The little things they say...
I had to laugh as I followed Martin Asser's account of preparations for Yasser's burial, as it entered another purple patch patch with the following:
'The roar of bulldozers and the shrill "beeb, beeb, beeb" of their warning signals mingled with the mournful sound of funerary verses from the Koran floating over Mr Arafat's Muqata compound throughout Thursday.'
Indeed, it would be just like the BBC to seek a formal role in eulogising the dead wannabe despot, and lamenting his demise, but I think it was just an unfortunate choice of expression, a freudian slip perhaps.
The passage I quote now represents the only inkling of irreverence towards the former Arafat:
'But that may leave only about three hours for the general public to pay their respects to a man who - for all his faults and failings - is acknowledged to be the father of their struggle for independence.'
That's really Arafat warts and all, isn't it?
Meanwhile there is an interesting contrast between the way the non-cooperation of Egypt and Israel with the Arafat bandwagon is represented.
Of Israel, we are told that 'Israel for its part has refused to honour Mr Arafat's long-held wish to be buried in Jerusalem.'
Of Egypt, meanwhile, we hear that 'Palestinian officials say they had asked Egypt to keep the body until Saturday to avoid any crush - but Egypt, for its own reasons, refused.'
It's crazy world when it is not recognised why Israel might not wish to bury Yasser Arafat in Jerusalem, thereby making a whole new 'holy place' for the Palestinians to wrangle over with them. 'Refused to honour'- I don't like the sound of that; refused to allow a terrorist statesman to continue his malevolent impact on Israel sounds more like it to me.
But, although it might appear that Asser is ignorant of the impact a Jerusalem-buried Arafat mighthave, that's clearly not the case. Asser not only seems aware of Arafat's impact, he seems to celebrate it vicariously through thoughts about Arafat's own preference for publicity:
'For all its poignancy, this is probably a day that Mr Arafat would have relished.
An honour guard has been practising its final salute to Arafat
Back on the world stage again for a major international event after years being pinned down by Israeli forces in two rooms at the Muqata, just a stone's throw from his burial site today.'
It's really more of the old 'sins of the fascist Jewish-fascist conspiracy will come back to haunt them' trash that we've grown used to in the deaths of Yassin and Rantissi. Even the though the Israelis didn't kill Arafat (though, really, I mean, who knows? Room for a Beeb Beeb documentary perhaps?) the BBC are determined to blow on the grey embers of Arafat's legacy.
Update: I shouldn't have joked about the Beeb documentary. Given reactions like these, it's a matter of when not if.
Furthermore, the BBC website has headlined Asser's subsequent, burial effort, 'a people's burial'- echoes of Diana, methinks
Friday, November 12, 2004
Posted by ed thomas at 1:21 PM
Thursday, November 11, 2004
An interesting contrast here between the coverage of France's troubles in the Ivory Coast from the BBC, and a more insightful approach from the EU Referendum blog.
For the BBC, the French are somehow refreshingly no nonsense, a sort of unAmerican, Socialist minded Indiana Jones, whose escapades must be reported indulgently. Chirac 'bangs heads' together, 'loses patience'- meanwhile the French UN 'mandate' goes unquestioned, when all they really did was strong arm a pliant pro-French organisation into sanctioning and aiding the defence of French colonial interests that have endured for more than a century. Equally unquestioned are the words of Governent proxy, Le Monde's Stephen Smith (*reassuringly Anglo for the job of excusing the French follie): "It is up to the international community to decide whether France is an obstacle or a factor for conflict resolution."
It is true that, of necessity given their coverage of Iraq, the BBC describe the situation as a 'quagmire', but the reality is that France, like some revered pensioner in international affairs, has been given a free pass.
Posted by ed thomas at 1:44 PM
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Some superb analysis from Arthur Chrenkoff- who I normally associate with Good News, but who is capable of contemplating the other sort with equal grace. His takes on Fallujah & Kosovo at the moment are must-reads in my view. Especially his views on Kosovo, the dirty secret of the interventionist fringe.
Posted by ed thomas at 1:12 PM
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
One Step Ahead
That's the art of politics it seems to me: being one step ahead.
Bush was one step ahead of John Kerry; Howard one step ahead of Latham, and Blair is one step (or several) ahead of the Conservatives.
So what is it, to be one step ahead?
Well, Douglas Alexander, a relatively young Home Office Minister, demonstrates the 'touch' by his analysis of the US political situation and the lessons that can be drawn for a Labour Britain. Melanie Phillips, meanwhile, has been right about most movements of the zeitgeist for quite a while, and she picked up on Alexander's openness to the lessons Dubya's success can teach to make a prediction:
'it will once again be Tony Blair who grasps the need to appeal to the socially conservative centre (however bogus that appeal may be), while the Tories continue to commit slow political suicide by not recognising the need for such an appeal at all.'
Naturally I find this quite scary, especially as it relies in part on the success of an idea that Alexander calls 'manufactured' common sense. To me you don't manufacture commonsense, you appeal to it- which W. successfully did last week. It's one of the fundamental differences between a conservative and a socialist that socialists believe common sense can be 'manufactured'- a very different thing from, say, 'being learned by experience'. However, the lines do get blurred, as when a socialist describes 'creating a learning experience'. That's what Blair would like to do for us: create a learning experience where we associate Labour with Government, Pavlov-style.
Well, Alexander is at least one step ahead of The Conservatives, who couldn't recognise Dubya as anything except foreign to them and their values- and couldn't envisage any sort of synthesis of Republican success with Tory re-election (which wouldn't, you'd have thought, take a genius).
Another sort of 'one step ahead', a more exciting one, is demonstrated by Irwin Stelzer in the Weekly Standard. I've long suspected that W. was likely to be remembered as a great custodian of the US economy in a time of crisis. If Stelzer is to believed such a legacy is a certainty, and the UK and Europe are to be buffeted by economic waves- from China. If he's right then Bush will show, by the end of the next four years, that he truly has been one step ahead.
Posted by ed thomas at 2:09 PM
Monday, November 08, 2004
Filled with Pain au Chocolat:
That's the experience of the French intervention in the Ivory Coast (the French describe that country somewhat autre). Read this article about Coastal unrest and you find human shields, 'friendly fire incidents', a local leadership you can't trust, French citizens as targets, and increased troop deployments to deal with unrest- and the big question that is looming over it all is 'why?'
The only thing I can imagine is that it's that pesky baking-military complex again and that it's all about cocoa.
Posted by ed thomas at 11:45 AM