think
A nice thing of this website is that there isn't a party line, that the commenters are a pretty indolent lot, are self-critical, and with a GSOH.

The energetic no-name commenter above here sees just one thing and keeps on hammering at it. Any wider perspective is missing. Years of practice at Harry's Place?

You guys
That could be his nickname?

K

2/14/2008 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Dickhead:
Obviously as hard as discussing what alternative foreign policy you would have supported back in 2002/2003.

1) I don't do counterfactuals. I prefer other games.
2) I have no problem discussing the foreign policy I did support in 2002/2003, and how I would revise it knowing what we know now (which is a seperate discussion to the rather tedious what if game you want to play) and have done so in many places, as have most of the other people on this thread. There's hardly a party line and if you were interested in anything other than drive by trolling (is it really that tedious in your mum's basement? Do you not have some X-men to read, or something more productive), you might know that.
3) I have no interest in disucssing anything with you, or any other corwardly, anonymous, little troll who spends his energies denouncing, distorting and smearing his interlocuters. You're not exactly worth it, are you. Attila is at least a reasonably intelligent guy and so worth it, for all his monomania. Maybe if you had a name I'd be slightly more interested. As it is a fight with anonymous shouty bloke seems like a pretty boring proposition.

"Various costs of the war for Iraqis..."

What prompted you to write this? What point do you think you are making?


I was laying out the costs of this war, and how they greatly exceed the costs (to Iraqis) of leaving Saddam in place. I was also grounding this "discussion" in something concrete. I like to discuss concrete things, rather than the fantasies of mouth breathing trolls. Weird, I know.

Yet, despite the cost, the majority of Iraqis still support the removal of the Baath by coalition forces.

Now here's the thing, they don't. All the polls suggest is that most Iraqis are glad that Saddam is gone. Nobody has asked, because it is close to impossible to devise a suitable poll question that would yield reliable data, whether Iraqis consider the costs of the invasion and occupation worth the removal of Saddam Hussein (there are also other problems with polling data connected to massive refugee flows - but I'll save that discussion for someone who might actually understand it). Are Iraqis glad Saddam is gone? Of course they are - the guy was a fucking disaster for them. Does that mean they think it was the worth the even bigger disaster that has been the occupation and war? We have no idea, but it seems unlikely once you strip out the Kurds (who didn't need the war). Most people prefer that their relatives were alive, that they still had their house, their livelihood, etc, etc.

Ponder this as well - the sectarian killing and rise of Shia death squads began several years after the war.

What is this, fantasy hour on Fox news. It simply got worse over time - hardly a surprise to anyone with even the flimsiest of familiarity with history. Oh but you're a Decent aren't you - history is for appeasers. I forget.

There's been a civil war. The Sunni lost. Hence the opportunistic alliance with the US.

SO it's quite important to think about why Shia and Kurd Iraqis still think liberation outweighs the cost.

Kurd Iraqis don't count as a reason for invading - they were liberted post GWI. As for the Shia - can you actually back that "interesting" statement up with any data? Hmm?

2/14/2008 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Come on. We all know that I'm not going to "give myself a name" simply because you've all made such a ridiculous fuss about it.

Really? Now isn't that convenient. So if we hadn't complained about your cowardice, you'd have outed yourself? Really?

And we all know it's irrelevant.

You can keep repeating it, but it doesn't make it true. Coward.

And we should all know that carping on about it is making you all look not just petty but a little bit sad...

Sure it does. When are you going to move out of your mum's basement, btw? As soon as you can find somewhere big enough for the star wars toys?

Some of you must be a little embarrassed at how this thread's played out?

Well yes, I'm a little embarrassed for you, but only a little.

2/14/2008 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dickhead:

(is it really that tedious in your mum's basement? Do you not have some X-men to read, or something more productive

corwardly, anonymous, little troll who spends his energies denouncing, distorting and smearing his interlocuters. You're not exactly worth it, are you. Attila is at least a reasonably intelligent guy and so worth it, for all his monomania.

What on earth have I written in this thread that could possibly justify this outburst?

What the hell is wrong with you?

2/14/2008 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

That question is perhaps better phrased in the way the Clash preferred.

2/14/2008 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Or, if you prefer:

As I was going up the stair
I met a man who wasn't there
He wasn't there again today
I wish that man would go away

2/14/2008 01:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody has asked, because it is close to impossible to devise a suitable poll question that would yield reliable data, whether Iraqis consider the costs of the invasion and occupation worth the removal of Saddam Hussein

Well, somebody has asked.

http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/sep06/Iraq_Sep06_quaire.pdf

Q10. Thinking about any hardships you might have suffered since the US- Britain invasion, do you personally think that ousting Saddam Hussein was worth it or not?

2/14/2008 01:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is Decency? I would argue that it is part of a campaign to persuade people in the West to accept the demise of important aspects of international law. It is the part of the camaign aimed at the Left, which tries to persuade us that the decent thing to do would be to forget about international law. It is part of a campaign to move towards the scenario outlined by Robert Cooper, in which the poorer nations of the world would be stripped of the protections offered by international law.
This would be a major step, and when Cooper's paper got out and it was pointed out that Cooper was an advisor to Blair, one MP said "Like Rasputin". When this scenario is expressed openly it is clear that it involves far-reaching changes in the principles of international relations and, in general, people will be reluctant to support such far-reaching changes without a lot of reflection. The campaigning therefore involves throwing up a smoke-screen about what is involved. Proponents of this sort of thing jump from WMD to humanitarian intervention to liberal interventionism and back again. Genocides are talked about as if they are happening right now, even though they happened 15 years ago. Words take on multiple-meanings. When one arguments falls over, another one comes along to take its place (even if it is contradictory to the first one).

(Our anonymous troll shows these behavioural traits in an extreme form. His argument jumps from one point to another breathlessly and then complains when others object. This is the essence of Decency.)

Of course factors like the growing economic strength of China and India, and climate change, mean that we should be looking at the world in a different way. It's far from clear, though, how invading other countries to spread democracy helps us deal with climate change.

Guano

2/14/2008 02:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our anonymous troll shows these behavioural traits in an extreme form. His argument jumps from one point to another breathlessly and then complains when others object.

Is there some sort of collective denial at work in this thread? I mean how on earth can you read the progression of the commments and make this statement? It's bizarre.

2/14/2008 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Well, it's a a mad mad mad mad world.

You reckon we'll find their name under the Big W?

2/14/2008 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

What on earth have I written in this thread that could possibly justify this outburst?

Not "what" but "how". I figured that if you wouldn't identify yourself, then I would have to identify you using all the clues you've left on this, and other, threads. I figure I'm pretty close, given that you still won't identify yourself. What could be so embarrassing? Hmm?

What the hell is wrong with you?

Ah bless, hit a nerve have we?

2/14/2008 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous bruschettaboy, one really only has to type a fucking name in said...

That poll's two years old mate, and this more recent one has 37% support.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/10_09_07_iraqpoll.pdf

2/14/2008 05:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear! he ran away?

2/15/2008 06:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harry of HP links approvingly to this piece by arch cunt rentool which includes a remarkably similar line of argument to that put forward by our new friend.

"These are the people, named by the pro-war left of Harry's Place and the Euston Manifesto, who want to stop the war, stop globalisation, stop the world, stop Blair.......theirs is a psychology impervious to argument and steeped in negatives....These are the people whose only foreign policy over the past six years has been not to intervene in Iraq and to refuse to accept the possibility that this might have had adverse consequences."
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/john-rentoul/john-rentoul-if-blair-runs-for-the-eu-presidency-brown-will-be-the-fall-guy-ndash-whatever-the-result-782510.html

I have been involved in campaigning against the arms trade so I am proud to say that I am a 'stopper' Unlike their bastard hero who arms and refuses to condemn islamofascist tyrannies

JEREMY PAXMAN:
So there is a distinctive British foreign policy. Does it have an ethical dimension still?

TONY BLAIR:
Of course it does, yeah.

JEREMY PAXMAN:
How then can you publicly endorse a country which bans political parties, bans trade unions and uses institutional torture?

TONY BLAIR:
The country being?

JEREMY PAXMAN:
Saudi Arabia? You called it a friend of the civilised world.

TONY BLAIR:
Yes, but it is also important to realise that if we want a secure progress in the Middle East, we should work with Saudi Arabia. I don't decide... Ethical foreign policy doesn't mean that you try to decide the government of every country of the world. You can't do that.

JEREMY PAXMAN:
You called it a friend of the civilised world.

TONY BLAIR:
It is. In my view, what it is doing in respect of the Middle East now...

JEREMY PAXMAN:
It chops people's arms off. It tortures people.

TONY BLAIR:
They have their culture, their way of life. '

2/15/2008 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I happened to see this this morning.

Worth noting (amongst much else) is that the UN resolution of 1999 refers to "The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia".

I propose to mention this the next time some clown suggests that the use of the term "bombing of Yugoslavia" demonstrates one, by virtue of that choice of proper noun, to be a supporter of Milosevic.

Not that that will stop them, of course.

2/16/2008 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Even that poll showed a couple of interesting, if disturbing things. First of all Shia support fell from 98% to 70 something - a trend that has only continued according to more recent polls (hey, 2007).

Secondly support was split entirely down sectarian lines, with Sunnis totally against, and Shi'ite entirely for. This rather suggests that the answer wasn't about Saddam Hussein, but more to do with shifting power from one tribal group. If Decents really think that the "west" should intervene on behalf of one tribal group against another, then it would be nice for them to be honest about this. You know - troops for ethnic cleansing, that kind of thing.

2/16/2008 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Teabag said...

Just a quick observation.

[I] asked you guys to talk about what unites you other than hating Decents.... I just dont understand why you can't have this discussion amongst yourselves?

In general terms people are unlikely to jump to attention and throw themselves into a complex, open-ended, counter-factual discussion, simply because some bossy anonymous commenter stops by and tells them to. And that's especially true when he talks like a trendy teacher trying to persuade unruly 10 year olds to do their homework.

e.g:
In fact, if you guys were to have the discussion, I would not be involved.

Now, either you recognise this problem, in which case all your hand-on-heart, who-me-a-troll? stuff is just so much dishonest horse-crap, or you don't, in which case maybe you should think about it a little, before inflicting your next 30,000 words of good intentions on us.

2/18/2008 05:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even that poll showed a couple of interesting, if disturbing things. First of all Shia support fell from 98% to 70 something - a trend that has only continued according to more recent polls (hey, 2007).

At least you accept now that polling on this question exists. Which is an improvement on the lofty, sneering dismissal you made above.

Secondly support was split entirely down sectarian lines, with Sunnis totally against, and Shi'ite entirely for. This rather suggests that the answer wasn't about Saddam Hussein, but more to do with shifting power from one tribal group.

This is an utterly bewildering statement.

1) Kurds are also uniformly "for".

2) Of course it's split down sectarian lines. Baathist Iraq was a dictatorship with the minority Sunni Arab ruling elite suppressing the majority Shia Arab and Sunni Kurd populations.

3) It had something to do with Saddam Hussein because he was, you know, the dictator in charge of maintaining the tyranny.

4) Shifting power from "one tribal group to another" is the definition of national liberation struggles. When %70 of a population is oppressed and suppressed by a ruling minority elite the only way such rule can be maintained is through fear, violence and tyranny.

It's good that you understand this now. It's solidified your opinions.It seems you and Flying Rodent agree. Even if the Shia and Kurds still think the removal of the Baath was worth the years of bloodshed and chaos - thus undermining the basis of your moral outrage on their behalf - you have now decided that the Shia Iraqis motives are about shifting tribal power and therefore suspect and of no concern.

All of which is fine. But I hope like fucking hell that you end the perverse charade that your opposition to th war has anything to do with the best interests of the "Iraqi people".

In general terms people are unlikely to jump to attention and throw themselves into a complex, open-ended, counter-factual discussion, simply because some bossy anonymous commenter stops by and tells them to. And that's especially true when he talks like a trendy teacher trying to persuade unruly 10 year olds to do their homework.

Maybe my "tone" is coming across like that. If so, then I guess its fair enough that I received such a hostile reception.

But, seriously, look back over the progression of this thread.

I don't think I'm the one trying to close down debate...

2/19/2008 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Teabag said...

I accept that you're not trying to close down the debate. Instead you're trying to boss everyone about and tell them what discussions they should be having on what terms. I'm sorry if it's come as a shock to you that people don't generally respond positively to such directives.

Also, despite your outraged denials, you are certainly keen on leaping on people's words to denounce them as absolutely beyond the pale of civilised discourse: EJH, Flying Rodent, Cian - well done, that's 3 pro-fascists down so far, and counting...

2/19/2008 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Errrm, I'm sorry, "anonymous", you appear to have missed my piquant response:

That poll's two years old mate, and this more recent one has 37% support.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/10_09_07_iraqpoll.pdf

2/19/2008 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Malky Muscular said...

To return briefly to the topic "What is Decency?"

A rowdy gaggle of Concern Trolls with a sideline in vehement denunciation?

2/19/2008 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Maybe it's the love that dare not speak its name?

2/20/2008 06:23:00 PM  

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