Triumph of the Will (Hutton)

by Tawfiq Chahboune

Will Hutton is a phenomenon. A man with so little to say - stakeholder, Blair, er, stakeholder, um, that's it - and yet can write column after column for years with not one of his editors expressing a "Hang on a minute! Haven't I read this before?" Never let it be said that Hutton is a one-trick pony; he is a two-trick donkey. I admire the audacity of it all. Hutton regularly out-Blair's Blair for the looking you in the eye and telling you the snake oil he has will cure the nation's maladies and, if only the benighted stakeholderless listened to the power of holding stakes, even the planet's. Here is an example from the Observer, 26 March: "...the West cannot be blamed for the murderous enmity between Shia and Sunni [some words of advice, Will: find a stake, hold it to your head and end the miserable state you're in]. Democracy may be the best way to mediate it [what, no stakeholders?]." With Iraq, though, it is almost impossible to be ignorant of the facts. What's Hutton's game? Is he just choosing to play dumb? As usual with Hutton's ravings, I harrumphed but ignored this Triumph of the Will nonsense. (The so-called "West" is not in Iraq to deliver the "democracy" that "in the long run" will "deliver results". Those with eyes in their head have noticed that the US did its damnedest to undermine elections in Iraq, and is now battling to undermine the democratic results. As I write this, Ibrahim Jaafari, the current PM, is under pressure from the US and UK to "step down" for his inability to mimic a puppet.) Hutton is Blair's human shield; he will gladly jump in front of any metaphorical political bullet to save the life of his stakeholder hero, while Tessa Jowell looks after any real oncoming buses. By the way, where did all that inane drivel about a "stakeholder society" go?

However, Hutton's next braying really was something else. Comparing the Sunni-Shia massacres to the slaughter in Southeast Asia, Hutton brays: "The analogy with Vietnam is telling. Today it is becoming obvious that American strategy in Asia from 1945 - seeking communist containment while encouraging democratic capitalism - was right. Vietnam bought a crucial 15 years…history is littered with unintended and unexpected consequences."

Is it possible for the Blairite Hutton to put more imbecilities - stakeholder not exempted - into 43 words if he tried with all the stakeholding passion in the fibre of his very being? Does Hutton believe that his readers are imbeciles? Or is he being genuine? For those who don't know the drill, there are two types of political commentator. One, the fool who actually believes what he is saying - for example, BBC, ITV and SKY political editors. They would not be able to put on such a magnificent show if they knew it was a load of old codswallop. Andrew Marr was, or perhaps still is, the epitome of this (his favourite philosopher is Karl Popper). Two, the world-class liars - use your imagination, dear reader; I have no intention of ending up in the libel courts. To paraphrase one of Triumph of the Will's books, Which State is Hutton in? The diabolical lying class or the historically and politically ignorant class? Not wishing to see the inside of a libel court, I plump for the latter, of course. Triumph of the Will, however, not only needs an intensive course in history but also a morality transplant. The fantastic lies about Iraq will continue for some time; the truth about Vietnam is known.



A brief interlude: Even though it is common to use the word "war" for the slaughter of millions of Vietnamese, I shall use the appropriate terminology: unprovoked and murderous attack. To the historical lesson. Long before the US attacked Vietnam in the sixties, Truman and Eisenhower, in the forties and fifties, had instructed the US military and US secret services to engage in a dirty war against Vietnam. According to Eisenhower: "I have never talked or corresponded with a person knowledgeable in Indo-Chinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held [in 1956, the year the US intervened on behalf of the South Vietnamese puppet regime to scuttle an internationally sanctioned election] ...possibly 80 percent of the people would have voted for the communist Ho Chi Minh." Democracy had to be overcome. Like Ike, Hutton is not a fan of "Uncle Ho". And like Ike, Hutton is also not a fan of democracy. And, indeed, like the infamous Vietnamese town that was destroyed in order to save it, the US intervention to undermine and terminate an internationally sanctioned democratic election was, according to Hutton, democracy in action. For Hutton, not only was democracy saved by overthrowing democracy, but the highest stage of democracy - "democratic capitalism" - would now triumph over mere ordinary democracy. But, first of all, the Vietnamese had to be saved from what the US called "internal aggression".

In order to do this, the US fabricated the Gulf of Tonkin incident - a vast conspiracy which saw the US claim that its Navy had come under enemy fire. This manufactured alibi was absolutely vital for the US to launch an unprovoked attack against Vietnam. Alibis were redundant when the US decided to devastate two more innocent countries, Cambodia and Laos. (It was no surprise that the Nobel Peace Prize committee could think of no better recipient than Kissinger for his undoubted crimes against, I mean...contributions to peace in Indo-China.) Nonetheless, only a fool would not retrospectively recognise how "right" this was. Hutton is unmoved by the US use of chemical weapons. And even less moved by the massive economic war against Vietnam after the US military attack had ended. Having been convincingly crushed by a malevolent superpower, Vietnam has finally bowed to US neoliberalism and become an outpost of US-imposed capitalism. It is now almost "integrated" into the US-led world economy. Hutton remarks triumphantly to these five decades of strangulation, "history is littered with unintended and unexpected consequences."

Moreover, the donkey goes on, the "American strategy in Asia from 1945 - seeking communist containment while encouraging democratic capitalism - was right". Note Hutton's aversion to democracy. Although "80 percent of the people would have voted for the communist Ho Chi Minh", Hutton contemptuously dismisses Vietnam's right to self-determination. Vietnam had to be destroyed and millions murdered so as to encourage the oxymoron of "democratic capitalism". 80 percent is not democratic enough. And that this slaughter of innocent people "was right". The Phoenix Program - a campaign of murdering civilians - "was right". Presumably, Hutton has not heard of the "Pentagon Papers", the top secret US intelligence documents which detailed the extraordinary conspiracy five US administrations were involved in and the fact that these internal records give an almost diametrically opposite view of the war to that reported at the time, or My Lai, which was a small part of the US military's systematic campaign of directly targeting innocent civilians. Indeed, My Lai was just one of many US-orchestrated operations of mass murder; it is prominent only because it was so blatant. Presumably, Hutton does not realise that the attack on Vietnam had nothing to do with "communism". And that it was part of US policy to ensure that independent nationalism, and the independent development that would go with it, was crushed and that no independent development could take place, lest the contagion spread to the rest of Asia, as the "Pentagon Papers" make clear. But then the media has no interest in investigating leaks or declassified papers; they would sharply prick the bubble of Western benevolence.

Hutton's fulminations remind me of the delightful comment by the New York Times in 1973. Faced with a shattered Vietnam and a desperate population who have endured all that can be humanly endured, the NYT directed its anger at a tortured people: "They are in no position to appreciate what the name My Lai means to Americans." Perhaps Saddam Hussein should use a similar defence: "Kurds are in no position to appreciate what the Anfal campaign means to me." Saddam should also try the Hutton-style "history-is-littered-with-unintended-and-unexpected-consequences" technique: Iraq's new democracy is down to him. Pinochet and any number of US-backed thugs have gotten away with this standard alibi that inverts history.





Not realising the extent of his imbecility, Hutton, however, does not restrict himself to Vietnam. He states that the whole "American strategy in Asia from 1945...was right". Hutton, however, does not inform his readers what the "strategy" was in Asia from 1945. According to Hutton, the secret war against Cambodia and Laos "was right". That it "was right" to back the Khmer Rouge's genocidal campaign. How about the million people who were massacred in Indonesia when the democratically elected government was overthrown and replaced by a psychopathic lunatic who ran jihadi death squads? Well, that "was right". How about the CIA campaign of recruiting, training, arming and financing jihadis in a "holy war" against the Left, liberals and assorted progressives in Muslim Asia? That, too, "was right". Hutton has the temerity to defend the slaughter of millions of Muslims in the fight for "democratic capitalism" and yet thunder, in the same article, on behalf of Blair: "The kind of terrorism we have experienced is different; some pre-emptive capacity to limit it must be right." However, when Muslims are slaughtered by the million, Hutton brays that it "was right". No surprise that Hutton can't quite grasp how his support for jihadis has had "unintended and unexpected consequences".

All of this "was right". Indeed, looking back on the massacres, mayhem, destruction and terrorism of it all, Hutton fulminates further that it was not just "right" but that, with all the evidence of deceit and crimes against humanity in the open, it is "obvious" now that it "was right". No nation has the right to determine its own fate to the detriment of "democratic capitalism". No nation has the right to independence. Independence naturally results in "internal aggression"; and since the Vietnamese were not only aggressing themselves but the United States and the world by choosing to cast a vote in democratic elections, it was only humane (for them and civilisation itself) that they be stopped by a US campaign of slaughter. That the Vietnamese have shown so little willingness to thank the US for the campaign against "internal aggression" can be put down to the rampant hysteria of anti-Americanism, a seemingly incurable disease that, strangely enough, only afflicts populations of countries whose democracies have been overthrown, dictatorships installed and aided, countries bombed to smithereens and innumerable civilians butchered. The ingratitude is shocking. And so we come to what it is Hutton is trying to achieve by this Triumph of the Will stuff. Other than informing us that when his stakeholder hero finally departs the political scene that "he'll be sorely missed", Hutton has managed to wangle into his court jester routine the "history is littered with unintended and unexpected consequences" so as to give cover for any further Western military action in the Islamic world. The irony is, as ever, lost on Hutton.

Hutton's peerage awaits for services to imbecility and cheerful praise for crimes against humanity. Ermine on a donkey would be like pearls before swine were it not for the fact that upper chamber of our democracy, the House of Lords, is currently a very fitting place for someone like Hutton. But, then, we already have one Lord Hutton of Whitewash. Do we need, and could we handle, another? Although the Street of Shame has had an inordinate amount of time to wake up to this two-trick donkey and ask him to go stake a hold somewhere else, one very much doubts that they will - they haven't woken up to the one-trick ponies. If a sudden attack of integrity does break out in the British media and the braying "Triumph of the Will" Hutton finds himself out of a job, I suggest he tries his luck with propaganda filmmaking.




April 2006

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