July 01, 2007

Marking a new Relationship

Mark Steyn, an idiotic and supposedly humerous commentator on the National Reviewer, has just put into print a scathing attack of a new ministerial appointment- Mark Malloch Brown- at the junior Ministerial level in the Foreign Office. The attack is mostly on the basis that he said that Rush Limbaugh was an idiot- probably a correct assumption in my view- that he mispronounced Mr Limbaugh's name- perhaps he was inspired by Mr Steyn's brand of humour to ridicule the pronounciation or perhaps unlike Mr Steyn he made an honest mistake that any foreigner in another country might make- that he rented a property and later worked for George Soros- George Soros is not a participant in the UK political scene and has not been convicted of any crime that I know of- and furthermore that he worked for the UN and the UN has been guilty of corruption- true but then Mark Steyn worked for the Independent, it doesn't exactly mean that either he supported the Independent's policies at the time or even that he working for the Telegraph should be accused of Fraud if its proprietor Conrad Black is found guilty. But then again Steyn doesn't have a good record- he has reported Osama Bin Laden's death many times and that the Iraqi insurgency would die in six weeks and his attitude to the truth is dubious- afterall this is the man who reported that a student in Manhatten knew on September 10th that something bad would happen on September 11th- an accusation that was later proved to be untrue. Mr Steyn is not to be trusted.

Mr Malloch Brown may or may not be a good appointment- it does indeed signal a distancing from the current American administration over Iraq and a disdain for unilateral policies. Yet Gordon Brown, despite being unhappy about Iraq, has always been incredibly pro-American as most British politicians are. Mr Steyn may not realise this- but the British elite are instinctively pro American as are the British public- equating the attitude of the British towards the Bush administration with their attitude to America is like equating an American's attitude to Neville Chamberlain with their attitude to the UK. Ultimately Mr Malloch Brown I suspect will be there to rebuild diplomatic relations between the UK and institutions and governments that have been more distant in recent years- perhaps the present US administration will find us less compliant over the next few years but then as Andrew Rawnsley's recent documentary on the Blair years demonstrated a couple of nights ago they were effectively handed a blank cheque by the Brits on Iraq and look at where that got us.

Ultimately the appointment of Malloch Brown signals that Britain has gone back to having a more normal relationship with the United States- friendship doesn't mean subservience- it means friendship and whilst the United States is a great nation, it does not always get everything right. Mr Brown appointed Mr Malloch Brown to signal that criticism within the UK government would be allowed of United States policy- but make no mistake for the United Kingdom the alliance with the United States remains the special relationship. Nothing Mr Steyn says should lead anyone to suspect otherwise.


james higham said...

I think what you say here is essentially so.

edmund said...

on what one might call the "anti steyn points"

i would say steyn is often funny (a matter of taste) and his obviously not litelay idiotic (generally on blogs i take that to mean “i disagree and don't even respect most of their argumtns- but this blog usually means it more seriously)

there;s a diffence between analysis and reporing the former can include speculation in a different way.

On Rush Limbaugh i don’t' think he can literally be an idiot- and most of what I’ve read by him shows someone with a sharp mind if often big mouthed.

caringly his listeners are highly informed (and there are missions and million of them) a higher % of them are so than New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly readers!

I think the point as is fairly clear from stem’s quote liked to about the misproncement is that it was obvious from Browns pronouncement that his entire attack on Limbaugh- a man listened to my more well inked people than buy the New York Times was made without actually listening to limbaugh once-i.e. the supreme irony of Brown's patronizing tirade at these people provincialism act was that he'd cellar never listed to the person he was slogging off- and when he lived n the same country as this media show! it's like having a tirade at news night while misproncug taxman’s name.

The point was to that he was connected to ~Sores-the point was he went straight into a job with Sores right after binge in a govern la job that invoked dealing with him all the time and his actives- like someone going from a job regaling airlines to working for one- not necessary corrupt but reasonable enough to note 9Particualy if you're renting a house at the same time) , i think steyn is also dong this to draw attention to the possibly brown's politics are strongly leftist like Siros’s.

The Independent analogy is completely misplaced, steyn was not deputy editor. Brown was a no 2 of the ~UN during a period of massive corruption (read the Volker report, the evidence on anon act) and he was head of UNDP previous which as huge corruption problems of its own. This does not mean Brown is corrupt- and Steyn does to see he is. His merely saying that it's epos facto bad to be very sore in an organisation that's so. It's the equivalent of blaming/refleicng badly on a horringer director for the problem at Horringer-not the equivalent of blaming Mark Steyn

It’s simply a factual error to say that Stiyn “reported” the death of Bin Laden- as someone who read the columns at the time they were clearly analysis and speculation- and a lot less silly than much written since then and at the time on what was happening-eg that the Taliban could not be driven from power.

Incidentally I’d be wary of relying so much on Geoffrey Wheatcroft on these issues – his a great writer but his furiously biased on Israel and Iraq-equivalent to Melanie Philips but the other way. His the Pat Buchanan of British punditry.

Steyns September 11th column is poor- though if you read the column his point is clealy there should be more investigation of these claims and that a separate article had found one of them to hold up rather than pretending to be a reporting claim. Again it’s clearly analysis not reporting. the way you're making it sound he was dishonest rather than misguided is i think unfair. he was not pretending to report.

edmund said...

Now on the substance of Malloch Browns appointment (I’m going to call him Brown and Gordon Brown Gordon Brown)

I think there's more to Steyn’s criticisms than you give credit for, the UN secretarial is an unbelievably badly run and corrupt organisation -and Brown has been one of its top managers. This is not a recommendation. Obviously there are good people in dreadful organisations , in the UN many are primarily motivated by loath to their own government ( clearly not the case with Brown hence his pointless insulting of millions of Americans and the American government) also obvious there are people who fight corruption act however I don’t think there's any evidence that I know off ( and this is one part I'm not supper well informed on) that his been a big whistle blower or open spoken critic of corruption, septum , Koki Annam crooked son ect

Secondly if this represents a move towards fetishing international insitutions then that would be very worrying, the UN and the Euro are both undemocratic and corrupt- and the more uncritically they are treated the more like this they will become. What evidence there is seems to suggest that Brown will encourage this fetisization not disencourage it.

Frankly he is also an odd choice of diplomacy Leaving aside the dubious merits of his attacks on the Bush amid , rush Limbaugh ect it was an outgoes thing to do -as no 2 in the UN secretary he was a bureaucrat and paid employee of the member sates- of which the US is by far the biggest contributor , it's much less reason for him to go around intoning in their internal polio than it would be for say a US foreign minter to comment on British elections (or vice verse) - it's like the cabinet secretary effective endorsing the Tories or labour while in office an outrageous abuse of responsibility

Obviously you are right opposing Bush and being pro America a is not contrarily any more than opposing Brown and being pro British. That does not mean it wise either for bureaucrats or the British govt to take such sharp stands on intent us politics. This is particle the case as Americans are very pro Brim across the political spectrum between Chomsky and the KKK, by some measures more than they are pro American. To go around making it partisan is silly when there is such wide popularity and support-possibly even greater on the right than the left but in any case nearly unanimous.

However I think the most impend thing by far is that it does not matter very much -contrary to what some of the US commentary implies junior Minster of the FP is a very unimportant post with little influence- what will attar is Gordon Brown and Milliabands s' positions and whether they agree with Brown or not. This is all part of his symbol inclusion -incluing of Iraq critics. What it means for policy we will have to wait and see.

What countries are supposed to be won over that is currently hostile by his appointment btw? Asifr from pissing of the US (probably milddy) i fail to see how this will have an effect.

edmund said...

The most interesing part of your post I think was some throw away commeents in the article

The "blank cheque" I think is the wrong way to look at it- rather ~Blair was an aboslute enathisic (clearly in favour before Bush) and both dealying elecions and making it about democracy and WMD's rather than smashing Huessain
fitted in wiht his perspive better than the Bush administriaotns

What "unitlaternal policies" the iraq war conied of suppor from most western governments and militay aid from US, UK ( enough in tislef to make it mulitlateral), Australiak, Quatar and Kuwait- clearly mulitalteal, and also more mulitalte than the war attacking Serbia (which was much more clealry against internaitoa law- if that acually matters)

pehpas your talking about blair effots to come global emissions more than treaties oblige us to? othewise his a parody of mulitlateralism limited only by electoral reality (eg single currency)

AS for Subservance how? For example the UK has been among the furtherst on kyoto and global warming from the US. n iraq blair was at leat as keen as Bush.

ON isreal leaving aside the fact his had a big effect on policy blair clear belived the stance he took that was "pro isreali" (ie they may shell terroists back)

the fact is that agreeing wiht the uS is not subserviant- in a sense blair hasn't been subservant enough he has suppored the US where he agreed without asking for actual dmeands for the Uk back- as a vassal would! -}

agremtn even if misguided is not subservance.

I'm not sure the UK public are that pro american though obious they are commped to most of western europe so it's a matter of perspective

incidentally and i realy should have said this in the priou post-one reason the partisanship would be a danger becuase hat's the real dnagero F borwn- brown is rabidly pro American there is no quesion there, however he might be fool enough to intneve in their intenal politics and piss of any posisble Republcans sympatehi to the UK -unnecessarily.

iNcidenaly (and this is seaprate from my preiou points) I think in terms of pure national intest UK postion in iraq has arguablly gone quite well - this is obivous depnds on how much value you place on the deaths of our sliders- but the dipa value of the incredible support and cloeness to US is very high- Blarir has failed to use it for concere gains due ot his lack of concern for the UK using it instead for his obessions with UN / helpign the Palenins/ Global Waming and other will o wipss- but that does not mean the govt could not exploit it now or in the future.

CityUnslicker said...

MMB was a poor performer at the UN and typically bad FCO grandee with outdated lefty views of the world and one-eyed anti-americanism.

Whether Steyn makes a good argument or not, it is still a bad appointment.

What next, Ken Bates for Chancellor?

pommygranate said...

why the anti-Steyn stance, Gracchi?

he's a genuinely funny writer.

Gracchi said...

Thanks James.

Well Edmund I like your excuses for anti-Arab feeling- not sure you would have the same standerd if an Iranian said something about America or a leftwinger said something about Jews- but there you are different standerds for different parts of the political spectrum- you'll bend over backwards to defend Steyn no matter what he says or Coulter for that matter. Here's one then when Steyn called people from Vietnam gooks how do you explain that.

As for Rush Limbaugh- I don't care how many people listen to him- lots of people listened to Joseph Goebells doesn't make him good either. Rush Limbaugh is a prat- I am afraid just like Anne "John Edwards, Bill Clinton and Al Gore are fags" Coulter. I have no respect for him or his audience- and if that includes the majority of Americans tough.

But I can accept though I don't know much about MMB at the UN that both you and CUS are right on him not being the rightguy- was he actually involved himself in the corruption- the UN is a vast organisation- if he was he shouldn't be in government or if he was ineffective he shouldn't but I'm not sure about either and await more evidence- and I'm afraid Mark Steyn wouldn't convince.

Pommegranate why don't I like Steyn. Well his humour is based often on innuendo which just stays this side of racism, his arguments are rubbish and he doesn't understand statistics, he is a fool who never allows anyone else to argue back at him even when they have a point and he seems incapable of acknowledging that other people might be right. Apart from that he is great!

Gracchi said...

Incidentally for Limbaugh just take these comments on why Blacks in his opinion can't swim- he both stupidly misunderstands a piece of research and is racist- a typically wonderful double whammy from Rush!

Lord Nazh© said...

Dear G-d. Gracchi you just linked media mutters :(

edmund said...


You don't (I hope!) deny that some Arabs knew about , took apart in act the September 11th bombing- this September 11th article is not some general point about Arabs act in general but questioning the level of reporting and mentioning some reports made about individual people after September 11th it done genres about all Arabs act

Thus it's equivalent to someone who was foolish enough to believe the Rathergate reporting and memos before they were exposed as frauds-obviously he made a mistake but it's in no way a reporting mistake-it's not reporting but commentary on reporting.

This reporting vs. none reporting is a basic distinction on "honesty" your post just ignored and you haven't responded to my point on

The Vietnam one you haven’t provided a link to, it might depend on context, I saintly will not defend Steyn from any criticism (I didn’t even from all yours) just from ones I consider unfair or disproportionate.

Obviously you don have to like Rush Limbaugh I’m not much of a fan his very much like a rightwing Andrew Sullivan- wordy, clever, often absurdly over the top , sometimes personally offensive driven by his won mouth (keyboard in the case of Sullivan) though a bit more consistent than Sullivan (not very hard) my points were merely two fold

a) (hence why Steyn did it) his audience is essentially the equivalent of new Yorker readers politically speaking-only much more numerous thus for a UN official to insult him in that way is considerably stupider than one attacking say the New Yorker (as opposed to some indicial action by it)

b) He and Steyn like essentially all public commentators are not literally speaking an "idiot" save in the sense that means someone we don’t' agree with or respect, Chomsky has made much more outrageous factual claims but his clearly not an idiot either literally speaking

Since this seems to be the “Limbaugh” part of my post I might as well respond to the latter “accusation” yes I don’t particularly like the discussion-it reminds me why I’m not a Limbaugh fan. However I don’t see how his comments are racist- age you’re seriously suggesting that any suggestion of average differences between “racial” groups in athletic performance is racist? That there are no such natural differences?

Incidentally never mind Limbaugh being racist-inst’ the fact there was a serious idea for a racially based US “survivor” style programme is appalling and genuinely racist! It shows the recapitalization of US society under the guise of diversity – a new form of segregation. Incidentally I think this is to a large degree what Limbaugh is mocking in the discussion – this racialising.

On the very separate notion of Limbaugh’s audience you lack respect for them? Can I take it you have no respect for New Yorker readers who after all are more ignorant about politics or indeed CNN viewers (American) who are much less so? How many Rush Limbaugh listeners do you actually know? What's the grand principal that you're dismissing millions of well informed people? Do you have no respect for anyone who reads Chomsky's books- and unlike Limbaugh his denier of and apologist for Genocide?

I don't think (which is why I separated them in my earlier post) your opinions on Steyn have any real bearing on this argument. As I’ve kept pointing out the examples you've given aren’t inaccurate reporting but naive commentary (on two subjects where most comments have made equally serious errors of judgement). In any case his using facts in the public domain , Brown gratuitously abused major US media , has fiancĂ© links with a man he dealt with for the UN, was in a senior position, whether one like him or not has no real basis on the validity or otherwise of his argument act

ON Brown we sound like we're not that far- as I said I can be convinced he was an exception in the soup of corruption that is the UN (and as I said Steyn’s point seems to be that he was complic8it/ useless/ uncaring not that he is himself a crook) –what I want to know is why his not making it known he was if he wasn’t!

I see where you’re coming on in your responses to Pommegnate I disagree (from observation-your gooks thing may be an example) on racism (a lot of it I think is he jokes a lot-Chris Rock pushes the envelope out a lot further), and the fool point (which isn’t really meaningless) his arguments often are the rest I totally agree with- though it’s equally true of Andrew Sullivan who you link to! In fact even more than Limbaugh they are very similar-not least in their amazing output of words and verbal dexterity. Steyn is less serious and more consistent but there are clear similarities in personality. The truth is no writer is perfect.

As I said I found your “post Blair” points the most interesting would be interested in your response to that part of my post!