Tuesday, 15 December 2009

It is hard to be straightforward when issues are complex.

Hello world, I thought it was about time I blew the cobwebs from my keyboard and blogged again. Here goes…

Craig Murray wrote a piece on the detainment of British yachtsmen.

Here is my own summary of events:

The detainment and subsequent release of five British yachtsmen took place in the context growing international tension surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme. IAEA recently issued a resolution of which Miliband said it 'sends the strongest possible signal to Iran that its actions and intentions remain a matter of grave international concern'.

Although the incident is reminiscent of a prolonged stand-off between the UK and Iran in March 2007, after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard detained a 15-strong Royal Navy crew, international law applies differently to civilian and naval vessels.

Whereas naval vessels access to territorial seas is not guaranteed, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea guarantees the right of civilian passage. This factor is likely to have prevented the incident escalating as it did in 2007, when international water boarders were disputed.

Despite having international law on his side, David Miliband opted for a low-key diplomatic approach*.

Craig Murray subsequently constructed a diatribe against 'the media,' for their simplistic response to the incident, which failed to take into account international law and how this affected proceedings, and ‘The Left, for their partisan response.
The Iranians had absolutely no right to arrest these yachtsmen, whether they were in Iranian territorial waters or not […] Amazingly, if you do a Google news search on the term "innocent passage", you get not one result. In all the acres of media coverage there has not been a single mention of what in fact is the law applicable to this situation […] I will never understand why so many on the political left will excuse any bad behaviour by anybody so long as their general stance is anti-US foreign policy and anti-Zionist.
Firstly, well done Craig for exposing the complexities of the incident and highlighting the media's clear shortcomings. Secondly, although in parts he was a tad polemical, Craig was quite right to attack the Left for its partisan response.

It is often difficult to marry the competing demands of blogging - Dillow's assessment is as good as any I have read.
[T]he many things that make a good blog are to some extent incompatible; originality versus consistency; passion versus intellectual rigour; number of posts versus quality of individual posts; brevity versus weight of evidence; wit versus gravitas, and so on.
For me, blogging about politics, and often, international affairs, it can become quite difficult to make a point without including a series of caveats to address the complexities.

Compare and contrast:
  • The US attitude to Iran is hypocritical**.
  • The US attitude (and that of the international community, which really means ‘Washington and whoever happens to agree with it’***) to Iran is hypocritical (what with their own bounty of nuclear weapons, support for Israel - who have nuclear weapons themselves, and denial of its existence.  Not that I am defending Iran against all the criticism levelled against it. Some of the things Ahmadinejad has said are unacceptable, but so too is misquoting, exaggerating and making things up to strengthen your argument.  Clearly the Iranian regime is bad, look at Human Rights Watch reports - but to in fairness, Human Rights Watch are far from perfect themselves. Undeniably, aspects of the Iranian regime are horrific. Although, to fully understand the situation - we should briefly look at the Ayatollah, etc...)

It is hard to be straightforward when the situation is complex.

Anyway, I hope to be back blogging (on things other than blogging) soon.  Make sure you check out Alienated Left.

* Miliband did the right thing
** For a much better assessment see Alienated Left.
*** See Noam Chomsky Political Discourse Dictionary


  1. "although in parts he was a tad polemical" heh heh for some reason the words kettle, pot, a black. come to mind.

    Anyway you are right there is a difference between solidarity and partisan style censorship.It reminds of Homage to Catalonia where one chapter (an appendix) is devoted to explaining all the lies in the British press about the incidents in the Barcelona infighting.

  2. I found it odd that some on the left were offended by Murray's rebuke - touched a nerve perhaps. A lot of the Left are guilty of partisanship.

    I've not read Homage to Catalonia. This isn't your first Orwell reference, I take it you're quite the fan. I'm ashamed to admit that I've only read two Orwell books, both fiction, and both of those were in my school-days. I probably should reintroduce myself to his work.

  3. Indeed, You know thats quite strange that you haven't read that much Orwell since I detect several similarities between you with your intentions. I mean Orwell is a cracking writer I find the subtle (later not so subtle) bitterness that mixed with his genuine commitment to fight the Fascists in Homage darkly amusing throughout hes the master of sarcastic and wry assertion. And despite being a committed Socialist he most vocal critics where on the left due to his inability to close ranks on what he saw as dishonesty and criminal behaviour because its originaters were felloww comrades.

  4. I'll make it my new year's resolution to read Orwell.