Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Historical comparisons

Are often tricky for the simple reason that history never quite repeats itself. Still, it can be a useful technique - but if you want to have a shot at it, it helps if you aren't as completely lazy as Richard Norton-Taylor, in his comparison of Eden and Suez with Blair and Iraq.

Norm refers to what surely is his most serious omission - but the shortcomings in Norton-Taylor's tedious piece don't end with that. There's the question of Britain's allies in both cases, which - as can't have escaped many people's attention - has been absolutely decisive in determining people's attitudes to the invasion of Iraq.

Complaints about the lack of a UN mandate or the case that the Bush and Blair regimes made for the invasion were but window-dressing to the principle objection: it was being led by the United States that had a rightwing Republican as Commander in Chief. Such was and is the antithapy to this, some people even managed to convince themselves that the French opposed the war on a matter of principle, rather than doing so on a calculation of their strategic and economic national interest.

Contrast and compare with Suez. On that occasion Britain and France were united in believing military action in Egypt was in both their interests. Not least amongst their problems was the fact that old Ike was none too impressed with this, and I think most historians would agree that the lack of American support in this Anglo-French adventure was fairly decisive.

These are hardly minor details for a 'left' that literally prefers anything, no matter how corrupt, depraved or reactionary, to American capitalism - this being, in their considered opinion, quite the worst thing that has ever been inflicted on the human race. Pupil: Richard Norton-Taylor; Subject: History; Grade: D; Comment: Must try harder.

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