...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Day 2079: Oxy Moron


Could it possibly come as a surprise to ANYBODY that Mr Balloon has performed ANOTHER about-face and is a "liberal" conservatory again?

Billed as his "first speech on foreign affairs" (bit of an admission there that Lebanon passed him by) Mr Balloon has TACTFULLY chosen to commemorate the September terrorist attacks with a speech where he distances himself from the American Monkey-in-Chief by continuing to support 100% everything that the Monkey is doing.

There is probably something a bit IRONIC about him doing this in a speech addressed to a CIA funded front organisation!

The "British American Project for the Successor Generation" may SOUND sinister, but as it is designed to SUBVERT the thinking of Britain's liberal and left wing into support for US foreign policy, it really IS sinister. "Project for the New American Century" anyone?

So what does he ACTUALLY have to say?

Well, it is, as the OLD SAYING goes, a speech of two HALVES: home and away, you might say.

The first half of the speech is very much playing the Republicans' tune; halfway though he changes his horse (or his face) and starts singing from the Liberator Songbook.

So, in the second half he makes some good points that we could AGREE with:

First: terrorism comes from many different sources, all different CAUSES with different problems behind them.

Second: you cannot just add instant democracy; it takes a history of democratic culture and a basic rule of law for democracy to begin to develop. King Paddy of Bosnia has been saying this since the 1990's and it was the basis for his Liberal approach when he was High and Mighty Representative to that Balkan state.

Third: you cannot just use military action: bombing people into democracy, never a winner. Well dur!

Fourth: multilateralism is the key; we must make international institutions work.

(Now, actually he comes a BIT unstuck here because his Republican audience are NEVER going to buy this. He cannot say WE need to change OUR attitude to these institutions, i.e. if they say "No" we cannot ignore them, because the White House will run him out of town. Instead he talks about changing the INSTITUTIONS where they don't let us do what we want. Hmmm, VERY multi-lateral.

It is NOT that the UN and the G8 and the rest couldn't DO with some improvements, but we have FORFEITED any moral right to DICTATE what those changes should be by the act of IGNORING them when they were INCONVENIENT. This moral point is important because Mr Balloon raises it HIMSELF in a moment.)

Fifth: we have to be seen to occupy the moral high ground. (See!)

Again, true, but this is coming from a man who won't apologise for supporting an ILLEGAL WAR. That tends to leave you a bit COMPROMISED, Mr Balloon.

Quite right, we cannot have secret CIA prisons or special rendition flights or Guantanamo Butlins camp or Abu Grahib or ignoring the Security Council or forgetting to call for a ceasefire in Lebanon or derailing the road map or tolerating the Saudi Arabian Religious Police or supporting the President of Turkmenistan or imposing faith based AIDS prevention programs on Africa or any of a hundred other "little lapses".

Quite right but TOO LATE: you should have been condemning these things WHEN THEY HAPPENED. Barn door and bolting horse, spring to mind.

Mr Paul is no more impressed than I am: these warm words are hardly warm enough to threaten CLIMATE CHANGE.

If he REALLY meant to take up a SHOCKINGLY liberal position towards America, Mr Balloon would be calling upon the Monkey-in-Chief to SACK Donald Rumsfeld for ordering TORTURE, or to appoint a SPECIAL PROSECUTOR to investigate the BREAKING of the American Constitution by ordering illegal wiretaps, or FRANKLY just to RESIGN for lying to Congress in the State of the Union. He should be saying that the time has come for the Republican's one-party domination of the American state to END.

But he won't do ANY of these things because, as the FIRST half of the speech makes clear – the half for the "away" audience – Mr Balloon is JUST as lovey-dovey with the Monkey-in-Chief and his plutocratic party as ever Lord Blairimort is.

So here's what he said first.

After the usual guff praising his hosts and a vaguely threatening promise of "action to make our society stronger at home" the minute he gets into Downing Street (will someone PLEASE make him tell us what THAT policy entails), he begins by saying that foreign policy takes some care to prepare.

"It is not responsible to try and polarise debate through simplistic exercises in political positioning.

"If you question the approach of the US administration, you're "anti-American".

"If you support what the United States is doing, you're "America's poodle".

"If you care about civil liberties, you're "soft on terror". If you back an extension of our security laws, you're "building a police state".

"These are not mature contributions to debate."

No, he is quite right: those are NOT mature contributions. Those are a pre-emptive STRAW MAN attack on anyone who tries to criticise his vacillating position.

Rather than just dismissing them as "Oooh, you're immature, you are" Mr Balloon could try and make a case for WHY caring about civil liberties IS being tough on terror.

(In a soundbite: we defend our civil liberties because they are the very thing that the terrorist is trying to take away!)

But that might involve him having to pick one side or the other.

"Foreign policy decisions are not black and white, something which the public well understands," adds Mr Balloon, which is code for "Don't you worry your pretty little heads about them."

The roots of the current world situation, and indeed al-Qaeda's horrible attack, go back for MANY years and properly to understand them we need to look at a long history of Western foreign policy, our treatment of and exploitation of Middle Eastern and third world countries, our apparently wilful ignorance of the condition of their lives, our support for dictators and religious terror groups for geo-political reasons (i.e. "get the Soviets") and economic ones (i.e. "get the oil") and so on.

Or you can do like Mr Balloon and buy into the neo-con MYTH that the destruction of the World Trade Centre was an ENTIRELY UNPROVOKED turning point in the history of the world when suddenly "Islamic Terror" sprang full formed from its twisted birthplace. (Which is HANDY as it avoids mentioning that Osama was on George Bush Senior's payroll when he was running the CIA.)

"9/11 was a wake-up call indeed..." says Mr Balloon, "although with hindsight, the first attack on the World Trade Centre in 1993, the horrific bombings of US embassies in East Africa, and the assault on the USS Cole should have woken us up already."

So much for distancing himself from the Bush Administration: this is straight out of the Republican Party dictionary of "blame Clinton speak" (as perpetuated by the recent wildly misleading ABC drama "The Path to 9/11").

The true fact is that whatever President Clinton DID set up to try and stop Al-Qaeda President Bush sent them all off to sleep again. And then went on HOLIDAY.

Still, 9/11 has clarified one thing for Mr Balloon:

"This terrorist threat is clearly different from those we have faced before."

Well, in the first place it REALLY isn't: Osama has POLITICAL and TERRITORIAL motives just like the IRA or ETA or the Bolsheviks had. And al-Qaeda is at the VERY extreme end of a SPECTRUM of opinion, some of who DO want to talk. There is nothing SPECIAL or MAGICAL about a bunch of nutters with bombs who claim to have received the answer to everything.

But in the second place, saying they are "different" is the catch all EXCUSE for us not to live up to OUR OWN standards. It is the "nod and wink" to say you will go along with anything that the US Defence Department decides to do. Usually this will involve EXPLOSIONS!

Mr Balloon concludes this point with more Neo-Con language:

"This terrorism cannot be appeased - it has to be defeated."

Do you see how he has turned terrorISTS into terrorISM? Remember that later in this same speech he is going to point out the FALLACY of exactly this sort of CONFLATION.

There are lots of terrorISTS with different motives and causes. You can fight and defeat some of them, lots of them even, but you won't make terrorISM go away like that; you have to find some common ground – not in the sense of "appeasement" (giving them what they want for nothing) but in the sense of reaching a solution diplomatically that both sides can live with, and live BETTER with.

One thing that IS true about the September attacks: they make developing a liberal foreign policy very much harder. People in the West, and particularly in America, are now hugely motivate to respond to the Middle East either with VIOLENCE or by calling for DISENGAGEMENT. Too few want to find that way for BOTH sides to live BETTER.

Mr Balloon follows this homily with a list of events since 2001, some of them NICE and some of them NASTY, to show us that the world is still a difficult and scary place.

Again, you can see the Neo-Con brain programming at work from the way that his presentation SEEMS to say that the nice things are where our brave war on terror is succeeding and the nasty ones are the ones where the bad guys got around us.

He thinks that the only UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE of the war is "Anti-Americanism".

This is a not ENTIRELY right. To say that these are events that have JUST HAPPENED overlooks the rather more important admission that they have happened BECAUSE of our brave war on terror: what we did to make things better has gone horribly wrong.

Still, it lets Dave have a pop at "anti-Americans" (in case anyone is worried that HE might be in that category).

"Anti-Americanism represents an intellectual and moral surrender," he says. "It is a complacent cowardice born of resentment of success and a desire for the world's problems simply to go away."

Well, yes SOMETIMES it is, and sometimes people have other reasons and sometimes people are anti-America on some things and pro-America on others, and sometimes people are pro the IDEA of America and anti the practical application that the Monkey-in-Chief (and in fairness most Presidents for the last fifty years) have been imposing on the rest of us.

Just lumping all of these positions together as "Anti-Americanism" is not just lazy of Mr Balloon, it contradicts what he says about not making issues "black and white".

It is not responsible, HE MIGHT SAY, to try and polarise debate through simplistic exercises in political positioning.

"So when it comes to the special relationship with America, Conservatives feel it, understand it and believe in it.

"All Conservatives share this attitude.

"I cannot think of a single Conservative member of parliament who does not think the same way."

This INDIRECTLY draws the eye to the HEART of Mr Balloon's foreign policy problem.

This is supposed to be Mr Balloon's big foreign policy speech and it is ONLY about America. There is – if you will forgive me – an ELEPHANT in the room.

Britain cannot achieve its goals alone, he says, but we cannot always be junior partner to America either. So WHAT is the logical conclusion that you have to draw? What is the obvious international institution to further his call for MULTILATERAL solutions?

The answer that he cannot mention is EUROPE.

(Okay, he mentions Europe ONCE but then only as an aside about accession for Turkey.)

And that is the ultimate HOLLOWNESS. If you cannot even SAY Europe, say that Europe needs to be STRONGER to match America then the rest of this is just so much AIR!

So, what is Mr Balloon REALLY trying to do? Keep the CIA entertained for an hour before Penn & Teller start with the disappearing flag act?

No, it is another exercise in TRIANGULATION (copyright Lord Blairimort, naturally). Find the other guy's position and try and look like you are standing between there and the electorate. In this case, Lord Blairimort is close to President Monkey so try and look like you are closer to the British People while still being pro-Monkey.

You earn CHEAP headlines on the "man bites dog" principle. Everyone EXPECTS Mr Balloon to be totally in bed with the US of Bush, so he (pardon my FAUX-SURPRISE) stuns us all by merely loitering at the BOUDOIR DOORWAY.

And even if the story is "Conservatory leader less of a POODLE than Lord Blairimort" that still makes him look like he's being the more reasonable one. If you can get LORD TEBBIT to condemn you as a PINKO, even better!

(Actually, being less of a POODLE only makes Mr Balloon a LABRADOODLE.)

The game was really given away by the Republican commentator on the Today Program today. Asked who Mr Balloon most reminded him of he had to say:

"It's a speech that's trying to distance him from some extreme positions without actually defining himself, just like the way that GEORGE W BUSH tried to distance himself from Newt Gingrich without ever defining his own position."

The MARK of the TRUE Neo-Con is their DISGUISE. Caring Conservatory. Compassionate Conservatory. Liberal Conservatory.

Is this just sticking a NICE word with a NASTY one to make the medicine go down? Or is it hiding your real agenda under flowery words?

What does Liberal Conservatory MEAN anyway? Local Centraliser? Environmental Polluter? Radical Stick-in-the-Mud?

Would Mr Balloon actually DO anything different? That is the most important question.

He certainly didn't this summer when he had the chance to call for a ceasefire in Lebanon.

Judge him on his record and you will find Mr Balloon lacking: this is just another COLOUR-CHANGE exercise in finding the right – what did he call it? – political positioning.

As a WISE person once said:

"He's a BLUE toothbrush; he's a PINK toothbrush…"

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