Saturday, June 20, 2009

That Brown Interview

A couple of highlights from the Brown interview:

'I'm not interested in what accompanies being in power."

The word normally used is 'trappings'; 'what accompanies' seems to be the same thing but it feels like a distinct avoidance of the common useage. I suppose 'trapping' sounds as though it involves ermine and stockings. But, of course, what he doesn't say is 'I'm not interested in power'. Politicians can't convincingly say this which is why 'trappings' comes in so handy, evoking, as it does, frivolous appurtenancs.

'That flow of information means that foreign policy can never be the same again. You cannot have Rwanda again because information would come out far more quickly and public opinion would grow to the point where action would need to be taken.'

Extraordinarily stupid. Twitter and Facebook don't seem to have done much good to the people of Burma, Darfur and Congo. If the Revolutionary Guard leave their barracks, they won't do much good to the people of Iran either. There may be more calls to take action, but that doesn't mean more action will or can be taken. And shame is not a big problem for such regimes.


  1. Bryan, I need to part company from you and other Brown-haters. I was made aware of both points last night and, not for the first time in recent days, as I lay down to rest I rejoiced that Brown was PM.

    First, I believe him about the trappings. I don't think terminology matters. Yes, he wants the power, but I want someone who wants the power, just for the right reasons. Of course he wants us to think that his motives are pure and I can't prove that any more than he can. But I was very pleased when Brown overcame the plotters and I was very pleased with what he said in this interview because, however much I might disagree on details of climate boondoggery, I sense he's held on for good reasons.

    Your dismissal of Twitter and the Net also misses two crucial points: Brown's mention of elites and the fact that, as Robert Fisk has reported brilliantly this week, some Tehran police and even revolutionary guards have also clearly been influenced by the truth that has partly been kept available through this channel, plus word of mouth arising from it. This is surely why there has not been more violence so far, why there is a real fighting chance (forgive phrase) that Khamenei has miscalculated and is going to be publicly humiliated. Twitter's not the only factor, prayer and those willing to give their lives for their beliefs strike me as more important. But those very people have used Twitter in a most remarkable way. It's been a privilege to have felt a small part of those listening and trying to respond since last Saturday.

    So, our prime minister's pointing to something extremely important about the grip of elites on foreign policy and how, perhaps just for a season, it's been broken. He's not being stupid, he did exactly the right thing in reprimanding the Iranian ambassador yesterday, in much more muscular fashion than Obama, and I just hope the very best of what he clearly wants to happen, and all of us do, does come to pass in short order. Preemptive defeatism ain't the thing.

  2. Richard:
    1. I don't think anybody believed Brown was interested in the trappings anyway - son of the manse etc. - so it is an irrelevance. His main reason for wanting power appears to be a desire to be seen to be doing good (again the Presbyterianism) but his character is such that having failed to achieve what he wanted he now sulkily refuses to acknowledge that anyone else might be able to do better.

    2. Let's see about the violence in Iran after today. The Islamic Republic has shown itself to be quite resilient to "public opinion" and the conversion of the odd Republican Guard by Twitter isn't going to make a lot of difference one way or the other. The good green folk of Iran might know that by Twittering they have alerted us to what is going on, but dressing down the Iranian ambassador - again Brown being seen to talk tough - ain't going to change the way Khamenei does business.

    I think all that Twitter has done in Iran is show us how impotent public opinion is in the face of a determined elite. I hope I'm wrong but I don't think I am...

  3. The new media offer rich new ways of disseminating information, yet I suspect that it is precisely the irony-rich rubber rooms like CiF & the rest of the Blogosphere that provide safe environments for impotent political outrage and help keep our squares free of any signs of political protest.

    Our underclass may well explode one day -- and at the rate the middle class is being eroded this day might be getting nearer, quicker -- but it is not at all clear that the Twits of the West will ever march again for a significant cause. And I suspect that Brown knows this all to well, given that he has always made it his business to focus on the power and not the bling.

  4. I gave up listening to what the lying shyster had to say a long time ago.

    I admire you greatly Bryan for being able to stand reading anything about what he "believes" or says.

  5. Twitter and Facebook might not be around for long as repressive regimes like China are allocating huge amounts of research into disabling and censoring these sites. Depressingly, the European Union wants control on internet censorship, so it's far from clear that the internet in its current form will be everlasting.

    "There's only so long you can suppress an angry, wired population much younger than you. IPods beat i-slamism in the end." - Johann Hari

    This seems to be a common argument, but doesn't consider that people who aren't liberal listen to iPods too( George Bush). The Taliban, while denying modern technology to their fellow citizens, had TV's, mobile phones and CD players. And the 9/11 hijackers were out visiting strip clubs and taking cocaine in the weeks prior to the massacre.