Monday, August 30, 2010

Did some say "conspiracy theories"?

hmmmmmmmmm.

Of course, the idea that an Iranian spy with a conviction for bank fraud managed not only to convince liberal journalists that he was the authentic voice of democracy, but to convince the CIA that he headed a credible nationalist movement would be ludicrous enough. The idea that, having been exposed as such, he could nevertheless remain powerful enough to gain the post which allowed him to disqualify his political opponents from standing in elections, still more so. The idea that someone who the Decent Left first lionised, then defended, then finally more or less refused to talk about, could be the kingmaker in the Iraqi elections, seven years later, is pretty far fetched.

So I guess Ahmad Chalabi must just be a very popular politician after all.

49 Comments:

Blogger AndyB said...

Unrelated to this post, but can anyone tell me if the 'why are you talking about Palestine all the time, why aren't you putting an equal about of energy into Sudan/Burma/[insert human rights violator], is it because you are an anti-semite?' crowd also berate those who spend all their energies talking about, say Sudan or Burma, on the grounds that they never mention Operation Cast Lead, the occupation of Palestine, etc.?

8/30/2010 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Okay, we've had Chalabi, Hassan Butt... Can I suggest another tricksy character to add to the growing list of people who have received glowing praise and endorsement from Nick C., only to later turn out to be a bullshitter and/or a lunatic?

http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/2310/full

To be fair, after lots of reading, I'm still unsure whether DP's case for unfair treatment was justified or not. That said, I've seen the guy commenting at various sites recently and he makes Melanie Phillips look sober, calm and restrained.

8/31/2010 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Of course, if we were to expand the list to "non-British conmen in smart suits who have suckered large numbers of Decents this decade", it'd be a long and arduous task.

Can I start? I'll take France, and others can tour the atlas - Bernard Henri Levy, Pascal Bruckner and Bernard Kouchner, FTW.

FounderofMSFKouchner is in the news this week because he considered resigning over Sarkozy's jihad on the Roma, which is jolly brave of him. I notice he hasn't gone yet, but it's surely just a matter of time.

8/31/2010 07:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is worth a listen

http://www.littleatoms.com/pasquill.htm

where he expounds a conspiracy theory towards the end

8/31/2010 07:20:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Pasquill's twitter:

http://twitter.com/pasquill59

chalabi stuff is v interesting...

8/31/2010 08:39:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Ignoring this tedious Blair stuff, a very good essay by Pankaj Mishra on 'Islamismism':

http://tinyurl.com/35halo8

sample:

Whitechapel has much in its past—oppression, bigotry, poverty, radicalism—that would have helped Hirsi Ali understand not only the neighborhood’s newest inhabitants but also her own family. But “Nomad” reveals that her life experiences have yet to ripen into a sense of history. The sad truth is that the problems she blames on Islam—fear of sexuality, oppression of women, militant millenarianism—are to be found wherever traditionalist peoples confront the transition to an individualistic urban culture of modernity. Many more young women are killed in India for failing to bring sufficient dowry than perish in “honor killings” across the Muslim world. Such social pathologies no more reveal the barbaric core of Hinduism or Islam than domestic violence in Europe and America defines the moral essence of Christianity or the Enlightenment.

9/01/2010 07:50:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Pankaj is getting around.

9/01/2010 01:18:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

That was a good essay by Pankaj and thanks for the other link George. I wonder if Pankaj reads AW - he certainly sees the tendency towards self-pity so prevelent in much Decent writing, particularly the idea that they are an ignored minority who have trouble getting their ideas into the media.

Nobody has posted anything about it here but people must have noticed how many of the Decent tendency have been lining up to fellate Tony over the last 24 hours.

He really is a living god to these people. All the faults - the messianism, the complete lack of political judgement, the lying, the contempt for Labours' base and the sucking up to the rich, the disasterous economic model pursued by New Labour. All airbrushed out. Astonishing stuff.

9/02/2010 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody has posted anything about it here but people must have noticed how many of the Decent tendency have been lining up to fellate Tony over the last 24 hours.

I noticed that Martin Kettle bagged the 'exclusive' newspaper interview as his reward for services rendered, but I really didn't fancy reading it.

[redpesto]

9/02/2010 10:30:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Who didn't laugh when they heard that Blair's failures were banning fox hunting and the FOI Act?

More balance was to be found in Pablo Mukherjee's letter. Except that he missed out Blair's support for the current economic policy re the deficit.

9/02/2010 11:26:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Not wanting to turn this it a Blair thread, but in John Harris' comment piece there is the more relevant for AaroWatch:

Of late – as evidenced by warnings from Blair, Mandelson and those voices who share their view of things – this has resulted in one of the more depressing aspects of the Labour leadership contest: claims that "Red" Ed Miliband is a dangerous old Labour throwback. No matter that his handful of policy proposals – for the tentative roll-out of a living wage, or a graduate tax, or the high pay commission also supported by his brother – are modest and somewhat cautious. In the wake of an editorial claiming that even his brother was in danger of drifting too far to the left, one Times columnist – the venerable David Aaronovitch – compared him to Michael Foot.

In can't be arsed to pay to look, but has anybody else?

9/02/2010 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

There's not a better man in England than John Harris.

9/02/2010 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

but people must have noticed how many of the Decent tendency have been lining up to fellate Tony over the last 24 hours.


this is kind of like saying "people must have noticed how many bears have been shitting in the woods over the last 24 hours" but yes.

What interests me is that apparently Brown "abandoned New Labour". When did this happen, and did it constitute policy changes more substantial and specific than "the public services agenda"?

9/02/2010 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

BB: some explanation here.

9/02/2010 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

BTW, Chris Brooke of the splendid Virtual Stoa blog is still livetweeting his reading of Blair's book, which may be a first, but probably isn't. It seems an unusually appropriate meeting of form and content. The character limit forces Chris to give a page number and a few words. A few of Blair's words are sufficient. Chris has also received the highest praise I can imagine.

A couple of my favourites: lauranorder, Bush.

9/02/2010 03:00:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Blair, p. 387: the Middle East "was urgently in need of modernisation".

He makes it sound like a 3 bedroom semi-detached in Crouch End.

9/02/2010 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Ha, don't tell me Dave's in Tuscany.

9/02/2010 03:12:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

He makes it sound like a 3 bedroom semi-detached in Crouch End.

I can imagine that Kirstie Allsopp would be just as effective as a Middle East envoy.

9/02/2010 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Did he also say something along the lines of the coalition would be best when they were most stridently Tory and worst when they had to compromise with the Lib Dems, or did I dream that?

And what about Coulson? There are shades of the Duke of Windsor in the lack of press coverage over here. Will the NYT be blacked out on the newstands?

9/02/2010 08:48:00 PM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

Isee that Oona King's site advertises "Oona King in Conversation with David Aaronovitch", but I don't seem to be able to access the goodies.

9/03/2010 04:07:00 PM  
Anonymous John Fallhammer said...

Clive James responds to Pankaj Mishra's Guardian piece, taking several hundred words to regurgitate the "Why don't the moderate muslims condemn the extremists?" line.

And congratulations to Aarowatch for being one of the 100 worst political blogs. Well done!

9/05/2010 03:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Chocolatedippedpickles said...

And Harry's Place didn't get to number one !?! who voted this?

9/05/2010 07:39:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

cor, that clive James piece is incredibly un-intellectual.

no Nasty Nick in the obs for 2 weeks now. can't say he's been missed, especially since Euan Ferguson is keeping the decent end up in the tv reviews...

9/06/2010 05:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Simon said...

Clive James is not much of a political commentator, no matter how much he would like to be one.

9/06/2010 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Indeed. I mean it's hard to square this:

No western government wants to persecute Muslims. There are private citizens in the west, extremists on their own account, who would like to persecute Muslims, but they do not have their hands on the levers of power.

with the name 'Geert Wilders', or indeed, if we treat Israel as Western, with the name 'Avigdor Lieberman'.

As for the ending, it's actually offensive. Nothing Mishra has ever written indicates that he would take the Ramadan line on stoning (also, weirdly, James's account of Ramadan's exchange with Sarkozy differs from others). James's leading question betrays his own lack of attention to Mishra's piece, and simplistically attempts to re-establish the 'with us or against us' approach that's worked SO well in recent years.

It's weird, and for my money far more demeaning that Buruma/Garton Ash pointing out, accurately, that Ayaan Hirsi Ali's supporters make a big deal of her good looks.

Also, on that topic:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is perfectly understandable when she takes a root-and-branch attitude. After all, a root-and-branch attitude was taken to her: she was a female, so she suffered.

This, in addition to being very hard to follow, manages to completely undermine everything people who like AHA have claimed about her, and it vindicates the Buruma/Garton Ash/Mishra line.

Also am i the only one who doesn't understand the following sentence?

if silence means that those who say nothing about atrocities generated within the Islamic culture are worried that they will help anti-Islamic forces in the west then they are mistaking their real enemy.

i think this is leading on to his contentious point that the majority of those wishing to persecute Muslims are Muslim themselves. But I can't quite work it out.

It isn't aided by this:

We are prepared to accept that silence does not mean indifference or tacit approval.

coming straight after "what Islam most needs to do [...] is to find ways for its vast majority [...] to express their condemnation of a murderous minority".

I still don't get it. So he wants Muslims to protest some unspecified things in Islam, which he's not very clear on - it sometimes feels like just al-Qaeda, at others it's the entire treatment of women in Islam per se; BUT, if they don't protest, that's ok too, only it's not.

I do love the way he styles himself as someone with excellent writing in the letter, as the letter itself does not make any sense at all.

9/06/2010 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

Speaking as a sub-editor, the natural rewrite of the extract would be as follows.

if silence means that those who say nothing about atrocities generated within the Islamic culture are worried that they will help anti-Islamic forces in the west then they are mistaking their real enemy.

is clearer when recast thus:

If the silence of those who say nothing about atrocities generated within the Islamic culture is explained by their worrying they will help anti-Islamic forces in the west then they are mistaking their real enemy.

ie "means", which is ambiguous as to causal direction in chatty speech, translates as the (less ambiguous) "is explained by"...

I haven't bothered reading the piece -- Clive James has been an idiot for my entire adult life -- so I have no idea if this meaning fits in with the rest or makes it less coherent.

9/06/2010 01:07:00 PM  
Anonymous hmclandress said...

In the interests of providing context, Aaronovitch's comments re E. Miliband (it's probably necessary to quote it at this length) sum to:

"It is quite likely that by 2015 there will be an improved economic performance, and - other things being very unequal - a good 40 per cent plus of voters willing to back the Conservative part of the deal.

David Miliband gets that. Ed Miliband, the final Venus, doesn't seem to. One may summarise his approach as returning to Gordon Brown's famous and disloyal conference challenge to Tony Blair - "best when we are Labour" - in which Labour magicks answers to 21st-century problems out of aboriginal instincts.

Let me take one example to stand for many. In an interview last week MiliE said the following: "Actually, if we'd listened to our party more on a range of issues - housing, agency workers, tuition fees - we'd have been a better government, not a worse government."

As far as I can tell, "listening" on tuition fees would have meant not bringing them in. Readers may recall that the contention back then (fed, secretly, by Mr Brown's lieutenants) was that applications to university would fall with top-up fees. Exactly the opposite happened. Which disconcerted the Tories, who also opposed tuition fees (should Labour have listened to them?) but not the Lib Dems who, in opposition, were always undisconcertable.

MiliE's blueprint for good government, then, would have required either ignoring the crisis in higher education funding caused by expansion, cutting student numbers or bringing in an unstated alternative form of funding. He may recall that when asked to provide numbers for such an alternative - the graduate tax - Mr Brown declined. Top-up tuition fees, then, were a classic example of a government taking the right, if unpopular, step; ie, an example of what leadership is all about.

Nor is it encouraging to see MiliE waving Iraq around as if it will make a difference to voters in 2015. His silent opposition to the invasion is not the problem, but his belief that it can now be parlayed into a leadership vote is.

Unless he is promising not to invade Iraq again, it can only mean that whatever the next crisis consists of, he will be more reluctant than his brother to take action. But the next crisis could just as easily be another Kosovo.

There is also a big problem with the strategic decision to concentrate fire on the Liberal Democrats and the frankly juvenile pledge not to cut any deal with them as long as Nick Clegg is their leader. This may score with Labour activists, but it looks like the crassest tribalism to the ordinary voter. And Liberal Democrat losses don't necessarily mean a Labour win. Far more likely is that they will translate to a Tory majority.

So in terms of Labour's default mentality, Ed Miliband is Michael Foot circa 1981. He is the way in which you think you can have your ideological cake and persuade the electorate to eat it. And you just can't."

9/06/2010 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger AndyB said...

"He is the way in which you think you can have your ideological cake and persuade the electorate to eat it. And you just can't."

You've just spent a blog comment arguing that you can - that you can bring in unpopular policies that are 'right' - tuition fees and a murderous, piratical war on Iraq are your examples.

If we were take the line that as the Tories command 40% of the vote (for argument's sake), which in the British electoral system is enough to win an overwhelming majority, every other party should quit arguing for policies that they think are 'right' and simply argue for better presented versions of Tory policies, then we'd be arguing for an end to democracy. A no-party system. As Tony Blair has killed hundreds of thousands in the pursuit of democracy, supposedly, I hope you never cross paths with him!

Word verification: schim - the ideological dispute between Blairites and the Cameroons.

9/06/2010 03:12:00 PM  
Anonymous hmclandress said...

Sorry - just to be clear, they aren't my views at all. Like I said, it's an excerpt from Aaro's most recent column.

9/06/2010 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

"Aboriginal" is good.

9/06/2010 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger AndyB said...

Ah, sorry.

Redirect all my comments towards Aaro then.

9/06/2010 06:38:00 PM  
Anonymous John Fallhammer said...

Maybe I should have been clearer here. James's piece was a letter to the paper (so minimal if any editing). Still, the man's supposed to be a top writer.

As to Aaro, "MiliE" wtf? Is it meant to be pronounced "Millie"? [insert boilerplate accusation of homophobia here]

Also, off-topic, Michael Winner on Broadcasting House.

9/07/2010 01:52:00 AM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

Surely Millie = "Millie Tant", subliminal association with Derek Hatton via a beloved Viz comic character

9/07/2010 09:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Simon said...

"Still, the man's supposed to be a top writer."

Not only that, he frequently congratulates himself on being a top writer, pedantically censures other writers for their poor English, and writes long and dull essays on the paramount importance of clear expression.

9/07/2010 02:07:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Conor foley on Liberal Conspiracy claims to have been aerguing on websites with Nick Cohen about Blair's book. Anyone know where this was? i love it when they fight...

9/08/2010 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

No 'conspiracy theory'-related conversation would be complete without mention of The Paranoid Style.

1. Any guesses as to the leader-writer in question?

2. They're not even trying to connect the headline with the content

3. Rentoul is using the (in his case no doubt otiose) fair use protection previously recommended by me as the future of Aaronovigilance. Also implemented (under title 'piss and wind'), though much more safely given the fisking format and the high comment-to-quote ratio.

4. The content hardly seems worth commenting on

9/11/2010 07:59:00 PM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

I see His Eponymousness was on Newsnight last night, generally talking what seemed like sense on Catholicism, though his thought that it was forbidden to criticise Muslims in the media seemed not to have stopped many, any his claim that if there is a God he wouldn't have allowed Werder Bremen to come back from two goals down misplaces the locus of infallibility in North London.

9/15/2010 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

if there is a God he wouldn't have allowed Werder Bremen to come back from two goals down

If there is a God I'd say that comeback might well be part of continuing payback for redknapp breaking the commandment 'thou shalt not steal money from the fans of thy own team'.

I'd relaly like more people to combat this idea that 'you can't criticise Muslims in the media'. Aaro is a clever guy and reads the papers - surely he must know that this is utter bullshit?

9/15/2010 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Maybe if you're inside the paywall you can't see out?

9/15/2010 03:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Well, it's true that you can't criticise Muslims in the media without someone complaining.

At least, you can't criticise Muslims in the media in ways that border on racism without someone complaining.

To be more precise, you can't criticise Muslims in the media in ways that border on racism indefinitely without someone complaining eventually.

Or perhaps what Aaro really means is that you can't criticise Muslims in the media in ways that border on racism indefinitely without getting the sneaking suspicion that there's a high likelihood of someone complaining eventually, which takes all the fun out of it. Which I think is (a) true and (b) genuinely resented by some people, although I didn't think Aaro was among them.

9/16/2010 09:20:00 AM  
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9/22/2010 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

ignoring 'Fireman', Cohen has reviewed Blair:

http://nickcohen.net/2010/09/26/review-tony-blair-a-journey/#more-1148

Once you get through all the typical Cohen bluster (which accounts for about 75% of the piece), it's actually surprisingly balanced:

Will his eloquence justify the conduct of the Iraq war? It cannot for two reasons. Even as someone who went from loathing to respecting Blair because of Iraq – a rare political journey, I grant you – I cannot accept his dismissal of the chaos that enveloped Iraq after the invasion. As he says, it was brought by al-Qa’ida and Iranian-backed militias who were desperate for liberation to fail. But his explanation for the failure of the US, Britain, Australia and their allies to foresee the danger is too brusque. He says in effect, “If someone had warned us, we would have acted differently.”

His tone is the same when he briefly mentions the banking crisis. “Had regulators said that a crisis is about to break … we would have acted. But they didn’t say that.”

It is not good enough. Elected leaders, not regulators or generals, govern democracies because the best of them sense crises before they break. In his foreign policy and in his economic policy Blair did not stop to think about unforeseen events preventing Iraq’s transition to democracy or blowing a hole in his booming bubble economy. He did not prepare for the worst. Indeed, he could not bring himself to imagine the worst.


the 'second reason' is where Nick just can't help himself - it's that apprently people will never be convinced because they think the west is the 'root cause' of all the world's suffering blah blah islamofascism-loving liberals etc etc zzz.

on a side note, Nick's smears against Ed Miliband worked really well eh?

9/26/2010 08:13:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

btw nick's 'traitors' book seems to have gone the way of all flesh.

next up is a book called 'you can't read this book':

http://www.amazon.co.uk/You-Cant-Read-This-Book/dp/0007308906/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1285498549&sr=1-1

presumably an anti-libel-laws fest.

9/26/2010 10:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Simon said...

Ed Miliband's win is, of course, also another defeat for the forces of Decency, most of whom lined up behind Miliband D. So now the US President and the leader of the Labour Party are agreed the Iraq war was a mistake.

9/26/2010 03:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

Ed Miliband's win is, of course, also another defeat for the forces of Decency, most of whom lined up behind Miliband D. So now the US President and the leader of the Labour Party are agreed the Iraq war was a mistake.

9/26/2010 03:54:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Julian Assange will step back onto the public stage this week with an appearance in London.

Wikileaks' spokesman and de facto leader is scheduled to speak on Thursday at City University in London. He will debate the rights and wrongs of the whistleblowing site's release of tens of thousands of frontline intelligence reports from Afganistan with Times columnist David Aaronovich.


http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/09/27/assange_city/

9/27/2010 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I really wonder if Aaro would like to give over appointing himself to the role of Commissar In Charge Of Trying To Stop Other People Doing Things.

9/27/2010 03:55:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

aaro's 98th in today's brand new Torygraph list of 'top 100 most influential left-wing people in britain'...

9/27/2010 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

more content coming soon loyal readers!

9/30/2010 04:06:00 PM  

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