Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Torturing bad, but not that bad if the tortured can't prove they were wrongly detained

Aaro: "Binyam Mohamad is probably a terrorist, but we'll never know. It was bad to torture him, but, if he was a terrorist then it would be less bad. Meanwhile, bad people are doing bad things and we need to be vigilant."

Probably the most offensive thing about Aaro's latest is the sneering at Clive Stafford-Smith. This is pretty standard decent stuff. You can campaign all you like against injustice, you can actually be vindicated in your belief that (a) there was torture and (b) the US didn't have enought evidence to hold people and yet, for not agreeing that your clients are probably guilty, you get pissed on by a Times journalist (or some guy with a website).

58 Comments:

Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

What a fucking prick.

Where are the student occupiers and the calls for sanctions?

Same place as the diplomatic sanctions from the UK and US governments. If Aaro wants to have student movements act as the moral conscience of the world fair enough but he should a) say so and b) stop pissing on them so liberally when they try to.

Interesting, btw, that he is totally onside with torture (to death in the case of the Tipton Four, who are only called the "Tipton Three" because one of them was almost certainly extrajudicially executed) as punishment for "attending a jihadi training camp".

I like the last two paragraphs "Obama has realised that 'War on Terror' is a stupid name which just pisses people off, but good old Norm and me, we're just keeping on keeping on being pricks about it".

2/24/2009 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Christ, where to start?

With the "we don't know he's innocent" stuff? As if proving your innocence (when, as Aaro knows, no charges have been laid) was the law?

With the "I reckon he's lying because he reminds me of somebody else" bit?

With the bit about he claims the confessions were made under duress, as if there were no particular reason to believe it?

With the bit that goes Then a piece of apologia that would have impressed any old Communist: "There are many mistakes..." which may make readers' eyes pop out in different directions?

Is this not a classic example of Decent Exhbiting The Intellectual Habits You Attribute To your Adversaries?

2/24/2009 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Wow, what a total wanker.

I'm pretty sure he's grossly misrepresenting what Alistair Crooke actually did say, incidentally. And whatever their other faults, Hezbollah do not have a rough way with dissent. But hey, don't let facts get in the way of prejudice, DA.

2/24/2009 09:31:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

First off - it seems that Aaro and Nick are both increasingly writing down the things they shout at the radio and passing them off as serious journalism. Witness Nick's recent blog posts. Clive Stafford Smith gets it in the neck for the same reason that David Toube writes articles telling Shami Chakrabati to 'fuck off' - they are on the news a lot and sometimes defend those on the 'wrong side' of TGISOOT so they get it in the neck. This is the angry old ranting man side of Decency dressed up as something 'serious'. If Aaro is so desperate to put these questions to CSS then he should actually do it - ask for one of the millions of interviews and write an article. instead we get this fake-tough-guy 'if i could do it I'd ask him X' stuff. you are a very successful journo, Aaro, so why not man up and ask him instead of smearing him.

it would be easier to demand that security heads should roll if we knew that Mr Mohamed had been wrongfully detained in the first place and that he was not, and had never been, a jihadi

Well being a jihadi is not in itself a crime, is it? Much like sympathising with the Nazis, it's unpalatable but unless the jihad was acted on, unless the jihad involved membership of a banned organisation, then it's actually entirely legal. What crime does Aaro actually think he is guilty of? he never says. He lists the US accusations but these seem pretty indistinct.

I can't honestly say that I believe Mr Mohamed's account, partly because it was a long way to travel for drug rehab

Of course people regularly travel from the UK to Thailand, further away than Afghanistan, for drug rehab. But I guess Aaro is an expert on this, eh?

Crooke's point seemed to be

The subs evidently inserted that 'seemed to be'...

Where are the student occupiers and the calls for sanctions?

this article has two decentpedia entries which sum it up - 'terrorism is bad' and will you condemn a thon. I'd like to know who Aaro thinks we should seek to sanction in the case of the acid attacks etc in Pakistan. Does he seriously think that sanctions against Pakistan are a good idea?

as my friend Professor Norman Geras has been pointing out, Barack Obama has found phrases that mean exactly the same thing, such as this from the inauguration: “Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.”

which doesn't mean the same thing as war on terror.

2/24/2009 10:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

It's the weaselling that gets me. Take this:

it would be easier to demand that security heads should roll if we knew that Mr Mohamed had been wrongfully detained in the first place

What this states is true but irrelevant - it would be easier, as in more popular, to demand the enforcement of the exemptionless law against torture if we knew as a matter of certainty that Mohamed had nothing to do with Al Qaida. But we're never likely to have any authoritative evidence with regard to that one - other than Mohamed's own testimony, which he then pre-emptively decides to ignore - so it's a bit like saying it would be easier to detect perjury if people's noses got longer when they told lies. True, but alas, we're stuck with this world.

What he's implying, but rather carefully not stating - although it's consistent with the rest of the column - is that we shouldn't enforce the exemptionless law against torture in the case of someone who's a wrong 'un, or against whom there's reasonable suspicion that they might be a wrong 'un. At which point... well, isn't that where we came in, roughly seven years ago? The point never was that the G'mo detainees were innocent, but that they could be innocent - and that in any case torture is wrong (exemptionless prohibition, etc).

Apart from anything else, this nudge-nudge "are you thinking what I'm thinking" stuff is in incredibly poor taste. By describing Mohamed as "damaged but alive", in contrast to the victim of the Cairo bomb, Aaro effectively gives qualified approval to the torture of someone who has actually been tortured. If we found out tomorrow that Rose West was being regularly beaten up by the screws at HMP Bronzefield, we wouldn't expect our tribune of the Left to write 500 words of some might say the evil bitch deserves all she gets and hey, you know, who's to say they're wrong...

2/24/2009 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

People may remembr the weaselling tone from his comments on the Menezes jury.

2/24/2009 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Prior to 911 there was nothing illegal about going to the training camps; which for the most part were not training people for terrorism, but gureilla wars in Chechneya and Kashmir. So somebody's presence at a camp is not exactly evidence that they were a terrorist.

And on the Yemen thing. I don't be believe any US intelligence on high ranking Al-Quaeda members at this point. But even if it was true, maybe they became Al-Quaeda after being tortured.

2/24/2009 12:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting reaction here. Aaro is clearly opposed to torture at all times (or so he's written before). It wasn't him that called the Tipton Four the Tipton Three. Nor does he have to have proof to suspect that Binyam's story is a bit dubious. Cian certainly seems to think it was both likely and unproblematic that Binyam was at a jihadi training camp. So why the venom?

2/24/2009 12:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The War on Terror was all about toughness. It was a statement that the West would deal with jihadis by taking the gloves off. The West would show that it was angry and had lots of big guns, so the jihadis would get frightened and go back into their caves and leave us alone. (See, for example, Michael Portillo's justifications for invading Iraq.)

The return of someone interned in Gitmo undermines this idea. After holding someone for almost seven years without charge, and possibly mistreating him, we're no further forward. We don't know very much about the activities of terrorists, what little information has been gathered is of dubious validity due to the mistreatment, and the Muslim world is more angry than ever.

So Aaro does his cuttlefish act, creating a cloud of sepia-coloured ink to cover up the politicians' embarrasment. Aaro elides between jihadis and Muslims, between the War on Terror and any strategy to deal with terrorism, and between showing in a court of law that someone has committed a crime and tittle-tattle of the "it's a bit odd to go to Afghanistan don't you think?" variety.

It is, as Justin points out, similar to Aaro's de Menezes article. There's not really any substance in it, but it does provide a few talking points for faithful party members who don't want to face up to the tragedies of the last seven years.

Moussaka Man

2/24/2009 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wasn't clear to me that David A.is opposed to torture at all times. He writes " it would be easier to demand that security heads should roll if we knew that Mr Mohamed had been wrongfully detained in the first place and that he was not, and had never been, a jihadi." - so he finds it harder to demand that somebody get sacked for complicity in torture if BM was a "jihadi": So David A does seem to be suggesting that torture is less bad if there is a lack of proof that you are not a "jihadi": Of course, once you start down the torture road , much of the evidence becomes tainted, the tortured are more likely to "confess" to all sorts of things. In BM's case one of the prime pieces of evidence proving he was a "jihadi" was that he once read an article by Barbara Ehrenreich.
Ann On

2/24/2009 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Aaro is clearly opposed to torture at all times

So what's the point of his piece, please? What dots is he trying to join?

2/24/2009 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Can’t extend on the above comments, but, really, this is the sort of shit-for-brains commentary-mongering I’d expect from Nick Cohen. Hopefully, DA is approaching a closure/retreat on his, tbh, fucking ridiculous views on Guantanamo and “terror” but, in his retreat, getting a few side swipes at those who criticised his general stance on “terror”. But, probably not. It’s like watching a car crash; I can barely look.
The last act in the article is classic DA. A pathetically disguised defence of "Islam fascism" and his illogical positioning within that term.

And, to use the word “terrorism” without qualification (legally, linguistically, politically) is shameful. Almost as shameful as invoking Geras. But, as BB said at the start of these comments.
“What a fucking prick.”

2/24/2009 01:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A little googling gave me this:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/david_aaronovitch/article746131.ece
I'd say that's pretty clear. I think Aaro is saying that we like to believe that Binyam is "innocent" lest it muddies the case against Bush and company. But tbh, I'm not sure the folks here can cope with this concept.

2/24/2009 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

I think Aaro is trying to say that torturing people is bad, but that having tortured people is not really all that bad. Certainly, he doesn't appear to be in favour of insisting on legal consequences for people found to have been responsible for torture.

2/24/2009 02:24:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I think Aaro is saying that we like to believe that Binyam is "innocent" lest it muddies the case against Bush and company.

For a start, Aaro doesn't ever really suggest that the man was guilty of anything specific. 'Being a jihadi' is the closest we get, as well as some vague-sounding and unproven allegations made by the USA, which were made via the use of torture. something Aaro is apparently completely opposed to.

ergo Aaro actually prefers information extracted using torture (to which he is completely opposed, of course) to the claims of a lawyer whose information is not the result of torture.

some of the people in Guantanamo, I am sure, are unpleasant people who might have been involved in plots to attack Western targets. But the whole point of opposition to the base is that it is the scene of torture, and that people have been locked up indefinitely without trial there.

If Binyam Mohammad had ever been given a fair trial, Aaro wouldn't have to resort to the kind of smears by association he is indulging in in this piece.

Aaro insists on how evil 'theocracies' might be, but the democracy whose actions he has so enthusiastically supported in the last either or nine years has officially sanctioned detention without trial, execution, kidnapping and torture.

and tbh I'm still not sure that Aaro can cope with that concept.

2/24/2009 02:38:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

One more thing:

Aaro is saying that we like to believe that Binyam is "innocent" lest it muddies the case against Bush and company.

If anything, Binyam's guilt (of, er, whatever crime it is he's meant to have committed) can actually be seen to make the case against Bush etc more damning - because the 'guilty' are being released without charge.

2/24/2009 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I think Aaro is saying that we like to believe that Binyam is "innocent" lest it muddies the case against Bush and company. But tbh, I'm not sure the folks here can cope with this concept.

I think that if Aaro is saying that, it's horseshit, since the basis for believing he might be guilty of anything would be some specific charges. Absent these we have somebody who's been tortured and imprisoned without due process on the basis of he-must-have-dun-somefink.

But curious how this sort of thing so often needs to be said anonymously.

2/24/2009 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank got Aaro can "cope" with the truths we can't handle. I guess David is about to shout out in the courtroom "The Truth, you can't handle the truth"
Ann On

2/24/2009 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Binyam is innocent, because he hasn't been found guilty of anything. That seems to be a concept that some people find difficult to handle.

Moussaka Man

2/24/2009 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

I will also point out, as I periodically do when annoyed, that two generations of Aaronovitches were, actually, members of the Communist Party of Great Britain during a period when Soviet Russia threatened us with nuclear extinction and Communist agents regularly carried out murders on British soil. (Aaro himself was only a member after the break with Moscow, but Sam Aaronovitch was a committee member during the 1960s.) I think he therefore has cause to be grateful that past generations of liberal columnists weren't quite so sniffy about those who defended the civil liberties of enemies of the state.

2/24/2009 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

and Communist agents regularly carried out murders on British soil

Eh? (I remember the Bulgarian umbrella, but how many others were there?)

2/24/2009 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

anony-mouse:
Nor does he have to have proof to suspect that Binyam's story is a bit dubious. Cian certainly seems to think it was both likely and unproblematic that Binyam was at a jihadi training camp.

I do? Care to show where?

What I actually said was that even if an abstract someone (be they from the UK, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or wherever) was at a "jihadi" traning camp, that doesn't mean that they had any connection to Al-Quaeda, 9/11 or any plans to bomb the west. The vast majority of training camps were run by groups that had no connection to, and despised, Al-Quaeda. The vast majority of training camps were training jihadis for the fight in Kashmir and Chechneya (as they had unproblematically, at least as far as the west were concerned, trained earlier jihadis for Bosnia and Kosovo). It was not illegal to attend one of these camps prior to 911, and attendance is not guilt. The US have somehow managed to convince the world that attendance at these camps is proof of proto-terrorism. It doesn't.

Or to put it in really simple language for a really simple mind. It is irrelivant to somebody's innocence whether they were at a Jihadi camp.

'd say that's pretty clear. I think Aaro is saying that we like to believe that Binyam is "innocent" lest it muddies the case against Bush and company.

So you're saying that its okay to torture people (to death in some cases) so long as they're guilty, or at least look a bit dodgy. So if Bush and company had randomly tortured US prisoners that would have been okay? Tell me more about these western values that we're defending...

2/24/2009 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

OT (and Cian is spot on btw) but is there any way the AW blog admin can ban anonymous per se. I've nothing against anon signed by someone but it seems really unjust to allow the "hit and run" anon. At least sign it so it can be discussed etc.

2/24/2009 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Also OT but I love democracy

2/24/2009 06:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and I found this.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/nov/30/guantanamo.terrorism
If you don't like "anonymous" call me something brave and out there like Mr Kitty. Master Kitty. There.

2/24/2009 07:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Master Kitty writes: and this may illuminate things as well, re Aaro's attitude towards the Tipton 3/4
http://blogs.kpbs.org/index.php/movies/comments/the_road_to_guantanamo_interview_with_michael_winterbottom/

2/24/2009 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Master Kitty, the artist previously known as anon - your new moniker, I presume. As I stressed, be as anon as you like, but logistically we at AW want to discuss things, so it is soooo helpful to know who has just said what. My identity as a poster is anonymous but everything I say can be identified and I'll back up it up (or back-down) depending.

Your last link was about the Oscars!? And I fail to see where it was going. Just make a point and we can take it from there.

2/24/2009 08:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Actually, that 2003 column is quite revealing; Aaro hasn't changed all that much. He sneers at Louise Christian, for no apparent reason, before inventing a government right to ignore the law in the name of public protection:

When he spoke, Mr Blunkett probably wasn't thinking about a trial; that's only part of the Home Secretary's brief. He was almost certainly calculating whether the detention might have helped to prevent a terrorist attack.

There is no power in law to detain so as to disrupt a terrorist attack. You arrest under the Terrorism Act, you bring charges or you release without charge. (The person being detained in this case, Sajif Badat, was actually tried and found guilty of plotting to cause explosions, although his sentence was reduced on the grounds that he'd already dropped out of the plot - so no imminent danger, then.)

Then there's this:

A successful attack on a domestic British target by a British Muslim would be far more dangerous to the minority community than the Birmingham bombing of 1974 was for the Irish residents of Britain. Worries like this have led me not to think as hard as I should have done about what has been going on at the tip of Cuba.

Well, 7/7 happened, but fortunately didn't trigger pogroms. Which presumably means that tackling terrorism by any means necessary was actually less urgent than Aaro believed in 2003, and by extension Guantánamo Bay was even more scandalous.

Somehow that's not the impression I'm getting from him at the moment.

'The judge's words sent a real shock through my body. [He] had brought to life for me, even though he loathed the IRA, principles which were important boundaries between civilisation and barbarism... so even though he suspected I was guilty as hell, he was willing to let me walk free on grounds that many people would have regarded as a technicality, a foolish abstraction.'

Nor is that.

2/25/2009 12:34:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I think B2 put it best. There was a very good Daniel Finkelstein pieced linked from Dave's.

In a feisty piece for the magnificent Daily Beast website GQ's Lisa DePaulo - described by the Beast as part of the get-Condit pack - investigates her own actions and decides, no, not really. After all, Condit had an affair with Levy and didn't answer some questions put to him by Talk magazine. So he can hardly expect an apology when suspected of murder.

I always love reading people justifying their own actions. The more unreasonable the behaviour they are defending, the feistier they are defending it.

...

The guilt and innocence of suspects is debated in the media in the United States in a way that is a profound threat to liberty and to proper judicial process. The entire principle of innocence until proven guilty is undermined in a pretty shocking way.


Gosh.

2/25/2009 06:36:00 AM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

Is not the only evidence that he had been at a jihadi training camp that he had a false passport and admitted to having been in Afghanistan?

2/25/2009 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following was extracted from one of the first comments appended in warm praise of Mr Aaronovitch's column.

"Islam has been at war with the West for the last 1400 years or so. History has shown that the answer to Jihad is Crusade."

'Liberal interventionists' are forever accusing the 'anti-war brigade' of associating with the likes of The Muslim Brotherhood, isn't David even slightly concerned about the views of some of his own supporters?


The Pilgrim

2/25/2009 01:49:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

off topiv, but probably on topic for 'world of decency', this is paul berman's response to the Israeli onslaught on Gaza:

http://z-word.com/z-word-essays/gaza-and-after%253A-an-interview-with-paul-berman.html

It's about 10 pages of him saying over and over again, people at dinner parties are the REAL anti-semites... He seems to have a curiously arrested view on quite a lot of things, in fact. You'd have thought that after a month and a half he might have come up with some opinions which aren't reheated, differently worded winguttery...

2/25/2009 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

RE the pilgrim's coment on DA.

Indeed, but the "strange bedfellows" arc of the DA/NC/Euston Manfarce argument was always doomed. Which is why I don't know why they just didn't say at the start "all muslims execute gays and suppress women and we'll be murdered in our beds unless we lock em all up" which is the prejudice that stoked their meager fire.

I was watching an old Brass Eye dvd yesterday and recalled its creator/writer, Chris Morris' blast at Martin Amis.

2/25/2009 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Didn't he once accidentally sneer his face off?

That would be a start, you know; less sneering. Sneering is important in Decency.

2/25/2009 02:40:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

somewhere on my computer I have an mp3 of that Amis talk at the ICA. if the people who run this blog are happy to have links to files etc on here I can upload it on rapidshare or something.

2/25/2009 02:52:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

It was unlikely that Nick would get a good review in the Staggers, but still, it's not going all that well for him so far, is it?

2/25/2009 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Re: Berman, Cohen et all. I think we need a Decentpedia term for the throat-clearing which notes how Very Against the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories a lot of Decents are, before going on to not mention them again in a wonderful defence of Israeli military action.

2/25/2009 04:34:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

From the Berman piece:

I do think that, in some of the human rights reports on Israeli military action in the past, you could see a kind of in-built analytic distortion. The human rights investigators work up analyses of what they ascertain to be facts; but their notion of facts excludes political motivations. And yet, if you ignore the political reasoning behind certain kinds of violent acts, you really cannot account for what has happened. Once you have ruled out making an examination of political motivations, you are absolutely guaranteed to conclude that Israel has acted with disproportionate force. It's predictable in advance.

This is a very strange argument. Human rights groups make judgements as to whether international law has been violated on the basis of the nature of acts. Intention is considered but it is in relation to the nature of the act. Berman's argument that you consider the political calculation before weighing up the legitimacy of the act is surely a very dangerous path to go down. It could easily be used to legitimise torture. It could also be used to justify attacks on civilians by Palestinian armed groups. I wonder if Berman realises this?

I should also add that however bad the Decents are, the Spiked/RCP/Living Marxism people are much, much more amoral.

2/25/2009 04:54:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Berman's argument that you consider the political calculation before weighing up the legitimacy of the act is surely a very dangerous path to go down.

it's just a wordier restatement of the wingnut position that 'Hamas are terrorists ergo anything done in the name of being anti-Hamas is acceptable and proportionate'.

And there is something very disingenuous in the following, too:

An Iran without a nuclear program would be in no danger of Israeli attack. Here is an impending war that rests on a single variable. Why not alter the variable? Equally obvious: Israel is not going to launch a war against any of the groups on its own borders that remain at peace. Why not do everything possible to disarm those groups?

2/25/2009 05:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brendan O'Neill v Nick Cohen? Who do I really want to lose in that fight?

[redpesto]

PS Re. berman - And yet, if you ignore the political reasoning behind certain kinds of violent acts, you really cannot account for what has happened. - isn't that precisely what the Decents kept ignoring whenever this argument was raised re. 9/11?

2/25/2009 05:30:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

In relation to Aaro's comments on Alaistair Crooke, the original programme can be found here

All the panel including Amos Oz are rather more polite about Crooke's views than Aaro. I will leave you to decide as to whether Aaro has been fair in summing up Crooke's thesis.

2/25/2009 06:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

O'Neill vs Cohen would usually be Germany vs Argentina (AKA - can't they both lose?) as far as I'm concerned, but it's a measure of Cohen's degeneration that it's not until the final ObLM bit at the end that I disagreed with anything major that O'Neill wrote.

Chris Williams

2/25/2009 07:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS - sorry all, I can't be bothered to read Berman, but the bits quoted here bring out one essential characteristic of Decency: its antinomianism. As any fule kno, that's the heresy which plagued the early christian church, and (allegedly) made a slight return in the Reformation. Shorter: the saved can do no wrong.

Chris Williams

2/25/2009 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Decent Antinomianism, you say? Sithee, Williams, The Yorkshire Ranter will have Harrison's cavalry horses stabled in your coal scuttle for this insolence.

Let's all not forget, meanwhile, that Alistair Crooke got Hamas to sign a ceasefire in 2002 that held until 't other side dropped a wee bombypoos on a Hamas officer, missed him, and killed a dozen children.

War back on. Crooke's photo, job title (SIS Tel Aviv station chief) and description were leaked to Ma'ariv, terminating his career. One of the more repellent episodes of a repellent era.

2/25/2009 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

It's predictable in advance.

What is predictable but not in advance?

2/25/2009 08:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Justin is abroad, no tautology is safe. Quiver and tremble, tautology!

2/25/2009 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

I've always been impressed by the quality of Alistair Crooke's predictions. As an analyst of the region he's first rate.

Alex: By the UK, or Israel?

2/26/2009 08:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Germany vs Argentina (AKA - can't they both lose?)"

Sounds very right-wing to wish defeat in sport on enemies from previous wars. If people did that with England then practically every country would be hoping England lose. Actually, they probably do already. I'm perfectly well-disposed to both of those great footballing nations.

Igor Belanov

2/26/2009 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't care about the wars. I care about the football matches. Sorry if I didn't make that clear.

CW

2/26/2009 10:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Antinomianism? Someone's been reading the Staggers, haven't they?

Moussaka Man

2/26/2009 11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...

Hating England in Fussball is pointless; they'll never win anyway.

2/26/2009 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Er, no. I haven't read NS since they sacked Steve Platt, and only read it once in a while even then. Too reformist for my tender faux-anarchopunk sensibilities, it were.

It's a Civil War thing. You wouldn't understand.

yours in the good old cause,

Chris Williams

2/26/2009 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

American civil war, presumably?

The same word occurs, by chance, in the Thatcher article in the latest Staggers (which isn't exactly my cup of tea either).

Moussaka Man

2/26/2009 05:09:00 PM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

Some people make a career of predicting things with hindsight.

I think there is widespread joy when England lose. I once suggested to an Englishman with a Brazilian girlfriend that there were two possible reasons why so many Brazilians might welcome a victory for Argentina over England: the general British history of imperial arrogance or specifically the Falklands. She went for the latter.

I remember being told by someone in a position to know at the time of the ricin trials that some of the defendants were blatantly innocent as they couldn't read the classically written Arabic in which the supposed instructions were written. Part of the problem with torture is that security forces will take what they think they know and obtain confessions that fit their pre-conceptions. My friend also claimed (as did the series "The Power Of Nightmares") that there was no al-Qaida, that Bin Laden was simply a minor terrorist financier abd that ther was no organisation with tentacles round the world. Again, once you torture people until they admit membership thereof, the phantasm is brought to life.

I've heard Alistair Crooke interviewed several times, he is clearly in favour of talking to Hamas, not promoting their agenda. Alan Johnson is also quite polite about Hamas, understandably as they secured his release; I don't know if DA & co. are quite as rude about him.

2/26/2009 06:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Der Bruno Stroszek said...

Going back a bit, but this part of the argument that someone highlighted -

And yet, if you ignore the political reasoning behind certain kinds of violent acts, you really cannot account for what has happened.

- is a staggeringly meaningless statement, isn't it? Yes, if you remove the meaning of something, it becomes hard to understand. Fancy that. I, myself, was recently puzzling over the equation 2+2=4. I could understand it perfectly well at first, but then I removed the "2+2" part and I found it quite mystifying. Just "=4". I got quite befuddled and ended up shouting at the number and demanding it condemn the number 5.

2/27/2009 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

If you ignore the political reasoning behind 9/11, it becomes very hard to understand.
Hang on... didn't the Decents complain about this at the time. This decent stuff is harder than it looks.

2/27/2009 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I seem to remember Norman Geras arguing really quite heatedly that the question shouldn't even be raised.

2/27/2009 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Der Bruno Stroszek said...

It's the old-fashioned Stalinist politbureau tendency, isn't it? It's probably the worst thing they've all carried with them since their old days in the far left, and they don't get called on it nearly often enough.

Incidentally, I've been reading From Anger to Apathy by Mark Garnett recently. I'm about halfway through and despite the heavy quotation of Decent sources, it's a good book. It is interesting, though, that he keeps pointing out that the British press has always given more leeway and understanding to violence on the white far right as opposed to anarchist violence, socialist violence, violence committed by blacks or Asians or any other form, which is presented as being evil and motiveless.

Obviously, this is true, and remains so today - Forrest Gate gets on the front page of all the papers, BNP members found with bomb-making equipment tucked away on page 94, if at all. But this is exactly what the Decents do, too - we've got two posts here about Decents trying to handwave away any analysis of Islamist violence that doesn't come out with the result "they are implacable machines who just kill people for no reason", and yet any Decent piece on the rise of the BNP will always conclude that this could all have been avoided if the Labour party hadn't been so darkie-friendly and more houses went to whites and The Sarah Jane Adventures didn't have an Asian character etc etc.

The thing that galls me is that I can easily imagine Nick Cohen and David Aaronovich reading From Anger to Apathy and thinking "Yeah! Right on!" They just seem utterly incapable of recognising the numerous and obvious contradictions in their behaviour.

2/27/2009 11:46:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home