Daily archives: September 9, 2008

Nick Cohen Has Gone Mad

Nick Cohen’s latest rant is a defence of La Palin, under the guise of advice to liberals on how to attack her more wisely. He gives the game away with the following defence of Blair:

If they had confined themselves to charging Tony Blair with failing to find the weapons of mass destruction he promised were in Iraq, and sending British troops into a quagmire, they might have forced him out. They were so consumed by loathing, however, they insisted that he had lied, which he clearly had not.


Which planet is Cohen on? On 24 September 2002 Blair told the UK parliament this:

The dossier we publish gives the answer. The reason is because his chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programme is not an historic leftover from 1998. The inspectors aren’t needed to clean up the old remains. His WMD programme is active, detailed and growing. The policy of containment is not working. The WMD programme is not shut down. It is up and running…

Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes, including against his own Shia population; and that he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability.


Which is beyond doubt the most infamous lie, or series of lies, in all political history. It fulfils all the criteria of a lie by being demonstrably untrue, and by the fact that Blair knew it to be untrue. Unlike Nick Cohen, who was in a pub somewhere, I was a senior British diplomat at the time the dossier was produced and a former head of the FCO section monitoring Iraqi sanctions enforcement. I know, and have counted as a friend, John Williams, the Head of FCO News Department who did the first draft and is now a man wracked with conscience. I was told at the time that our claims were “Bollocks” by Bill Patey, then head of the FCO department covering the Middle East and now our Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, I heard first hand and before the war started witness of the pressure and career threats that reduced members of the FCO Research Analysts to tears.

It is interesting that Cohen tries the same rhetorical trick with Blair that he does with Palin. He starts off by trying to sound sympathetic to liberals, that there is validity to “charging Tony Blair with failing to find the weapons of mass destruction he promised were in Iraq, and sending British troops into a quagmire.”

But in fact we know these are not Cohen’s views at all and he remains a major cheerleader for the Iraq war. He has written an entire book about how misguided the “Left” are for not understanding Iraq and the noble neo-con desire to export “democracy” by force. So if Cohen disguises his defence of Blair with a false cloak of sympathy for the arguments against him, how much notice should we take of his feeble anti-Palin points before he defends her? Is it not more probable that the laughable old dipsomaniac is simply lost in admiration of another fellow neo-con?

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Two Cheers For Nationalisation

The Guardian’s Larry Elliott has written an excellent piece on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I particularly like this passage:

But if the big financial institutions cannot – unlike, say, a car company or an airline – be allowed to founder, they also cannot be allowed to conduct themselves in the same way as companies where there really is a risk of failure. Congress will undoubtedly demand tougher regulations for the activities of US banks in exchange for bailing them out, and rightly so. If ever there was a time to bring in controls on the ability of banks to create unlimited amounts of credit, to restrict the more toxic forms of derivatives, to rein in the activities of hedge funds, to insist that remuneration structures are not biased in favour of reckless speculation, and to use anti-trust law to break up the power of the big institutions then this, surely, is it.


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