Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Ah yes, "Targeted Sanctions", that sounds much more effective than "Nothing"

Aaro is on the witter with respect to the Iranians and their putative bomb. The throat-clear is unusually protracted at the start of this one, having a go at all those silly people who believed the NIE estimate of progress on Iran's weaponisation, because ... well because Iran hasn't really got any closer to a weapons program, but they are thoroughly nasty people! Who can't be trusted to co-operate with the IAEA! And the Revolutionary Guard is really in charge! Take this seriously damn you!

Here's a thought - Iran wants to maintain the option for a nuclear program, because it has two states which are its mortal enemies and which are nuclear powers. One of them is the only state to have ever used a nuclear weapon, while the other is a state that has launched several aggressive wars against its neighbours and has specifically and repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons against Iran. In those circumstances, what are the chances of persuading Iran that it doesn't need a nuclear bomb? Yup, there's two chances, and "Slim" just rode off to the Pritikin Institute.

So therefore in the circs, what can be hoped for is that Iran's option to weaponise its nuclear program remains just that - an option. In actual fact, moving from the "centrifuges" stage to the stage where you have something that goes bang is a very, very expensive process, very rarely carried out indeed by any economy that isn't on a war footing (the idea of Iran getting enough nuclear missiles to have a parade of them inspected by the Supreme Leader is very close to being an economic impossibility). The job of the Obama administration and anyone else with common sense is to keep them at the stage they're at for as long as possible, in the hope that something turns up (as Will Rogers said "diplomacy is the art of saying 'nice doggie' until you can find a rock").

Aaro knows this, doesn't he, which is why he ends up arguing himself into the entirely correct position that he incorrectly calls "doesn't matter". The logic of deterrence works, which means it works in Iran. But of course, just good old diplomacy and moreofthesameism will never do, because Douglas Hurd! And Uday and Qusay The Revolutionary Guard! They torture dissidents, don't you know! Nothing will keep us safe except ...

Except "targeted sanctions". Not even targeted at current decision makers. Targeted at unnamed officials of the Revolutionary Guard, on the basis of a very arguable intelligence analysis that there has in some way been a recent change on the part of the RG (who were not even responsible for the worst atrocities on pro-democracy or pro-Moussawi protestors, that was the bajlis, who are a bunch of armed Richard Littlejohn figures supporting Ahmadinejad not so much out of any ideology as for the simple reason that authoritarian wankers tend to recognise one of their own). Yeah, targeted sanctions. No skiing holiday for you, Mahmoud! And no Courvoisier either, unless you can smuggle some! To return to an old theme, this is simply politics as an act of aesthetics and self-expression.

PS: sorry, new contributors, I will send out the invites tonight, promise!!!


Blogger John B said...

a bunch of armed Richard Littlejohn figures

W00t, my nightmares for the next month are sorted.

12/02/2009 12:05:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

At worst it's DA sabre-rattling and at best it's the piece he always wanted to write when, as he hoped, that famous prediction came true.

It's ancient cold war nuclear logic and bereft of any insight. Iran are obviously not in danger of "...a wild-eyed fundamentalist getting his millennarian hands on the ultimate millennarian weapon..." as he posits sarcastically but just in case they are; let's not leave anything to chance. Because we may not be murdered in our beds but let's not have the bastards bring death from the skies.

And as BB references to his comment: "one possibility is united international action to impose targeted sanctions on the Revolutionary Guard and their political backers, and on the nuclear programme". Yes, let them eat cake.

12/02/2009 12:13:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

A fair amount of dodgy orientalism going on in that piece too.

the sophisticated — no, exquisite — system of checks and balances imagined to exist within Iran, which might prevent any wild-eyed fundamentalist getting his millennarian hands on the ultimate millennarian weapon.

Now - for a start - that 'millennarian' thing is a point straight of of the dodgy wingnut backwaters of the web, where Ahmedinejad is supposed to want to nuke Jerusalem (notwithstanding the fact that the east of the city is also the putative capital of Palestine) because it will bring down an new prophet or some such. All demonstrably bollocks but well-established in the wingnuttosphere and I'd imagine reposted on HP Sauce at some point (not got time to check). compared with the views of, I dunno, the bloke who runs Blackwater, which are supported by far more evidence...

According to this view President Ahmadinejad and his ilk are either far more pragmatic than his map-wiping rhetoric might suggest

er - yeah they are. I thought that was obvious? The last few years have shown them to be pretty canny operators in terms of foreign policy, even if some of the actions have been abhorrent. Aaro really doesn't think much about what he reads while researching pieces (or to phrase it another way, idly browning HP Sauce), does he?

or else are constrained by much wiser, almost invisible forces inhabiting the bodies of unseen grey-bearded clerics.

That's just plain odd.

12/02/2009 08:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's another state with nuclear weapons in that part of the world, and it actually has a border with Iran. Starts with P.

Even the Saudis supposedly want the bomb (they have some Chinese MRBMs that really don't make sense otherwise) and could pay P for a couple.

12/02/2009 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

I don't particularly like this guy one bit - nor his tone - but thought I'd bung it in here for the AW archives though he probably gives the tempered A Watchers a bad name and it is utterly simplistic.

12/02/2009 10:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off topic, but Decent-esque Joan Smith's CommentisFree piece on "why I should be allowed to ban muzzie minarets while saying how dare you call me a bigot" is really shockingly bad She can't seem to distinguish between -Secularism - keeping the state out of religion - and supression, where the State sets out to supress one particular religion. It is also a staggering piece of narcissism.

Ann On

12/03/2009 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

The last principled feminist in Britain' according to Nick Cohen.

that piece is staggeringly bad. 'Relgious apologists like Tariq Ramadan'? apologists for what? She uses the phrtase twice as well. awful writing. She also notes that Ramadan doesn't use the word Islamophobe but hey, he might as well have because he observes that people's fears and emotions were played on in the run-up to the poll (smith scorns this idea for some inexplicable reason).

It is also part of Cohen's earlier piece about how secularists aren't given a voice in British political debate. Funny how so many of the claims about that are made in pieces which the authors have been paid to write for prominent news outlets...

I still fail to understand the central point. She seems to approve of the idea that 'public displays of religious symbols should be kept to a minimum', linking this to principled left-wing throught about the treatment of women in Islam; but also talks about human rights, and earlier says that the referendum was a bad idea - afaict this is because there was no option for people to vote 'i hate minarets and want them banned for some inexplicable reason, but i'm not a racist or a bigot'.

The thinking is all over the place. If this is the best the 'secularist movement' have got...

12/03/2009 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

OC the 'last principled feminist in Britain' - WTF is that supposed to mean? Other feminists (presumably of the female kind; I assume NC is excusing himself and Martin Amis here) aren't principled? Given that most university-educated women identify as feminists, that's not the sort of statement I'd like to have quoted back at me the next time I went for a drink.

Ann On, I read some of the Atzman piece. I think the association of DA and NC is coincidence rather than conspiracy; they never mention each other, though both mention Norman Geras, Oliver Kamm, Harry's Place etc. I think it's wrong to suggest that the work 'together.'

My understanding is that NC's thought is more influenced by Paul Wolfowitz and regime change etc, while DA hove to the UK Government line of WMD, though it's hard to box either belief in neatly. I think the WMD thing looks even worse now the inquiry is under way; while regime change is more religious, if you will, and fact-proof.

12/03/2009 11:44:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

That is honestly how Cohen trailed Joan Smith's website on his own 'blog'. Agreed, rank stupidity, but it's symptomatic of his approach to feminism (along with dear old Mart), where anyone who disagrees with Cohen is not a real feminist.

re: religious - this is linked I promise - Smith was vociferously anti-Iraq war. Dunno how you can tally that with being mates with Cohen and the partner of Denis MacShane - infact I think that opposing the war invalidates any pretence of feminism according to our Nick.

But that strikes to the heart of her piece on secularism. Sh says that to all non-believers, religions are just 'a set of ideologies'. Maybe so, but for Cohen and his mates, some ideologies are more important (and 'rational') than others...

Atzmon - i find his tone at times hysterical and dislike his phrasing - using 'Jewish' all the time tends to invalidate most of what he says in my eyes. NC is not really a 'Jewish Chronicle writer' either, much less so than Aaro. and yes, they don't work together really - they big each other up a lot in print and online, but they do approach Iraq from different perspectives. Obv onside in TGISOOT but as you say, Aaro approached it more from loyalty to the party and specifically to Blair - Cohen has always been a bit of an anti-Labour contratian so it works a bit differently in his case. I've always foudn this weird about Decents - they seem untra-united on some things but ultimately the unity is mainly based on people they all hate.

12/03/2009 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

CC - in fairness, twas I who put in the Atzmon link not Ann On. I put enough disclaimers in my comment to suggest I had problems with it. But I don't think he meant DA and NC were working together literally and it is one of many simplifications in the piece.

12/03/2009 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chardonnay Chap : I think that was Mr Kitty linking to Atzmon, not me: I wouldn't and he shouldn't. I think Atzmon's line "Jewish chronicle writer Nick Cohen" is just plain bigotry. I guess Nick may have written for the Jewish Chronicle, but he is not a "Jewish Chronicle writer" - an "Observer writer" or "Standpoint writer" or even at one point a "New Statesman writer", but not a "Jewish Chronicle writer". The only point of calling him a "Jewish chronicle writer" is to put "Jewish" and "Nick Cohen" in the same sentence, which is only done for reasons of bigotry: Nick Cohen is where he is politically because of many influences - especially Hitchens, also Wheen, also his own move to the right (or whatever he wants to call it) His "Jewishness" is one factor that has not really influenced his political journey, because he grew up in a non - religious family. All writers are influenced by their heritage, including their Jewish heritage if they have it, which is of course as it should be - but they are not determined by it, to argue they are is bigotry and racism. Atzmons argument doesn't fit with Nick, and this illustrates Atzmon's attempt to suggest there is some kind of Jewish "bloc" of writers as both wrong and nasty. I think Atzmon is equally wrong about David Aaronovitch - his politics are more to do with his enthusiasm for New Labour than his family background.

Ann On

12/03/2009 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Ann on

I think by prefacing my inclusion of the link with:

"I don't particularly like this guy one bit - nor his tone - but thought I'd bung it in here for the AW archives though he probably gives the tempered A Watchers a bad name and it is utterly simplistic."

Was fair enough and allows me to put a link to it. If I'd put it in with utter approval then I'd be right to be taken to task but I didn't. I put it in to spark debate and because this is AWatch after all and it was essentially an echo of the original BB posting re the hypocrisy of DA re Iran. I don't care for Atzmon's transparency and there are elements of bigotry whenever he writes.

12/03/2009 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Editor said...

Yes, Atzmon is undoubtedly a bigot, but as we've debated here before; one of the main underpinnings for Decency is Zionism.

Aaronovitch is a committed Zionist, Cohen may have come late to the party but he's onside now - Although I want to see every Israeli settlement on the West Bank dismantled, it was clear to me that when Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel it had declared war and had to accept the consequences. I would not have thought that five years ago.


MacShane is a rabid Israel-Firster and Joan Smith is an Islamophobe. Yeah, I can see why they're all mates.

And when Atzmon uses the phrase "Hasbara author" to describe Aaronovitch it's not code for Jewish writer; he is actually listed on the Israel Hasbara Committee website (about half way down).


BTW, what would the reaction of the Decents be to a mainstream British journalist being cited as an sympathetic activist on an official Iranian propaganda site?

12/03/2009 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes sorry, I don't mean to get into some kind of thou-shalt-not-link-to condemnathon, - I may simply be agreeing with you here, but I just think Atzmon talks nasty rubbish. I think the driving force for Nick and Dave's "Zionism" (and the former is much less interested in this than the latter) is not to do with their "Jewishness", and to argue about it in terms of their "Jewishness" is bigotry, not politics: (that is precisely what Nick is writing in that article in the Jewish Chronicle you cite, and while it is easy to disagree with many of his arguments, on this central question he is right)
Ann On

12/03/2009 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oops, sorry to Mr Kitty and Ann On. I still don't agree with Editor that "one of the main underpinnings for Decency is Zionism." I think it's Islamophobia (to use an ugly word), and I'd like to know more about the history of MacShane's enthusiasm for Zionism, which I suspect is channeled (if you can call it that) Islamophobia.

OC - do NC and DA 'big each other up', I suspected rather the reverse, as I said earlier, while both are prepared to name drop Geras, Kamm, and HP Sauce, they don't mention each other, and I think DA's made the odd comment which could be taken as a dig at NC.

Both DA and NC grew up in secular families of Jewish descent; I think that's all they have in common really.

12/03/2009 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

i was thinking about cohen's praise for aaro's book in standpoint when it came out-maybe that's it though. Btw simon jenkins in tehgraun yesterday was fairly clearly a response to aaro's sanctions piece.

12/03/2009 01:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Editor said...

Ann On - Yes, we are agreed on Atzmon being a nasty piece of work.

FWIW I think the driving force behind Dave's Zionism (why the inverted commas in your comment?) is similar to Blair's - an obsequious attraction to power, not his ethnicity, religion or upbringing.

However, you have in your denunciation of Atzmon, elided his central point about Aaronovitch being an acknowledged Israeli propagandist.

Chardonnay Chap - if it was simply Islamophobia why the need to bat for Israel when the chips are down (Lebanon, Gaza, Iran etc)? Their Islamophobia stems from their Zionism not the other way round.

MacShane is a member of Labour Friends of Israel, so I think you're being maybe uncharitable to impute his views to a hatred of the Muzzies rather than an admiration for the plucky Zionists.

Also, which prominent Decent is NOT a Zionist?

12/03/2009 01:57:00 PM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...


12/03/2009 02:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Editor said...

Damn you Belle :)

12/03/2009 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason I put "Zionist" in inverted comments is that many peple are Zionist in the broadest sense , thinking that it is OK that there is a Jewish state in Israel - they might think the government and army of Israel should be nicer, that there should be a two state deal with the Palestinians, but they think the continued existence of a Jewish state in Isreal is fine. I thin a great many people who objected to the Iraq war (including, as it happens, most Jews in the US and UK, I think), and also many people who think the war on terror stinks, might generally feel this way. So if it is a "sign" of "decency" (in the indecent sense) , it is not a very useful one. Indeed the point about the full on decents is they take their cue from Neoconservatism, which has a very AIPAC, Likud-dy kind of approach. This is not the same even as the typical LAbour Friends of Israel approach . Getting on board with the "War on Terror, on
Iraq & Afghanistan were the driving forces fo decency, I think,not "Zionism" -
Ann On

12/03/2009 02:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Aaronovitch is a committed Zionist". What exactly is the evidence that DA is a committed Zionist, Editor? He has written that he is neither a Zionist nor an anti-Zionist.

12/03/2009 04:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Aaronovitch is an established Israeli propagandist", writes Editor. This would seem to mean far more than "sometimes agrees with Israel". Evidence?

12/03/2009 04:47:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

I agree with Ann On. It's best not to use the words 'Zionism' and 'Zionist' because they have no commonly accepted meanings. Better to use words with more precise meanings.

I do however think that there is an element of Decency which is very supportive of what Ann On describes as the 'AIPAC, Likud-dy kind of approach'. There is a sharp overlap between this grouping and the broader Neo-Conservative movment.

Hitchens may or may not be a Zionist depending on how you define the term. It is arguable though that he has become more understanding of Israel's perspective and less critical following his funny turn.

12/03/2009 04:52:00 PM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

One of Hitchens's long-standing betes noires -- pre and post turn -- has been a hostility to partition-as-political-solution: it may be rooted in his very deep personal knowledge of the Cyprus conflict, which is IIRC were he cut his teeth as a journalist

I would honestly be a bit astonished if this belief had just been quietly set aside, of all his beliefs*: and here, for example, there is the hint -- not explored -- of what's wrong with the two-state solution, considered as a partition

*i think if he changed his mind on it, he'd argue the change loudly

12/03/2009 05:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Hugh said...

Ann On, we’ve had this discussion before at AW about whether they’re ‘casual supporters’ of Israel. Casual supporters of Israel’s right to exist don’t back it bombing Lebanon, Gaza and the rest. They don’t go round slurring Goldstone, excusing Israel’s human rights abuses and giving Israel a pass on its different laws etc for Arabs and Jews. And if the HPers were the Atlantic-alliance-right-or-wrong types they’re often portrayed they wouldn’t be criticising American human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib, while defending far worse by Israel in Gaza. It all points one way and there’s nothing casual about it.

CC, given that you’ve stated on many occasions that Israel’s not one of the main underpinnings of Decency, I’d be interested in your explanation of the above. And if Islamophobia is the main motivation for Decency how do you explain the Decents’ support for interventions for Muslims in Kosovo and Bosnia, in the latter case in support of a Islamist ideologue like Izetbegovic?

12/03/2009 05:24:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

That Hitchens article is interesting although I do wonder if 80s vintage Hitchens would have written the line:

As questionable as the "right to return" may already be, it certainly cannot confer the right to expel.

I suspect not.

12/03/2009 05:31:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Nick and Aaro were certainly not friends in the late 1990s/early 2000s as when Nick was in his anti-Blair mode he gave Aaro a lot of stick:

"The best David Aaronovitch of the Independent, whose services are usually demanded at such moments [to defend the government]'

and they had a spat, of which here's Nick's reply to an Aaro piece (Aaro's is too long to reproduce here but let's say he was so enraged with Cohen's criticism that he took to that Hitchens' style use of 'Mr', so it was 'Mr Cohen says')

Right of Reply: Nick Cohen The `Observer' columnist responds to a recent article by David Aaronovitch which criticised his style of journalism
The Independent (London); Dec 30, 1999; Nick Cohen; p. 2

THE WHINGEING style as much as the meagre content of consensual pundits provides the best reason for believing that Blairism is a continuation of Thatcherism. Once again we hear the self-pity of received opinion as well-heeled columnists announce that they are persecuted dissidents; brave voices of truth who risk all to tell it like it is with only the Prime Minister, the BBC, big business and their editors standing between them and the gulag - or, at least, a snub at a dinner party.

In the Christmas Eve edition of The Independent, David Aaronovitch shared the pain that I, the New Statesman and Private Eye had caused him when we implied that he was "a man who could be relied on to write as No 10 required". My "spiteful" crime - I cannot answer for others - was to mention his Osric role in the Millbank assault on the independent-minded Rhodri Morgan when he sought to become Labour leader in Wales.

As a fellow hack, I see that it is hard to find much to say at Christmas. Displaying your hurt to the readers is a threadbare but necessary alternative to saying nothing. But Aaronovitch inadvertently raises a serious issue when he claims that critics on the left wilfully refuse to say a good word about the Government.

For the record, I and many others believe in the thoroughly New Labour policies of one member one vote, freedom of information, an ethical foreign policy, an elected House of Lords, free elections, tolerance for asylum- seekers, respect for civil liberties and devolution to the regions of England. Downing Street does not. Blair and his supporters are ridiculed not because they have betrayed Old Labour - or, in Aaronovitch's case, betrayed an "honourable" tradition of journalism which has existed only fitfully in this country - but because they have betrayed themselves.

12/03/2009 05:37:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Once again we hear the self-pity of received opinion as well-heeled columnists announce that they are persecuted dissidents; brave voices of truth who risk all to tell it like it is

That is deliciously ironic isn't it?

12/03/2009 06:05:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...



is also very good and it's worth following the link to the Guernica interview. His comments on Nick Cohen are very amusing.

12/03/2009 06:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Editor said...

Pd'B - "Aaronovitch is an established Israeli propagandist", writes Editor. This would seem to mean far more than "sometimes agrees with Israel". Evidence?

My evidence is upthread, but here's the link once more;


If the Israeli Hasbara Committee considers him to be a propagandist for them, I think I'm safe to say he's an established Israeli propagandist. I don't think I'm being unnecessarily controversial there.

12/03/2009 07:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Editor: "If the Israeli Hasbara Committee considers him to be a propagandist for them, I think I'm safe to say he's an established Israeli propagandist. I don't think I'm being unnecessarily controversial there."
Your link is a list. That list also includes Winston S. Churchill, the US Government and the Washington Post. Is that really your best evidence? And what about the Zionist question?
Phil Dd'B

12/03/2009 10:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stopped clock alert: the Bap has a point. It's a long list, which looks more like 'Here's a list of the 'author' fields on articles that we felt like reprinting' rather than 'These people are all members of of central committee, or carry a card for us'. On the basis of this evidence alone, Not Proven.

Chris Williams

12/04/2009 12:56:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

That Chomsky is quite brilliant:

Nick Cohen’s a maniac. If you’ll notice, he never cites anything. Does he cite anything? That already gives you the answer. Go back and check. He doesn’t cite anything. These are just diatribes, tantrums. I’m not interested in them.

As I've said before, you can tell who the Decents are who actually care about Israel by their actions whenever Israel starts a war (or is provoked into it, according to them), because at that point those who are primarily motivated by Israel start cheerleading for everyitnhg the IDF is doing - thus Toube and all his HP Sauceniks and Geras; but not Aaro and not Cohen. They do both buy the idea that a lot of (possibly all) critics of the IDF are antisemites, but Aaro knows how bad the tubthumping looks, and Cohen doesn't know anything about the ME so wisely steers clear until the, ahem, dust has settled. Then unwisely piles in after the event with a load of HP-Sauce-derived smears, but still. I don't think either is a particularly hardline Zionist, though Cohen will probably start on that fairly soon - they both use the issue, sporadically, as a stick to beat people they already dislike with. They will certainly take the 'pro-Israeli' line on stuff but they won't beat the drum.

Put simply, the list of things that 'Editor' is saying Aaro and Cohen do is applicable only, really, to HP Sauce and a few associated places. Cohen, as far as I'm aware, hasn't said anything about Goldstone and stayed silent on Gaza til the war had finished when he wrote that embarrassing 'Jesus I'm turning into a Jew' piece. He'll occasionally reproduce HP Sauce stuff about HRW and the UN on his Standpoint blog but it's just copy and pasting. The list thing is a red herring - it's pretty exhaustive as phil correctly poitns out and using it as evidence is a pretty dodgy thing to do - reminds me of when a writer in the J-Post arbitrarily decided that Martin Amis hated Jews and lvoed Arabs by taking a quote out of context.

God, Cohen's style in that earlier piece. It's just so hysterical. Incidentally, I wonder if he'll respond to the rather embarrassing stuff about Chalabi that's being raked up in the Inquiry...

12/04/2009 08:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't like speculating what drove George Bush to invade Iraq, because I don't think the man himself knows. Similarly, I don't like speculating what the real drivers of Decency are because I don't think they know themselves. There are also various different people and various motives. What I do know is that they haven't really thought through their basic propositions that the decent thing to do is to start a war or to get tough with terrorists. The arguments are thin and, as inevitably occurs when arguments are thin, abuse isn't far behind.


PS The letters????????????

12/04/2009 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

I don't think that presence on that list is evidence of much, but it's not totally uninformative - I note that Norman Finkelstein isn't on it for example. And I don't think that it can be seriously argued that Aaro doesn't do Israeli propaganda - his articles about the bombing of Lebanon are the ones that stick in my mind. He doesn't do it all the time, but he does do it regularly and reliably.

Nick, on the other hand, clearly doesn't belong on that list which suggests that it's just a random compilation of common Jewish surnames. He's militantly secularist, has next to no interest in his ancestry, has regularly criticised Israel from the left in the past - it's pretty obvious to me that when he takes this issue up, it's either because he's just read something on Harry's Place or because he knows it will piss off his enemies (plus he is clearly and entirely understandably pissed off about that Guardian talkboard thing, although he persists in attributing it to "the guardian" rather than to "message board trolls".

12/04/2009 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

because at that point those who are primarily motivated by Israel start cheerleading for everyitnhg the IDF is doing - thus Toube and all his HP Sauceniks and Geras; but not Aaro and not Cohen.

yes on the concept but I'm not sure about all the entries on that list - Aaro reliably does cheerlead (in anguished "if only we didn't have to exterminate these brutes!" fashion) and Geras is pretty unfailingly consistent on condemning human rights abuses by Israel. In fact in general I'd be tempted to claim Norm as an example for the "Israel is peripheral to Decency" school of thought - Norm is an Israel hobbyist and his religion/ethnicity is clearly quite important to him personally, but it isn't central to his politics.

12/04/2009 10:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What twaddle you talk, BB. See
Phil D'B

12/04/2009 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

the first of your links discussed here and evidence that Aaro does in fact provide apologetics for Israeli war crimes here.

12/04/2009 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Returning to the original Aaro piece, isn't "our enemy's leader is a lunatic" both a fairly standard piece of saloon bar foreign policy commentary and an equally recognisable component of any propaganda offensive preceding a move towards military action?

12/04/2009 05:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Al said...

In other news, David T has posted news of his bath seeping water into his kitchen.

I utterly condemn these dangerous leaks.

12/05/2009 12:30:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Incidentally, it is possible to take Skiing holidays in Iran.

12/05/2009 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Dom Joly (whoever he may be) goes skiing

12/05/2009 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

'isn't "our enemy's leader is a lunatic" both a fairly standard piece of saloon bar foreign policy commentary and an equally recognisable component of any propaganda offensive preceding a move towards military action?'

Yep. Prior to the invasion of Afghanistan I recall Blair talking and when he was asked - words to the effect "You did so much work in building up a dialogue with the IRA, why can't you try with the Taliban?"

He replied "You can't talk to these people, they don't listen to reason".

Demon established - the demagogue was now in the driving seat.

12/05/2009 05:55:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I won't say there is an absolute causal link between oil and gas markets and dictatorship but, as the shifting of Venezuela from representative democracy to Peronist authoritarianism under Hugo Chávez shows, the two go well together.

Ladies and gentlemen, Nick Cohen has well and truly jumped the shark.

12/06/2009 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I won't say there is an absolute causal link between oil and gas markets and dictatorship ...

So, he won't be supporting Sarah Palin in 2012 then?

12/06/2009 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Somewhat churlish of me but I hate allusions to Caesar's assassination in politics.

"David Davis has been staring at David Cameron through hooded eyes, like Cassius studying Caesar's back."

As for "pump anti-liberal propaganda into European mosques."

No-one could accuse him of that! At the very least by proxy.

12/06/2009 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Good God, Nick's concern-trolling the UK's climate change Teabaggers by telling them their conspiratorial lunacy is driving them into the arms of Putin the Terrible and the Dread Pirate Hugo Chavez.

Can I suggest that Nick is not going to have any more success with this tactic than he did in his attempts to concern-troll the left into supporting insane neoconservative schemes? I wouldn't be surprised if he managed single-handedly to turn Britain into a nation of Hummer-driving Clarksons, if his previous efforts are anything to go by.

12/06/2009 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Massively OT but I'm fed up with the alluring sense of menace in stories about the straying of British ships into Iranian waters

How would we react - given the current climate - if Iranian boats kept being discovered floating around in the fucking channel.

Would they be treated in a hospitable manner? I doubt it. (Sorry for the Jeremy Clarkson-esque manner of this comment - in style, if not in thought.)

12/06/2009 09:01:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Yes forgetting that the News Quiz is off air, I tuned into the Now Show and got an earful of thier peculiarly noisesome brand of 4th-form flippancy to the effect that a bunch of chinless wonders couldn't possibly be anything to do with espionage or covert ops.

In other news (categorise under, er, Iraq), wild eyed conspiracy theorists fail to do the decent thing and move on. I'm sure the high court justices will be very keen to exercise their discretion without fear nor favour.

12/07/2009 12:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How would we react - given the current climate - if Iranian boats kept being discovered floating around in the fucking channel.

Would they be treated in a hospitable manner? I doubt it.

IRISL (Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines) container ships call at Felixstowe twice weekly.

12/07/2009 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Yorkshire Ranter

Damn you and your knowledge of international maritime history, law and current regulations. You've totally ruined my satirical jibe :-)

12/07/2009 11:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, in a half-hearted attempt to back you up Mr K, Felixstowe is clearly in the North Sea rather than the Channel. Though, unless the Iranian ships like to re-enact the Spanish Armada in reverse, they probably come up the Channel first.

Speaking of the Armada, isn't it evidence of the lefty appeasement of the Felixstowe port authorities to let Muslim ships dock here. I'm sure if this was more widely known then there would be an outcry from the blogosphere calling for the spirit of Drake and Effingham to rid us of our religious foes. Though English naval captains of the Elizabethan age might find Somalia more congenial at the moment.

Igor Belanov

12/07/2009 01:43:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Thanks Igor.

To defend my Swiftian position a bit more. If the Revolutionary Guard had wandered into "our" territory, would we have embraced rapprochement so swiftly.
Thinking more of the first incident than the second.

It is perhaps an unfair comparison but they were the Royal Navy, hovering over the Iraq-Iran boundary in terms of water.
And this is not a defence of Iran by the way!

12/07/2009 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

If the Revolutionary Guard had wandered into "our" territory,
Is that everywhere outside Iranian territorial waters?
How else are spies supposed to get into Iran? I'm not surprised that the Iranians were suspicious of the Kurdistan hikers, though they seem to have clocked the yachtsmen as too dumb for espionage fairly quickly.
Perhaps "Zaniest" in place of "Zionist".

12/07/2009 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

"If the Revolutionary Guard had wandered into "our" territory,"

Not to be taken literally, but more of a response to a territorial incursion.

The hypothesis being - what if Iranian RG turned up in our space. (Not even mentioning the fact that it was an Iraq/Iran divide btw).

Transgression seems so petty when you are on the side that doesn't give a shit, but its symbolism is insulting as I'm sure the IRA would testify to.

12/07/2009 09:41:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Strictly OT but amusing nonetheless.


Does old airmiles count as a Decent? He sure ticks a lot of the requisite boxes.

12/08/2009 01:22:00 AM  
Anonymous saucy jack said...

OT also, but alarming news from the Middle East's bastion of secular democracy in today's Ha'aretz:

"Justice Minister Ya'akov Ne'eman on Monday said he believes Halakha (Jewish law) should be the binding law in Israel, Army Radio reported.

"Step by step, we will bestow upon the citizens of Israel the laws of the Torah and we will turn Halakha into the binding law of the nation," said Ne'eman at a Jewish law convention at the Regency hotel in Jerusalem, in the presence of many rabbis and rabbinical judges.

"We must bring back the heritage of our fathers to the nation of Israel," Ne'eman said. "The Torah has the complete solution to all of the questions we are dealing with," he added."

12/08/2009 09:58:00 AM  

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