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June 06, 2015



Surely there's cognitive bias from Cohen too.

Firstly, essentialism - that there is something like the "British Left" which would subscribe to everything in Jon Snow's tweet, as if it were a description of the behaviour of a species of panda.

Secondly, an anti-Hayekian bias - I honestly know very little about Aziz, but it's entirely possible for a "nice guy" to be part of a complex centralised organisation (like the Iraqi state) and not be in control of a lot of the bad things that happen.


Also, the idea that Snow is even on the left only works in the cosy world of Westminster and establishment writers like Cohen. Paul Mason, fair enough, he was on the picket line at the BBC strike and has a clear attachment to the labour movement but Snow is for me more like an affable, socially concerned but privileged do-gooder. Good for him, but he is not exactly in the vanguard of workers' struggle.


Most of Cohen writes about the middle east can be filed under "cognitive dissonance". He never forgave the straw man he's constructed and dubbed "the Left" for calling the Iraq war correctly while he joined the establishment cheerleading squad. Much of his subsequent career has been spent hacking away at this straw man to prove to himself that he was the morally righteous one all along.

He's a good writer - sensible and compassionate on many topics. And I don't think there should be huge shame attached to having got Iraq wrong - most people did. I just wish he'd get over it.

Roger Scruton

He was a Christian as well, which is possibly why he opposed the illegal invasion of his country, given its inevitable consequences in terms of Islamic terrorism gaining the strength it never had in the days of Saddam and his non-existant WMDs.

Mission Accomplished!

Dave Timoney

Ex-public schoolboy suggests a government minister was "a bloody good bloke". And this is news?


I agree with the key idea. Circumstances determine human actions. But the problem with accepting this is off course that it casts doubt on the idea that character and "free" will matter in the big scheme of things called society or history. Thus it violates BOURGEOIS morality and philosophical assumptions. The veil of capitalist oppression would fall from our eyes if we did not hold onto them!

pete is too kind, I think it was pretty obvious that Iraq would be a disaster. The million or so people who marched against it seem to have got it right.

Cohen and the Labour leadership seem keen on blaming every problem on a non existent all coherent "left" while cosying up to the Tory party on every issue. Lets fight imaginary monsters as it is easier than thinking up convincing reasons for supporting Labour.


You're sympathetic to the point you would have made, not the one Nick Cohen actually did.

My reaction to that tweet was that if that's *everything* that's wrong with the Left, we're in pretty good shape.


Jon Snow knows nothing.


>>>I don't think there should be huge shame attached to having got Iraq wrong - most people did.

I disagree. Most people did not 'get Iraq wrong', and there should be huge shame on those that did, for being so easily fooled.

But Nick Cohen did not get Iraq wrong; he was an eager propangandist for the egregious lies of that time. He has failed to feel the shame he should, you know, the kind when you've got the blood of tens of thousands on your hands.


OK, but let's imagine the Man In the High Castle scenario. The Axis powers win WWII and evil pervades leadership, institutions, education etc. Within such a society, isn't it possible that there remain 'nice guys'? My point is that while every member of a society is, to varying degrees, complicit in its evils (whatever they may be), there are nonetheless those who play an active role in these evils (the bastard who gasses people) and those who merely get on with their lives (people on checkouts). There are various cultures who've practised human sacrifice through the ages, but I wouldn't label the everyday Joes within those cultures 'evil' for their complicity.

Inevitably somebody's mentioned Iraq. Was it an evil? Many think so, but not all. Many more consider it a tragic mistake. If you think it was an evil, then who is evil in their complicity? Does marching against the war balance the moral scales, or should marchers have taken direct action? Is anyone who didn't vote LibDem in 2005 complicit in the evil of the Iraq war?

And what about today? Are those who voted Tory evil? How appealing is such shrill moralism to the electorate? Do we really want to re-create the American culture wars, whereby the Left are unpatriotic tax and debt addicts and the Right are religious heartless gun-nuts, with never the twain meeting?


Nick Cohen's view of the world is warped by his Zionism. Hence the logic of a former Leftist performing intellectual somersaults about invading Iraq.

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