February 09, 2004


Leftist and war opponent David McKnight slaps John Pilger and Tariq Ali:

Do the bloody actions of the so-called resistance constitute a war of national liberation, making them worthy of left-wing support? Are Saddam Hussein's thugs comparable to the Timorese fighting Indonesian occupation? Or to Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress? Or to the French Resistance against Nazi Germany?

Extraordinarily, ultra-leftists such as John Pilger and Tariq Ali think so. They say they support the "resistance".

Read the whole thing. Another extract:

The fact is that in Iraq today, the Iraqi Left, as well as the vast majority of religious and political forces, denounce the campaign of bombings and the attacks led by Ali and Pilger's "resistance".

Posted by Tim Blair at February 9, 2004 01:17 AM

Resistance to what and compared with what?

In the case of Hitler's resistance the whole of Europe came under attack by fascism. They had no choice but to fight back or accept Hitler, the Fascists with their ideas on eugenics.

In the case of Mandela the issue was race related. If you were black you were inferior even though Apartheid was sold as "seperate but equal".

In both cases the battle lines were clear.

In Iraq, Pilger (sometimes referred to as wanker)seems to ignore the reality.

The 3 main groups Sunni (seeking entry into the Islamic main state) Shiite (seeking the nation state Iraq) and Kurds (seeking a dual or federal state - autonomy in the regions) are not alone in their fight.

Many outside groups, primarily al-Queeda are seeking to make Iraq the war on America.

They do not share the same goals as most Iraqi's other than those seeking to ensure instability and a bloody nose for the USA.

If Bin Laden's stated goal of a Caliphate is to be realised then only a single Islamic entity would be acceptable.

This flies in the face of many states(if not all) who would not like to relinquish their autonomy.

If Pilger and Ali are truthful(which they aren't) then they would have to accept that :

(a) Saddam butchered his people on a staggering scale which made pre-emption vital. Their assertions that Iraq was better off under Saddam only because they weren't there.

(b) Comparing Iraq to South Africa and Nazi Germany is misguided and shows a lack of real understanding of the issues.

(c) The term resistance in Iraq applies to a a group of minorities, primarily foreigners, who have come to face off with America.

This as opposed to South Africa and Nazi Germany where participants in the resistance were directly involved in the conflict.

Pilger like Fisk is best read while pissed.

Posted by: Traps at February 9, 2004 at 02:29 AM

I'm with McKnight.

Posted by: Robert at February 9, 2004 at 02:30 AM

From the article: “Pilger told American listeners: "I think the resistance in Iraq is incredibly important for all of us. I think that we depend on the resistance to win so that other countries might not be attacked, so that our world, in a sense, becomes more secure.”

Pathetic, Pilger is promoting the enslaved of people for his vision of a secure world. Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Pilger, “Enslave Iraqis because I hate America.”

Posted by: perfectsense at February 9, 2004 at 04:58 AM

Ah, Pilger.

I remember back in maybe the early eighties or thereabouts he made this TV documentary about how you could purchase slave children in Thailand.

Later, it turned out that it was fraudulent: he'd gone in, paid some woman a hundred bucks to borrow her daughter, made the documentary (including heart-touching scenes of returning the child to the fold) and then he handed the kid back.

There was a minor scandal, he waffled and said it was justified because he knew that you could purchase children in Thailand even though he couldn't and that was that. The ABC of course continued to use his "services".

All record of this scandal now appears to have been erased from human memory. Does anyone else remember it?

Posted by: akpm at February 9, 2004 at 05:13 AM

I would hope that more on the left would take this line. Ok they dont agree with the reasons for the invasion, we know that, but we are in it now up to our neck and just pulling out and running will not be in the interests of the Iraqi people. At least by offering some constructive insight into the situation it will help in the making of more reasoned judgements about what to do next.

Posted by: Rob at February 9, 2004 at 06:14 AM

Spooky that Ali is a "late and welcome addition" to the roster at the Writers and Readers Week at the New Zealand Arts Festival next month. And judging from the blowjob interview on state-owned National Radio's Nine To Noon earlier this morning, nobody is going to challenge Ali about his support for terrorists. Then again, why should media outlets that euphemise the pricks as 'insurgents' challenge their cheerleaders?

Posted by: Craig Ranapia (Other Pundit) at February 9, 2004 at 07:18 AM

I have one question: why aren't Pilger, Chomsky, Fisk, Monbiot et al, happily rooting each other in Guantanamo Bay right now?


Posted by: Pomgolian Lamb at February 9, 2004 at 08:08 AM

McKnight is entirely correct. I do not particularly care about his attacks on Pilger and Ali (both are increasingly irrelevant) but his core theme - which is yes, it was an illegitimate war, but what's done is done and we must make the best of it for Iraq's sake - is entirely on the mark.

The real challenge is to sort out the godawful mess that our wonderful leaders conned us into.

Mind you, McKnight's insight is hardly a new one. Many of us on the antiwar side have been saying this for some time now. It is after all, not a matter of left or right - it is a simple matter of common sense. Having started this war, it must be won.

The nightmare scenario is an American withdrawal from Iraq any time soon.


Posted by: Nemesis at February 9, 2004 at 09:23 AM

Too bad we don't hear more of McKnight's old insight.

Posted by: Sortelli at February 9, 2004 at 12:30 PM

I expect you'd hear more if you improved your reading sources. Somewhere between the extremes of Pilger and Blair there is a large body of common sense and pragmatism.

Posted by: Nemesis at February 9, 2004 at 01:35 PM

The war was correct. What would you have, Saddam still in power, working with every terrorist on the planet, the UN still out - do you really think he would have let inspectors stay when our troops pulled out of the region? Would we still be overflying two-thirds of Iraq while Saddam's death squads did their work on the ground and Ansar-al-Islam, Hezbollah, and whoever else trained at Salman Pak and prepared a bigger, better, 9/11? Bush has liberated fifty million and made the world much safer - ask Libya, Iran, Syria and even North Korea - and all he gets is a sigh and "Oh, I guess now that he's in there we'll have to support him until he finds a way out." Disgusting.

Posted by: Robert Speirs at February 9, 2004 at 02:40 PM

The columnist GETS IT and sees some of the BS being peddled by our 'activists'.

Some of the BS = Illeagal war, lied to, OIL, plastic turkey (new one), thousands of civilian Iraqi war casualties, should have involved UN more, kept negotiating, it's all just US Imperialism, Baathist party thugs and/or Islamonazis as noble resistance fighters, etc..

There are groups that really do care for people and their sufferings. There are other groups who use the sufferings of others as a camouflage, or an excuse to advance their own, anti-US, agendas. It's possible these anti-US groups actually did care for the sufferings of people at one time, but they care more for punishing and defeating the US now.

People who believe the US and the coalition governments are worse for the Iraqis than rule by Saddam are inhabiting a different reality than I am. People who cheer on the 'resistance' in Iraq should move there and join the resistance. Bring back Baathist rule to the Iraqis. Yea, I'm sure the Iraqis will love that.

Since most of the groups have an anti-US agenda, the suffering peoples they pretend to care about are only of use when they can advance an anti-US agenda. Note these same people are very quiet when it comes to the suffering of peoples in Iran, N. Korea, and/or Cuba (to name a few) at the hands of their own leaders.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at February 9, 2004 at 02:52 PM

*drops his lunch* Holy crow, Nemesis! Really? There is? Wow!

Someone better tell the Democratic candidates immediately!!!


Posted by: Sortelli at February 9, 2004 at 04:11 PM

What on earth are you on about?

Posted by: Nemesis at February 9, 2004 at 05:10 PM

"Somewhere between the extremes of Pilger and Blair there is a large body of common sense and pragmatism."

I'm NOT hearing common sense from the anti-war side.

I hear it from liberals. I hear it from conservatives. I hear it from independants. But those who opposed the war are still busy opposing the war. None of them are going forward to say "Let's make the best of things as they are" because ANYTHING good that comes from the invasion's aftermath will support the future use of force to depose brutal regimes. You know, instead of decades of sanctions and starvation.

I mean... that's why you're here, right? To discuss how we can sort out the problems in Iraq? Is that why you refer to it as a godawful mess that we were conned into? That's because you don't want to undermine the godawful mess, right?

Posted by: Sortelli at February 9, 2004 at 05:54 PM

McKnight has been having a good brawl with Pilger for awhile now. In Arena magazine early last year he asked how the hell anyone could have opposed the removal of the Taliban, and pointed out that the cover of Pilger's latest book, 'The New Rulers of the World', was childish in the extreme (It shows a hand pulling strings attached to various parts of the globe, and looks like a draft cover of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion that would have been rejected for not being subtle enough.) Pilger's response was two hundred words of personal abuse, screaming that McKnight, who teaches at UTS, was corrupting 'very young students'. This response had been solicited by Arena's editor, Guy Rundle. I need tell nobody here that Rundle is a moral dwarf and a fucking fool.

Posted by: Dave at February 9, 2004 at 06:04 PM

Pilger & Ali's support for the 'insurgents' brings to mind that recent Mark Steyn article on this sort of thing. As Steyn put it, to some extremists in the anti-war movement, the baathists may be a son-of-a-bitch, but to the movement they're 'our son-of-a-bitch'....

Posted by: Wilbur at February 9, 2004 at 06:54 PM

David Mc Knight was one of my teachers at UTS Journalism. He is calm, sane and well-balanced voice of Reason. I find his non-partisan attitude to the war a refreshing change from points-scoring on the Left or spin-doctoring on the Right.

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at February 9, 2004 at 06:56 PM

The problem isn't really poisonous creeps like Pilger. It's the mainstream media editors who see fit to give them space. That lends their mouthings false authority.

It would be fine if they could just produce their "books". Pilger, Chomsky and co read like Michael Moore but with a better class of prose. I mean, lots of people read Erich van Daniken and David Icke and various other loony theorists, but it doesn't do the rest of us any harm.

Posted by: Dave F at February 9, 2004 at 07:06 PM