Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturday Prediction and Open Thread

Paul Berman's Terror and Liberalism seems to be the primary source of reference on Islamic terrorism for many British Decents. Nick Cohen praises Ayaan Hirsi Ali in terms which the Pope might find overly effulgent when applied to Mary. Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West would be an ideal title for a book, even if it wasn't by the first democratically elected female leader of a Muslim country. Even better, while the Telegraph thinks the "book ... received its finishing touches on the day of Benazir Bhutto's assassination" the LA Times Tim Rutten (link goes to the San Jose Mercury which reproduces the review online) says it "was finished just two days before the Harvard- and Oxford-educated Bhutto, 55, was killed". Already, I see a myth in the making. Facts - who did what when - are not what they seem.

Today's Telegraph carries the second review in two days (other papers have none so far), this time by Sameer Rahim. When I say review, by the way, I mean sustained personal attack. Here's something I didn't know.

But it is most instructive to compare her rhetoric with her record as prime minister. She complains about the rise of the "Taliban dictatorship" in Afghanistan, yet when she was prime minister she authorised aid to them and told President Clinton they would be a stabilising influence. In Daughter of the East she claims - oddly - that after she was replaced by Nawaz Sharif in 1997, "the Taliban changed colour and character".

Rahim also alleges she and her family stole $1.5 billion ("Bhutto declared her income as no more than $42,000, [but] the family bought a $3.5 million estate in Surrey") and that she was behind the murder of her brother.

I can't see Nick Cohen or Oliver Kamm passing up the opportunity to review the book. Which way shall they go? My money is on martyrdom. What say ye?

I really can't see David Aaronovitch not having something to say about the Cameron 'Auschwitz gimmick' row. At the moment, I'm not clear about what each party has actually said. The BBC seems to be wrong here:

A row has broken out over Conservative claims that Labour had not lived up to a promise of free educational visits to Auschwitz concentration camp.

But Labour have never promised "free educational visits" from the point of view of schools; according to the Observer blog:

he Labour party insisted today that since it began taking schoolchildren to Auschwitz in 1998, at an average cost of £350 per pupil, the Holocaust Educational Trust has always asked schools to contribute £100 towards the cost of each trip.

So 'free' has always meant 'free' for pupils (in theory), though obviously not if the school decides to get money by asking the parents. However, I wonder if Aaro, Kamm, Norman Geras, and Harry's Place will really let Ed Balls get away with this:

"This is a truly disgraceful remark by David Cameron and he should apologise immediately for the offence he has caused," Balls said. "Anyone who has seen the horrors of Auschwitz at first hand knows what a life-changing experience it is."

Ed, Ed, Ed, mate, you were born in 1967. They closed Auschwitz [updated for clarity that is the concentration camp] 22 years earlier. Your first-hand experience is like mine - that is, we've seen "Schindler's List" and Jeremy Isaac's "The World at War". Much fun may ensue from this, or perhaps not.


Blogger ejh said...

Well, it is possible to visit, according to the website and he doesn't actually say that he's been there, though Jim Knight does.

That's not to say that it's not a rather stupid row in which stupid things are being said about a man who said a stupid thing.

2/23/2008 06:29:00 PM  
Blogger donpaskini said...

Surely Nick is going to write tomorrow about Castro/Cuba/the moral shame of the left. Will it be one of those happy weeks when we get a regular Nick article and a book review?

2/23/2008 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Justin, it's possible to visit, but you're not going to see the 'horrors of Auschwitz at first hand'. I've updated the post which I admit gave the impression that Auschwitz is closed in the sense that you can't visit. I still think the education secretary is talking Balls if you'll excuse the pun. I'm not against school children going to Auschwitz, though I'd rather it was the ones their classmates voted 'most likely to become Neo-Nazis' if only to convince them that the bad guys lost, rather than (as I suspect is the case) it's the Jewish kids who go on a "this is your heritage - being the passive victims" trip which I think would be wrong in too many ways to list.

Don, yes Nick probably will go for Castro: I just don't have so much to say there. I don't think Castro was the greatest thing since the Hula Hoop, but I also think that almost all the American animus came from congenital liars and bad faith merchants I wouldn't lend a fiver to and who were just looking for a convenient small country to kick around and bully. Communist or capitalist, Cuba would have been a client state of an indifferent superpower. If the Yanks had control, they'd have used even more of the island for detention illegal in the 50 states.

2/23/2008 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Is it hopelessly naive to hope that one of them might tackle the Israeli general/FCO revelations or the Oops-we-uzed-yr-island-fr-priznerz admission?

Should I get my coat?

2/23/2008 08:02:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Y r u obzzed wth izrl?

2/23/2008 08:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the Muslim lobby.

re: Berman. The terrorists are totalitarians are they? Last time I checked, they're t3rroristz don't have a positive political programme against the West.

I thought the left did commit a big error - exiting from the international scene when the Cold War ended. That's what the other Berman says, anyway.

Sorry for preaching to the converted (Islamists/Left)...

2/23/2008 09:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not necessarily the Jewish kids, but it would definitely be the swotty sixth-form suckups going rather than the ones that might actually be improved by such a visit.

Cameron is right, or would be if he actually said what they claim. It is a horribly trite and shallow scheme. It's a kind of sausage-machine attitude to moral improvement that takes no account of the complexities of how people actually think.

It's the same with the cultural education thing. Feed kids into cultural events and they emerge neatly packaged in skins of erudition. Yeah, right.

"If the Yanks had control, they'd have used even more of the island for detention illegal in the 50 states."

But they haven't done that in Puerto Rico, have they?

In some ways, Cuba has been very useful for the US government.

2/24/2008 05:46:00 AM  

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