Monday, January 27, 2003

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet

Poughkeepsie Journal ombudsman Kathleen Norton advises readers on writing letters to the editor. She cautions that:

Editorial Page Editor John Penney also reminds readers that Internet sources of information are not always credible. He urges readers to state their opinions, but not to state facts in absolute terms unless they are sure they are true.

Sometimes media columnists need reminding, too.

Those sophisticated Europeans

The main fixture of the Dutch football season is the match between Ajax, from Amsterdam, and Feyenoord, from Rotterdam… I had the misfortune once — through an error at the ticket office — to find myself sitting in the midst of the Feyenoord fans. It was a profoundly disturbing experience. Imagine thousands of football supporters screaming ‘Fucking Jews!’, or ‘To the gas chamber!’, or ‘Next stop Auschwitz!’ every time a player from the Amsterdam side touches the ball. Imagine, if you can bear it, thousands of people making hissing noises, mimicking the flow of gas…

Something very strange is going on here…

Ian Buruma in The Spectator.

via Tim Blair

Guardian policy on the Iraq situation
Ombudsman Ian Mayes reports that an “updated statement of the Guardian's position is likely this week to coincide with the Blair-Bush meeting at Camp David.” The current position is that:

We support a multilateral resolution, primarily through the United Nations, involving the final, verified destruction of all and any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Iraq's compliance with other UN resolutions, the concurrent phased lifting of non-military sanctions, an end to the no-fly zones and to UN controls on Iraqi oil and the opening of Iraq's borders to free movement...

We have not ruled out our support for the use of force as a means of last resort... We have condemned the Saddam regime on numerous occasions... We support containment, deterrence, diplomatic isolation, targeted sanctions pending a change of government...

But lest you think the Guardian might have a realistic policy for accomplishing all this:

We do not support the US policy of forcible “regime change”; we have condemned targeted assassination...

Mayes informs us that the Editor’s morning conference:

was not an anti-war rally, either in tone or atmosphere, although there were perhaps speakers who had hoped it might be, calling for the paper to declare itself unequivocally against the war in the way that it had declared itself against Suez in 1956…

The leader then…, "The world must be told clearly that millions of British people are deeply shocked by the aggressive policy of the Government. Its action in attacking Egypt is a disaster of the first magnitude. It is wrong on every count - moral, military, and political...”

Which brings us to an observation by Iain Murray, in The Edge of England’s Sword, reminding us of the impact of the Suez debacle:

Let's not forget that it was America's refusal to back Britain, France and Israel over the Suez crisis that is probably the defining moment that set the Middle East along the road to ruin. If Nasser had been dealt with then, we probably wouldn't have Saddam now. Moreover, that incident helped cause the British and French empires to break up prematurely, I think, a process America encouraged, leaving a legacy of suffering and war in Africa and other areas (the legacy is not nearly so bad in areas that had come to independence gradually and thoughtfully, such as India). Finally, it was also the cause of the splitting of France from the Atlantic alliance. Dulles and Eisenhower have a lot to answer for, and simply blaming Europe for it is just not good enough. I also have a suspicion that it will be looked back at by historians as probably the biggest delay in encouraging true Anglospheric feeling. It certainly made at least one generation of British Tories more suspicious than they should be of America.

Forcing an end to the attack, which also resulted in the downfall of the Anthony Eden's government, was arguably the low point of Eisenhower's presidency.

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