Death, populism and panic

Is the shooting of Nicola Calipari by US troops another example of Eason Jordan’s thesis? Giuliana Sgrena, the journalist whose life Mr Calipari sacrificed himself to save, opposed the occupation and was freed after paying a ransom (not things of which the Americans approve).

Probably not. The most likely explanation, as Jamie Kenny explains in more detail, is that US soldiers no longer care about outcomes in Iraq. If you immediately open fire on all cars you suspect may be dubious, rather than giving them a warning or the benefit of the doubt, your personal chances of death are reduced. If you don’t care about the wider success of the mission, this is your optimal strategy.

Jamie has another good article comparing Ken Livingstone and Tony Blair. Taster: "The odd thing about Livingston is that he’s the fully realized version of what Blair tries to present himself as: a tough minded, pragmatic leader capable of transcending his political roots to be seen as someone working for the population as a whole".

Right now, Tony is trying to re-establish his populist credentials with the public. One such recent move has been to denounce the ‘meaningless panic’ about risk, health and safety legislation and compensation. Oddly, he neglected to denounce one particular form of meaningless panic.

Andrew Rawnsley has a great article on the latter (top quote: "There is only one thing worse than making complex, sensitive and unprecedented law in a rush of fear. That is doing it in a pre-election panic as well". Found via Harry, who also has a good post on the jilbab case – it summarises as ‘unless we do the sane thing and declare all state institutions officially secular, there are no grounds whatsoever to object to the case’s outcome’.

Since you’ve all been such good readers, I’ll let you have some mad Euroweenie-bashing rantage. Erik at No Pasaran seems to think that Europeans oppose the death penalty in America, but do not do so in China, and are therefore hypocritical. This might be a vaguely credible position, if he provided any evidence that Europeans did not oppose the death penalty in China.

His ‘argument’ is based around the claim that Europeans complain more frequently about the death penalty in America than about the death penalty in China, even though the latter is much more cruelly and unjustly applied. This is true – but it’s true simply because most Europeans are significantly more interested by what goes on in America than by what goes on in China. You don’t need to bring in conspiracy nonsense about wanting to trade with the Chinese – and if you did, you’d run into the small logical problem that the US buys more goods from and sells more arms to China than the EU does… (link via Mark Holland).

Finally, what on earth should I do with my new Armstrong Williams? Suggestions in the comments…

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