Not Saussure

October 21, 2006

Matthew Parris on the scramble to save reputations as the ship goes down

Filed under: Iraq, Neo-conservatives, Panic, UK — notsaussure @ 1:13 am

Matthew Parris in today’s Times:

HARK — CAN YOU hear it? Borne on the wind, can you hear the sounds of construction — of hammers hammering and woodsaws sawing? And do you detect a note of panic? I do. The good ship Neocon is going down. She has struck the Iraqi rocks, the engine room is awash, and on the deck in anxious pursuit of something to float them away is a curious assembly.

Her Majesty’s Brigade of Neocon Columnists and Leader Writers mingles with much of the elite of British politics. The new Labour Cabinet and its courtiers and most of the Opposition’s front bench rub shoulders with Fleet Street’s finest. Is that David Aaronovitch I see, hammer in hand? Jack Straw is handing him the nails. There’s Michael Gove scribbling notes while Danny Finkelstein rips a blank sheet from a discarded do-it-yourself regime change manual, and ponders a hastily sketched design. Willie Shawcross has the saw and Tim Hames and Margaret Beckett are ripping planks from the deck. Gordon Brown skulks behind the mast as those unlikely bedfellows, Matthew d’Ancona, of The Spectator, and Johann Hari, of The Independent, assemble what timber they can find.

They are building a lifeboat for their reputations. The task is urgent. It is no small thing to find oneself on the wrong side of an argument when the debate is about the biggest disaster in British foreign policy since Suez; no small thing to have handed Iran a final, undreamt-of victory in an Iran-Iraq war that we thought had ended in the 1980s; no small thing to have lost Britain her credit in half the world; no small thing — in the name of Atlanticism — to have shackled our own good name to a doomed US presidency and crazed foreign-policy adventure that the next political generation in America will remember only with an embarrassed shudder.

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