Saturday, December 31, 2005

Double Standards and Dishonesty

Here's my review on the books 'Neo-Conservatism and Why We Need It' by Douglas Murray and 'Anti-Totalitarianism: the left-wing case for a Neo-Conservative foreign policy' by Oliver Kamm from today's Daily Telegraph.

IDEALISM LOSES ITS WAY IN DOUBLE STANDARDS AND DISHONESTY
Daily Telegraph
31st December 2005

Did neo-conservatism meet its end in 2005? The collapse of the levees in New Orleans and its exposure of President Bush's policy of paying for wars of intervention abroad, by cutting back on public provision back home, led many thinkers to believe that it had. Douglas Murray and Oliver Kamm are not among them. For these two young British writers, neo-conservatism is not only still alive and kicking- its finest hour is yet to come. Murray, described by historian Andrew Roberts as 'the Right's answer to Michael Moore', believes that the creed of Leo Strauss, Paul Wolfowitz and Irving Kristol should not only be the ideology of a rejuvenated Conservative Party, but of 'any political party committed to the ideals of freedom at home and abroad'. For Murray, neo-conservatism can provide the 'moral and practical answers' to the political and societal malaise of our country. As to the extent of that malaise there can be no dispute: Britain has the highest level of violent crime, drug abuse, teenage pregnancies and one parent families in Europe. But would the neo-con domestic agenda which Murray advocates make things any better? His attacks on welfare dependency, the glorification of misanthropic rap culture and other examples of multicultural idiocy are justified, and his call for 'broken windows' policing, an increase in church schools and for the state to withdraw from its life-long support of single mothers makes plenty of sense. Yet on what is arguably the main cause of 'societal defects' in Britain today- the pernicious effect of uncontrolled consumer capitalism, Murray is strangely silent. The problem for Murray is that economic liberalism -which he likes- fuels social liberalism which he doesn't. If we really want to see happy families promenading together again on Sunday afternoons, we need to erect “Keep Out” signs to stop the encroachment of market forces into areas they have no right to go. This is something which Murray, in his enthusiasm for a low-tax, deregulated economy, is unwilling to do. And when it comes to our political malaise- most visibly demonstrated by our leaders' failure to tell us the truth over Iraq- Murray once again falls short. Murray would have us believe that the government really did think Iraq possessed WMDs, and incredibly castigates Blair, Campbell and co for 'telling the public too much'. But if our leaders did think Iraq possessed the stockpile of chemical and biological weapons the various dossiers claimed- why on earth would they do the one thing which would provoke Saddam to use them? History tells us that countries attack others only when they are sure of their opponent's relative weakness- something one might have expected Murray to have learnt during his years at Oxford. In trying to put the case for “Left-wing” case for war against Iraq, Oliver Kamm is equally unconvincing. Having told us how the principle of deterrence worked so well during the Cold War, he fails to explain adequately why the deterrence of Saddam, which Secretary of State Powell had been lauding only months before 9/11, could not have continued. Kamm has fun baiting the woolly minded peace activists of the 1930s, and the supporters of unilateral nuclear disarmament in the 1980s, but is on much shakier ground when trying to portray those who opposed the invasion of secular, Ba’athist Iraq as apologists for Islamo-fascism. In fact, it is the neo-cons themselves who have a track record of siding with Islamic extremists- either in Afghanistan in the 1980s or in the Balkans a decade later. Similarly, while lambasting the “amoral quietism” of the Major government for its non-intervention policy in Bosnia, Kamm fails to inform readers that the Bosnian leader Alija Izetbegovic- whose separatist cause neo-conservatives enthusiastically championed- not only wrote “the first and most important lesson from the Koran is the impossibility of any connection between Islamic and non-Islamic systems”, but also recruited for an SS division in the Second World War. It is difficult to think of a man for whom the term “Islamo-fascist” could be more appropriate - yet that didn't stop arch the neo-con Richard Perle acting as an adviser to Izetbegovic's delegation at the Dayton Peace Conference in 1995. On the issue of terrorism, there are double standards too. Terrorists, according to Murray and Kamm, should be always be condemned wherever they are found- but not it seems if they are the gun-runners, drug-smugglers and civilian-murderers of the Kosovan Liberation Army, on whose side NATO acted, with strong neo-cons approval- as an armed proxy in the war against Yugoslavia in 1999. And amid all their words of praise for Israel, there is nothing from either Murray or Kamm on the role that Zionist terrorism played in that state's foundation. If neo-cons really want us to take their ideas more seriously, a little more consistency- and honesty- is surely called for.

Daily Telegraph/ Neil Clark 2005

37 comments:

Nadim said...

Thanks for letting us post comments - very cool of you. I work online
with my own used college books
website. Check it out if you get the chance. Thanks again!

Nadim said...

Thanks for letting us post
comments - very cool of you. I work online with my own
muslim matrimonial
website. Check it out if you get the chance. Thanks again!

Neil Clark said...

Nice to hear from you Nadim.
Isn't it revealing that so many neo-conservative, pro-war blogs do NOT allow the posting of comments. (are you reading this Mr Kamm/Mr Pollard?) They make such a play of their passion for 'democracy' and 'free speech'- and of the need of 'Shock and Awe' to impose them- but when it comes to their own blogs- they are as intolerant of other people's opinions as the most fanatical Fascist.

Anonymous said...

Harry's Place is a fine example of no comments allowed policy--would you not say?

(Despite the fact that the tone of the comments on a blog supporting a currently unpopular posision requires 24/7 moderation)

Neil Clark said...

I had in mind 'one-man band'weblogs like Oliver Kamm's and Stephen Pollard's which most definitely do not allow comments.

Peter Nolan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Both Pollard and Kamm used to have comments (as did Melanie Phillips), but they switched them off for much the same reason that Harry's Place periodically switches them off.

This is not because they disagreed with the views expressed (on the contrary, Kamm in particular seemed to delight in robust arguments with his more articulate detractors, and he's still a regular visitor to other blogs' comments boxes), but because they ended up being squatted in by the usual suspects: single-issue nutters, knee-jerk contrarians and the like who simply aren't worth giving a high-profile platform to. Not least because they end up hijacking threads for their own ends and drive away those interested in worthwhile conversations, thus tainting the reputation of the blog as a whole.

And there's also a smattering of people whose extreme, often openly racist, views potentially give the blog a legal dilemma. For a very recent example, Harry's gang had to make substantial deletions from threads discussing the recent Australian riots - and there's also the question of potential libel, which I recall was one of the reasons Melanie Phillips gave for discontinuing comments on her blog.

If your blog was anything like as popular as those cited above - i.e. where comments threads can reach double if not triple figures within hours of the original post being made - I guarantee you'd be faced with the same dilemmas, and would have to take similar decisions, if only to keep the blog even vaguely readable. But on the evidence thus far, it's unlikely that this prediction will be put to the test any time soon.

Mao the Burmese Cat said...

Even I, as a cat, recognise spambots.

You must delete them quickly, you copst a post from tom bliar so soon you will get lots of visits from people who hate muslims.

Install comment verification.

Then bring me salmon, I LIKEST it.

Marty said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mao the Burmese Cat said...

See?

Inbreds it is, visits it does because you star at batwing central:
timblair.net

We suggest you delete them with impunity. Then fetch us salmon.

RJGatorEsq said...

Here:





The stuff above is called "white space." You can put it between things called "paragraphs." They are all the rage these days.
____________

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting us post comments - very nice of you. I work online
with my own rubber chicken
website. Check it out if you get the chance. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

White space must be more expensive than bold these days.

Tim Worstall said...

You know chaps and chappesses?

I don’t think Neil’s looked at his blog or email yet today. Be interesting to see what he does if and when he does, won’t it.

SWLiP said...

I'm all for this "free speech" thing you all are talking about, but I only frequent blogs that serve lunch.

When's lunch?

Anonymous said...

This comment has been deleted by the author.

Anonymous said...

So has this one.

Anonymous said...

And this.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tim Worstall said...

Wish I knew who anonymous was.

Anonymous said...

I believe he's an internet entrepreneur.

Dave S. said...

"I'm all for this "free speech" thing you all are talking about, but I only frequent blogs that serve lunch."

With expensive wine.

SWLiP said...

I occasionally engage in such conversations with imaginary friends, but only in the back alley behind the local convenience store, and even then only after drinking a bottle of Night Train out of a brown bag.

So, what happened to lunch? And the wine?

Neil Clark said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"An anti-war, anti-neo-conservative blog to counter the lies of those who wish to condemn us to perpertual conflict."

And this in the ruddy page header.

Typical bloody journo, thinks he's so damn marvellous, can't even spell, relies on the subs to make him look good.

-- Former Sub-Editor

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TimT said...

Maybe the spambots should get a job reviewing books for The Daily Telegraph?

Mao the Burmese Cat said...

="I'm all for this "free speech" thing you all are talking about, but I only frequent blogs that serve lunch.
With expensive wine. "=

Yess, we likes it, but must be salmon too.

I like salmon.

TimT said...

I don't like seafood, much, Mao. Have some of mine.

Observer said...

In Mao-land cats are on the menu.

Mao the Burmese Cat said...

Ands in Mao kitchen simians is on the menu.

Well, at least an ankle or two...

RP. said...

Mr. Pollard here, and I've always allowed comments.

The stuff above is called "white space." You can put it between things called "paragraphs." They are all the rage these days.

Seconded.

Thorkel said...

Mr. Clark,

You have the funniest blog out there, bar none.

Don't go away.

...and do feed the nice cat.

Quentin X said...

If Mao has any left overs, can I have them. My crocodile hasn't eaten in days....

daggi said...

Thanks for letting us post comments - even if "us" can only be blogger members. Not very hip of you. I work online with my own felching website. Check it out if you get the chance. Thanks again!

daggi said...

My favourite website/blog, is quite similar to yours Neil. It doesn't allow any comments, and remains better for it, I shoudl say. It's still another vanity-publishing exercise though, but there the humour is intended to be intentional. It's address is http://richardherring.com

Check it out if you get the chance, thanks again!

Councillor Terry Kelly said...

Neil,
Ignore these twats and join me!