Thursday, November 15, 2007

Swift-boating across the Atlantic: Full text

Swift-boating across the Atlantic

The smear campaign against Mark Malloch Brown owes its tactics to the American neoconservative movement

November 14, 2007 10:00 PM | Guardian CiF full text

If Gordon Brown wants to reassure British voters, and the world, that there is distance between himself and the pathological ideologues in Washington who dragged his predecessor down, he should stomp on any of his officials who are party to the smear campaign against Foreign Office minister Mark Malloch Brown, one of his more inspired appointments.

While at the United Nations, Malloch Brown provoked John Bolton, the US ambassador, into paroxysms of thin-skinned rage, by suggested that the Iraq war was a disaster and that the US had lost popularity. In a similar vein, when the swift-boating of Kofi Annan was under way, he mounted a vigorous defence of the UN against the neocon smear campaign initiated by Ahmed Chalabi when the UN refused to endorse his carpet-bagging rise to power in Baghdad. It is worth noting that far from being the epitome of anti-Americanism, he had earlier been attacked by third-worlders for being too accommodating to the Americans and too nice to the Israelis.

But then, so had Annan. But once he suggested that the war on Iraq was illegal and that the full scale assault on Fallujah was a mistake, that was it. For the American right, you are with them all the way or you are an enemy.

In the US, swift-boating is now a regular tactic emanating from the network of foundations and thinktanks endowed by deeply conservative family trusts, and they have been guaranteed amplification in the Rupert Murdoch media. The tactic is to invent a scandal against a liberal hate figure and run it round around until people think that with so much smoke there must be fire.

This swift boat raid against Malloch Brown began when the Spectator carried a cover article attacking him by Claudia Rosett, an employee of the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies, a neocon thinktank which is financed by an assortment of palaoeconservative family foundations. It is not too surprising that the attack was amplified by the Murdoch press and Labour Friends of Israel.

The substance of the accusation should be a source of pride for Labour: Bush's lame duck administration does not like Malloch Brown. With Democratic majorities in Congress likely to increase at the next election, and a likely Democratic victory in the White House riding on a tide of anti-Iraq war sentiment, that surely makes him an asset. Unless, of course, your idea of being pro-American is being pro-Bush 43.

But since the advance guard of the swift-boat armada has landed on British beaches, it is worth checking the provenance of Rosett and the FDD. Her obsession with the UN almost makes one wonder if a blue-helmeted peacekeeper jumped out of the woodshed and frightened her when she was younger. But above all, try to imagine a journalist employed by a neocon thinktank writing anything positive at all about the United Nations!

Certainly one would have a long and fruitless search for any articles from the FDD or Rosett on the one definite oil-for-food scandal, which is the over $10bn of the UN programme's surplus handed over to the American occupation forces for the development of Iraq, which has yet to be accounted for. Much of it ended up paying for the no-bid contracts of the company that the vice-president of the US formerly headed - but the stunning sound of silence from Rosett and her neocon comrades implies that a scandal is not a scandal unless you can tie it, no matter how exiguously, to a liberal or a UN official.

Rosett can draw a salary paid for by the endowments of some of most reactionary people on the planet, such as the Scaife foundations, but that is not a scandal, while the idea that Mark Malloch Brown, after working for many years abroad, is housed by HMG is insupportable - or that he paid rent to George Soros. One has to remember that for American conservatives, association with the UN or Soros is ipso facto criminal or unethical behaviour.

The well-financed FDD is the Project for the New American Century - a major cheerleader for the Iraq war - in another form. As its own website boasts, it is closely connected with the Iraqis around the Iraqi National Congress and Chalabi. Its board included Steve Forbes, Jack Kemp, Frank Lautenberg, Newt Gingrich and James Woolsey, not to mention Richard Perle, Charles Krauthammer and, until her death, Jeane Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick opposed US support for Britain in the Falklands war, but the Thatcherites at the Spectator seem more forgiving than their transatlantic peers.

Gordon, meet Brown. Shake hands in public and put down the slimers.

1 comment:

imsmall said...


As without grace, but squandering
The air, this lost group wandering
Pretends it has a map to heaven,
Believes the hour now eleven--

So throws aside what it has known,
All Darwin´s theories, all that loan
Of wisdom come from Greece and Rome
Because it seeks a better home.

Philosophies of Rome and Greece,
No further need of these foresees,
For there will be no struggle, strife
When it has met the afterlife.

With grim anticipation waging
War as ought be but hell´s presaging--
This group has trampled left and right
Its heathen villifiers quite.

That truer roadmap it disdains
Which "the humanities" explains,
So liberal arts and science both
Are lost to its disdainful sloth.

Yet, mental laziness and ego
Accompany, where does that league go,
Condemnatory of all other
Interpretation by a brother.

Theirs be the loss; for it is seen
Upon its pathway certain, keen,
But ancient fallacies to trace
It moves ahead without much grace.