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« Archaelogical Find | Main | The Pattern Continues »

"Arrogant" Bush

Here's the latest bit of rancid tripe from John Simpson at the BBC. Mr. Simpson is apparently trying to outfisk Bob Fisk.

In 32 years of reporting on international affairs, I have never seen Britain and the United States more separated from each other: not during the terrible last years of the Vietnam War, not during President Reagan's Iran-Contra dealings or his espousal of the crackpot Star Wars system.

"...crackpot Star Wars system."

Well, I guess we know where he's coming from. I wonder if he's feigning objectivity, or if, unlike his counterparts here, he'd be proud to proclaim his biases?

Just for your information, Mr. Simpson, but that "crackpot" idea played a major role in bringing down the Soviet Union. But then, that's probably one of the reasons that you despise it, and us, so.

On two occasions last week I met senior civil servants from government departments in London who would normally be regarded as the natural bedrock of support for the Atlantic Alliance. In both cases I found open contempt for current American policy, especially towards the Middle East.

That's good news. It means that we're finally on the right track.

It's easy enough to spot particular elements in this change of attitude. One is President Bush's new line on Yasser Arafat and his support for the determination of Israel, under Ariel Sharon, to break up what little remains of the Oslo Accords.

Arafat himself killed Oslo, years ago. But I guess it's easier to live in delusion, and blame the messenger (Bush) when he, unlike Whitehall, recognizes the reality, and declares the decaying carcass dead.

It took the Bush administration a good deal of internal negotiation to come up with its ringing endorsement of the Sharon line, but leading British civil servants I spoke to about last week's speech by Mr Bush regarded it as - I quote - "puerile", "absurdly ignorant" and "ludicrous".

Yup, we're definitely getting it right now. You can't get a better endorsement than that, considering the source.

It is possible to spot some common elements here. There is, for instance, a rooted dislike of the "arrogance" - not my word, but that of a senior and much respected civil servant - that enables President Bush ("a bear of very little brain" - ditto) to announce to the Palestinians who should and shouldn't be their leader.

And there is a parallel impatience at the "stupidity" (ditto) which will unquestionably ensure that Palestinians of all kinds will now feel obliged to support Yasser Arafat as their leader, for better or worse.

There's this concept in psychology called "projection..."

Bush didn't say who their leader should be. He just stated the conditions under which the US would work with the Palestinians to have their own state (and to continue to receive funding). They can choose whoever they want, and they can (finally) live with the consequences of their choices.

Next week we will have the latest round in the trade war that has blown up between America and Europe over issues such as steel, where Washington reserves the right to impose tariffs on some foreign imports and pay huge subsidies to sections of its own ailing industry, while lecturing the outside world about the duty to support free trade and allow US goods into their markets at preferential rates. The moralising is starting to grate: and it looks like hypocrisy.

Well, he does have him there. But even a blind squirrel will turn up an acorn now and then.

Take another, completely different example. The creation of an international criminal court is something that people across the world have worked towards for decades.

Now, there's a compelling argument. I guess that we're supposed to ineluctably conclude from this that an international criminal court must therefore be an unalloyed Good Thing.

Of course, what he displays here is at least two (and possibly more) logical fallacies: "appeal to belief" and "bandwagon."

Here, let me try a couple:

The destruction of the Jewish race is something that people across the world have worked towards for decades.

Or, restoration of the Caliphate is something that people across the world have worked towards for decades.

See? It's fun!

Suddenly, it exists and has the power to try suspected war criminals; but the US, nervous that its own citizens - from a private soldier who kills people on a peace mission to, shall we say, Henry Kissinger - might be dragged before the court, is demanding immunity from arrest or prosecution for any American troops involved in United Nations peace-keeping duties.

To be honest, I can't quite work out whether this is because the Bush administration dislikes the UN and its peace-keeping role almost as much as it does the international court, and wants to undermine them; or whether it comes primarily from a sense that Americans are not as other people, and shouldn't be subject to the same rules. For obvious reasons, other countries find this distinctly annoying.

Well, John, here's what Americans find annoying. They find it annoying to be judged by a court composed of countries who believe: that Zionism is racism; that there's nothing wrong with a terrorist state being head of the UN Security Council; that Arafat isn't a terrorist, but that Sharon is; that Peres should hand back his peace prize, but that Arafat needn't; that we should cripple the world economy, and particularly the US economy, to delay global warming for a year and a half a hundred years from now; that Saddam Hussein is not a threat to us or his neighbors; that defending ourselves against missiles is "crackpot"; and foremost, that we should be bound by treaties that we haven't signed or ratified.

It's the sovereignty, stupid.

And amid all this, poor old Tony Blair has to try to stay on friendly terms with a president whom even some of his own ministers and civil servants regard with contempt. It won't be at all easy.

Well, it's not that hard, John--ministers can certainly be replaced. As can Prime Ministers...

Posted by Rand Simberg at June 29, 2002 05:45 PM
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John Simpson unbiased? Yeah that is a laugh the man does not interview but state his ignorant opinion and then allow his guests to comment on it. Still the longer Simpson stays on the air the stronger the calls for the privitisation of the Beeb.

Posted by Andrew Ian Dodge at June 30, 2002 08:41 AM

After their waffling on Article V of the NATO treaty and the unflagging support their EU ambassador lends to anything willing to shoot Israeli children, I see no reason to care one bit what the English think about much of anything.

Posted by David Paglia at June 30, 2002 09:45 AM

Wait a minute, wait just a damn minute...wasn't it the British who just asked for (and got) immunity from international prosecution for its own soldiers operating among the international forces in Afghanistan?

Posted by Charlie at June 30, 2002 10:07 AM

Bloody good show. Pip pip. Perhaps now to tea?

Posted by Jeff G. at June 30, 2002 12:04 PM

I would like to clarify that every Brit or ex Brit that I have met fully support the U.S. only the lefty talking heads in Euorpe aka the Sons of Hitler are upset. Of course all the ones I talked to were smart enough to get on the boat and leave the "old world".

Posted by Dr. Clausewitz at June 30, 2002 12:38 PM

Thanks Dr. Clausewitz,

I'm English and I *totally* support the U.S. in this. Also, please don't forget that their are British soldiers out in Afghanistan, fighting alongside Americans.

The anti-war talking heads over here *utterly* piss me off.

Posted by Tony at June 30, 2002 01:39 PM

Tony, our thanks to you and British soldiery in general...some of the best in the business.

What's really interesting is that all the stuff that Simpson and people writing for The Guardian, etc, are saying can be STORED for one year. So we can bring it out a year from now and joyously fling it back at them (I hope).

Bush seems to have a weird way of somewhat clumsily doing the simplest thing, which then turns out to be the right thing (like ABM), thus earning unbelievable fury and contempt on the part of Euro-chatterers (and their US counterparts). I think that will be the case this time, and BOY do I look forward to sending these articles back to their authors one day.

Posted by Andrew at July 1, 2002 09:53 AM

It's wrong for the U.S. to tell the Palestinians who their leader should be, according to these unnamed British officials.

But it's apparently OK for EU bureaucrats to tell, say, Austria, who their leader should or shouldn't be (remember Jorg Haider); or the French (L'affaire Le Pen, anyone?).

Do these people have the slightest idea what hypocrites they are? Right, who am I kidding...

Posted by James DiBenedetto at July 1, 2002 06:52 PM

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