Friday, May 11, 2007


It’s duelling banjos over at the Times, as our Dave and Matthew Parris slug it out over that legacy. And in the course of this, Dave picks out a familiar tune, known to fans as the war in my head could have been so much worse:

The invasion of Iraq has been a disaster, maybe even more of a disaster than not invading would have been. We still don’t know.

In response to which, Matthew reverses the banjo and whacks him over the head with it:

Whether invading Iraq was “even more of a disaster than not invading [you say] we still don’t know.” We do. A disaster, full stop.

That really is the way to do it. Parris adds:

The Iraq debacle was not even (as he likes to insinuate) a bravely unpopular choice. He thought it was going to be the popular choice. He joined the gang of the biggest boy in the playground.

Not enough emphasized, this point. You could see the strain grow on Blair’s face when it began to sink in that he’d have to choose between power and popularity, and that he was losing both in the choosing. Well Dave, you tried for him. The question now is, who next? Are we going to see one of those more in sorrow than in anger pieces about how every true progress minded progressive must, with heavy heart and strictly in the name of progress, lend support – critical support mind – to the fellow with the head like a sweaty cheese and a windmill on his roof?

So, what do we think. Where’s the market for Dave’s particular brand of mandarin emollience and general knowbetterism?

Rioja kid

(PS: fucking "New Blogger". Chardonnay Chap and Captain Chardonnay, if you have any ideas about how to sort out RK's login, now is the time to speak up, love BB)


Blogger Matthew said...

All those shiny new school buildings! Dave's children have been the lucky generation, that's for sure.

5/11/2007 11:32:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Since the counterfactual by which Iraq is not invaded is by definition imaginary, how could we "still" not know as opposed to never being able to know?

5/12/2007 07:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quite. They have it both ways. If the invasion had looked anything like a success, they win; if it's a disaster, well, it just might have been worse if we hadn't done it. Of course, those of us with more imagination than Dave knew it would be a total fucking disaster before we blundered in there.

5/13/2007 10:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

indeed. And the game plays just as well in reverse; my counterfactual in which the peacekeeping intervention in Rwanda was a fucking disaster never gets any play at all.

5/13/2007 11:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and of course there's the counterfactual where Gore wins the 2000 US election...

5/14/2007 11:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parris' best point is that Blair's decisions about Iraq were not brave ones. He took the line of least resistance, the ones that would leave him least exposed to attacks by the Tories and the Murdoch press. He presumed that he could manage the public through spin.

5/14/2007 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

But of course that's standard, although it's not a point usually made by the press corps. A "brave" decision is usually one which is opposed by a leader's party but supported by the Westminster village. This is true of quite a lot of Blair's decisions, I would have said.

5/15/2007 08:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A "brave" decision is usually one that is opposed by a leader's party but supported by the Westminster village and furthermore suffers from a number of logical and factual weaknesses (spotted only by Luddites or those suffering from anti-Americanism).

5/16/2007 10:13:00 AM  

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