Monday, 20 April 2009

ahmadinejad is stupid

Now, maybe something is lost in translation, and translation (English dubbing) is all we ever hear when we hear 'him speak' in news reports. But, going by what I’ve just heard on C4 News, Ahmadinejad seems to have no skills in presenting an argument which one knows, in advance, will be highly controversial. It is the height of stupidity directly to accuse anyone of anything in such a speech; it was highly stupid to make the statement that ‘Israel is a racist state’.

At the very least, if he wanted to be able to reach the end of his speech without people walking out on him, he should have posited the proposition indirectly, e.g. ‘from this behaviour, many people have come to look upon Israel as a racist state.’

He seemed to start extremely well – by outlining what the Zionist state did in 1948. That is always the best approach: start by reviewing the record (of undisputed facts). Then, one should treat the audience with some respect by allowing them to draw their own conclusions, rather than pushing your own conclusion – ‘Israel is a racist state’ – upon them. The conclusion is far more powerful if the listener can adduce it for himself through the rationale of your argument, rather than if you bleat that conclusion yourself. Ahmadinejad is effectively putting Israel on trial for its actions; therefore, in courtroom lawyer style, he should have relied upon the rigour of his presentation to precipitate his conclusion in the minds of the jury (UN delegates).

As I’ve suggested above, the farthest he should have gone was to say that ‘many people consequently regard Israel as a racist state’, rather than actually making his bald, provocative assertion. It’s a subtle, transparent, even pedantic difference; but that’s how diplomacy works.

- To illustrate the point, here's a typical example of how ‘diplo-speak’ is used to express a provocative assertion: rather than calling someone a liar, you find a polite alternative such as ‘Sir, your facts are incorrect.’

Friday, 20 February 2009

Here's a pathetic article:

The author's chosen preoccupation is with the output of James Hansen. I say 'chosen' because, out of the thousands of climate scientists in the world warning of doom, one would have to make a deliberate choice in targeting any particular one for criticism.

And the nature of that criticism is truly pathetic: the author doesn't like Hansen's choice of words and tone of voice. And this is apparently enough - in the author's eyes - seriously to undermine the content of what Hansen has to say.

I've been reading spiked for a while now and I am repeatedly struck by how often their articles are similarly vacuous - intended as serious comment but actually advancing no substantial arguments.