Monday, February 28, 2011

Experts? What do they know?

Or, fanfare for the common knowledge man.

Thanks to Bubby in the last thread, Nick Cohen on PM (iPlayer, only available in the UK and for six days from 28/2/2011 etc; he starts just after 34:30, not, as bubby said, 24:30), striking many of the same notes as he did in the Observer.

I got back from London late on Sunday night, and I found Nick's piece because it was number 2 on the 'most viewed' list on Comment is Free. That says to me that CiF readers are drawn to the 'Middle East', which must mean something.

Right from the start, there's a lot in the CiF piece (I've listened to the PM comment, but I'm not prepared to transcribe it, so I can take it apart) which just confirms my dislike of Nick.

The Arab revolution is consigning skip-loads of articles, books and speeches about the Middle East to the dustbin of history. In a few months, readers will go through libraries or newspaper archives and wonder how so many who claimed expert knowledge could have turned their eyes from tyranny and its consequences.

Somehow this combines what I think must be direct steals from smarter writers (the first sentence is an echo of someone else, I'm sure), with a dig at expertise - hence implicit favouring of the generalist, or newspaper columnist. I suspect "wonder how so many who claimed expert knowledge could have turned their eyes from tyranny and its consequences" is also borrowed, probably from some commentary on Stalin, although the 'claimed expert knowledge' knowledge bit is Nick's own. "Those who should have known better averted their eyes" sort of thing always surprises in the "how could they?" way but, if we learn anything from history, not otherwise.

Who are those who "claimed expert knowledge"? Juan Cole and Marc Lynch (specifically attacked by Michael Ezra, though I've forgotten in which thread we argued about them) both wrote about the Middle East generally, and neither, IMO, fawningly toward dictators. Journalists? Do say, John Simpson, or Robert Fisk avert their eyes from tyranny? Who, exactly, is Nick talking about?

Here's a short list of things that Nick Cohen writes that make me hate him:

1. He's really not an expert on anything. He's got a very general degree and he writes very generally about politics. He really seems to dislike that who've dug deeper and have years of study behind them. Gosh, imagine being able to read Arabic or Farsi! That must be the biggest single mistake you could make, next they capture your mind.

2. He's infuriatingly vague. This is fine if you leaf through the Observer with a hangover and black coffee, snorting, "Politicians! What do they know? Bloody hell..." etc. But it doesn't bear any actual thought. Someone, somewhere is wrong. You know this, and reading it in a proper paper somehow confirms your superiority, and that's a good thing.

3. I think the internet changed journalism. I think it should have made journalism more like academia. If you refer to someone else's piece, you link to it, then readers can, in principle (most won't), make up their own minds. Nick really doesn't seem to like this idea.

Anyway, for the very little this is worth, here's the CIA Factbook on Libya (now out of date).

During the 1990s, QADHAFI began to rebuild his relationships with Europe. UN sanctions were suspended in April 1999 and finally lifted in September 2003 after Libya accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing. In December 2003, Libya announced that it had agreed to reveal and end its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction and to renounce terrorism. QADHAFI has made significant strides in normalizing relations with Western nations since then. He has received various Western European leaders as well as many working-level and commercial delegations, and made his first trip to Western Europe in 15 years when he traveled to Brussels in April 2004. The US rescinded Libya's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism in June 2006. In January 2008, Libya assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2008-09 term. In August 2008, the US and Libya signed a bilateral comprehensive claims settlement agreement to compensate claimants in both countries who allege injury or death at the hands of the other country, including the Lockerbie bombing, the LaBelle disco bombing, and the UTA 772 bombing. In October 2008, the US Government received $1.5 billion pursuant to the agreement to distribute to US national claimants, and as a result effectively normalized its bilateral relationship with Libya. The two countries then exchanged ambassadors for the first time since 1973 in January 2009. Libya in May 2010 was elected to its first three-year seat on the UN Human Rights Council, prompting protests from international non-governmental organizations and human rights campaigners.

You can read into that. Who has promoted Gadaffi? Western Governments, including Blair and Bush. Who has been critical? Oh, those nobodies Amnesty International and those like them. Hold on, isn't AI left-wing? But haven't they criticised Middle Eastern despots for being despotic without regard to Palestine? Oh yes, they have.

CIA Factbook on Tunisia.

The country's first president, Habib BOURGUIBA, established a strict one-party state. He dominated the country for 31 years, repressing Islamic fundamentalism and establishing rights for women unmatched by any other Arab nation. In November 1987, BOURGUIBA was removed from office and replaced by Zine el Abidine BEN ALI in a bloodless coup. BEN ALI is currently serving his fifth consecutive five-year term as president. Tunisia has long taken a moderate, non-aligned stance in its foreign relations. Domestically, it has sought to defuse rising pressure for a more open political society

My emphasis.

Of course, Nick, it's only left-leaning do-gooders who have turned blind eyes to dictators. We're all bad, Nick. You're quite right. We defended Stalin, except we didn't. And Hitler, except we didn't. And so on. Just say to yourself, "I am a good person."

Written in an increasingly bad mood. Add your own commentary. I know I didn't get past the first paragraph. I didn't read much further either. I have a low tolerance for finger-jabbing in my direction. I can say that I saw something worse in the Sunday Times (read over someone's shoulder on a train). There was a pullquote in the business section which went something like, "If the contagion spreads to Saudi Arabia, all bets are off." I'm sure readers will agree that propping up capitalism by any means available, even Saudi oppression of just about the total populace, is worth stopping the "contagion" of democracy and people's rights. TS Eliot didn't read the papers on Sunday. That may have been a religious thing, but it may also have been the best decision he ever made.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In any case, who was prosecuted after Kosovo?

Thanks to Phil and Flying Rodent (yes, posting here is almost entirely driven by comments, you don't expect us to work at this, do you?) we have Aaro:

@aidanskinner In any case, who was prosecuted after Kosovo?

Though I think we came in here:

David Owen advocates imposing a no-fly zone in Libya. He's right. NATO should do it now.

I'm much more sympathetic to this than Flying Rodent is. I thought much the same about Egypt a few weeks ago when it looked like Mubarak might deploy the air force against civilian protests. OTOH, I'm not at all sure it's practical and am fairly sure that it's inflammatory and dangerous. Being Mr Compromise, I'd like NATO to threaten Muammar Gaddafi with it, rather than having to go through with it. I don't like the idea of dogfights over cities, and what if we lose?

This will, I imagine become a free-for-all. Play nice, remember we have rules.

OT I just noticed from Aaro's Twitter background that his team are ordered alphabetically, which may be why he wasn't the captain. Democratic and sweet. Aww.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The west's "most remarkable killer application"

Thanks to organic cheeseboard on the previous thread, I read the sort-of-on-topic Niall Ferguson interview cum subtle hatchet-job.

According to Ferguson, modern medicine was the west's "most remarkable killer application".

Did Ferguson really walk into that one on his own? Reader, I lol'ed but I also wondered if he'd been set up and that's two separate quotations spliced together to make one ridiculous one. If he had, that makes the interview hostile, and it needs to be read differently if so. (Discuss.)

Ferguson's self-confidence – which, if it wasn't accompanied by considerable charm, might be downright insufferable – is no doubt partly a matter of temperament. But it also has something to do with the kind of historian he is. His approach to the past is overwhelmingly materialistic.

Eh? I think that's a non-sequitur and the rest of the paragraph doesn't help at all. He is self-confident because he's a materialist? Nope. Don't get that. Perhaps William Skidelsky is bonkers, or stupid.

Apart from his current one-year posting at the LSE, he [Niall Ferguson] is the Laurence A Tisch professor of history at Harvard, the William Ziegler professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, and a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford. He has presented numerous television series, served as an adviser to John McCain and written reams of journalism (currently he is a columnist for Newsweek). He gets up at six every morning and says that he doesn't have hobbies: he just works. Whatever you make of the man and his views it is hard not to be impressed by his dedication.

As far as I know, Ferguson accepts this description of himself (professor, author, political adviser, journalist, and tv presenter), except where it suits him, of course.

I ask whether Ferguson has been surprised by the reaction their relationship provoked, the gossipy articles and so forth. His tone changes again and he suddenly sounds angry. "I was nauseated. Just nauseated. It makes me quite ashamed to be part of a culture that regards the private life of a professor as something that should be in the paper. It's just so tawdry. The British press has an insatiable appetite for making public things that should be private.

My emphasis. The thing about this is, that the story of itself is not "gossipy."

On April 27 [2006] a Dutch judge ruled that Hirsi Ali had to abandon her highly secure house at a secret address in the Netherlands: her neighbors had complained that living next to her was an unacceptable security risk to them, although the police had testified in court that it was one of the safest places in the country due to the large number of personnel they had assigned there.[40] In early 2007 she stated that the Dutch state had spent about 3.5 million euros providing armed guards for her, and the threats made her live "in fear and looking over my shoulder", but she was willing to endure this for the sake of speaking her mind.[41]
A private trust, the Foundation for Freedom of Expression, was established to help fund protection of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and other Muslim dissidents.

From Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Wikipedia entry (which I think is out of date). That she has a private life at all and is free to meet people is a story. I'd have thought that he'd want to publicise her situation. We've done Ayaan Hirsi Ali before (almost four years ago, ye gods!) and more recently. I still don't see why Ian Buruma is 'sexist'. And why are Garton Ash and Buruma 'left-leaning' (are they?) but Ferguson isn't "right-leaning"? Is alliteration that important to journalists?

Monday, February 14, 2011

There ain't no "Just Journalism", there's just journalism.

Just Journalism, tireless media monitors of bias against Israel:

On the first day of The Guardian’s Palestine papers expose, on Monday 24 January, when Palestinian negotiators were attacked as ‘weak’ and ‘craven’, a quote from then foreign minister Tzipi Livni appeared in a box, titled, ‘What they said…’. It read:

‘The Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible, we already have the land and cannot create the state.’ Tzipi Livni, then Israeli foreign minister

However, the newspaper on Saturday acknowledged that the full quote shows that Livni was characterising the Palestinian perception of Israeli policies, and not the policies themselves. What she actually said was:

‘I understand the sentiments of the Palestinians when they see the settlements being built. The meaning from the Palestinian perspective is that Israel takes more land, that the Palestinian state will be impossible, the Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible, we already have the land and cannot create the state.’

By cutting the quote to exclude the first part of Tzipi Livni’s sentence, The Guardian portrayed the Israeli politician as brazenly admitting a policy of making a Palestinian state impossible.

Those Guardian bastards! That's really quite dreadful, sloppy journalism, isn't it readers? Why on earth isn't the Guardian posting a hair-tearing meamaximaculpa, rather than the rather pusillanimous:

A quote by Tzipi Livni, Israel's former foreign minister, within a panel that formed part of the Palestine papers, was cut in a way that may have given a misleading impression.

Hardly makes it, that "may", does it? Does it? Well ... does it?

At a west Jerusalem meeting in November 2007, she told Qureia that she believed Palestinians saw settlement building as meaning “Israel takes more land [so] that the Palestinian state will be impossible”; that “the Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that is impossible, we already have the land and we cannot create the state”.

Emphasis added. Is it just me, or is Just Journalism's assessment that "The Guardian portrayed the Israeli politician as brazenly admitting a policy of making a Palestinian state impossible" really quite incomprehensible?

Update Flying Rodent tweets me to say that in the paper version of the newspaper, some unfortunate sub has pulled the half-quote out of the 24 Jan story for a "Things They Said" box-quote. That makes more sense, although frankly JJ still looks rather disingenuous, because this clearly can't be blamed on the journalist. It very much looks to me as if JJ have read the correction but not necessarily gone back to check the actual story.

Update by Chardonnay Chap @ 20:10 As noticed by Captain Cabernet in the comments. Some strange goings on at Harry's Place:
Harry's Place screenshot
How can TimO have earned a hat tip for a comment, when there are no comments? Spooky.


Aaro seems to be tweeting his colonoscopy. (I'm not sure we want to Watch.) We wish him well.

AaroWatch: for a polyp-free Aaro.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Adam Roberts on 'The Finkler Question'

For those still interested here. (This continues Organic Cheeseboard's review and Rosie Bell's Harry's Place review.)

I still haven't got around to attempting the novel, but this puts me off even further.

Libor claims ‘I have discovered in myself a profound necessity to think ill of my fellow Jews.’
‘I can’t go on making these allowances. I can’t go on telling myself that that American swindler who has just been put in jail to serve a hundred life sentences is only coincidentally Jewish, or that bad-faced business Jew we see on television who brags about his money and the ruthlessness of his pursuit of it—I can’t convince me, let alone others, that it is only by chance that such men resemble every archetype of Jewish evil that Christian or Muslim history has thrown up.’ [214]

Bringing Bernie Madoff and Alan Sugar specifically into the discussion but refusing actually to name them seems oddly mealymouthed; indeed since part the point of this exchange is to have a character articulate a ‘let’s not pussyfoot around this any more’ attitude, it seems more than that: a failure of nerve. If you’re going to call Alan Sugar ‘that bad-faced business Jew’ in a book, we might think you should at least do it (as it were) to his face.

It's not just mealy-mouthed, I don't think Jacobson even understands Alan Sugar. Sugar is ruthless, but he's also clearly intensely loyal to a few people, some of his "bragging" about money takes the form of giving to charity, Great Ormond Street Hospital, for example. And 'bad-faced' apart from being a childish sounding phrase isn't even accurate, it's clear that he's playing a role. The 'bad-faced' thing is pantomimic if that's a word, and ironic if it's not. He's not mean as such; he tells it like it is. He also shows no favouritism for Jews. In short, I think Lord Sugar falls a good distance from resembling the archetypes of Jewish evil. This just seems like further evidence of Jacobson's desperate projection. As for Madoff, fair enough, but he mostly ripped off Jews, IIRC, and his scam was a Ponzi scheme named after the Italian, not Jewish (as far as I can tell) Charles Ponzi.

Also, the ‘Jewish Museum’ Hepshibah is setting up, and in which Treslove gets involved. It is to open, we assume in 2010; and already it is in trouble—antisemitic graffiti, bacon wrapped around the doorhandles and so on. But here’s the thing: the actual Jewish Museum in London (formerly in Woburn Place, later moved to larger premises in Camden) was founded in 1932, a time in which general European hostility to Jewry, on the Continent but also over here, was, shall we say, more acute and focussed than is the case today.

But why let facts get in the way of a good story?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Predicting the Future is HARD!

Way, way off topic. But I love everything about the following.

Since Obama was already congratulating himself for Mubarak's departure, this is an utter humiliation of the American president -- and as a consequence, a terrible weakening of America, whose powerlessness is now apparent for all to see.

Why oh why did America elect an uppity President, wails Bonkers Mel (at the Spectator, but I don't trust her not to make the odd alteration).

The consequences of this debacle for the free world are likely to be disastrous.

What debacle would that be now?

It's typical Mad Mel, all the favourite cliches (someone ends up under a bus, whether thrown or pushed, something else is a joke, although evidence is scant that Mel knows what the word means, and so on), only the order is new, and then not very. And, hey ho, ALL her research comes from other media and not, like books, and weird stuff. To wit, Politico:

During a House Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called Egypt’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood movement ‘largely secular.’

In response to questioning from Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) about the threat posed by the group, Clapper suggested that the Egyptian part of the Brotherhood is not particularly extreme and that the broader international movement is hard to generalize about.

My bolding. Mel snorts (I could get the hang of this journalism, you know):

As further backup for the brilliant assessment provided by the Director of National Unintelligence, here is a video clip of the west’s favourite moderate Islamist and apologist for the moderate Muslim Brothers, Tariq Ramadan (grandson of their founder, Hassan al Banna) praying very moderately for Allah to ‘strike down’ his enemies which include Jews, Russians and Americans.

Quite right, because an apologist who isn't in a given party or movement or even in the same country and not connected with them in any way -- apart from being Muslim, like about a billion others -- is a simply brilliant guide to what that movement believes or endorses.

As I said, way off topic. But it's Friday, and I'm happy. Besides, she deserves pity more than censure.

From the desk of the Aaronovitch Watch (incorporating "World of Decency") Readers' Editor

An argument recently blew up in our comments threads, with respect to the Workers' Revolutionary Party, a minor grouplet with a comedically horrible history about which we know little and care less, but which figured prominently in "What's Left?" and is thus generally (if erroneously) believed to be on topic.

Specifically, it was suggested by regular commenter "Coventrian" that Marko Attila Hoare had been a member of the WRP. The thread became tedious and has now been purged by Couscous Kid (thanks CK).

It is not the policy of Aaronovitch Watch (incorporating "World of Decency") to let false or insulting accusations be made on our threads. However, this does not always have to involve the use of the delete button. A comments thread needs to be read as a single entity, with comments that might appear outright libellous on their own, set in context (for example, if that context is an immediate editorial response saying "that's not true"). On this occasion, deletion was the appropriate response (particularly since much of the "collateral damage" was actually more bad-tempered and witless than the actual target). However, I can see how Coventrian might feel hard done by, given that he wasn't a drive-by and did appear at the point of thread closure to be attempting to substantiate the claim. Furthermore, a quick google search reveals that the MAH/WRP accusation (initially, I think, traceable to Neil Clark) is "out there" on the internet, so we could do a useful service by setting out the facts once and for all.

For this reason, and after a small amount of work, I feel it appropriate to post this editorial statement:

To the best of Aaronovitch Watch (incorporating "World of Decency")'s ability to research, there is no evidence anywhere that Marko Attila Hoare was ever a member of the Workers' Revolutionary Party or any of its successor grouplets. In our opinion, he was not one. He was an associate of Cliff Slaughter, and has spoken favourably of the post-WRP grouplet "Workers' Action Aid". He wrote at least one article for the newspaper "Workers' Press", which was published after the WRP split, by a group led by Slaughter which continued to claim the WRP name; however, the bad name attaching to the WRP is largely attributable to Gerry Healy as a person, and Healy had no involvement with Workers' Press at the time when Marko wrote for it

I think that Coventrian's assertion can be seen as most likely an honest mistake - in general, articles for left-wing grouplet newspapers are usually written by party members, and the Workers' Press was published by a party officially named "Workers' Revolutionary Party (Workers' Press). But mistake it was, and as I say, there is no suggestion at all that Marko was involved with Gerry Healy, which is all that anyone really cares about in this context.

Marko did not do himself many favours by not clearing this up himself and leaving it to others to mention the Workers' Press articles, but I have researched this to my own satisfaction, and unless someone can come up with new evidence, I think this one can now be settled.

I'll finally note in this context that I think I am being really rather generous here, to someone who does not actually treat others as he wishes to be treated himself. In the past, Marko has accused me of having "a total absence of integrity" for linking to the Splintered Sunrise blog, whose proprietor he accused of being "an unabahsed sympathizer of the neo-Nazi Serbian Radical Party", all on the basis of an absurdly obvious misreading of this post. If he wishes to take the opportunity to apologise to either me or to Splintered Sunrise, the comments box is open.

Edit: "Workers' Aid" name corrected. Marko seems to think this post is a "personal attack". It wasn't particularly meant as one, which is why I added a separate paragraph on the end detailing the reasons why I don't like him or rate his political judgement. Depending on the circumstances, it might or might not have been a sensible idea to have been involved with the WRP(WP) during the relevant period. However, with the passage of time, it's become slightly embarrassing.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Feminist numbers are increasing

Nick Cohen, October 2009 on Joan Smith:

The last principled feminist in the British media, now has a website here

Nick in January:

Julie Bindel, who can often seem like the last feminist in England...

Nick yesterday:

[Joan Smith] is one of the few true feminists left in Britain

Where once there was but one, now there are a few. Surely this is a good thing.

As for what Ms Smith is on about, I have no clue whatever. The kindest explanation is that true feminists are out 'having it all' and her column is written by the ubiquitous infinite monkeys with typewriters. If they were busy, perhaps Conservative Central HQ (as I believe it's now called) had a hand.

They’ve listened to and funded religious groups which do little to further women’s equality in their communities, while at the same time condemning gay people, holding anti-Semitic views and trying to limit free expression.

I'm all for freedom of speech, but if anyone even thinks of suggesting that she's talking about the WRP I may have to start banning people.

Gosh, this is almost like that time I used to do a "World of Decency" blog!

Via Marko in comments, we learn of a subtle line-shift from the Henry "Scoop" Jackson Society; "Egypt Needs Reform, Not Revolution" is out and "The Egyptian Moment" is in. I very much hope Marko will keep us up to date on any further shifts.

But more hilariously, hey do you remember that time when Durham University invited some Iranians to a conference and the various Men of Decency were briefly in the market for a form of condemnatory address that didn't include the words "academic boycott"? Turns out that this was a covert op by the State Department!. Oh what larks.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

If we change our name, I suggest 'Doublethink Watch'

Nick has been rather busy recently, and I see that our readers are not short of opinions about his recent efforts. So here are a few points, which no doubt you will expand on or disagree with as you see fit.

I've not read What's Left in book form, though I have read the original Observer columns, but, as I understand it, the 'argument' of the book is best summed up by the Amazon five star review by 'HuddsOn'

These typically liberal traits - an effortless moral superiority, instinctive support for the underdog, and opposition to the status quo - are undoubtedly very easy to ridicule. But they are not inherently malign or wicked. They only become dangerous when they are un-coupled from any sort of genuine altruism. This is what Cohen means when he says the Left has lost its way.

In Cohen's view, substantial segments of the left are in danger of allowing their movement to degenerate into a trite, self-indulgent counter-culture, in which an angry anti-establishment posturing conceals a lack of a positive political programme. mpaigns, are defined by what they're against, not what they're for. Many people on the left are far too ready to draw an artificial moral equivalence between true tyrannies overseas and the very real but usually much milder moral failings of our own leaders and institutions. The author sets out to explore what's gone wrong and why.

That's from a positive review, and it sets out Nick's position as something has "gone wrong" with the left. It used to be good; now it isn't.

Here is Nick on Eric Hobsbawm

No one killed as many communists as the communists did. If Hobsbawm had followed the logic of his convictions and moved from Nazi Germany to seek a home in the Soviet Union rather than Britain, his chances of surviving would have been slim. Either the party would have shot him in the great purge for being foreigner and a Jew to boot, or he would have been forced to denounce innocent comrades to save his skin.

Shorter Nick, the left was always rotten. I did not study PPE at Oxford like Nick, so perhaps I lack his philosophical training. I cannot see how one can believe both 'the left used to be good' and 'the left was always bad'. I only observe that Nick manages to do so.

HuddsOn on "What's Left" again:

The influence of the postmodern theorists, Cohen explains, has also been thoroughly disastrous. Despite, or because of, their impenetrable jargon - "homogenizing epistemic logic", "representationalist discursive areas", etc - many of these obscurantists were able to achieve a high degree of credence in university humanities departments.

Nick on Hobsbawm:

When he stops trying to persuade us to avert our eyes from some of the worst crimes in human history, his merits peek through the fog of obfuscatory prose.

Obfuscation is both new, and the result of post-modernism, and old, and somehow entangled with Marxism or something. Ray Noble's observations on love aside, again I can't see how something can be old and new at the same time.

Elsewhere, Nick reveals that he's heard of Johnson and Boswell, and quotes the former. He's sure that Huffington Post bloggers are unpaid. I'm not. I can't find submission guidelines on the site, but it clearly requires a lot of editorial staff and recruits very like a newspaper. Besides, while it's not as if the blogs are its major draw, I can't believe that Dan Rather would write for free. Many of the HuffPo bloggers aren't, but he a professional journalist. Even if some HuffPo bloggers did write for nothing, none could have thought that it was anything other than a business.

Then there's the Foreign Office.

What set the Foreign Office apart from other cynical western chancelleries was that it was not content with appeasing today's secular dictators. It went on to embrace the theocrats of the Muslim Brotherhood it expected to become the religious dictators of the future.

This seems wrong to me. I admit to a certain glibness in my analyses also known as "they're all as bad as each other" (this works for banks, politicians, countries, religions, women, Top Gear hosts, and much else besides) -- but given, as we all know, that the US supported the Taliban and armed it during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, I find it hard to credit the idea that other countries are marked by a distaste for 'theocracy'. Of course, I also don't know what counts as a theocracy. Does Saudi Arabia (with fairly nasty Sharia laws)? Does Israel? Does Pakistan?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Courage, indefatigfability, etc

Wonder how Rentoul's going to spin this one?. Surely this ought to be a "taxi for Blair!" moment for the whole Decent Left? The central organising self-delusion of the whole show has been that there was something more to the program than bog standard Labour Atlanticism[1] - that it was about idealism vs. realism (all those lectures about Douglas Hurd looking a bit awkward now, lads?), democracy for the Middle East, etc etc. Now push has come to shove, and cards are being turned face up. The Henry "Scoop" Jackson Society has already put its counter down on "oh noes, the Muslim Brotherhood", and it appears that they've guessed correctly which way Mr Tony was going to hop. Repulsive of course, but now the fun and games is in guessing which Decents are going to jump which way. As John lydon once said, "ever get the feeling you've been cheated?".

Thanks (if that's the right word) to Jamie for the link. (update: oop, sorry, also thanks to bubby in our comments, who posted it here earlier than the B&T post I read.

[1] Particularly ironic since the Obama administration is not actually backing Mubarak, but then Labour Atlanticism was always a) more a creature of the Central Intelligence Agency and its proteges than of the State Department, still less American foreign policy interests generally and b) decidedly inclined to be more Catholic than the Pope on such issues.