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Mr Grumpy can now be found posting at

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Probably legal, or Two and a half cheers for David Aaronovitch

So the Grauniad has managed to purge one of its leading revisionist traitors. Mr Grumpy has identified strongly with his growing realization that there is at least as much illiberalism on his left as on his right, and has enjoyed watching him wind the comrades up. He has done sterling work patrolling the creepy interface between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, from which Sue Blackwell has emerged with her academic boycott of Bad Jews. His sign-off column is powerful stuff. OK, now we can read him in the Times, but it’s the Guardian that really needs him.

But Dave, why oh why have you dug yourself into such a hole on the Iraq question?

On 1 May we find David A defending Tony Blair against charges of lying, thus: “To spin the advice, as many journalists have done, as showing that Goldsmith was saying that war 'could be illegal' is disingenuousness worthy of the slickest weasel. The advice shows, crucially, that the Attorney General thought that UN Resolution 1441 probably was permissive of military action against Iraq, without further decision of the Security Council.”

Now I have no more regard than David A for the less sentient members of the anti-war lobby. But even those with a couple of brain cells to rub together are not likely to be impressed by the distinction between fighting a war that is probably legal and fighting one that is possibly illegal.

Don’t get me wrong. I rejoice that Saddam is behind bars, in or out of his underpants. I hope and pray that Iraq’s first elected government can establish its authority. And I think we are duty-bound to help it do so, if only because the alternative is so appalling. But looking at how we got to where we are now, I am more than ever convinced that Robin Cook got it spot on. Would even George Bush have taken the decision to invade if he had been able to foresee how it would turn out?

Sorry Dave, but probably legal just wasn’t good enough.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

PC Plod

Today Mr G turns his ire on the writer of a letter in the Independent...

"Sir: So Graeme McLagan ("Shootings at record levels as teenagers turn to guns", 11 May) tells us "It is incredibly hard for the police to predict when, and under what circumstances, black gunmen will use their firearms". Worrying as this prospect is, I am at least slightly reassured by the knowledge that white gunmen are so safe and predictable."

Actually it's not really fair to single out someone who has made what actually is a neat point given the mindset he shares with most Indie and Guardian readers. But let's look at that story again. There were 49 shotings in London in April alone - compared with 12 in April last year. 35 were "black on black", including two of the three deaths.

What this means is that for young black males in London other young black males are a far more deadly threat than neo-Nazis and racist coppers put together.

As George Orwell wrote about Stalin's crimes, it's true even though the Daily Mail says it's true. Unlike, say, the murder of Stephen Lawrence, it's not a truth that lends itself to easy liberal moral posturing. But come on, these are young lives being meaninglessly thrown away. There's no simple solution, but there's no solution at all so long as we keep our heads buried in the sand for fear of infringing PC etiquette.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Saving children's lives

Just to draw the attention of anyone who happens by to a very important article that appeared in the Guardian recently. It's only accessible in Google's cache (not in the Guardian's archives - legal problems?) so catch it quickly.

Dr David Southall is a man who has dedicated his life to stopping sick people from torturing and killing their kids, and he has been vilified for his pains. Why?

One reason, it seems clear, is that the parents in question are often clever, manipulative and vindictive. Another is that the child protection “industry” is largely founded on the ideological premise that child abuse is an expression of patriarchy. Murderous mothers just don’t fit into this world-view (of which, ironically, Beatrix Campbell herself has been a prominent promoter – she has been quoted as saying “Sexual abuse of children now presents society with the ultimate crisis of patriarchy”).

Most fundamentally, I suspect, we clearly have a deep psychological resistance to seeing mothers as threatening. Stepmothers yes, real ones no. Of course that isn’t a problem in itself, and for most of us, happily, it fits with the facts. But if we allow this instinct to blind us to the evidence in these cases, we are abandoning the children of whom Dr Southall says “if your number one person doesn't want you around, doesn't love you, hates you, harms you, then you've had it. There's no hope. The worst the world can do to you isn't as bad as this”.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Dummies and Galloway

How could we have got Saddam out without going to war with him? The following appeared in a letter in yesterday's Independent:-

"In 2000 the Muslim Peace Fellowship suggested a five-point plan involving support for Iraqi civil society, a general Middle Eastern arms embargo, and wider reforms. In the US, Sojourner magazine outlined at least two blueprints for largely nonviolent strategic campaigns. None of these strategies could have guaranteed perfection, but their outcomes could hardly have been worse than the catastrophe which actually transpired."

Er, what civil society? The free press? The opposition political parties? The independent judiciary? The basic precondition for the existence of a civil society was fulfilled when Saddam was overthrown. As in the case of Hitler's Germany.

A general arms embargo against Saddam would have been a fine idea, and perhaps the Muslim Peace Fellowship has some ideas as to how Russia and China could have been persuaded to take part.

And perhaps we could have campaigned for Saddam's secret police to show greater courtesy towards the public.

Sorry, but absolute moral positions such as pacifism can only be held honestly by those prepared to admit that they will stick to them regardless of the consequences. Invading Iraq has had good and bad consequences. Not invading would have had good and bad consequences, chief among the latter being that Saddam would probably have remained in power for the rest of his life, and that if the majority of Iraqis had ever risen up against him the resulting civil war would have made the present situation look like a picnic. If we want to take sides we have to take responsibility for the bad with the good.

PS A good one, too, from Jonathan Steele in yesterday's Guardian. Basically the American troops should pull out of Iraq because they're doing such a terrible job, and the British troops should pull out because they're doing such a good job that they're not needed. "Pulling foreign troops out would almost certainly improve Iraq's security, since much of the violence is directed against the occupation" says Jonathan. So let's not worry too much about the hundreds of Iraqis who have lost their lives in the last few weeks because they supported the wrong party, worshipped at the wrong kind of mosque, attended the wrong person's funeral, or wanted to serve the country's first ever elected government as police officers. Just get those Yanks out, and the insurgents will show us what warm and wonderful human beings they were all along.