Saturday 31 August 2013

The Unseen Guest

Not present

Today's Dateline London was wholly devoted to the issue of Syria and made for interesting viewing. 

This may be accounted for by the fact that the panel was atypical in not being tilted towards what might be described as 'the Guardian worldview'. It consisted of Henry Chu of the Los Angeles Times, Mina al-Oraibi of Asharq Al-Awsat, Alex Deane of ConservativeHome and Bozorgmehr Sharafedi of the BBC Persian Service. Their contributions helped me to think about a few things I've never thought about before - which is a good thing. 

That said, there was a tilt - and it was a tilt towards Western intervention against Assad. I wouldn't describe any of them as being gung-ho about it, but three out of the four panellists sent plenty of signals in that direction throughout the programme. 

I was also struck by one of Gavin Esler's 'angles' throughout the programme:
"Does this require soul-searching about Britain's role in the world?"
"Maybe it's just a wake-up call to Britain, with a declining military, with no aircraft carrier that's in service, that our post-imperial role has gone."
"Do you think there will be considerable soul-searching about what Britain is, now in the 21st century, and what our role should be? Are we a kind of medium-sized European power that's sometime might intervene? Do we still have this colonial hangover, or not?"
As Alex Deane observed during the programme itself, this was the very angle Dateline regular Polly Toynbee took in her Guardian column, No 10 curses, but Britain's illusion of empire is over, this week.

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