Wednesday, February 03, 2010

"It is 1940 and I am Churchill"

In more or less so many words!. Other "shocking little moments of whatever the opposite of an epiphany is" - Daniel Finkelstein notes that after his horrific cock-up in Iraq, nobody is particularly interested in what he's got to say about Iran, then proceeds to tell us what he thinks about nobody caring what he's got to say about Iran (I didn't read on).


Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

By not reading on you missed this:

Can we sleep at night when a regime that executes dissidents is building a nuclear bomb?

Which seems to be the summary of his thinking on the matter. I wonder - can he sleep at night? The answer is almost certainly yes. So what's his point? this is 'argument' at its absolute worst.

2/03/2010 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Perhaps he meant China?

One gets the impression he was bought 'Five Days in London' for Christmas. That book did seem to have an amazing effect on our political class (I thought it was deadly dull, but I realise I'm in the minority there); I think perhaps because it describes a time when Whitehall was like the West Wing and people like Daniel Finkelstein (although perhaps he could have mentioned the Times' position back then) said things that actually had an impact globally.

2/03/2010 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

Also, China has a nuclear bomb. Russia executed dissidents throughout the Cold War. One thing we absolutely do know is that internal repression has very little relationship with whether deterrence works.

2/03/2010 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

thinking about it, even being a domestically repressive state that regularly starts war with its neighbours doesn't mean that the Israeli nuclear deterrent is worth worrying about overly.

2/03/2010 08:45:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Also - does the analogy even work? there's a difference between starting a war as an act of agression, as in Iraq, and deciding to give up, as in the Churchill case.

Finkelstein is also pretty unclear about the hypothetical alternative situation that's apparently so important. For one thing, it's extremely unlikely that Iran would be so brazen in its pusuit of nukes, had the Iraq war not happened... etc etc. He oesn't even go into Blair's dodgy-as-hell hypothetical, about Saddam giving terrorists his WMDs. I mean, how has that one been borne out...?

it's just the same old 'historically'sourced' bluster. an abuse of history, in fact.

2/03/2010 08:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Israeli nuclear deterrent worries me. Though not as much as the Pakistani one does, I'll grant you.

I quite liked 5 days in May myself. Certainly it didn't fill me with the desire to start a war somewhere.

Chris Williams

2/03/2010 10:14:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Kind of on topic - Nick Cohen has now said outright on his standpoint blog that he will definitely be voting Labour in the election - 'but only because of Iraq'. This is a really odd way of thinking about things for someone who is a professional political commentator, surely.

2/03/2010 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

He's twittering again. He had a bit of a barney with Suzanne Moore over T.Blair's evidence recently, but more importantly is he's 'going out' tonight so I expect it'll be worth tuning into to its twitterances later this evening.

2/03/2010 03:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's twittering again. He had a bit of a barney with Suzanne Moore over T.Blair's evidence recently, but more importantly is he's 'going out' tonight so I expect it'll be worth tuning into to its twitterances later this evening.

Is it bad manners to tweet from round the Islington dinner party table?


2/03/2010 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

> but only because of Iraq

Surely he is saying this because it serves the very important purpose of annoying people like us, which seems to be one of his main goals in life now. (Although he'd probably see it more as "shaming" us into changing our views through repetition of the same incredibly convincing arguments, or something.)

2/03/2010 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

I think it actually just means he's been talking to Oliver Kamm.

2/03/2010 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Oliver was, of course, the first convert to Labour (insofar as he voted for the Conservatives in 2005 and said he would vote for Labour in this one) after Gordon Brown took over. I think his reasoning was something to do with tribal loyalties - perhaps they were restoked by Gordon Brown?.

2/03/2010 08:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that if you're a political columnist, then your advertised electoral allegiance is just another way that you define your public image.

There's a also the "I am a leftist really, yet I denounce the left" decent trope. If, like Kamm, you're essentially impossible to distinguish from yr average Toryboy, in an environment which is full of them, there's more milage in wearing your USP on your sleeve.

Chris Williams

2/03/2010 10:12:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Actually the real problem with this "It's 1940 and I am Churchill" is no-one ever mentions in the same breath the most obvious example of that mentality in action, which was Eden over Suez. This was made all the more poignant as Eden was there with Churchill in 1940. To quote Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick, Permanent Under-Secretary at the FO, 1956

"'the PM [Sir Anthony Eden] was the only man in England who wanted the nation to survive; all the rest of us have lost the will to live; in two years' time Nasser will have deprived us of our oil, the sterling area fallen apart, no European defence will be possible, there will be unemployment and unrest in the UK and our standard of living will be reduced to that of the Yugoslavians or Egyptians.'

2/04/2010 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger donpaskini said...

You will enjoy John Rentoul explaining what Robin Cook might say now about Iraq. Apparently it is not "told you so".

2/04/2010 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Wasn't it a lucky coincidence that the person alive who has managed to receive Robin Cook's thoughts from the grave is also the person whose views on Iraq Robin Cook now entirely agrees with?

2/04/2010 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Was Kirkpatrick taking the piss?

2/05/2010 05:00:00 PM  

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