Britain's first book blogger (November 2000)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Wark all over the facts

This evening BBC Newsnight's Kirsty Wark interviews Harold Pinter. In her introduction to the programme, she refers, as one might expect, to the Nobel Prize winner's political views, in this instance to Serbia:
When his distaste of post WW2 US foreign policy encompassed NATO's actions against Milošević, and the Serbian dictator's trial, many critics thought he had made a major misjudgement and he came in for a lot of flak.
Whether he deserved that flak or not (he didn't) it can't be said he opposed actions against a dictator. As elementary history reports, Milošević exercised his repellent power only when elected, much like our own dear leader. He resigned only after an uprising and the collapse of popular support. In a strict sense, Milošević was not a dictator.

Somehow I doubt that a veteran BBC journalist like Kirsty Wark would ever refer to Tony Blair as a dictator despite the fact that, unlike Milošević, he retains power even though he no longer has majority support (did he ever?) and, what's more, ignored a popular uprising in order to launch an aggressive war in which, at a rough estimate, twenty times more people have died than in the former Yugoslavia (i.e. to justify the bombing that increased the death toll). To describe him as such would be, of course, factually incorrect, merely expressing an opinion, and also thoroughly unprofessional.

9 comments:

  1. hitchensfan7:28 pm

    Somehow I doubt that a veteran BBC journalist like Kirsty Wark would ever refer to Tony Blair as a dictator despite the fact that, unlike Milošević, he retains power even though he no longer has majority support (did he ever?) and, what's more, ignored a popular uprising in order to launch an aggressive war in which, at a rough estimate, twenty times more people have died than in the former Yugoslavia (i.e. to justify the bombing that increased the death toll).

    Sorry, been asleep the past 10 years and only just discovered the internet. Some heavy stuff in this post but I can't find where Blair and his 'regime' orchestrated an official policy of killing members of an ethnic group within his own country in the name of appeasing domestic political sentiment and cigarette-smuggling gangsters. Still, that turbofolk rocked some.

    Perhaps one day the truth about Blair's ethnic cleansing of the Welsh in the Midlands will emerge, but only through fearless bloggers like your good self.

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  2. You're still asleep and dreaming something I wrote.

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  3. Anonymous11:57 am

    Milošević enjoyed high levels of popularity among Serbs until his death, as demonstrated by the 11th hour handover of him to the war crimes tribunal. Where he did act as a dictator however (and therefore how Wark could be considered correct in her description) was in his attempt to act as Yugoslavian president by proxy throughout the wars of the 1990s and over one province of Serbia later.

    Personally I feel the creation of the war crimes tribunal is a positive step and cause for optimism, a signal to potential genocidal dictators that they will not enjoy immunity from prosecution and will be called to account. It's called internationalism. The likes of Harold Pinter who sneer at such institutions are merely the spokespersons for a backward and failed pessimism that won't allow itself a second to look away from its anti-US obsessiveness. In any case, Harold Pinter is taken seriously for his politics by a handful of people such as yourself. I suspect it's this that fuels your ire on this occasion.

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  4. "a signal to potential genocidal dictators that they will not enjoy immunity from prosecution and will be called to account. It's called internationalism."

    And of course Pinter is opposed to this?! He's opposed to the immunity of the biggest mass killers on the planet for the last five years: Bush and Blair. It's called The Bleedin' Obvious. You really don't see it, do you?

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  5. Anonymous7:51 pm

    He's opposed to the immunity of the biggest mass killers on the planet for the last five years: Bush and Blair. It's called The Bleedin' Obvious. You really don't see it, do you?

    I think there's some confusion here. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is a UN body charged with prosecuting those involved in genocidal actions in the Balkans during the 1990s. Tony Blair was leader of the UK opposition for most of this era and George W. Bush was Governor of Texas, I don't see how the remit of the tribunal would cover them.

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  6. Is it just for the Balkans? Anyway, Hitchensfan referred to Pinter sneering at "such insitutions" and it is the limitations that disappoint those of us who don't excuse war crimes when our leaders are responsible.

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  7. Does "dictator" necessarily imply that someone is ruling without a popular mandate? Hitler was democratically elected, and even though he suspended elections pretty damn quick, it's probable that he would have maintained a mandate well into WW2.

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  8. Anonymous2:16 pm

    Hear hear! (Tim, not Steve)

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  9. So did Milosevic suspend elections Tim? It's possible Hitler WOULD have won free elections in Germany - yes. But he didn't stage any did he?

    Milosevic did stage elections. Big difference. He was a monster but not a dictator.

    Just like Blair, I'd say. Blair has killed more people with his illegal invasion; far more. That doesn't make him a dictator. Calling him such would be, as I made plain, an opinion, which makes Wark's comment an opinion too, not something a powerful BBC journalist should engage in. But as it was Pinter and as Milosevic is an official enemy, opinion is fact.

    How many times does it need to be said?

    Hear hear to obfuscation and missing the point!

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