Our all too inconspicuous leader chose to grace the workers at Thales in Govan with his presence this week. I say ‘all too inconspicuous’ because oor David has the unerring ability to turn ‘naws’ and ‘dinnae kens’ into ‘ayes’ every time he opens his splendid mouth.
He chose his latest sojourn North of the border to warn of the catastrophic cost independence would have on our safety. You see, it would appear that somewhere between alienating every friend he once had in Europe, dismantling the NHS, cutting legal aid to those most in need, taxing the disabled and hacking away at benefits as though they were bothersome leylandii, David has managed to piss on Kim Jong-un’s Cornflakes too. So enraged is the Supreme Leader in fact, that Davie has been forced to warn us all of the possibly-imminent-sometime-in-the-future-maybe, threat to us if we dare to vote ‘Yes’ next September.
I fail to be convinced as I recall the genius of Carl Sagan, who declared that “The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five”.
Kim Jong-un may not be tripping off to Oslo this December to meet with the chairman of the Nobel Committee, but neither is he likely to still be spouting the same bellicose bile we have been subjected to recently. Three generations of the Kim dynasty are not about to be obliterated by what is nothing more than a calculated hissy fit intended only to display Kim Jong-un’s bloodlust to those in the North Korean military not yet convinced by the Supreme Leader’s credentials after a year in office and to Park Geun-hye, the newly elected South Korean President who has been in the hot seat for just over a month.
It might just be that the only thing more certain than Cameron’s lack of backbone, is North Korea’s attempts every April to convince the world of her own. And just as certain is the fact that when the two month Foal Eagle military excursions wind up in a couple of weeks, Kim Jong-un will declare to the DPRK that the beast has been sent homeward to think again (no wait, I’m getting confused…)
Of course, there exists the possibility that given the tensions between nations that a simple misjudgment might see matters escalate rapidly but David Cameron must know that the content of his speech given to the workers on Wednesday morning was, for want of a better phrase, utter shite. He must also know that every weapons expert in the country is at odds with his apocalyptic vision of the future. The fact remains that those most at danger from North Korea’s rather limited arsenal of pea shooters and catapults are the North Koreans themselves, hence Kim Jong-un’s decision to move his weaponry to as close to the coast as possible in order that he doesn’t literally blow up his own back yard.
So, what possible reason can there be for such widely rubbished utterances?
Michael Portillo, once supported by Mr. Cameron while running for party leader has reacted to the Prime Minister’s claims as ‘absurd‘ as an eerie silence has fallen upon the frequently forthright Davidson, Darling and Lamont. The ‘Bitter Together’ campaign do little to illustrate the benefits of union at the best of times but they are now sounding increasingly like a P4 first orchestra practice, with each child grabbing the closest instrument to hand and banging away indiscriminately in the vain hope of producing some sort of coherent sound.
Or are they?
It has occurred to me that perhaps we’re being sold a pup.
(a telephone rings in Lovestock Correctional Centre, Nevada. Orenthal James Simpson, a.k.a. ‘The Juice’ or ‘O.J.’ to friends and victims alike, lifts the receiver)
Alistair Darling: S’up? …Oh, wait… I get it. As in a wee sup o’ juice. Is that it? Very clever, Mr. Juice.
O.J.: The Juice.
Darling: Sorry, Juice. The Juice. Can I call you O.J.?
O.J.: I’d rather you didn…
Darling: O.K. O.J. I have this problem. My colleagues in government and I would like to hire you as a consultant. I’m told you’re a man who knows something about getting away with murder…
O.J.: What? Who the fu…
Darling: Listen, I have to put a case forward to a jury of sorts. I say a jury… A jury of about 4 million people to be precise. Only problem is, the job’s a bogie.
O.J.: A bogie?
Darling: Proper clusterfuck. Firstly, I have to convince 4 million people that I am not a lying wee toe rag. That’s not easy when you’re a lying wee toe rag. Then I have to persuade them that it is better the country these people love is governed by people in another country who care not one jot about them. I have to convince them that it is better strategic decisions about their future is made by someone else who have their own vested interests at heart. I need to persuade this jury that they need us when all the evidence points to the contrary, that we care about them and respect their values and traditions when again, all the evidence points to the contrary. All of which I must do without having at my disposal a baw hair of your charisma, your +2000 rushing yards or 6 Pro Bowl selections.
O.J.: Sheesh, you need Johnnie Cochran.
Darling: He’s dead, you were the closest we could get. Mr Juice, I’ll make it worth your while. Just tell me what to do. We’re introducing a tax on every spare bedroom in the country as we speak just to finance this call. Just tell me how to win. You’ll be paid and then some.
O.J.: Okay, if you can’t get Johnnie. You’re gonna need a Wookie. You’re going to need Chewbacca.
Darling: What about an Ewok? I can get my hands on an Ewok nae bother. (aside) Someone get me Lamont on phone.
The ‘chewbacca defence’ is a legal defence predicated upon nonsensical arguments and confusion to brow beat your opponents into submission. It relies primarily on the informal fallacy known as ignoratio elenchi whereby an argument is presented that may or may not be logically valid but has absolutely no relevance to the issue.
The term comes from a South Park episode entitled ‘Chef Aid’ in which the character Chef attempts to have his name credited on a track he has written after it is stolen from him. Unfortunately for Chef, the record company countersues for harassment and hires Johnnie Cochran to prosecute.
For our younger readers, Johnnie Cochran was a famed defence attorney who, before his death in 2005, represented among others, Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dog and Sean Puff Diddy Daddy P. Paffy Combs when he was on trial for gun and bribery charges. He is most famed however for his leading role in the acquittal of O.J. Simpson during his 1995 trial and it is Cochran’s closing statements from that trial that are satirised so succinctly by the writers of South Park here.
In the episode, Cochran uses his famous ‘Chewbacca defence‘ which it is claimed was used in the ‘Simpson trial’ to counter the entirely reasonable and logical assertions put forward by Chef’s attorney.
Why would a Wookiee, an 8-foot-tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of 2-foot-tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense! …Look at me. I’m a lawyer defending a major record company, and I’m talkin’ about Chewbacca! …And so you have to remember, when you’re in that jury room deliberatin’ and conjugatin’ the Emancipation Proclamation, does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.
The penultimate line is a parody of Cochran’s famous ‘If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit’ statement, where he attempted to persuade the jury that Simpson could not have been the murderer because the murderer’s gloves did not fit him. I can hear Darling now, ‘White was the snow, you must vote no!’
Later in the show, the cartoon Cochran has a change of heart and decides to represent Chef pro bono, again using the ‘Chewbacca defence’ only this time to defeat the record company. On this occasion Cochran produces a puppet monkey and shouts, ‘Look at the monkey! Look at the silly monkey!’ until a juror’s head explodes.
This week, David Cameron produced a monkey of his own, complete with readily equipped warheads in the hope that he would be able to divert attention from real issues he has no answers for. Incredibly, the ‘Chewbacca defence’ worked once again. The papers subsequently have said much about the absurdity of Cameron’s statements and openly mocked his assertions that the UK might be at risk from a North Korean attack but there was little mention of the more than 35% cut to defence personnel North of the border made between 2000-20012 (UK cuts in personnel 20%) or the government’s decision to renege on their promise to station 7,000 returning forces here in Scotland upon their return from Germany.
The Chewbacca defence has become a mainstay of politics. Indeed, much of politics is solely dependent on the general public being so confused that it is rendered helpless to do anything other than ‘let them get on with it’. The ‘Bitter Together’ campaign would appear to have seen the merit in such a tactic. Cameron’s penchant for self-flagellation would be painful were it not so triumphantly celebrated but it is the disinformation within the theatre that packs the real punch.
During World War II, disinformation was instrumental and by the time the Cold War came about it was an institutionalised political and military tactic. Operation Mincemeat saw British Intelligence dressing up a corpse, stuffing it with faked invasion plans and other such disinformation and sending it out across the waves where it would eventually be discovered by axis forces. Earlier, Operation Fortitude sufficiently occupied the minds of German forces to the degree that the Normandy landings came as a complete surprise.
Disinformation works. A popular tactic of governments who are not able to completely control the output of material through media channels is to fill those channels with so much disinformation that the signal-to-noise ratio (think rational debate to internet chat room) is reduced to almost zero.
From silly North Korean monkeys to the sight of the decaying corpse being floated up the Clyde that is ‘Bitter Together’, stuffed to the gunnels with pointless rebuttals and string-vest economics, we are besieged by BBC bias and background noise. It is easy to become distracted by it all but we must continue to ensure that our signal is focused enough and coherent enough to be heard above it all.
And whatever you do, don’t look at the monkey.