David Aaronovitch Rocks!

Another Baghdad report from the Guardian columnist confirms that being Robert Fisk just isn’t enough. I particularly like his idiosyncratic style which could be termed “informed bemusement.” A bit like the rest of us – only more lyrical.

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Factory
Factory
2021 years ago

“Am I alone in wondering how the journalists at Al-Jazeera live with themselves? Did they, I wonder, even consider the consequences for others of broadcasting a geopolitical ransom demand in this way?”

I wonder why he singles out AlJazeera, it’s not like they were the only news organisation that showed the tape.

David Tiley
2021 years ago

It reminds me of the Weimar republic, in a weird way. A badly divided society under terrible stress went down to gangs of thugs with an extreme and simple minded ideology. Also, incidentally, anti-Semitic.

So what did you do if you were one of the milions of ordinary, decent Germans in 1932 or thereabouts, who knew the Nazis promised a descent into barbarism but couldn’t stop them? Who saw the awful horror of extremism that just wanted power and had no limits..

The truth is, you have to fight. There was no other answer except strong street activity with the risk of getting killed. The Spanish know the answer to extremism – millions of people out on the streets with candles protesting, demonstrating in the most basic way that civilisation has not died. And I presume that is the only answer in Iraq if you are part of those huge communities we can find on the internet who are really decent and want to live in an open secular society.

Trouble is, even if they stand up and make a noise, are they a majority? Or are they simply doomed to be done over by religious maniacs.

Norman
Norman
2021 years ago

Until one’s able to see the quite non-rational approaches adopted by those who are part of his own “side” of an issue, there’s scant chance of understanding WHY opponents can believe things that are quite bizzare.
The Weimar Republic faced many problems, but it’s worth remembering Hitler benefited from the Allies’ inaction. A German Socialist Party member often spoke of a spontaneous party celebrating Hitler’s occupation of the Rhineland. Why celebrate? Because they couldn’t believe the Allies wouldn’t react, causing Hitler’s Government to fall. Historians subsequently confirmed Willy et al were better judges of what would happen, than were the pacifist politicians who did nothing.
Willy was one of the few from that gathering to survive the War. He escaped in the nick of time; avoided assassination attempts in Holland; was in Iran when W.W.II broke out; and ended up in Australia.
Like many of our current “protestors”, Willy detested the U.S.A., and was critical of their global role; but were he still with us, I suspect that, much as he might find it distatsteful, in Gulf Wars I and II, he’d have given reluctant approval to the Allies’ actions.
He realised that even your “favourite” opponents, can sometimes be right, and life was far more complex than slogans.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

“So what did you do if you were one of the milions of ordinary, decent Germans in 1932 or thereabouts, who knew the Nazis promised a descent into barbarism but couldn’t stop them? Who saw the awful horror of extremism that just wanted power and had no limits.”

I’m not persuaded that there were millions of Germans who wanted to “stop the Nazis” in 1932 and I think fewer still could have predicted a descent into barbarism – and by the mid to late 30’s Hltler was riding an enormous adulatory wave of restored national pride. Daniel Goldhagen’s excellent book “Hitler’s Willing Executioners – Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust” – makes an impressive case for the pretty much willing complicity of the broad mass of Germans in the the Nazi acquisition of total state power.

It’s also worth emphasising that anti-semitism wasn’t invented by Hitler. It was a millenium long feature of pan-European society and culture that he simply adapted (in a singularly monstrous way) for his own ends. Everyone believed – to greater or lesser degree – that Jews were “different,” the other, Shylockian, grasping, secretive, untrustworthy, etc, etc. Obviously Nazism took this standard cultural norm to an unprecedently hellish level but throughout the Thirties, the view from outside Germany seemed to be that Hitler was just being uncommonly boorish and vulgar about the Jews for his own political purposes. Within Germany, protest was utterly insignificant. The church accepted the Nuremburg Laws without a murmur. Not one University protested the expulsion of Jewish academics, etc, etc.

Aaronovitch mentions how every Frenchmen became a resistance fighter in post-liberation retrospect and it’s useful to recall that the occupied Netherlands managed to round-up and export it’s entire population of Jews (80,000) to the death camps without the need for the Gestapo to do anything much other than to have overview.

I suspect that the challenge confronting the Iraqi street at this point boils down to correctly choosing whose version of history will get up whilst simultaneously casting multiple retrospective involvement/non-involvement scenarios. Oh, and surviving of course………..

Norman
Norman
2021 years ago

In the last election held in Germany before Hitler took complete control, Geoff, the Nazis’ vote actually went down. He never risked that happening again by wiping out the possibility of any more free elections.
Germany before Hitler had experienced parliamentary elections, and their were strong liberal democratic currents in the German political stream. Iraq has had nothing even remotely resembling this, and the task in that country is far more difficult than anything faced in post WW II Germany and Italy, or post Soviet Eastern Europe.

Craig G
Craig G
2021 years ago

A significant factor in the electoral success of the Nazis was the “decision” of the German Communist Party (in reality no independent decision at all but a case of following orders from Moscow)to devote more resources to sabotaging and undermining the Social Democratic Party than to trying to beat the Nazis.

Hindsight confers too much wisdom. I might have voted Nazi Party had I been alive at the relevant time (and a German naturlich). Very few people really expected them to carry out their manifesto with such diligence – including I suspect many senior Nazis.