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December 21, 2003- Bitter Brits

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Bitter Brits: They may be our allies, but it seems they really don't share our values, or our insights into causation.


In the December 20th issue of The Guardian one finds a bit of a disconnect with our kipper-breakfasting friends.

This is not a big problem as The Guardian has always been a bit outspoken and left of center, thus the Fox News fans and Rush Limbaugh "dittoheads" can say that this particular news source, like the BBC, obviously hates America - and thus wants Saddam to return to power and have everyone eat French cheeses and have everyone actually approve of the silly people who choose to act "gay" and give them legal rights and so on.

Oh well.  For what it's worth, the two Saturday items are quite negative.

The first claims executing folks isn't a nice thing to do.  This is a very anti-American view.

See Bush wants Saddam to hang, but we must resist
The US president is reflecting his own brutish view of the world
Max Hastings, The Guardian, Saturday December 20, 2003

Max has this to say:


America's wealth and power are inescapable realities. It seems self-indulgent to lavish emotional and intellectual energy on deploring the shortcomings of the world's only superpower. From Tony Blair downwards, all of us must focus on coming to terms with the US, rather than figuratively waving placards to demand that this great nation should be something other than it is.


How generous of Max.  He doesn't want to change us at all.

But Max adds:


Yet, it is hard not to hate George Bush. His ignorance and conceit, his professed special relationship with God, invite revulsion.  A few weeks ago, I heard a British diplomat observe sagely: "We must not demonise Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz."  Why not?  The US defence secretary and his assistant have implemented coalition policy in Iraq in a fashion that makes Soviet behaviour in Afghanistan in the 1970s appear dextrous.  The British are hapless passengers on the Pentagon's juggernaut.


Hey Max, what's the problem?

Here's what Max says:


The president's personal odyssey touched a new low this week, when he asserted publicly that Saddam Hussein should die.  After a fair trial, he says, Iraq's former dictator should swing or be shot, though Washington thinks it expedient to delegate Iraqis to do the business.



Max knows Tony Blair will fall in line this, and it bothers him:


There will be no trouble with the British government about this scenario.  Downing Street's line suggests a script originally written for Pontius Pilate.  Tony Blair declares that what an Iraqi administration chooses to do with Saddam is absolutely no business of Britain's.  If the powers-that-will-be in Iraq decide he should take an early bath on the scaffold, then what can Britain's prime minister do, save shrug?

In reality, Bush's eagerness to see Saddam swing reflects not an overarching objection to murderous dictators, but an ad hominem desire to complete the liberation of Iraq with a gesture that fits his own brutish view of the world.  The least Blair can do, on Britain's behalf, is to say that we can no more endorse the sponsorship of a hanging carried out by Iraqi stooges of the coalition...


Max, Tony won't say a thing.  Tony sold the UK to us lock stock and barrel - or to put it another way, Tony is George's bitch now.

Get over it.


Then there's this, an item that suggests some things should be connected which Americans simply will not connect, and other things decoupled that Americans connect. 


Isn't it a bit presumptuous for a Brit to tell us we have facts wrong?

See Only disconnect
It's official: there is no link between cause and effect in our crazy world
Al Kennedy, The Guardian, Saturday December 20, 2003

Well, I haven't read Howard's End in a long time, but I do remember the last line.  Be that as it may, Al starts his ironic so-very-British-rant this way:


Just because one event follows another, it doesn't mean one causes the other. Which is why it would be ludicrous to link resistance to the occupation of Iraq with the occupation of Iraq. And we shouldn't link the US throwing its weight around like a drunk sailor at an Amish wedding with turmoil in North Korea, South Korea, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bali, the Philippines, Taiwan, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Russia, Georgia - oh, just pick a name in your atlas, if it's not right now it soon will be.

But there are no links. So the Pentagon suddenly takes an interest in the numbers of dead Iraqi Muslims - so what? There is no connection between the Pentagon and the dead. Take Riad Khalas Abdallah, for example - one minute he was 25 years old and driving along in Kirkuk in an unarmed way, the next he was dead. This had nothing to do with the US troops who shot at him. Muslims die very easily, they are delicate and can blow up at any time - but this isn't because of anything. They're just made that way. You simply have to bulldoze their homes, concentrate them in secured areas and hope. Every Iraqi in Awja is much safer now it's razor wired shut, and look at the long-term joy those walls are bringing Gaza.


Well, everyone makes mistakes.  And as for that Gaza reference, well, George Bush has said Ariel Sharon is "a man of peace."  Al, who are you going to believe?

This particular Canadian business was unfortunate perhaps:


When the US secretly deports Canadian citizen Maher Arar to Syria, it's not because prisoners are known to be tortured there. And it's a coincidence when he happens to end up being tortured. And a complete fluke that US companies export "crime control" equipment to regimes known to torture systematically. Torture is not US policy.


Indeed, torture is not our policy.  As Donald Rumsfeld is fond of saying, however, democracy is messy and things happen.  And we may apologize to Canada - maybe - if they're good.

Anyway, Al's list of things we really should connect is sarcastically listed here:


You also shouldn't link: a) Draconian suppression of US dissent by hardline police chiefs like Miami's John Timoney, the FBI and private security companies with Republican funding; b) "embedding" of Republican journalists with police departments during anti-war demonstrations; c) Cheney and Halliburton kickbacks; d) Perle and Boeing kickbacks; e) the epidemic introduction of dodgy Diebold voting software before the next presidential elections; f) the Universal National Service Act 2003.  If you do link them you'll just get this queasy, déjà vu, Nazi feeling and have to lie down.

And there is no Nazi link with George Bush, grandson of one of the Reich's bankers, now overseeing Operation Iron Hammer - the charming revival of a Luftwaffe codename for the attempted crushing of the Iraqi resistance.  And don't link George's famous dodging of national service, the last time it was all the rage, with any trouble he might have relating to (non-Wehrmacht) military types, leading him to defraud them of benefits, put them in the way of death and amputation, disappear their casualties, embarrass them with premature victory banners, jazz up his foreign trips using fake Thanksgiving photo ops involving a "model" turkey dinner - perhaps because a real one would have been too heavy and caused George's arms to shake.  Lord knows, that's the kind of heart-breaking distress you wouldn't want to force on anyone.


Look here, Al, we are told these are NOT connected. We're patriots and must agree.

The item ends with this: "Remember - life is chaos. The fewer the links, the greater the joy."

Hey, that's what Fox News is for, patriotic joy.

Ah these Brits, so skeptical!