Yes, evidence matters

23 Oct

A friend questions my broad-brush style. He has both a history degree and a point. A cornerstone of critical thinking is that the more counter-intuitive a claim, the more evidence it needs. My recent posts run counter to dominant narratives in asserting that:

  • unexpectedly high support for Scottish independence was largely a rejection of market forces in ever widening areas of our lives;
  • our welfare state was a response to the Soviet Union, its dismantling accelerated by the latter’s collapse;
  • responsibility for Islamic State lies with the west, the Iraq invasion in particular. I dispute both establishment and broad left – it’s all about oil, innit? – narratives. The aim was and is to open highly statified middle east economies to ‘free trade’, so can fairly be seen as a continuation of cold war goals legitimated, as in the cold war, by accusations – accurate but hypocritical – of human rights abuse.

I gave scant evidence. A former academic myself, were a student to submit them as essays I’d fail them. But they aren’t essaysIt’s already a big ask, of readers who put up with my travel jottings and photo shows, that they also get my views on why the world is so dangerous and unpleasant. To post 5,000 word essays, formally referenced, would further diminish my chances of being read.

Take my second Kobani email, uncontroversial until the last three paragraphs, which claim that:

  • The west’s policies in the middle east are venal and the aspirations of its peoples count for little.
  • When Washington (a metonym for western capitalism) finds it convenient, it champions popular aspirations. Hence ‘crocodile tears’.
  • The Iraqi invasion was criminal in execution and intent. It begat further crimes including but not confined to collective punishment, torture, false imprisonment and grand larceny via state sell-offs under conditions where “conflict of interests” would be a grotesque understatement.
  • It created sectarian violence where none had existed or could have existed under Saddam (ditto Assad and Gaddaffi).
  • Blair’s support was crucial.
  • Therefore the USA and UK bear heaviest responsibility for the murderous chaos and its still evolving mutations.
  • USA and UK have no coherent policy response to IS. They can only react. (Pretty much as IS wants.) Israel see things straighter – she has to.

I will work to post properly argued versions of that and other emails to a (soon to be) blogsite. Till then I’ll continue to pen ‘e-torials’ that walk a razor’s edge between reasoned credibility and brevity.

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