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Friday, February 26, 2010

Nick ****ing Cohen, On What's Left by Mark Steel


Mark Steel
The article on the Iraq that The Observer asked Mark Steel to write but then refused to print.


What splendid timing. Out pops a book applauding the virtues of the invasion of Iraq, just when even the invasion's last bedraggled supporters in the American establishment are giving up on it. Even the head of the British Army has declared it a disaster. The United Nations have revealed that among the occupation's magnificent achievements is there is more torture in Iraq now than under Saddam. The debate about the scale of the slaughter concerns how many hundreds of thousands are dead. So here Nick Cohen not only cheers the decision to invade but declares his bemusement about why everyone else didn't join him. Maybe he's got another one coming out called "Why can't everyone see England are bound to win the 2006 World Cup?"

Much of the book comprises accounts of Iraqis who supported the invasion, with scorn for those opponents of the war who "wouldn't listen" to Iraqis who'd experienced Saddam's tyranny. But even the Iraq Survey Group sponsored by George Bush reported that 60% of Iraqis now support attacks on occupying troops, and amongst the most strident are those who suffered under Saddam. So does Cohen still think we should follow mainstream Iraqi opinion. If he does, presumably he's training to go out there and start firing, is he?

But there's also an extraordinary element to this book. As well as being a re-hash of all the insipid arguments used by fans of the war, (the anti-war movement didn't want Saddam to be deposed because they "Might have faced a Middle-East running short of dictators for them to salute" etc.), he claims his pro-war mania should be the true agenda for the left. So everyone vaguely connected to the left is reviled in this book for opposing the war: Amnesty International, Nelson Mandela, human rights lawyers, the lot. Everyone was wrong except Nick.

Cohen WAS impressed however by Paul Wolfowitz, co-creator of the "Project for the American Century," and Bush's choice to head the World Bank for his uncompromising dedication to big business and militarism. Cohen met him in London, and admired his "warmth" and "coherence" and "sense of purpose."

So - the left should denounce everyone with a record of valuing humanity above profit and war, and revere the most prominent champions of profit who are prepared to fight wars to defend this. It would be like someone cheering all season for Arsenal in an Arsenal shirt, then saying he was doing this because he was the only true supporter of Tottenham.

And what a bizarre world he lives in, which writes off all those millions who oppose the war as either twisted lefties, or dupes of twisted lefties.

So there we are - Cohen is the only true person on the left, despite the fact that on the defining issue of our times he is angrily to the right of two ex-presidents of America, the Liberal Democrats, Joanna Lumley, Leo Sayer, Zoe Ball, Jimmy Hill, Pope John Paul II, Jacques Chirac, Dolly Parton, almost everyone in Africa and South America, the head of the British army and Cat bloody Stevens.

It might be worth reading a book explaining the 'virtues' of this war by Colin Powell, or even Paul Wolfowitz, as an insight into the thinking of those behind it. But this represents no one but himself. If you're really bored and fancy reading it, do something more useful, such as counting the ants in your garden or pushing an onion round the perimeter of Surrey.

Exclusive to marksteelinfo - never previously published.

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