Monday, April 09, 2007

Selling Sailors' Stories

There seem to be two arguments in favour of allowing the 15 sailors to sell their stories. The first, most lucidly advanced by a friend of mine, Andy McNab, is that it allows the Ministry of Defence to control the publicity. This may justify letting them tell their stories, but not sell them. As members of the armed forces, they might be expected to do the right thing for their country - including press interviews exposing her enemies - without any expectation of reward. The second argument - just advanced by an annoyingly noisy man on BBC Breakfast - is that senior army figures have written books and, therefore, profited from their service, so why not these guys? But the point here is that these sailors are selling their stories while serving and, indeed, in the midst of a very active confrontation with a cold enemy that might quickly become a hot one. Yet the MoD has said it has decided to suspend its usual rules in the light of 'exceptional circumstances'. On the whole, I think Janet Daley has got this right; this decision is yet a further example of Blair's inane obession with headlines and celebrity. And I don't seem to have been that far wrong when I suggested that a game of Big Brother would play some part in this grim debacle. The awful thing is that President Shabby Anagram has got just what he wanted - an exposure of the decadent West.

12 comments:

  1. Hmm. Back from a Welsh fishing expedition (one miserable turbot after 8 hours) on the Sabre Tooth II to confront chaos in our Navy. Well, the US neo-con blowhards have had a field day with 'marmite eating surrender monkeys'. No mass sympathy there either. The EU wouldn't threaten £18 billion of exports or the UN defend people enforcing its own mandates. Ahmadinejad has tested our resolve and found it lacking. The MoD/New Labour are trying to bury a PR disaster with tabloid/Trevor human interest. And now the head of the army is saying that his lot would have behaved better. And so it goes on and on. By all means sell the 'stories', but after the court martial and departure from the service. Planks anyone?

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  2. In an odd twisted and convoluted way, the MoD is in this instance correct. Another argument for the Sale of the story is it provides contrast between the two sets of interviews. While giving the appearance of it being a 'real' un-managed affair separate from the Mod. It must have been the thing of nightmares for the MoD to see those interviews from Iran (the real nightmare, being involved ). What ever could these people say, which would cause more damage.
    The odd thing about this situation is that customs on the south coast have more support, when they catch you nipping in with an axle crushing amount of Margaux, than had these people supposedly there to stop arms shipments.

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  3. CaptainB: Speaking as someone who is almost, but not quite, a neo-con blowhard, I haven't seen that at all. What's really surprised me about the neo-con blowhard reaction -- in fact, the general American reaction since we're all n-cbh's on the British scale -- is the complete lack of any boundary in people's minds between "us" and "British." From Rosie O'Donnell to Rush Limbaugh, it's pretty much been "we" did this and "we" didn't do that.

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  4. I think the whole fiasco exposes a flaw of New Labours: that they believe they’ve overseen a wholesale change in society, from the cold and uncaring Tory years to a compassionate and prosperous today. They imagined that the British people, who now grieve in public and fret about global warming, would readily consent to the hostages giving their side of the story, and wouldn’t object to them profiting from doing so. What they fail to realise is that certain groups, such as the military, haven’t altered all that much, they still have a largely unchanged ethos and code of ethics, especially when it comes exploiting your position as a frontline serviceman.

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  5. Not according to Jonah Goldberg or Charles Krauthammer in respectively the National Review or Washington Post. They may or may not be 'neo-cons' of course.

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  6. Them selling their stories just adds further doubts in my mind and alot in my age group that you can't believe a word they have said about their experiences. The whole Iraq thing has only created a mistrust of the government and the media in my eyes. I have a feeling they were where they weren't meant to be in the first place. Why does everyone think our government isn't capable of propaganda.

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  7. Cap'n: That depends on whether we accept that "neo" just means "Jew."

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  8. There are lots of Gentile neo-cons, Michael Gove for instance, although he's British, so I don't get David's comment.

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  9. Lighten up David

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  10. I didn't mean to cause consternation, nor was I accusing CaptainB of antisemitism. In the States, "neo-con" is a pejorative term for Jewish conservatives used by other (mostly paleo-) conservatives to suggest that the neo-con is not a real conservative. It is one step below "Likudnik."

    It can also mean membership in a group of 1930s Trotskyites, including most notably Norman Podhoritz and Irving Kristol, who by the 1950s had become foreign policy hardliners and then economic conservatives.

    Finally, it can mean someone who, more or less, adopts the policy prescriptions of the Weekly Standard.

    I've gathered from Bryan's blog that the term means something different in Britain, as in the states is would be nonsensical to call the neo-cons "corporate shills."

    Also, I'm reminded of the story of the Israeli teenager backpacking through Europe. One day, he heard a passerby mutter "Jew." Impressed by the stranger's perspicacity, he nodded and said, "And you?"

    Calling a Jew a Jew is not, in and of itself, an insult.

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