Sunday, 11 May 2014


Peter Ryley writes on the difference between scepticism and cynicism, and on No-Fly Zones. An extract:
Scepticism is wholly to be welcomed and is based on evidence, investigation and critical thinking. Cynicism is a posture. It is a generalised mocking stance, one that is inherently conservative. That might sound odd, cynicism often has a radical sound. Yet it answers the question, ‘what can we do’ with one word: ‘nothing’. It is a recipe for paralysis and posing.
Read the rest: Cynicism.


  1. I read the whole of the post you link to above and I thought it was an exercise in cynicism. If you didn't follow his link to the article he was "critiquing" you wouldn't know that it was an article criticising Blair's recent speech to Bloomberg.

    I left a comment there as follows:

    According to this Wikipedia entry even the Americans made it clear that the "no fly zones" were not simply protective - - not by any means.

    And for all your own insistence on clarity, you fail to point out that the guy you are criticising was actually criticising Blair's recent speech where he flatly contradicted himself in several details and managed more than his usual mangling of the language.

    I know you linked to the article you purport to critique here but poor old Kellie can't have realised as a couple of Blair's biggest contradictions were to offer succor to the Assad and al Sisi regimes whilst calling for openness and democracy.

    I dunno why you Colonel Blimps can't just admit you rather hanker for an imperialist world order rather than do all these intellectual contortions, especially the lashing out at perfectly harmless commentary at the Grauniad.

    I'm not suggesting that you are one of the Colonel Blimps, I know nothing about you but I don't think you can have read/heard Blair's speech unless you care to contradict me.

  2. On Blair, he has long argued for a No-Fly Zone for Syria, and on that I clearly agree. As you point out he made other arguments in the Bloomberg speech, and on his view that we should partner with secular tyrants to defeat religious tyrants I disagree absolutely. Moral compromises are unavoidable in war, but on this Blair draws the line in the wrong place, not just morally but practically. The line must be drawn against all tyranny.

    I have noticed quite a few longstanding Blair supporters and sympathisers disagreeing with the Bloomberg speech. Agreeing on one point (no-fly zones) does not necessitate agreeing on all else.

  3. Two critiques of Blair’s Bloomberg speech that I think are worth reading: by Kyle Orton, and by Edisa Korugic.

    1. Thanks again Kellie, I've now read both articles and revisited Blair's speech. I must say I'm amazed that anyone has bothered to go into such detail over the ravings of such an obvious chancer as Tony Blair.

      That Blair's blaming of the Palestinians for the situation between themselves and The State of Israel didn't warrant a mention in either post really says it all about where both are coming from without getting into what they actually did say. There is no reason to suppose that either of them have humanitarian concerns for people in the middle east. And reading around Orton's blog I'd say he's every bit as cynical as Peter Ryley.

      Again I wonder why people don't just come straight out and say they want western hegemony over the middle east.

      But I am grateful for your apparently earnest response.

    2. I can't tell if the "no reason to suppose that either of them have humanitarian concerns for people in the middle east" bit was aimed at me, but I can only say it is nonsense.

      I have written, in so many words, that I think American hegemony over the Middle East is a good thing—and not just for the West. (Incidentally there are many in the region who obviously like the U.S. as the Imperial arbiter: Saudis-vs.-Saddam, Libyan-people-vs.-Qaddafi, Syrian-people-vs.-Bashar.)

      I rarely get accused of cynicism; the usual accusation is too much idealism and belief that the region can democratise. Suppose I should be glad of the change of pace: cold-hearted rather than too naive. I've said that defeating Bashar should have been an objective anyway because it would damage Iran but my main concern for a long time now has just been to stop the carnage, which I don't think anything but military force can do.

    3. It's obviously nonsense that there's "no reason to suppose that [I] have humanitarian concerns for people in the middle east" and demonstrably so too—I've gone on and on about the horrors in Syria and wanted a stop put to them.

      I don't think cynical is correct either. I'm not an idealist, or not just; I do see the real world too. (I wanted to see Bashar defeated before the rebellion erupted to damage Iran; once it had erupted it seemed to be that humanitarian and strategic objectives became one and the same.) But my politics does not indulge in the cynicism and fatalism that believes nothing can be done.

      I have also said, in so many words, that I favour American hegemony over the MENA. It's a fact of life anyway, and as you might have noticed, whether it's the Saudis wanting protection from Saddam or the Libyan and Syrian people wanting protection from the governments that rule them, there are quite a lot of people in the region who want the U.S. as the Imperial arbiter—including, by the way, the Palestinians.

    4. Thanks for responding and for being frank about where you stand on western hegemony.

      There is a clear contradiction between democracy in a country and another country's hegemony. This has been seen most clearly where islamists have been elected in such places as Palestine and Egypt. We have also seen how the USA has behaved elsewhere in the past when elections have yielded results it didn't want.

      You say that Saddam was a threat to Saudi Arabia. I don't think it was but why are you so concerned for Saudi? It's no more democratic or humanitarian than Iraq was. And what threat was Saddam apart from posing the threat of a rival and secular ideology? Maybe a stable Iraq would have assisted the people of Bahrain against the Saudi backed dictatorship there. Or maybe it wouldn't but Saudi's behaviour in Bahrain hardly marks it out as a good neighbour for those with humanitarian concerns.

      When Iraq attacked Iran it did so with support from the west and when it occupied Kuwait it seems to have misread signals from a US diplomat who said that the USA had no opinion on whether or not Iraq invaded. It seems to me that as repulsive as the Saddam regime was, its international behaviour was based on rational calculations that war avoidable but the west, in particular the USA, wanted Iraq brought to its knees whoever was in power.

      Your references to various nationalities wanting US hegemony seem to conflate sections of nations with their entirety, Hence "Saudis" want protection from Iraq, Libyan and Syrian people want whatever they want and "by the way...the Palestinians" Would that include the Palestinians who voted for Hamas the last time they had the chance? And even if you are right about what Palestinians want, what has American hegemony brought them? Well, it has brought them to where you want them to be but given your support for Israel you don't seem to want them to have the most minimal rights that we in the western democracies take for granted and, of course, as long as Israel exists on most of Palestine and being self-defined as a state specially for the world's Jews, the Palestinians can't even enjoy basic human rights let alone civil and democratic rights.

      I'm sure that it's this disregard of the rights of the Palestinians that makes the US so untrustworthy in the eyes of so many in the middle east. There are of course many other examples of the US siding with oppressors irrespective of professed ideology or humanitarian issues but the case of the Palestinians is a stand out that you are determined to ignore.

      Of course there are rulers in the middle east who like having America on their side and there are oppressed people who would prefer the US to side with them rather than their oppressors but this isn't the same as wanting American hegemony.

  4. Kellie. thanks so much for your responses. I'm really rushing at the mo but I will read the links you've provided, hopefully today.

    BTW, your "notify me" button doesn't seem to work.