It amazes me at times how out of step the world is with me. There are things I think are so obvious that they don’t need to be considered, never mind justified. And then I discover that they’re contentious. People are having arguments about them.
Let me give you an example. I had always assumed that if I poke someone in the eye, there is a strong likelihood of my being issued with a retaliatory smack on the head. This is not a wild guess or an ill-considered prediction. I have researched the matter. From a young age I have amassed empirical proof: it’s one of those Ying and Yang, day and night, thesis and antithesis formulas. A poke in the eye leads to a smack on the head.
I undertook my core research in the play-pen, amassing data from exchanges with my fellow internees, my cousins Kassy and Peter. From a tender age I ascertained that the unauthorised removal of their rattle led to shouts of indignation and physical attack. Equally I perceived that, in general terms, if I left alone their persons and possessions, sanctions would not be taken against me.
This experienced learning process altered my life both immediately and in the longer term. I instantly saw the merit in forming a non-aggression pact with my larger cousin, Peter; and, given his alliance with his sister, I realised that assaulting her would have painful consequences.
To put it in a nutshell, hitting someone can be fun, but being hit is not. Therefore it is best to avoid step one.
Tell me: Is this a difficult argument to follow? Does it require prolonged contemplation by a professor of philosophy? It is comprehensible only by following a meandering, complex and obscure logical pattern? Would you think it would benefit from further research and observation, or would you consider yourself persuaded of the validity of the argument from the facts thus presented? Is it, in short, as plain as the nose on your face?
Very well. Let us now apply the lesson. To Liechtenstein, the country squashed between Austria and Switzerland. It has a population that would fit into the football ground at Blackburn Rovers. (Note: in the interest of strictly logical argument, with which this column abounds, I must report that although true-ish, this assertion has not been empirically tested. Liechtensteiners seldom visit Blackburn, at least not en masse).
The country abolished its army in 1868 on the grounds of cost. I fully concede that since that date, some of its inhabitants may have been belligerent individually. However, as far as I can ascertain, it has never collectively given any other person or persons an eye-poke.
And here is a remarkable coincidence: it has not (collectively) been given a fat lip. Not even a little bit. Not even a tiny tad.
And to turn to specifics, Liechtenstein has not at any stage sent its army off to fight in the war on terror. Well, it hasn’t got one. And by another remarkable coincidence, it has not been subject to a terrorist attack.
I can’t help thinking there is a link between these two facts. And Jeremy Corbyn seems to agree. He said: “Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home.”
Seems reasonable, you might think. But no! All hell let loose! He was condemned as a pinko cowardly unpatriotic stenching mass of loathsomeness for drawing this conclusion. He was a misanthrope, a Communists and a moron!
Such was the conclusion of the Daily Telegraph. In its editorial it declared that any suggestion that there is a link between Britain’s foreign policy and terror attacks on UK citizens was “in defiance of common sense”. In defiance of common sense! Who did they share a playpen with?
Certainly not that dangerous red Baroness Manningham-Buller, the former head of MI5. She told the Iraq Inquiry that the invasion had “substantially” increased the terrorist threat to the UK by radicalising young people. Oddly enough, no one told her she was “absolutely monstrous” or that she was “siding with people who want to damage and attack Britain”, as Boris and Fallon described Jeremy Corbyn for expressing the same view.
I am reminded of the United States’ reaction to 9/11 when, in the midst of that terrible tragedy, Americans stood in abject confusion and incomprehension asking, “Why would anyone do this to us?” The answer reads like a world gazetteer: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Chile, El Salvador, Haiti …
But no. It seems Corby and me are wrong. There’s no link between aggression and retaliation. And Elvis is just dandy, enjoying life in Abercanaid, Merthyr Tydfil.