Friday, May 16, 2008

Jaw-Jaw Is Better Than That Other Thing

I don't think I hate anyone. I hope I don't hate anyone. One of the things about our friends the Decents is that they keep talking about 'enemies' as if they can't tell the difference between a difference of opinion and a war. I don't hate Harry's Place (mostly, I think they're all puffed up fools). But, ho hum, here we are again.

In a nutshell: George Bush made a speech in Israel. It was the sort of thing we've heard a lot of from various sources since 2001: we would have opposed the Nazis; our opponents would not have. Nasty, silly, and indefensible. Readers have probably worked out for themselves that I'm partial to Barack Obama, so I don't like this sort of attack.

Gene Zitver is an American, so he probably understands the US electoral system a lot better than I do. However, I can see no rational reason for Bush to attack the Republican presidential candidate. Yes, Bush and McCain both challenged for the nomination in 2000. I don't see how McCain was Bush's "nemesis" - Bush won, after all. I think Bush is an idiot, but I don't believe he wants the Democrats to win in November.

Mike Power takes a different angle on the same story and remembers that Bush's grandfather helped Hitler's rise to power. That Guardian article does note in the third last paragraph, however:

The Anti-Defamation League in the US is supportive of Prescott Bush and the Bush family. In a statement last year they said that "rumours about the alleged Nazi 'ties' of the late Prescott Bush ... have circulated widely through the internet in recent years. These charges are untenable and politically motivated ... Prescott Bush was neither a Nazi nor a Nazi sympathiser."

And what did Bush say?

“We have heard this foolish delusion before,” Bush said. “As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

Harry's Place commenters compare this sentiment with Carter. Ben last week said, The reason I became a “Decent” in the first place is because of the values that made me Labour to start with. As far as I can tell, Ben and the others are pretty much Blair supporters. And the position Bush is deprecating is, in fact, the Jonathan Powell line, which Blair very clearly supported while in office. And Powell, anyway, is really quite unequivocal.

"It's very difficult for democratic governments to do - talk to a terrorist movement that's killing your people," he said. "[But] if I was in government now I would want to have been talking to Hamas, I would be wanting to communicate with the Taliban; and I would want to find a channel to al-Qaida."

He's right too.

Update Sat 17 17:02. Kudos to Gene, he added the following video to his post.

Which, I agree, is very entertaining, in a shouty way. IMO, it makes my point: Obama compares himself to Kennedy and Roosevelt and Mark Green of a radio network throws in Yitzhak Rabin. Nothing like Chamberlain. A lot more like the (very sensible and rightfully successful, IMO) diplomacy of Blair and Powell. Real politics, in other words. Not the fantasising and name-calling and dark allusions of certain bloggers.


Blogger cian said...

If the ADL said something was false, I'm inclined to think it was true... They don't really address the substance of the criticism, do they. I mean, he was still trading with a US enemy during war time.

Plenty of US business men were very sympathetic and supportive of Hitler. I have no idea as to whether Prescott was, but he would hardly have been unusual if he had been. Its hardly an outlandish suggestion.

5/16/2008 11:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ADL gives a free pass to Prescott Bush, who dealt with a company which maltreated its Jewish employees and used slave-labour during the Nazi period. The ADL site has a surprisingly terse dismissal of the Prescott-Nazi association, with very little supporting substance to it.

Bizarrely, or rather, not-so-bizarrely, it doesn't subject Bush to the same scrutiny with which it approaches Switzerland's energy deals with Iran, for example.

5/17/2008 08:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When it comes to the second world war, Harry's place gets seriously weird : Their odd South African poster, Brett, is angry that the BBC mentioned any civilian deaths in the Dam Busters raid , and goes on to say that Dam Buster pilot Guy Gibson calling his dog "Nigger" was no more racist than the South African licorice gobstoppers he sucked as a kid - called "Nigger Balls". This wasn't racism, but merely a descriptive use of a word meaning "black"

5/17/2008 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I thought it was Douglas Bader in Reach For The Sky. Am I wrong?

I think if anybody wants to claim it wasn't racist they might be pushing their luck. I can think everybody understands that earlier generations took certain things for granted that we would not, and I'm perfectly happy to judge people according to the spirit of their times and not according to the spirit of ours. My gran used to say "works like a black" and I don't think it made her Enoch Powell.

But I also think that people, by and large, knew very well that the expression was all about treating certain people as below you and that when Orwell called his essay Not Counting Niggers he not only did it for a reason, but that reason wouldn't have made any sense unless people knew what that word conveyed, why it was used and by whom.

5/17/2008 06:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, Gibson's dog, in real life and in the movie, was indeed called Nigger, and 'Nigger' was indeed the code word for a successful attack - so changing it does some violence to the historical record. Like if a future egalitarian society were to re-make _The Longest Day_ so as to remove the world 'Overlord' from it.

And yes, the Dams Raid was a strategic failure. Typical of a 1943 Bomber Command fuck-up, as well - they attacked the targets that they could (Mohne and Eder), rather than the ones that would have made a difference (Mohne and Sorpe). Killed lots of Germans, but that was about it.

5/17/2008 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Re: the video. The Editors have word:

It’s all like this. Everything is just like this. Some blank young person who has memorized a 5″x7″ index card of focus group-approved phrases, yelling, yelling, yelling over everyone. And you can say what you want, and be as right as you want, but he’s going to keep yelling, and yelling, and yelling until you get sick of it, and at the end of the day everybody knows that Barack Obama goes to secret Muslim church. Everything is like this. An election won’t fix it. This rules the world.

5/17/2008 08:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, that RAF-spotter anonymous up there was me.

Chris Williams

5/19/2008 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger Sonic said...

Killed lots of slave labourers if I recall correctly anonymous.

5/20/2008 08:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, that too, sonic. Fair point.


5/20/2008 09:58:00 PM  

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