Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Credulous Conservative

Yesterday, Tim Mongomerie of ConservativeHome fame gave his opinion on "the surge" in a post on Comment is Free. It is an astonishing piece in many ways.

Here is just one point which was picked up by myself and several other CiFers. Mongomerie, referring to General Patraeus's testimony, wrote this:
He presented independently verified data that showed a significant reduction in fatalities - particularly in Baghdad.
Independently verified data? Really? I must have missed that.

What link does Tim use to substantiate this claim? A link to an NGO perhaps? No, it's a link to the slides produced by the Pentagon to accompany the general's statement. Not hugely independent then.

Perhaps this independent verification refers to something Patraeus said in his testimony which I missed. I checked. What Patraeus actually said (pdf) was this:
Two US intelligence agencies recently reviewed our methodology, and they concluded that the data we produce is the most accurate and authoritative in Iraq.
It is well known that there are significant rivalries between the various sections of the US national security apparatus but they do all ultimately work for the same government. To suggest that three arms of that apparatus backing each others claims has anything to do with independent verification would clearly be absurd.

Furthermore, these intelligence agencies stand accused of fixing the intelligence and facts around a predetermined policy to enable this war in the first place. This was made clear to the British government way back in July 2002. Forgive me if I don't automatically assume that the statements of these agencies are god given gospel. (This may be a cliché but it is a cliché because it is true.)

After years of fatuous US government pronouncements on the situation in Iraq, pronouncement which have proved to be facile time and time again, only the most credulous individual would continue to take these claims at face value. When it comes to Iraq, healthy scepticism of the US government's proclamations is not an optional extra but an essential component of any attempt to get to the truth of the matter.

But not, apparently, for Mr Montgomerie. He's clearly not an idiot and I'm pretty sure he's not writing satire so what is he doing? The only answer I can come up with is that he's propagating and propagandising statements which he himself knows not to be true. For the greater good, you understand...


Tom said...

He's got form for this - Iain Dale puffed up something idiotic Joe Lieberman said a few months ago based on Montgomerie's opinion. From that, I conclude wor Tim is a cross-party neocon hawk, like Gisela Stuart or Ed Vaizey. They exist in all parties.

I recommend Firefox with Adblock. Dale's site is so much better with a judicious bit of Flash-killing.

Tim said...

I used to have image-blocking set up on Dale's old version of his non-blog, to avoid downloading his smug face* every time I visited.

(*The new version is slightly more bearable... /and/ the new strapline omits the word 'humour'... finally some self-awareness from Iain!)

CuriousHamster said...

tom, ah, typically credulous stuff from Iain there too.

What fascinates me is the process which leads to someone writing something like the above. Tim M wants the data to have been independently verified to give it added credibility and somehow, magically, it is.

Is this a conscious decision to bend the truth as part of a Straussian "noble myth" or is it the work of the subconscious? I often asked myself the same question about Blair but never really came to a solid conclusion.

In full agreement about the adblocking extension. Very handy thing indeed.

tim, I don't know. I often find humour in Iain's writing. These little nuggets would fail the self-awareness test right enough but still...

And your latest avatar is still making me chuckle.