Author Archives: Garry

After a postponement due to Iraq’s airports being closed in the aftermath of the bombings last week, Iraq’s President, Jalal Talabani, has now been able to visit Iran. Today he met Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As Supreme Leader, Khamenei is the real power when it comes to Iranian foreign policy.

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In today’s Britain, the ability to think logically appears to be under serious threat. This is most apparent when browsing sections of the blogoball* and when listening to our politicians.

Here’s a non-specific example of a particularly common error. Let’s say that A is a defined characteristic or experience and that X is a particular act. We do a study and discover that every single person who commits act X has first conformed to characteristic A. Can we conclude that characteristic A causes act X?
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On the 12th of October 2000, al Qaeda conducted a suicide bomb attack on the American destroyer, the USS Cole. Seventeen members of the crew were killed in the attack.

Those who define terrorism as the deliberate killing of innocent civilians might find it difficult to argue that this al Qaeda suicide bomb attack was terrorism but let’s not get into the difficulty of defining terrorism here. What is now beyond dispute is that this attack was organised and carried out under the umbrella of the al Qaeda organisation. Bin Laden himself is thought to have selected the target and provided the money necessary to carry out the attack.

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Today sees the official launch of the Euston Manifesto and Professor Norman Geras has written an article defending this document against accusations that it is in some way pro-war. Has he missed the point?

The issue can be seen as one of consistency. The Euston Manifesto is scathing in its condemnation of terrorism and those who would “understand” it. As Professor Geras puts it:

We express our opposition to terrorism and to indulgently “understanding” (where this means condoning) it because it is thought to be motivated by legitimate grievances.

This is a perfectly sensible view.

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In the 2005 general election, Tony Blair was elected to serve a full third term as Prime Minister. He has been given a clear mandate by the electorate and it is right and proper that he honour the commitment he made to them only last year.

So say Mr Blair’s supporters. Blair himself has again made this point today at his monthly press conference. Pedantically, it isn’t even slightly true, of course. In the United Kingdom, we don’t elect the executive; we elect MPs to the legislature. The party with the largest representation in parliament then supplies the executive according to their own rules. In the case of the Labour Party, the last leadership election was held twelve years ago. As an exercise in democracy, it’s hardly inspiring.
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