Lenin rightly pours scorn on Nick Cohen's latest cup of drool. Lenin is right, of course: it's wearisome to, once again, have to correct Cohen's manifold fallacies of reasoning, grotesquely inapt analogies and factual errors. But how many times will be allowed to issue the exact same, more or less word-identical 'Islamofascist' rant? And, more broadly, why should we have to endure such a low level of intellectual discussion in British newspapers? An inability to construct coherent arguments, a propensity for ad hominem attacks and a kneejerk anti-intellectualism is not the only thing that Cohen, Liddle, Toynbee and Aronovich share. On major issues, you would be hard pushed to find any major disagreement amongst them. They, the first to trumpet the freedoms we allegedly have in Britain, are a depressingly compliant New Labour Pravda, obediently defending the party line by pushing Capitalist Realism ('well, it might not be ideal, but it's the best you can expect...')
Cohen seems genuinely unable to grasp that people may well share his professed hopes for Iraqi people, whilst completely repudiating the imperialist and militaristic means he advocates for achieving them. Thus, what is at stake is not his 'sincerity' (it's telling, isn't it, that Blairites should be so obsessed with sincerity), but the consistency of his position. Cohen's bleating about the 'middle class left' being unable to take opponents at their word, which compounds two fallacies (straw man and ad hominem) neatly exemplifies the same vice he is ostensibly decrying.
As a neo-con fellow traveller, Cohen is as happy to wash his hands of the blood of the Iraqi civilians murdered and tortured by the allies as were the apologists for Stalin in the thirties. (And - talk me through that one again, Nick - just how is the analogy between support for Stalin and being anti-war supposed to work? Even he has to grant that no-one in the anti-war coalition was a Saddam lover.)
Cohen's argument, such as it is, rests on a senseless equivocation between Saddam and Islamism. That equivocation was unsustainable before the bombing and occupation of Iraq; it is completely absurd now. As we all now know, the lie that Saddam and al Qaeda were connected brought about the very situation it purported to oppose; namely, transforming Iraq from one of the most secular states in the region to a hotbed of Islamist terrorism. If your bugbear is really 'Islamofascism', then the logical position to adopt vis-a-vis the 'war' on Iraq would have been to vigorously oppose it. Why, then, are there so few anti-Islamofascists who opposed the Iraq blitz? The answer, presumably, is that the pro-war, anti-Islamist camp make a simple minded equivalence: both Saddam and Islamofascism are evil, all evil is essentially the same and is best dealt with by use of military force, therefore...Posted by mark at August 7, 2005 11:14 PM | TrackBack