George Monbiot reminds us of how powerful narratives can be when people want to believe them enough, according to a poll reported on Sunday, 60% of people in Britain agreeing with the statement that “many scientific experts still question if humans are contributing to climate change.” As Monbiot explains this is pure denial.

Paul Krugman sounds close to despair about how people continue to blame high oil prices on speculators and has another go at explaining why this is almost certainly not the case. Prices are rising because we are in the situation now where demand is outstripping supply.

And then there is this kind of comment from Andrew Sulivan:

But why do I find the hysteria not so effective this time around? Maybe it’s because the period in which we could have stopped Iran‘s nuclear ambition is now behind us.

To be fair, Sullivan doesn’t say what those nuclear ambitions are but if he meant their civil nuclear programme he ought to have said so and said a bit more about why it could be a problem. More subtly still he could have mean Iran’s ambitions to take control of the full fuel cycle—which they are determined to do, which they are entitled to do under the UN charter and the NPT, ratified by the USA, the EU-3 and every significant player except Israel. This could well be problematic, certainly while the policy to isolate Iran using the nuclear programme as pretext.

But I think Sullivan meant that it is too late to stop Iran from acquiring the bomb. This has to be filed in the same category as the others, a willful refusal to accommodate the evidence. As I have said before, the people who are in a position to investigate this (the IAEA and CIA) have made pretty categorical statements that they have not turned up any reliable evidence whatsoever that Iran has a nuclear weapons programme. People with an excellent track record in this kind of thing, people like Scott Ritter (certainly no poncy liberal), have concluded that there is no reason to believe that Iran posses a nuclear weapons programme. Commander Huber has explained, as only he can, why this makes sense.

So we hear casual talk of November surprises. Jeff Huber has an article explaining why this is a real possibility with advisers to Barack Obama signing off on the plan, and is emailing me warnings that a bill is making its way to congress to authorise such a war.

Is this more reckless diplomacy from a bunch of people that scarcely know what the word even means, trying to substitute aggression and bluster for serious engagement? Are they going to pitch us all into a new middle-eastern nightmare which will create pain far more widely than Iran (people think oil and food is expensive now). The rosy assumptions that we can behave as recklessly as we like and everyone else will respond responsibly seems to have taken hold in some quarters—there seems to be no limits to this diseased thinking.

For my part I put it down to our failing to learn the lessons of the Iraq war. We have blundered on and are blundering into a huge escalation of that blunder. I don’t actually think the kind of war crimes tribunal that some have been touting are a good idea—indeed the threats of them once the Bush administration leave may be fueling this madness. It would also be victor’s justice. We were all complicit in this—that is what everyone is missing in all the furious displacement activity (for example, the Democrats voted for the war, have bankrolled it, and have politically exploited it; as another example, Britains may blame Americans, but while some got out and marched on a single day, the UK participated fully with enthusiastic backing from the PM and half of the country at the start and have done precious little since).

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission would have been a much better idea. But that would mean facing up to the truth. We are all going down on this one.


3 responses to “Insanity

  1. “…a willful refusal to accommodate the evidence”

    Well said.

  2. Monbiot should be careful about using an affinity of narrative to explain the global warming skeptics, because the same affinity can be used to explain the gw alarmists. Man-made global warming is the perfect, apolcalyptic morality tale. Monbiot also makes the mistake of questioning the motives of every scientists he disagrees with, while putting those who agree with him under no such scrutiny. Why not question the motives of scientists who work for governmental agencies, agencies that stand to increase in power and influence, and butgetwise, under any anti global warming regulatory scheme? When facts are not with you, question motives.

  3. I do agree with Krugman. Thinking that high oil prices are due to speculation is just denial.

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