Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Norms of Civilised Debate

Update It's over at the Guardian blog too. I take the opportunity to remind Norm that if he wants to bring on topic the subject of people "ignoring the Iraqis and just wanting to say I told you so", then it is not necessarily going to reflect all that well on him and his mates.

Oh look. Norman Geras is having a go at me and Marc Mulholland. It's in this post, in the otherwise incomprehensible third paragraph on the "clever-clever approach". Norm has been ... reluctant to mention me by name for quite a while now, and he appears to be giving Marc the same treatment now. I can't speak for anyone else, but I am certainly weeping bitter tears over the snub. What a jolly grown up way for the Professor Emeritus of Government at the University of Manchester to behave.[1]

Given that he has had no less that nine months to gestate this one, (counting from the day I first made the point), it's not much of a show for the wait. The "clever clever" argument isn't "clever-clever" at all - it follows from the simple meaning of the words "pro" and "war", and Norman Geras has never responded to the actual argument made. But even if we take "pro-war" to be restricted to "pro the war in Iraq", I respond thus.

1) The Euston Manifesto says, twice that one of the things it is against, is anyone who thinks that the decision to go to war in Iraq should have political consequences for the people who made it. Specifically, it says once that the authors are not interested in "picking over the rubble"[2] of the intervention, and once that the authors "have no truck" with people who spend what the authors perceive to be too much time and energy on insisting on political consequences for the decision to fight a war in Iraq.
2) The Euston Manifesto does say that horrible regimes should be subject to intervention, and it does say that Iraq was such a regime.
3) Whatever the main drafters thought in 2003, as far as I can tell all of them are currently in favour of coalition troops remaining in Iraq, none of them have expressed an opinion against the US policy of increasing troop numbers in Iraq and as far as I can tell all of them were in favour of continuing to occupy Iraq at the time they wrote the Euston Manifesto. The war in Iraq is not actually over, whatever George Bush said about "major combat operations".
4) The simple fact that someone opposed the war in 2003 does not make them "anti war" for the rest of their life. Nick Cohen was against the liberation of Afghanistan at the time, but presumably Norm would not call him "an opponent of the war against the Taliban". Or maybe he would, I have no idea. I have had a bit of a look and as far as I can tell, all of the "anti war" members of the Euston Manifesto committee refer to their being "anti-war" in the past tense; "I was anti-war" rather than "I am anti-war".
5) That cricket analogy is just totally fucking meaningless[3]

So in other words, the document says that the Iraq War was the kind of war that left-wing people should presumptively support, that left wing people should not expend political energy in criticising the decision to fight the Iraq War, and that the troops currently occupying Iraq should stay there. To borrow a phrase, I have no truck with the tendency to pay lip service to the anti-war case, while devoting most of their energy to criticism of political opponents at home (supposedly responsible for every difficulty in Iraq), and observing a tactful silence or near silence about the lies told and the disastrous execution.

In other words, Eustonites, you're the pro war left. Everybody knows it. You're not fooling anybody. Wear it.

[1]Marc had the worst of this, as Norman wrote this post in which he said

"Why, I even used to discuss things with Marc Mulholland, until his blogging turned obsessive in a particular way that I've come to know and leave alone.".

I didn't speak up at the time, but in retrospect I think I should have and now I think I will. This was, in my opinion, utterly unfair in that Marc had not in fact pursued him more than twice for a straight answer to the straight question that he is only now answering, really quite disgusting in the slippery implied accusation that Marc was behaving like a loony, and a really bad example of the kind of behaviour that gets blogs a bad name. It is also really not fair dealing to tell your readers that you are addressing an argument made by "some people" without saying who they are, or providing a link so that people can see for themselves whether you're addressing a strawman.
[2] Yes, "picking over the rubble" is what the Euston Manifesto says about Iraq, and whoever came up with that phrase ought to be made to wear it like a crown of thorns until the day that the last bombed building in Iraq is rebuilt.

[3] Since I am a uniter rather than a divider, I will point out to "some people" (by which I mean Norman Geras, although I have decided to become too snooty to say so) that if your main audience is American, it might be a good idea to cut down on these cricketing analogies, as in my experience, Yanks tend to find them irritating rather than cute.
28 comments this item posted by the management 1/30/2007 09:09:00 AM

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