Thursday 28 August 2008

Guardian balances nonsense on Georgia with good sense on Gaza

This morning I completed an online survey from The Guardian, in which I used the suggestion box to rail against the one-sided nature of its comment pages. Now I'm feeling a little shamefaced, having read today's paper and seen how they neatly balance some predictable tosh on Georgia from Seamus Milne with a well-argued piece by the Israeli ambassador on the recent hearing-aids-and-balloons showboat to Gaza.

We were in Italy when the Georgian crisis began and, despite intermittent access to newspapers and CNN, it was difficult to get the measure of what was going on. This analysis by Michael Walzer throws some helpful light on the situation, as does this piece by Christopher Hitchens. Both are useful antidotes to Milne's simplistic article, in which he concludes that - guess what? - it's all America's fault and that we should welcome the revival of Russian military power as a 'counterbalance' to US domination of the international scene. Milne seems to revel in the prospect of a renascent, autocratic Russia and is certainly sparing in his criticism of its recent actions, in contrast to his habitual virulent antipathy to the United States.

In his piece on the Gaza boat-trip, Ron Prosor takes the protestors to task for their silence on Hamas' contribution to the sufferings of the Palestinian population. I hadn't realised that, as well as the ridiculous, publicity-seeking Lauren Booth, the passengers also included Yvonne Ridley, filming the whole thing for (who else?) Iranian TV. The situation in Gaza is dire, for complicated reasons rarely addressed by grandstanding celebrity protestors, but how can you take seriously a demonstration that includes characters like these?

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