Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The needle returns to the start of the song, and we all sing along like before

And once more, "domestic terrorism has nothing to do with foreign policy". The only act of British foreign policy that Muslims have ever got angry about is our failure to intervene in Bosnia. I really don't know why Aaro bothers with this one - the other Decents will occasionally retreat to it as a refuge in a losing debate, but Aaro keeps on raising it himself. This view of the world is not shared by such noted Gallowayite lefties as Tony Blair, Jack Straw and the Joint Intelligence Committee, all of whom have publicly made the utterly commonsensical point that That Bloody War has, in the words of another member of the bruschetta tendency "painted a great big target on London". And Blair and Straw themselves have also made the IMO less commonsensical point that Al-Qaeda terrorism has a lot to do with the Palestinian question. Dave is trying to act here like he's the voice of common sense but he's not; he's the voice of total denial.

We can note this by the extreme weakness and partiality of the examples he used. Apparently Omar Khyam "went to meetings addressed by Omar Bakri Mohammed" even before 9/11. Well I'm sure he was, but the thing is that there is a bit of a difference between attending seminars and trying to blow up Bluewater. Dave's claim that "if there's a common theme, it is the total absence of British foreign policy also rather relies on ignoring the actual 7/7 bombers; Mohammed Siddique Khan's farewell video certainly mentions it once or twice.

It's a shocker of a column. It is distinctly worse than it was two years ago when it was called "the Grievance", if only because the point of view Dave is arguing against is now so utterly mainstream.

Ironic rephrasing time!

One can only speculate on why Dave seems to get none of this. One possibility is that the politicians and journalists he consults are the same ones who themselves formed an early part of the whole clusterfuck. Another - at a time of struggle with political opponents - may be a lack of willingness to confront the implacable nature of an ideology embarrassingly based on half-arsed Yank imperialism. The third, more hopefully, is a natural and justified desire for the Labour Party to win the next election. That's the one I'm going for, because I still like David Aaronovitch.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Aaro just didn't get that the bishop doesn't mean "bend the knee to Islamic terror" so much as "don't reflexively get behind Israel when it does shitty things".

That he's clueless is confirmed by his belief that our government has "bent every sinew" to resolve Israel-Palestine. Erm. Have we? I must have missed that.

5/09/2007 02:52:00 AM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

I saw Dave on BBC World in a Doha Debate, hosted by the Oxford Union. He was arguing against the motion that the pro-Isreal lobby stifles debate about Israel's actions.

Dr Martin Indyk, former US Ambassador to Israel, was on his team, and they were arguing against Norman Finkelstein and Andrew Cockburn.

Aaronovitch got quite irate to no avail: two thirds voted for the motion.


5/09/2007 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I still like David Aaronovitch

Personally I find Aaro extremely dislikeable, for a few reasons:

1. There was an apt comment on here some weeks back to the effect that what was really distinctive about Decency was its permanent trangsression of the principle "there's no need to be an arsehole about it". You can of course disagree with me all you want and I have an obligation to respect that: but if you want to say (or heavily hint) that I'm an anti-Semite or an apologist for Saddam then I don't think there's much space left for respect.

2. I do think that Aaro is a courtier: sometimes I find him indistinguishable from John Lloyd. I'm aware he's had the occasional mild word of criticism for the Blair circle but fundamentally his role is to flatter those people and behave as an attack dog with respect to their critics.

3. Partly because of this and partly because he's part of an extremely well-off and complacent metropolitan media world, I think his role, both conscious and instinctive, is something one might call "the exclusion of the Left".

In other words he believes, both intellectually and in the way that an ambitious person does from pure gut feeling, that anything to the left of a narrow band of political views (say, those which would be uncontroversial within the US Democratic Party) should not only be disagreed with but should be rubbished. Its advocates should be portrayed either as dinosaurs or as implict supporters of totalitarianism and if this can be done by ad hominem methods then that is a perfectly satisfactory method of proceeding.

No fair hearings for the Left - that's essentially the rule and if there's nothing new about it it doesn't make its more prominent proponents any more attractive. (I agree there's rather worse than Aaro about, but at the same time, he's no slouch, is he?)

5/10/2007 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger the management said...

I don't necessarily agree that Aaro is quite as bad as that but there is a lot of truth to what you say; he is certainly part of the many-headed beast that plays the same role in our system that Thomas "Airmiles" Friedman plays in the US one.

I wouldn't necessarily call him a "courtier" either, although my instincts might have been dulled on that front by doing a bit of research for the "Profile in Decency" of John Rentoul, who must surely be in the market for a nice kimono and a really sharp ceremonial sword come June 27th.

5/10/2007 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Also see "Martin Kettle".

5/10/2007 05:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rentoul takes sycophancy to genuinely astonishing levels, where random events anywhere in the known universe are shown to confirm the tactical brilliance and strategic wisdom of Tony Blair. It's almost like a kind of Decent Chaos Theory.

5/10/2007 05:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I still like David Aaronovitch". Please explain. I'd never heard of him until earl;y 2003 when I suddenly became aware of his presence in the Observer and the Guardian saying that the UK should just go ahead and invade countries if they didn't like their rulers. It all seemed suspiciously handy for the Government as those WMD just weren't being found.

5/11/2007 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Incidentally you know the title phrase has been used as the title of a posting on Hitchens Watch? Spooky.

(I found that out as I had to look up the phrase on Google, having no idea where it was from...)

5/11/2007 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Rentoul today: "His efforts to write the first draft of his memoirs and therefore of history are mainly unavailing: everything we know about him is wrong. He is useless at spinning. He is not a liar. He has been an outstanding prime minister. The perceptions are different, but the facts are clear"

5/12/2007 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Wasn't it Alan Watkins who wrote that the Blair Government was the single most prone to lying of any he had seen in his career?

5/12/2007 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've used the Del Amitri line once before ourselves

5/12/2007 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Rentoul is fantastic, better than we could have dared to hope.

5/13/2007 10:04:00 AM  

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