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December 29, 2003


David Gillies

A good article by Hari, although marred somewhat by that gratuitous cheap shot at 'conservatives'. No conservative I know thinks that way, especially amongst the libertarian end of the spectrum that I inhabit. Freedom from tyranny is the most fundamental desideratum of libertarianism.


I'm not a conservative, but I agree with David about Hari's gratuitous "yellow people" remark. The implication that every conservative is a Pat Buchanan supporting isolationist bigot is offensive and uncalled for.

Phil Jackson

It is not gratuitous but well calculated, if a little cynical. Many on the left are driven by a puerile tribalism that instinctively disagrees with anything "Tory". Therefore Hari has to invent a mythical conservatism for Independent readers to contrast themselves with, and thereby win them over (presumably). And who can blame him? But it’s depressing that he has to resort to such devices and that the condition of N Korea in itself is not enough to convince them.



Please continue reminding us of the make up of the Stop the War Coalition. It is shameful that before, during and since the Iraq war, the aims of this largely odious coalition have gone almost unchallenged by the BBC and other news organisations. In particular, the Liberal Democrats deserve much criticism for their alignment with others such as the MAB and The Communist Party of Britain who oppose freedom and democracy.


I see your point, Phil. And you're right: it is depressing.

Mitch H.

For those of us not up on the fine-scale taxonomy of the British Left, what's the difference between the "Communist Party of Britain" and the "Communist Party of Great Britain"? I did some googling, but all I found was a lot of gibberish about "ginger groups".


The difference is that they have different names Mitch.



Think Judean People's Front vs. People's Front of Judea.


The "yellow people" remark, whilst simplistic, takes a very correct shot at a significant portion of the Right who "support" the war but have always scoffed at the reasons myself, and a growing number of Liberals, support these sorts of actions. I find it slightly galling to hear the broad right condemning the "appalling human rights record" of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban when so many of them vocally supported the ex-dictator and murderer Augusto Pinochet when the Blair government (rightly) considered extraditing him to Spain to stand trial for a fraction of his crimes. Many of them echoed the current line of the anti-war "left" with "leave the Chileans to deal with it, it's their business" - ignoring the fact that Pinochet had ensured his immunity from prosecution. And then there is Richard Littlejohn, a nasty piece of work who supports the war but took a very different line when human rights in Indonesia under the Suhartu dictatorship were brought under the spotlight "Why should I care about East Timor? I've never heard of the place". And let's not forget The Sun's lambasting of Blair when he (rightly) sent British troops into Sierra Leone to defend the fragile government against murdering goon-squads. I think it went something along the lines of "Why are our troops being risked in some foreign country cleaning up their mess? This doesn't concern us".

The point is that the broad Right (I realise there are many on the right of a more internationalist bent, but I don't think these were who Oliver was referring to) who are being as two-faced as the anti-war "left" on this issue and we would be foolish to ignore it and embrace them as comrades.


The last paragraph should have started "The point is that there are many on the broad right...". Apologies.


Matty, is it possible you're confusing strands on the right? There is one line of right-wing thought that sees foreign policy purely along national interest lines (see Douglas Hurd in the UK, and Pat Buchanan in the US for fairly consistent expressions of this) and another that does respond, as you say, to internationalist views (Michael Ancram in Zimbabwe is an excellent example of this that doesn't get enough attention). In the '80s, the national interest right had the upper hand, whilst on the Left, in my opinion, the internationalists were to the front. At the moment, the right-wing human rights interest is in the ascendancy, while the presence of Bush in the White House seems to have brought out a far less internationalist left, or a left that is not prepared to be internationalist until he is gone. It's a lost opportunity. I put myself amongst the internationalist right - e.g. supporting action in Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, and I was very disappointed that Pinochet didn't go on trial: I will be equally disappointed if something of the sort doesn't address some of the Nixon administration's survivors, if you see what I mean.


Damn it Oliver - you're rapidly filling up my bookmarks file with all these wonderful posts of yours...

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