Thursday, December 02, 2010

They Were Shining There For You And Me, For Liberty

Like a good populist, I go where my readers want. And you want to discuss David Aaronovitch's column today. (Link goes to the Staggers.)

If Flying Rodent is willing, I'd be happy to publish his splendid shorterised version of Aaro's col here see comments to last post starting here.

The cables prove again that the US, the most powerful democracy, is on our side. On Britain's side. On the side of those who think that democracy and liberty are important and need to be argued for and defended. They haven't been lying to us. They haven't been doing things that are against our interests.

That, I'm reliably informed is our Aaro, and not a febrile parody. From Aaro's old newspaper, tehgrauniad: WikiLeaks cables: Secret deal let Americans sidestep cluster bomb ban.

Gordon Brown, as prime minister, had swung his political weight in 2008 behind the treaty to ban the use and stockpiling of cluster bombs. Britain therefore signed it, contrary to earlier assurances made by British officials to their US counterparts.
[A leaked confidential account] shows that the two governments concocted the "concept" of allowing US forces to store their cluster weapons as "temporary exceptions" and on a "case-by-case" basis for specific military operations.

If I had two questions to put to DA they would be a) why does he prefer a treaty to be circumvented by unelected officials against the clear wishes of the then Prime Minister? and b) why someone who presents himself as a loyal, if occasionally reluctantly so, Labour member finds actual Labour policy so objectionable? I can't see any possible "peace-keeping" use of cluster bombs; you may as well give bobbies on the beat hand-grenades.

Title from Sweden's most successful export (assuming D2 doesn't correct me on this). Ironic given that Sweden is currently rather anti-liberty.

PS Before anyone suggests that I'm the one being a hypocrite here as I oppose many of the policies of the Coalition (such as tuition fees; I support the students and agree with what they're saying), I'm not advocating turning over government policy in the dark. I want there to be an education bill which is thrashed out in Parliament, recorded on parliamentary tv, in Hansard, and by sketch writers. Our elected representatives, including David Miliband, really aren't doing a good job of representing us if they pretend to be for one policy while pursuing another.


Anonymous dd said...

No, it's true; for a period during the 1970s, ABBA royalties were Sweden's largest foreign exchange earner. There was also a period when Elton John had something like 20% market share in the global recording industry.

12/02/2010 11:13:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I've heard the figure 2%. I'm not sure 20% will stand up unless somebody can show me different.

12/03/2010 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

If Flying Rodent is willing

Feel free, but do be aware that it's an intentionallly uncharitable reading of Aaro's article, and isn't very fair at all. I've had a quick look to see if anyone's copied and pasted the real thing anywhere, but it has shown up yet.

12/03/2010 08:14:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

Thinking about it 2% is much more realistic than 20% so I suspect I have misremembered.

12/03/2010 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Why is Elton John statistic considered strange - surely the Beatles at one point did have a figure in the tens of percent? Is it because it is Elton John?

12/03/2010 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Quite hard to actually check that assertion but I think in 1964 they accounted for about 10% of US music sales. So I wasn't really right.

12/03/2010 11:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Flying Rodent- "...but it has shown up yet."

I suppose you mean that it has NOT shown up yet, anywhere, which is a pity. I had hoped that someone would go behind the paywall or scan the copy at their dentists and leak it to us.

It is interesting that Aaro has gone back to the old saying "America is a force for good in the world". This is what got Blair and his colleagues into so much trouble with the invasion of Iraq. They just couldn't understand that regime change is a difficult and risky business, and that the Americans may be spending 40% of the total world military budget but that is not the crucial factor in getting it right. They couldn't understand that the neo-cons didn't understand concepts like "the State" and that their idea of having a minimalist state and a hyper-free market just wasn't going to work.

My guess, from the New Statesman critique of Aaro's article, is that part of Aaro's argument is that the Americans have good intentions. But, so what? Very often the Americans do not understand the context when they intervene, so they make things worse. That can be from lack of information or ideological blindness. The intentions may be good, or they may just be after the oil: the end result is more or less the same.


12/03/2010 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I begin to feel sorry for old Rupert. I know that he's looking to create an iPad only newspaper with Steve Jobs in the US, and here via Caitlin Moran:

Ooooh: RT @iamamro: iPad owners! The Times iPad edition is free at the moment (includes 30 days free access). #iPad #TheTimes #DirtyDigger

I don't think Murdoch gets technology. The device should not matter. Besides, I believe that searches for HTC phones (touchscreen + hardware keyboard) have overtaken those for iPhones. What's the point of an iPad only paper if iPads aren't around in five years? Tablets may be, but Apple won't have a monopoly.

Besides, the lovely Caitlin has also said: Twitter is VERY firm that the new iPad, in spring, will be loads better and that I should wait. *waits* Thanks, Twitter.

Even Times star writers aren't eligible for the free offer.

12/04/2010 11:22:00 AM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

When you're claiming that stuff like this "proves [America] is on the side of liberty", how can you feign outrage at Galloway n' co. without your nose extending halfway down Fleet Street?

12/04/2010 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Re: iPad newspaper - the platform indeed doesn't matter. 'I-Pad only' isn't going to be based on any kind of technological limitation; it will be some kind of marketing thing. I-pad shows web pages or some trivial variant, dunnit.

I would note though that this appears to provide a positive answer to my speculation about the circulation-boosting freebies - at least it does if any subscibers are (a) included in e-Times readership figures even though not paying at all, (b) nominally subscribing via their i-Pad tariff, (c) going to start getting billed on said tariff unless they (remember to) cancel.

(Actually not sure I've understood what this offer is for - is it 30 days' access thrown in with a new iPad? If so, I bet it is included in the Times subscriber figures.)

On the other suspicions I voiced so echoingly on the previous thread:

1. press complicity in selective reportage - a bit of a no-brainer, but nice to have it confirmed (that's 'confirmed' in the technical sense of 'supported by some evidence'): Gareth Porter: Wikileaks Exposes Complicity of the Press.

2. The much more speculative bit: well, notorious tinfoil hatter Zbigniev Brzezinski is reported to think there may be something in it: Agendas & Intel Ops Behind Wikileaks? - The Washington Note.

12/05/2010 04:30:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

While I'm piddling around in the middle of the night (on Australian time):

Ratbiter has managed to produce a whole column which contains something approaching news (about Trafigura case) and - hal-a-fuckin-looyaa - contains no mention whatsoever of Ay-rabs, Mooslims, Eye-ran or Trrrr.! Basically, someone showed him this Dutch documentary.

The reason Aaro's column hasn't been copied may be that people are (probably quite rightly) afraid of News Corp, who might be expected to defend the integrity of the in-perpetuity (why?) paywall.

If AWatch is willing to run that gauntlet, I'm quite happy to post a scan of an Aaro column from November which argues (I caveat you not):

1. The tea party are nutters
2. The tea party go on about Washington being corrupt
3. Obama went on about reforming Washington and then didn't do so.
4. There is nothing wrong with Washington and anyone who think there is is childish or mental.

Right I'll go and cast some pearls elsewhere now.

Pausing only to gratify Guano by agreeing with him about the idiocy of focussing on the supposed good intentions of dangerous nutters.

...And to add that doing so is the flip-side of the same agenda-shift that is achieved by (mostly falsely) accusing conspiracy-theorists of the converse error.

12/05/2010 04:31:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

One more point and I'll shut up. Maybe obvious but in light of previous remarks should be acknowledged explicitly - the cables are of course US govt cables and thus show the world as seen through the prism of US diplomats - often not privy to the big picture, often self-censoring, often thick or just spouting off.

Various kinds of bias are already there in the raw unfiltered data, e.g. prejudiced attitudes or telling people what they want to hear. And what is written is not true just because it's somewhat secret - whether it reflects well or badly on US agencies' motives or competence. It's also written in diplomatese, thus in any case less likely to be somewhat guarded, if only out of habit.

12/05/2010 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

oh bollo, sorry - forgot to clarify that another obvious point has not passed me by - that Brzezinski is not necessarily authoritative nor trustworthy.

12/05/2010 01:39:00 PM  

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