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On maintaining decorum in public language

10 February 2007

Journalists almost never use emotively insulting terms of public figures, and neither do letter-writers who wish to get published. This is reasonable under nearly all circumstances, as it would quickly lower public debate to the level of a chatroom.

All that considered, however, surely it is time to state openly what hundreds of millions are saying to each other - including politicians, diplomats and opinion-leaders, left, right and centre:

The free world is led by a dolt.

Leonard Doyle's story "After the disaster of Iraq, Bush turns his attention to Algeria" (9/2) reveals that the President is reading Alistair Horne's book about the French war in Algeria. (The author helpfully precised it for him, impishly implying that Mr Bush wouldn't otherwise get through it.) The book reveals that every avoidable, homicidal mistake the Americans are now making in Iraq, the French had made before in Algeria.

Why, oh why, did the President - or some in his blockheaded cabal: his conspiracy of dunces - not read the book before invading Iraq? If 20-year-old street protesters in 2003 could see that catastrophe awaited, why could not the President of the United States and his advisors?

Tony Blair's slavish fealty to George Bush - at the expense not only of Britain's international prestige, but of the safety of her populace - does not, surely, arise from the same sort of stupidity. Blair is ackowledged as an intelligent man on all sides.

Which only goes to underline (again) the awe-inspiring psychology of imperial power. It can trump not only intelligence but self-interest.


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