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David Aaronovitch and Tony Blair – Conspiracy Theorists
This is a tribute to two of the finest creative minds of our age. If they were reading this they would undoubtedly protest that they have never produced anything in the least bit creative – viewing their own talents as limited to the mere hum-drum recitation of commonplace facts to deflate the work of those with more active imaginations. They are far too modest. The truth is that they are two of the most imaginative writers and speakers of the 21st century who would never allow themselves to be tied down by anything so tedious as providing enough of the facts to spoil a good story.
Tony Blair is well known to us all. His creative works are rightly famous. He co-authored the brilliantly imaginative ‘Saddam is harbouring and aiding Al Qa’ida’ narrative. His input to the renowned ‘Dossier on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction’ was unparalleled in its ability to allow the more credulous reader to suspend their disbelief. His repeated claims that there is an ‘unholy alliance' of the extreme left and the extreme right against him is another piece of creative genius, conjuring up as it does images of Sir Norman Tebbit and Tony Benn in a smoke filled room (the first smoking Cuban cigars, the latter his trademark pipe) with Benn speaking in hushed tones ‘OK Norm , me old mucker, Project Shaft Blair is up and running. The Thatcherite-Socialist brotherhood shall prevail.’ Then comes the secret hand-shake.
Aaronovitch may need some introduction. In his youth he was an influential member of the Stalinist Communist Party of Great Britain. He supported the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1965 (just as he supports the invasion and occupation of Iraq now). He now lambasts opponents of Bush and Blair’s wars as apologists for dictatorships.
He was so well able to think ‘out of the box’ that he managed to bring the Communist party to a position to the right of the British Conservative Party – at which point it collapsed into obscurity. That took some creative thought I can tell you – as did going from extreme left (Communist) to hard right( Blairite) - but then he has that in common with half of New Labour – now Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was a Stalinist CPGB member and Peter Mandelson dabbled at the edges , attending some party meetings. At no point was Aaronovitch anything so dull and everyday as a democrat or a socialist.
David Aaronovitch now appears on BBC News 24 as well as writing columns for the Guardian and the Independent labelling everyone to the left of himself, Tony Blair and George W Bush as a ‘conspiracy theorist’ (Kudos to you David – that’s an awful lot of people). He rarely if ever criticises dictators or human rights abuses in his columns – unless the British and American governments have declared a particular regime or dictator is now officially Evil at which point he bravely supports his government in its desperate struggle against the deadly triple threats posed by their electorates (most of whom oppose these wars), the full facts, and second or third world armies equipped with outdated arms and lacking any air-forces on the other.
So no criticism of any dictatorship, organisation or oppressive government that’s an ally of our government. There’s little if any criticism by Aaronovitch of the dictators of Uzbekistan – despite the fact that they carry out torture and oppression every bit as horrific as Saddam’s. Little mention of the torture of British citizens by the Saudi monarchy. Not much on the Colombian military or its paramilitary deaths-quads which can be funded thanks to massive increases in aid from the UK and US. Nothing much on the Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army’s murder and ethnic cleansing of Serbs in Kosovo – or the involvement of KLA officers in the drugs trade exporting Afghan heroin and kidnapping young girls for forced prostitution – a practice in which UN officials and NATO troops have also been involved.
Safer to stick to officially approved enemies. Simpler to have a goodies versus baddies piece of creative writing than deal with the fact that most conflicts involve atrocities by both sides. Milosevic and Saddam are bad therefore the entirety of the KLA, NATO, Bush and Blair and anything their forces do must be right. Al Qa’ida and former Ba’athists are fighting the occupying forces in Iraq so everyone opposing the occupation and its methods must be an apologist for them. Forget that the insurgency includes huge numbers of opponents of Saddam with no links to Al Qa’ida. Forget that coalition forces kill hundreds of civilians in every ‘pacification’ of an Iraqi city – 600 in the April assault on Falluja alone –of which 300 were women and children. Never mind that even the occupying coalition’s own polls show a majority of Iraqis would feel safer if American and British troops left now.
This ability to ignore half the facts entirely and make illogical claims without fear or favour is one of Aaronovitch’s greatest strengths.
Aaronovitch also has an unsurpassed capacity to believe that the same thing is both true and untrue simultaneously if Bush or Blair say its so. This double-think gives his mind and his work an elasticity which allows him to support Blair on every issue.
To give one example exit poll discrepancies in the Ukrainian Presidential elections – where Bush and Blair questioned the election results – are taken as evidence of fraud by Aaronovitch. I have no problem with believing that.
Yet at exactly the same time he can deride anyone pointing to similar exit poll discrepancies in the US Presidential elections as ‘conspiracy theorists’ and ‘hate’ their ‘madness’.
Professor Steven F. Freeman of the University of Pennsylvania has analysed this exit poll discrepancy using data from exit polls conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitolfsky polling on behalf of a media pool including the Associated Press.
Historically exit polls are accurate to within 0.1%. Professor Freeman found the exit polls differed from the announced results the day after the election in 2004 by 6.7% in Ohio, 4.5% in Florida and 9.5% in New Hampshire. He calculates the odds of this being due to random chance at 250 million to 1.
The Government Accountability Office of the US Federal Government is now conducting an inquiry into tens of thousands of allegations of electoral irregularities at the request of 13 Democratic congressmen. Independent candidate Ralph Nader’s campaign are involved in a recount in New Hampshire. The US Green and Libertarian parties are demanding a recount and inquiry in Ohio with the backing of Ohio Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich as well as the Reverend Jesse Jackson. These people are presumably and organisations are presumably all ‘conspiracy theorists’ in Aaronovitch’s book – their inquiries , recounts and demands not worthy of reporting.
Aaronovitch also likes to think that anyone who disagrees with his creative works must secretly be in the pay of shadowy forces. John Laughland has reported many facts uncomfortable to the British and American governments in the Guardian and elsewhere. In one Guardian article he revealed that while there was electoral fraud by the ‘winning’ Russian backed candidate there was also fraud by the opposition in many areas – and pointing out that while much of the opposition is perfectly democratic it also includes anti-semitic and neo-fascist groups – and while one candidate is funded and influence by Moscow the opposition candidate is similarly funded and influenced by Washington. This is not so surprising – the opposition are united only in opposing the Russian backed candidate – other than that, like most oppositions, they vary widely. While I may not agree with everything Laughland says, or all his politics, that isn’t the point. He has researched facts. He is providing the other side of the story – you need all the facts to be fully informed.
Aaronovitch’s response was to outline Laughland’s supposedly shadowy links to Sanders Research and the British Helsinki Human Rights Group which he sees as a front for the hard right – strange given that Laughland constantly criticises Bush’s policies and states that he works for these two institutes at the end of every article – even providing internet links to them.
No David – you’re too modest – you’re one of the most imaginative writers alive – not to mention one of the greatest double thinkers. You can change sides from Communist and pro-Russian to Blairite and pro-American with alacrity depending on whose power is waning and whose is waxing. Please don’t be so modest with your humble claim to be de-bunking conspiracy theories. It’s so far from the truth.
Like so many former Communists turned Blairites you’re still attacking anyone who deviates from your party line in any way as a lunatic or a traitor who must be part of a conspiracy while showing a complete disregard for inconvenient facts.
copyright©Duncan McFarlane 2004