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!

Friday, October 31, 2008

If not this, what? If not now, when? If not in Wigan, where? If not out of ignorance, why? If not while playing a one-string fiddle, how?

Strangely[1], as the prospects for Decent Left politics ever actually being enacted recede, the demands become ever more expansionary. Cf. Previously in Decent politics, the "responsibility to protect" has expanded from a criterion of "imminent humanitarian disaster" (Rwanda) to "ongoing humanitarian abuses" (Iraq), to "refusal to allow humanitarian aid to be distributed" (Burma). And now, we have this, where intervention is demanded in respect of a country which does co-operate with aid agencies, but where a journalist not living in the country believes, on the basis of anecdotal evidence, that the UN World Food Programme (which has averted two famines in Zimbabwe in the last ten years) is not doing its job.

I suppose I should recognise, however, that Michael Holman is not fully in the Eustonian tradition, as he does in fact have a practical proposal. Sadly, that proposal is for air-drops out of the back of Hercules transports, the least efficient and most dangerous method of aid distribution ever invented (sometimes, as in remote parts of Ethiopia, it's all you can do, but that's not true of Zimbabwe). As a substitute for a proper NGO relief effort, the numbers don't add up. All this suggestion really achieves is to make it clear that that mangled Hillel/Primo Levi quotation is a ripe candidate for addition to the category "rhetorical questions which invite blunt literal answers".

[1]Or at least, not strangely at all; I think it was Matthew Yglesias who noted in the context of all the belligerent gobshites demanding NATO membership for Georgia[2] that whole point of this particular piece of posturing was that it involved making an implicit threat (of war with Russia) that everyone, including the people making it, knew was impossible to carry out.

[2]("NATO Membership For All" is the title of my forthcoming Oliver Kamm/Melanie Phillips mashup album)
8 comments this item posted by the management 10/31/2008 06:25:00 AM

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