Sunday, July 13, 2008

He's baaaack!

Oh dear, it seems Nick has not been sacked by the Observer after all. Never mind. This week's offering is a barely coherent rumination on the xenophobia and isolationism of the Tory party. Exhibit A, afaics, is Tory policy toward intervention in the former Yugoslavia. The direct evidence that Tories "can be" anti-American is a crass remark by Malcolm Rifkind directed at John McCain and Bob Dole. But the substance of what Nick wants to convey is that the Tories wanted to stand back and do nothing whilst the United States was desperate to avoid a re-run of the Holocaust in Europe. The only problem with this is that it isn't true. Whilst the Clinton administration did come round to the idea of intervention in the former Yugoslavia, US policy for a long time was summed-up by Bush Snr's Secretary of State James Baker's remark that "we do not have dog in this fight". Tory policy and US policy were essentially the same.

13 Comments:

Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

You have to admire his green credentials. Brown told us not to waste food; Nick has applied this noble principle to research. Was it really only on Wednesday he said, ".. you may remember the story about Vitol ..." Nick certainly does! "Scandals which would once have led the news - the Tory energy spokesman's links to Vitol..." (Today.) Hmm; the Vitol scandal was some time ago. Whatever Vitol does now, it doesn't have links to Saddam. So is the Tory energy spokesman to be blamed for having links to a company with a dodgy past rather than an ENERGY COMPANY (which seems far more moot to me)? Now, if companies don't have some sort of spent crimes allowance, doesn't Nick write for the Evening Standard which is part of the Mail group which ONCE SUPPORTED THE NAZIS?

The Times (surely back to Tory supporting) had Storm over Tory peer Lord Dixon-Smith’s ‘nigger in woodpile’ remark which is more than an embarrassed cough, in my book.

The Rifkind story, BTW, is a rehash of his February piece. At least he manages to paraphrase himself. McCain's temper is nothing to be proud of (see 2; words here).

Ooh, Denis MacShane. Didn't Nick pretty much lift MacShane's review of Jon Snow's autobiography for Standpoint (and get it all wrong)?

7/13/2008 09:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is what Rifkind had to say about it.

http://www.spectator.co.uk/stephenpollard/564181/sir-malcom-rifkinds-sick-irony.thtml

'Malcolm Rifkind
March 18th, 2008 6:33pm

For the record,Simms's story about my alleged remark to Bob Dole is complete nonsense. I was there and he wasn't. My comment to Dole was that Britain and other European countries had troops on the ground in Bosnia while the Americans refused to send any. They wanted to bomb from the air and could have ended up bombing British and other UN troops by accident. I was well aware of Dole's war record and wouldn't have made the idiotic remark that Simms claimed in his book. Needless to say Simms didn't even have the courtesy or professionalism to ask me to comment on his "quotation" before he published it.'

Cohen could argue that if the story was untrue, Rifkind could sue Simms, Pollard and himself for libel - but then that would be evidence of Rifkind's contempt for free speech.

Rikind keeps on denying this story is true, (which Cohen accepts) but Cohen keeps on repeating it. Is Cohen accusing Rifkind of being a liar? If so, why hasn't he the guts to say it?

A comtemporary source seems to back up Rifkind.
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE6DB1330F93AA15752C1A962958260

'With frustration clearly mounting among NATO members after the assault by Bosnian Serbs on the Muslim enclave of Bihac, the British Defense Secretary, Malcolm Rifkind, struck back at comments by Senator Bob Dole that implied that Britain was primarily responsible for a lack of a strong military response by NATO.

Mr. Rifkind said American politicians who singled out Britain as blocking decisive action by the North Atlantic alliance in Bosnia were "behaving disgracefully," given that Britain has 3,500 troops serving in the United Nations peacekeeping force there while the United States has not sent any.'

7/13/2008 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Well, if I didn't know better, I'd think that this repetition of the Rifkind calumny was evidence of a bias against Wee Malky's ethnicity. All together now, why does Nick Cohen (and his sources) hate the Joos?

7/13/2008 05:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you ran a competition for the worst argument for opposing the tories, this one would surely be in the top 10: "Don't let the tories back in, they won't get on as well with the US government as Labour did ". (its not even true, the Conservatives are thoroughly Atlanticist). Where can Nick have got this awful idea from ? The clue is in the piece: Nick's last friend in politics is the idiot Denis MacShane, who supplied Silly Nick with this drivel.

As for Alan Duncan and Vitol, Nick completely misunderstands this: Duncan has a very long and sustained association with Vitol, which he keeps up to this day. Vitol did indeed confess to kickbacks to maintain a trade with Saddam. However, Alan Duncan also supported the war with Iraq: the point is, war with IRaq, trade with Iraq, it all depends on the way big business faces: there is no morality in this money. there aren't honest warmongers and dishonest appeasers .

7/13/2008 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger donpaskini said...

True, Nick's column wasn't very good - but it wasn't nearly as bad as Andrew Anthony's telly column, a.k.a. 'the Decent guide to what not to watch on television'. It is all about how libruls like Peter Oborne pander to Muslims.

It finishes with an unimprovable bit admonishing people that the real world is a bit more complicated than people who take simple ideological positions seem to think.

7/14/2008 09:23:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Yes, the Anthony piece was wretched. I especially like the part where he complains that the BBC stereotype all academics as vain. Now where have i seen academics being stereotyped before - oh yes, in the introduction to 'The Fallout' in which all academics and intellectuals are reduced to braindead sheep who unthinkingly parrot the political pieces in the LRB... presumably stereotyping is only allowed when it's done by Decents and is therefore 'true'. and to continue...

reducing Muslims once again to cut-out victims, no more than walk-on ciphers for liberal guilt

Gosh, liberal guilt, once again Anthony witters on about that, evidently trying to make it into a feature of standard english, despite his complete inability to ever settle on what the phrase actually means, having spent an entire book trying to pinpoint it.

And as for 'cut-out victims', that goes somewhat against his previous writings on the BBC and Islam in which he berated them for daring to suggest that a woman would ever actually convert to 'that well-known religion of female liberation'. Evidently sometimes things aren't all that complex after all.

He interviewed former Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Andy Hayman, who recalled what a Muslim youth had told him. 'It's like this. We just wait for the police to come into our house and they shoot us.' The kid's obviously been watching too much TV, but neither Hayman nor Oborne thought to make that point, preferring to treat the comment as you would an established fact.

Well the police do have form in this, having shot innocent muslims whose houses they are searching (before trying to frame them for other crimes), and shooting innocent brazilians too. But what's so odd is that the 'fact' that Anthony identifies as fiction is just that - a fact - that young Muslim men feel victimised by the police. but evidently that kind of complexity is beyond brave decent Mr Anthony. If you do a google search for 'andrew anthony', BBC, and islam, what becomes clear is that he's happy to things to be black and white, as long as muslims are being portrayed as evil.

7/14/2008 09:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the mid-1990s, Labour Party spin-doctors managed to get a number of simple messages across about the Tories: John Major in his underwear, Tory Europhobia, the failure to act in the Balkans and many others. This helped to pave the way for the Labour victory in the 1997 general election.

But that was 11 years ago and many of these messages were soundbites that grossly simplified policy issues. Unfortunately the Labour Party seems not to have moved on in the last 11 years: the MacShane tendency would appear to still have a lot of influence in the Labour Party, and would seem to still think it can get people to vote Labour by sounding off about Tory Europhobia and the Balkans.

There is indeed a great deal of serious journalism that could be done about the lack of clarity in Tory policies in many areas. Nick's article is, however, not that kind of serious journalism. It is a a ramble that left me feeling "Is this the best that he can do?"

7/14/2008 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

OC, the kid's not been watching too much TV: he's reading the Guardian.

The incidents [300 claims of assault on asylum seekers by security staff hired by the Home Office to forcibly deport them] include accusations of excessive force, beatings and racial abuse, resulting in injuries ranging from handcuff-bruised wrists to swollen faces, and fractured ribs, wrists and ankles.


I suppose it's my liberal guilt that makes me outraged by this.

7/14/2008 04:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

If he had a month off and this is the best he can come up with - still borrowing from a very narrow and obvious range of Decent literature, still not thinking very much about his argument - I suspect his return will only be temporary.

7/14/2008 07:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" ...... his return will only be temporary"

I wouldn't be so sure. It's quite possible that the Observer feels obliged to have a column reproducing the talking points of Denis MacShane in order to maintain its access to certain sources or to keep in the Labour Party's good books.

Moussaka Man

7/15/2008 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Yeah, its not as if most of the other columnists are much better.

7/15/2008 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger pj said...

Can anyone resist Aaro's latest:

"I have no idea how he knew this, but when it comes to the prevailing moral panic, we are all experts now."

We are indeed David, we are indeed.

7/15/2008 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

MM - if the Observer feels like that, why don't they just bloody employ MacShane? He writes well enough. Roy Hattersley had a long standing gig at the Guardian, probably for similar reasons.

PJ - yes indeed. I'm working on that now.

7/15/2008 05:01:00 PM  

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