Saturday, March 01, 2003


This week's installment of Nick Cohen's lone battle against the 'anti-war' movement is a cut-out-and-keep guide to dealing with all those various arguments put forward to justify doing nothing about Saddam.

You don't have to be on the Left to worry about a US which isn't satisfied with being the only superpower. America let the world know it wanted its dominion to increase when it began tearing up treaties. Opposing American hegemony is a respectable position, as long as you accept that the consequence is that Iraqis must remain under Saddam's tyranny.

posted by BA on 5:26 PM link

The Guardian has a very depressing interview with Tony Blair who apparently is "tired and has a cold" amongst his many other problems.

There are some strange comments from the PM: "It's worse than you think", he says, "I believe in it. I am truly committed to dealing with this, irrespective of the position of America." which one can only hope is a bit of dry Blair sarcasm to a Guardian reporter.

But what really concerns me is this argument that has been the government line since the February 15 demonstrations:

He recognises that those on the other side feel as passionately about their views as he does about his. "And what is more, I don't take issue with people who feel strongly on it, you know, lambast them or say their arguments aren't sound. I totally understand why people feel this. But I simply say to them, this is a real danger and a real threat; this regime has done terrible things to its own people."

For what it is worth, I reckon he would be better advised to indeed take issue with the 'anti-war' crowd and gave them a right good lambasting.

I couldn't care less if Blair is a casualty of this war, I've never been attracted to his style or much of his politics, but I happen to agree with him over Iraq and would like to see his opponents roundly exposed and humiliated over this issue. If the likes of George Galloway and his followers leave the Labour Party then it should be a cause for celebration. Let them go and collect lost deposits with the Socialist Alliance.

Even if it may not be wise tactics for the PM to personally engage in some hard-hitting attacks on his reactionary-left opponents, why can't he let loose Blunkett or Prescott on the Trot-Islamicist Coalition?

And where the hell are the supposedly famed spin doctors when they are needed? Where have been the exposes of Galloway and of the SWP-MAB alliance?

There is so much material with which to really slam the 'anti-war' people, why isn't it being used?

Why the hell aren't Labour Party branches being given dossiers on the Stop the War Coalition?

This government was shamefully happy to go dirty on the Firebrigade Union during last year's strikes but it is 'understanding' about a movement that has begun to really harm them.

Call me old fashioned but I smell class here. It was fine to have a pop at the working class firefighters demanding a decent wage but the salaried Guardian readers who took to the street on Feb 15 are 'middle England' (newspeak for middle class of course) and so the kid-gloves must be used.

Take the gloves off and get back to some basic politics. After a relentless series of attacks on the unsavoury leadership of the Stop the War Coalition, I bet fickle 'Middle England' will quietly hide behind their UN-mandate figleaf.

Are Middle Class England aware they are marching behind an alliance of two groups - one who wish to replace parliamentry democracy with a dictatorship of the proleteriat and another who would have us live under sharia law, united only in their shared hatred of Israel?

They should be and it is about time they were told.

posted by BA on 9:46 AM link

"For each action there is an equal and opposite reaction," that's what they said isn't it? Just as I am getting increasingly bored with bloggers I discover the wonderful world of blogwatchers. Weblogs dedicated to pulling to pieces the pronouncements of the more high and mighty bloggers.

SullyWatch shadows Andrew Sullivan, Instapunditwatch should be self-explanatory, while Warblogger Watch keeps an eye on those (many, many bloggers) who appear to be obsessed with war and its supposed opponents.

I can't find a UK version of this trend for blog introversion yet. Anyone up for PollardPeeping? or a ToryBoytracker?

posted by BA on 8:22 AM link

Johann Hari has a good piece on "Democracy in the Islamic world is not a fantasy - it's coming soon"

Julie Burchill's rant against silly showbiz 'anti-war' protests is a missed opportunity. I expected more bile than that, but she has always been hit and miss.

posted by BA on 8:16 AM link

Tory Boy has lost the plot writing that:

I would argue that the war on terror has armed the Left with a new and not unpopular form of rhetoric and argument: anti-American, anti-Israel and sympathetic to terroists. Such people dominate the Labour Party today, and this dominance makes them the true "nasty party", and threatens Labour's respectability and electoral success for the future.

Funny that, I thought that Labour's stance on Iraq was making it unpopular with people who are anti-American' and 'anti-Israel. I was under the impression that Labour was suffering in the polls because there is a large part of its electoral support who are anti-war but that those who dominate the Labour Party refuse to cave in to such mistaken populism. Have I got it all wrong?

I think Peter would really like the Labour Party to fit his fantasy description but if Tories continue to live in cloud cuckoo land at least that leaves us safe from them for another four years.

posted by BA on 7:17 AM link

Sunday, February 23, 2003


The always readable blog Look Back in Anger points to a fascinating article in the New Republic about liberalism and power.

Writer Paul Berman believes that a major distinction between European and American liberalism is that "Europeans cannot conceive or accept the notion of liberal democracy as a revolutionary project for universal liberation, they cannot imagine how to be liberal democrats and wield power at the same time," this appears to be because we in Europe "simply cannot imagine how an exercise of force might bring about political revolutions in remote corners of the world".

The other problem, he says, is that America has forgotten how to inspire: But the U.S. government, which knows how to twist the arms of Turkish politicians, does not know how to inspire the schoolteachers and newspaper editors and professors, not to mention the European masses, not to mention the American masses. Worse, the American leaders don't even try to inspire people around the world, which is shocking to see, considering that our current problem is 90 percent political and only 10 percent military."

America seems to have outsourced their evangelical work to Tony Blair and the response has not been encouraging for the likes of Berman.

In the past week Blair, surely a more credible preacher for a liberal revolution than George Bush, has tried to sell the idea that 'regime change' is about liberation and is morally justifiable - yet it is met with ridicule from many people who would be happily described as liberal.

So many British and Europeans simply do not buy the idea that George Bush could be motivated by a selfless spirit of goodwill and that the American 'military-industrial complex' represents the rebirth of the revolutionary spirit of Abraham Lincoln.

Even so Berman is right to point out that there has hardly been a major effort to win support from potential allies of America's aims in Iraq.

Would it not be beyond the most powerful government on earth to devote some attention to addressing these doubts in Europe rather than engaging in the pathetic spats with Germany and France and snearing about 'Old Europe'? What happened to the ability to go over the heads of leaders and appeal directly to the people?

There are surely plenty of supporters of George Bush in the US who could make an eloquent arguement to Europeans that the concept of client-states in the middle east has been recognised as a major error and that they believe that democracy and justice in the region is essential to undercutting the festering resentment that has led so many to become enemies of the West. I am pretty sure Bill Clinton could make that case for example.

But the debate has been restricted to bureaucratic arguements about weapons inspectors and compliance about UN resolutions which, while essential to dealing with the problem, hardly inspire cynical people to back a risky military project.

The European left may, as Berman suggests, think that liberal democracy, "is a compromise, a mediocrity" but was it really only the urgent need to stop the Serbs that led people in Europe to back intervention in Yugoslavia?

After all it was only 14 years ago that Europe itself was celebrating a wave of liberal democratic revolutions and basking in the idea of a "common European home" after 50 years of accepting the compromise of enforced division of our continent.

I think it boils down to this -- we are being asked to believe that America is a leopard that changed its spots - that the men who funded the Contras and helped crush Allende's democratic revolution are now the hope of Iraqi democrats.

"I'd be willing to believe them if they could just bring themselves to apologise for what they did in Vietnam," someone said to me the other day. Well that might be wishful thinking but the Americans could at least contemplate how they win over people who believe they have something to apologise for.

Some of us can see that while America may be acting primarily in its own national interest, that interest also coincides with the needs of the people of Iraq, just as it did in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo.

But when the rhetoric we hear is focused largely on America's national interest is it any wonder that the cynics are not convinced?

posted by BA on 11:39 AM link

posted by BA on 7:32 AM link

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