Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The President Brown Forgot to Name

Speaking at the UN today, Gordon Brown said this...
So when the need is pressing, when it is our generation that has made historic commitments, when the time to meet them is now short, the simple questions that - to paraphrase the words of an American President - we must ask are:

If not now, when?
If not us, who?
If not together, how?

Whoever thought Gordon Brown would quote Ronald Reagan... Is there no end to his triangulation?


Wrinkled Weasel said...

He also said,

"And when conscience is joined to conscience, moral force to moral force, think how much our power to do good can achieve"

It hasn't done much good over Iraq has it? Or, how much moral force is needed, Mr Bogeyman, to get you to honour your manifesto commitment to have a referendum on the EU treaty instead of pretending that 95% of a treaty is not the original treaty?

Such an utter creep. Blair was a cheesy second-hand car salesman; Brown is the bloke that does the cut-and-shut and rewinds the clock.

Tapestry said...

Bush is running around saying - he's not a dour Scot. You can relax in Brown's company.

One look at Bush's body language though tells a different tale. He looks as relaxed as a lemon sucker confronted with Gordon's fake bonhomie and grin. Who can balme him?

Tapestry said...


M. Hristov said...

Good to have you back Iain and well enough to blog. A very good sign and portent for many decades of happy blogging.

The politics of intervention have been with us since the "Bulgarian Horrors" of 1876, when Mr. Gladstone realised that he could use the newborn press to "whip up" a climate of moral indignation about the Ottoman Empire's treatment of the Balkan natives (summarised as "Bulgarians").

The politics of intervention are still here and are still cloaked in morality.

The politics of intervention are essentially simplistic and take no account of the actual situation in the countries which are intervened or the consequences of the intervention to the intervener.

History is more complex than Brown suggests and, whilst the liberation of Bulgaria and the surrounding countries was a great thing, Britain hardly benefited from the liberation.

Indeed, the rivalries borne of that first campaign of liberation, chiefly between Austro-Hungary and Germany on one side and Russia on the other, led to the First World War and the impoverishment of this country.

I hope that you are going to mark the introduction of the deeply flawed Home Information Packs tomorrow. I have put a long note about that on my blog.


We need to commend Michael Gove on some great work, in getting this policy modified. Lets stop bickering and look for some other places to attack New Labour.

Ralph Hancock said...

(Apologies for posting under the name of an existing blogger, but I have to use my Google account as it is.)

This is not Reagan, but a much quoted and chewed-up version of a saying by the 1st century AD Jewish scholar Hillel:

If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Pirkei Avot 1:14)

Sea Shanty Irish said...

Reagan sure wasn't MY favorite President, but he DID have a way with words. And as an actor, his best lines were written by others. But he sure knew how to deliver them! My favorite: "Trust but verifiy."

As for Gladstone & the Bulgarian Horrors, the history cited above is a wee bit skewed. For example, the horrors were not just PR. And Gladstone was not advocating intervention, but rather opposing Disraeli's suport for (and threatened intervention on behalf of) the Ottoman Empire. Britain did NOT intervene AND did NOT participate in the Russo-Turkish War. But Disraeli & Salisbury DID play a leading role in the subsequent Congress of Berlin . . . and gained control of Cyprus and later Egypt . . . which could not have happened without the weakening of the Ottoman Empire. As for Germany & Austria-Hugary, they actually formed an alliance with Russia (Dreikaisersbund) in 1881.

Ethnic, national & imperial rivalries in the Balkans certainly played their part in the long buildup to WWI four decades after 1876 . . . but they were NOT the whole story . . . and blaming WWI on Gladstonian Liberalism is too much of a stretch.

As for Brown/Bush, you are correct. W was sure a sad little rabid puppy. "I don't want to play with Gordon! I want my pal Tony!" No doubt Cheney had to take a rolled-up newspaper to him afterwards. But that's HIS problem. Don't kid yerselves: Brown scored BIG points with US public.

Bespoke said...

tapestry said...

I think I preferred "Who can balme him?" actually!

Is that the oily substance in his hair?

M. Hristov said...

I note that there has been a response to my posting. There is a risk that my answer might seem to be too academic and so I will try to keep it simple.

The Bulgarian Horrors were not PR and nor were the horrors perpetrated by Saddam Hussein. The whistling skulls at Nish (a tower of rebel skulls put up by the Ottomans that whistled in the wind) and the chemical weapons used by Saddam on rebels were not figments of our imagination.

Gladstone stated that far from propping up the Turkish Empire, Britain should seek to remove the Ottomans from European soil ('soil soaked and reeking with blood').The fact that he was not in a political position to do so is irrelevant. He was advocating intervention. Bush and Blair were in a position to remove Saddam and did so by intervention.

Austria-Hungary and Russia may have been in alliance in 1881 but alliances had changed by 1914, when Russia, France and Great Britain were in alliance, The Triple Entente and Austria-Hungary, Germany and Italy were in another alliance, The Triple Alliance. It was the Russian advocacy of Serbia and the Austro-Hungarian fear of Serbia that led to WW1, which followed as series of Balkan Wars. The rise of nationalism had created conflict and that was an unforeseen result of supporting Balkan nations against the Turks. Just as the rise of Iran is was an unforeseen consequence of removing Saddam Hussein. Unforeseen by Blair and the Bush White House (although foreseen by most other experts).

My point is that morality is not enough. Foreign policy must also be based on practicality and pragmatism. Reagan and Thatcher were lucky that the central ethos of the Soviet system was coming apart under “their watch”. The Soviet system had always been based on a myth. That people living now must make sacrifices for the future utopia to be lived in by their children. This myth could not be sustained beyond the generation that experienced W.W. II, as it was very clear that the future utopia was never going to appear. This led to the collapse of the Soviet system. It was not just morality that destroyed the Soviet system. It was the fact that it was built on a lie. Morality is no substitute for practical policy.

Sea Shanty Irish said...

m.hristov, think we actually agree more than disagree . . . at last post-1914

In the late 1870s Gladstone did in fact urge that British policy be reoriented from support of the Turks (as a bulwark against Russia) to support of the oppressed nationalities of the Balkans. He urged "that the European Concert should reassert itself and exact all necessary changes from the government of the Sultan." (Roy Jenkins) Harnessing his moral fervor and oratorical gifts (despite opposition from other Liberal Party leaders) Gladstone took his arguments directly to the British people, culminating in the famous Midlothian campaign and the 1880 general election.

At the same time, however, there was the opposite and virtually equal "Jingo" agitation to support the Turks via war with Russia. As Prime Minster, Disraeli resisted the war hawks, even when it appeared Queen Victoria might abdicate in protest! "But Disraeli was emphatically no isolationist....He believed that Britain was not only a great power but a great European power....Disraeli did not want war....[But] he did not flinch from war if there was no alternative." (Robert Blake) In essence he bluffed the Russians, who cut a deal that prevented a 2nd Anglo-Russian War.

My point is that BOTH liberals & conservative displayed strong interventionist tendencies during the crisis of the late 1870s. IF Gladstone had been in power instead of Disraeli, it is entirely possible - indeed probable - that his strategy, though opposite that of his rival, would also have relied upon diplomacy and bluff rather than direct intervention.

Either way, there was NO British (as opposed to Russian & Austrian) intervention to speak of in the Balkans or anywhere else in Europe between 1878 and 1914. When Asquith's Liberal government declared war in 1914 (with full Conservative backing) it was NOT because Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia, but because Germany invaded Belgium . . . though of course the two events were linked. Britain's rationale was not moralistic interventionism, but rather the perceived, pragmatic need (blostered after the fact by moral fervor) to defend her vital national interest.

Bob Piper said...

So, what was Ronnie saying?

If we don't unlawfully fund the murderous Contras now, when will we do it?

If it is not us who arm the Iranians, then who will?

If we don't stick together and perjure ourselves to the 'Tower Commission' then how will we do it?

Tapestry said...

Is Brown in the words of Peter Cook, the natural inheritor of his description of David Frost - 'the bubonic plagiarist' - is he the 'me too' Prime Minister?

Chris Paul said...

Who was Reagan paraphrasing?

Hughes Views said...

And has nice boy DC had an invite to the White House yet?

Louise said...

Chris - Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi wrote a novel called "If Not Now, When" in 1982. Don't know if this came before or after Reagan's speech.

GS said...

Watching Brown's speech at the UN was a depressing experience. What have we done to deserve another messianic meddler in affairs far beyond our shores?

Unknown said...

Pinch Punch Iain
Welcome back
Great yesterday Bush having a quip at the smug BBC's Nick Robinson. Bush should have told Robinson to put a cork in his mouth at the same time as covering up his bald head........

Old BE said...

And has nice boy DC had an invite to the White House yet?

Why would he? He won't be in office until after Bush has gone. It's makes me chuckle to see Blair and Brown sucking up to Bush when practically anyone to the left of Ken Clarke can't stand his regime.

SPAM ALERT said...

"What have we done to deserve another messianic meddler in affairs far beyond our shores?"

Having taxed England into feeble submission Brown can now take his plans for Scottish world domination further afield. He will not rest until the flag of St Andrew flies over government buildings in every part of the globe, and Scottish MPs have the deciding vote on "key" legislation in those countries.

Jim said...

Sssssshhhhhhhhh dont mention Ali Mira.

Sssssshhhhhhhhh dont mention 30000 new doctors starting in the NHS today.

Sssssshhhhhhhhh dont mention Camema On in Afghanistan.

...and please please please dont mention Grammer schools, By elections, Graham Brady, Lord Saatchi, Lord Kalms and please dont tell us the names of the 6 MPs looking for a no-confidence vote.

Man in a Shed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Man in a Shed said...

Triangulation, spin, focus groups, changing your tie colour to blue are all designed to short circuit democracy.

If they triumph then we will be living in a dictatorship, although few will realise it.

Democracy lies bleeding to death on the side of the road as the Brown motorcade sweeps past ...

Jim said...

Oh come on Iain. Is this the best you can do. Rambling on about the origin of a Brown speech……Oh dear !!!!

Anonymous said...

Let me get this right.
The other day Gordon Brown said: "we should acknowledge the debt the world owes to the United States for its leadership in this fight against international terrorism."
He then quotes Reagan, who was President in the early 80s when the USA supported the Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s and was convicted by the International Court of Justice for “unlawful use of force” for actions in Nicaragua i.e. for being invoplved in terrorist activities on some level.
Nice one Gord.

Newmania said...

Brown has made his first big mistake in establishing his base camp in a position were he cannot march to a referendum on the EU Constitution. It becomes clearer by the day that his first act abroad was to lie outright and renege on a promise, in a fraud perpetrated on the British.. This will gnaw at the supposed New Honest Brown "Trompe l'oeil" the chutzpah of which leaves me breathless anyway.

I suspect that being ignorant of the world beyond our shores Brown’s natural inability to take any personal risks will be the danger to him , when a decision has to be made the much noted cowardice he has on numerous occasions shown will lead him to dithering folly . Obviously replacing the US with the EU and the UN can only damage our security and standing but then I `m not sure that really matters as much as the mortgage .
The best I think we can hope is that posturing about economic world engagement and multilateralism is a screen for inactivity and cutting back our forces. It is an unlovely way to go about it but not the worst idea I have heard. I imagine he looks at the money Germany saves by not lifting a finger to defend he free world they profit from and envies their budget.

Unity said...

I see Ralph beat me to the Rabbi Hillel reference, which was also paraphrased by Gorbachev as:

"If not me, who? If not now, when?"

Altogether a rather popular piece of rhetoric, it seems.

Oscar Miller said...

If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Pirkei Avot 1:14)

Chris Paul and Louise - as Ralph has explained (listen up there) Reagan was drawing on a very very famous Jewish saying by Rabbi Hillel who knocked around in the first century. And Primo Levi was quoting Hillel (not Reagan!)

On Broon and Bush - I liked the way Bush kept drawing attention to Broon's Scottishness (probably unintentional but amusing nevertheless). I don't know who looked more ill at ease Broon or Bush.

Stephen Newton said...

It's even funnier when you discover Ronnie was talking about freezing government spending.

Brown certianly knows how to take the p***!

10 out of 10.

Mr Eugenides said...

Brown quoting the evil Zionists? Expect Comment is Free to start foaming with loonies any time now.

Old BE said...

dont mention 30000 new doctors starting in the NHS today.

How many were there looking for jobs though? How many have had to take locum or non-training jobs so they don't default on the mortgage? How many have effectively been sent abroad because of Brown/Hewitt's incompetence?

At £250,000 of taxpayers' money being spent on each doctor's training we can ill afford to waste a single one. Whoops.

MTAS and MMC are not Labour's strong points, Jimbo.

Newmania said...

Wasting money Ed ? What about the tax Payer finding 95% of the £2 billion reputedly owed by Metro net under the PPP arrangement Brown foisted on us . making Ken Livingstone look responsible isn`t easy but Gollum Brown has managed it.

Newmania said...

dont tell us the names of the 6 MPs looking for a no-confidence vote.

Or the 40 Labour MP`s who agree with the rest of the country that Brown is lying over Europe. As far as anyone earning a living is concerned better not mention that last ten years of tax rises either or the ethnic war on the South by means of mass immigration or the £2.5 billion wasted in benefits fraud or the delivery of tax credits ,or the NHS computer contracts or the funds siphoned into Browns campaign vuia the Smith Institute or his friendship with Ronald Coen one of Labour’s biggest donors and private equity sleaze bag.
Looking for some sense on private equity? Don’t hold your breath while bent Brown is tickling his chum’s tummy especially with |Labour out of cash as the Electoral commission reported and Brown desperate to get a mandate before he is found out
Don’t mention the 40% of Whitehall jobs and their huge rewards which are dominated by ex employees of Accenture previously known as Anderson consulting and the interesting links between these sinecures and support for the Labour Party Liam Byrne especially all of which Brown is responsible for as much as he was for cash for honours .

A more bent hateful obsessive incompetent it is hard to imagine ..oh sorry that was Old brown ...New brown is magically quite different.

And on top of all that the bastards have succeeded in ruining the pub about the one place where you used to be able to go and stick two fingers up at the lot of them . Rural pubs going under all ready as five hundred years of innocent tobacco and beer consumption is burnt on the new Labour altar to the great god " Nanny State knows Best".

There are plenty of things not mentioned dim Jim

Tapestry said...

What about the $112 Brown has placed into US Treasuroes last year, losing 10% on the falling dollar and falling bonds?

When will this Brown's biggest financial fiasco of all time be granted space by British media? We are all waiting.

The Brown Flop narrative could not cope with the surfacing of any real stories about Gordon Brown. We are forced to live in this manufactured world of false realities.

Quote after me - Gordon Brown is Prudent. Gordon Brown is a genius. Gordon Brown's economy is a success. etc etc. Hear it repeated often enough and even you will start to believe it.

It used to be called propaganda. The modern word seems to be spin. How about the original term that veryone understood perfectly - lies?

Where iare the financial editors of The Times, The Guardian or The Telegraph - the so-called high-brow Press?

What about Martin Wolf of the Financial Times? Will someone please tell us the truth about what is really going on?

Tapestry said...


Old BE said...

There are countless ways in which the Brown years (1997- ) have squandered the benefits of a benign world economic climate, but to crow about the brilliance of, say, the management of the NHS is just nauseating.

A tripling in funding has achieved a small improvement. Well done.

The Hitch said...

I know this country is crap and we would al like to leave , but you would think that at least the people who made it this bad would stay here.
browns only been in a job a fortnigh and already he's doing a blair and flying all over the world.

Chris Paul said...

Thanks Louise and all

Yes, I know the Hillel reference (c 10BC) , and Maimonides (c 1100AD), and (kind of) also attributed to Alice Paul (US suffragette, c 1913), and yes Primo Levi (in Italian, 1982), all before Reagan's 2nd inauguration (1985) ... when he actually used it in the most prosaic way of all to boost a balanced budget ... I've even seen it attributed to Pee Wee Herman! (Also 1985!)

It has been used a lot of late AGAINST Bush and his coterie of corrupt sidekicks and puppeteers.

I wonder if Brown was aware of that? Time to make something of a break with the US while looking cosy on the outside? Something Blair claimed to be doing without convincing most people.

Anyway this is emphatically NOT Reagan's original thinking, no way no how. He was an actor delivering lines assembled by magpies and quite likely maggots too.

Best w

Chris P

blogged here.

Chris Paul said...

PS Tapestry: would you kindly provide the numerical information to support your assertions about those famous Treasury Bonds?

Without the numbers and the rationale it's just "nahh, nahh, na, nahh, na" which ain't good.

Chris Paul said...

PS Mr Eugenides: Hillel the Elder would surely identify with the non-Zionista orthodoxy? He probably wrote the book on that. And Horace - who had this line as carpe diem at around the same bout of millennial meming - didn't have a zionist bone in his body. Not much time for nation states all told. Kinda proto catholic internationalist (ref to Conservative Home (Whig home?) comedy socialist history of yesterday).

Or are you claiming Reagan or Pee Wee Herman as fathers of zionism?

Anonymous said...

Iain, looking forward to seeing Lembit Opik challenging to become London Mayor???

Wrinkled Weasel said...

This is to cheer Iain up if he has post-op blues


Tapestry said...

Sackerson's website.

US Treasury annual statistics is his source.

There is a longterm market intervention in progress across the eurozone to stop the dollar falling too fast. It may be working up to a point, but it will lose billions.

It seems that Brown has got heavily involved and the odd thing is no media have mentioned it. So much for the idea that we are told the truth in Britain.

Sorry if this reads like nah anha nah ana to you. chris paul. Would you prefer do be do be do?

The Hitch said...

chris paul
both Reagan and pee wee Herman were(are) jewish so they could indeed be fathers of Zionism.
Although ,to the best of my knowledge Reagan was never caught belting one out in a porno theatre , unlike pee wee herman.

Newmania said...

And Horace - who had this line as carpe diem at around the same bout of millennial meming - didn't have a zionist bone in his body

Eh ?

Lost me there are you saying that Horace (died 8BC)the Roman lyric Poet had millennial fears ? Yes it must have been terrifying seeing the rapid approach of the year zero.
" What does BC stand for ?"
" Whats going to happen"
" oooer I `ve got a nasty feeling that we might have been worshipping in the wrong way and someone is going to be ever so peeved we we get to zero"

I like importing the notion of carpe diem into Browns gaseous dirges as well.

GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying
Lets mouth sound bites laden with meritricous worthiness
While we still have the chance .

Funnily enough I think I preferred it the way it was...

hatfield girl said...

Tapestry @11.12 and later, I hope you won't mind the underlining of the obvious, that the UK is supposed to have an independent Bank of England - that vaunted 'achievement' of Labour's appointed, Scottish representative, Leader, that takes these decisions.

Where is the Bank of England's independence in the face of $112 billion of dodgy, wholly politicised purchase?

Anonymous said...

Anyone remember the last election and the hooha over the Conservatives' use of "Dog Whistle" policy statements. It was, apparently, a strategy borrowed from the US Republicans .

OK, so where is the similar indignation over the Brown's similar policies?

Let's face it - Blair's New Labour project appealed mainly to an urban, university-educated, middle-class elite. There's no surprise then that large parts of the old Labour party felt they were disenfranchised. For them, the government was skewed in favour of immigrants and foreign cultures, and away from indigenous British values. No wonder the largest recruiting ground for the BNP was traditional Labour, amongst whom 35% list the BNP as their second choice.

But what happens when Brown becomes PM? We have British jobs for British people, British homes for British people, British flags flying over government buildings and, now, stronger border police.

What is this but "dog whistle" politics aimed at reclaiming the roots Labour voters? Why is our media coming down on this in the same way they did on the Conservatives' "dog whistle" policies?

John Trenchard said...

tut tut Iain - no blog post on the EU Treaty, which was released in English today?

or are you digesting the contents. i'll give you the benefit of the doubt so.

it would be interesting to here your opinion n this.

check out the EU Referendum blog for some top notch analysis of it.