Saturday, February 01, 2014

I Don't Pretend To Be An Expert

"This is what I say to my colleagues in the West: the fact is, the Muslim Brotherhood tried to take the country away from its basic values of hope and progress. The army have intervened, at the will of the people, but in order to take the country to the next stage of its development, which should be democratic, we should be supporting the new government in doing that". - Tony Blair, on Egypt.

You and I aren't struggling to work out what Tony means here - he means, for real, that if an elected  government does something that Tony doesn't like, then the army should depose it then shoot or jail its supporters*.

Remember this, because Tony's defence is one of those high comic moments that exposes the nudity of the Emperor.  Military coups for democracy exist on an elevated plane of logic alongside such gems of wisdom as Let's drink ourselves sober or Fuck for virginity

Simply, we're not struggling to grasp what Tony means, because our entire worldview does not depend upon the idea that he is a good and moral man who passionately believes in democracy. 

Now, imagine that you're John Rentoul, whose entire belief system actually is premised upon this very idea.  The news blows his circuits; he jerks robotically; his eyes swivel maniacally as sparks shoot from his ears and he bellows over and over, Does not compute, Does not compute.

In his original response, our John had proclaimed himself satisfied by Tony's wisdom, because the Egyptian public recently voted in favour of the military government's referendum on a constitution.

And indeed, they did - 98% of them in fact, a result that would've pleased such beloved democrats as Saddam Hussein or Colonel Gadaffi.

Called on this hilarious nonsense by commenters, Rentoul backs up and bitches thusly:

"I have deleted the bit about last week’s referendum in Egypt; apparently it wasn’t entirely free and fair.  

"I don’t pretend to be an expert". 

"I don't pretend to be an expert"!  "Wasn't entirely free and fair"!  We might toy with this phrasing thusly:

I've changed my mind about the Pope - apparently, he's been known to dabble in Catholicism but you know, I don't pretend to be an expert.

All of which appears to overwhelm our John, who then goes on the attack:

"The one thing I could be sure of when I posted this was that the easily outraged would have a considered alternative to Blair’s position, and so it turned out: “Whatever he said: the opposite.”

Magic.  Let's note that the country's most fervent eulogiser of our former Prime Minister is now reduced to bitching about people who have the temerity to dislike military coups, in order to defend him.

Bonus points are also due for JR's Twitter thread yesterday, which was full of Tweets and Retweets all saying essentially the same thing:  Anyone who has a problem with coups and shooting protestors is totally backing the Muslim Brotherhood LOL. 

Which is an awesome assertion - like, if you don't think that having an extremely violent military putsch in the UK tomorrow would be a good idea, then you must be some kind of hardline Tory rightist.

Anyway, I note all this just to point out the hilarious levels of bathos to which our John is now reduced, and to assure you all that Tony Blair hasn't suddenly gone insane or anything.  He was just like this when he was in charge of the nation's nuclear warheads as well. 

Sleep tight, everyone.


*You might quibble that Tony didn't say he advocated shooting protestors, but let us be clear - if you're arguing in favour of the Egyptian military's coup, you are arguing in favour of shooting protestors.

6 comments:

ejh said...

I've never really understood how Rentoul got to be a Columnist in the first place. Obviously he's far from the only person of whom that could be said, but had he been writing important, interesting stuff elsewhere, before they signed him up?

organic cheeseboard said...

Took the old 'reporter to leader writer to columnist' route if wikipedia is anything to go by. I've never understood, though, why any adults put such blind faith in anyone, especially politicians (but also football managers, musicians, novelists, etc). Rentoul's Blairism literally infects everything he writes.

Think my comment got lost in the ether but to repeat - two things:

1) the 17 million figure seems to be massively overinflated, by as much as 7 times - this seems a good blog on the subject http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2014/01/31/tom-dale/mr-blair-goes-to-cairo/

2) Blair waffling about 'removing hope' and 'obeying the will of the people' - this government he likes have literally banned any form of non-approved public protest. If you attend a protest wearing a mask, the penalty is 7 years in prison.

It's always funny to watch Blairites contort themselves to pretend that his activities betray any other principle than 'i want lots and lots of money'. Rentoul is also priceless on Blair's dealings with Kazakhstan - 'they're not as bad as they could be' seems to be the line.

flyingrodent said...

It's always funny to watch Blairites contort themselves to pretend that his activities betray any other principle than 'i want lots and lots of money'. Rentoul is also priceless on Blair's dealings with Kazakhstan - 'they're not as bad as they could be' seems to be the line.

The bizarre thing is that people generally seem to have found Tony's pronouncements surprising. He was, of course, on of the few statesmen insane enough to eulogise Mubarak after he was turfed out of office, and he's on record defending the Sauds and "their culture, their way of life". So we already knew all that Tony's wibble about democracy is caveated up the wazoo. This is before we get to his highly liberal attitude towards certain forms of extreme violence, provided it's the right people perpetrating it.

I've tried to discuss this stuff with Blair supporters before but really, it's very, very obvious that they just don't want to discuss it, ever.

Anonymous said...

Rentoul originally said (a few months ago) that Blair was wrong about this. It was a shock to the system to read Rentoul contradicting Blair, so I wasn't too surprised to find him later changing his position.

Rentoul joined the Indy at the same time as Aaro, when Mandelson was on the Board. Since then they appear not to have been able to get rid of him. Perhaps every newspaper is obliged to have a quota of raving Blairites, to maintain "balance".

Guano

Dunc said...

Late to the party as always, but this seems like as good a moment as any to bring up something that's been troubling me for a while: "the people". You know, you've heard it over and over and over and over... On the one hand, you have some bunch of murderous bastards, and on the other you have "the people". As soon as this particular distinction is wheeled out, I always wonder "so where the fuck do the bunch of murderous bastards come from, and how come they're doing so well"? It's basically a shorthand way of completely de-legitimising anybody you happen to disagree with... In this case, "the people" are assumed to be in universal opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood, which makes me wonder how the hell they managed field any candidates, never mind actually win the election. Lots of write-ins from Beta Reticuli perhaps?

chris y said...

Blair's original remarks exactly mirror those made by Kissinger at the time of the Pinochet coup in Chile. Is Rentoul old enough to remember Kissinger?