Hans Blix

Went to see CNN’s Christiane Amanpour interview former U.N. Weapons Inspector Hans Blix last night (part of the Media at War conference). A remarkable mind – what struck me most was how totally lucid and committed to his own neutrality he was. It wasn’t that he didn’t have his own conclusions and observations – of course he did – but rarely do you encounter people involved in political processes who so carefully downplay or force aside their own biases, who struggle so carefully and naturally toward the elusive goal of total objectivity. His central problem: The paradox of proving the negative. “How can I prove there is not a tennis ball in this room?” he asked, gesturing to the interior of Zellerbach Hall. Also enjoyed his references to the best headlines he had seen regarding himself in the press, such as “Blix Tricks Irk U.S.”

Dean Schell, in his introduction, quoted Donald Rumsfeld’s tricky koan: “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Which is an absurd piece of semantic trickery politically speaking, and yet also philosophically true.

Music: The Heavenly States :: Cumulous to Nebulous

2 Replies to “Hans Blix”

  1. Sounds like some great things are going on at the J-school! The State department’s foreign service, I would argue, has had a similar attitude with their work as Hans Blix – unbiasedness, objectivity. In fact, it’s that attitude and manner that caused Newt Gingrich (now a member of the defense policy planning board) to lash out and attack them for being all but un-American in Foreign Policy magazine a few months back. In the same manner that the Bush administration attacked Blix they have waged a silent war against State by replacing many of their high-profile duties with the Pentagon, whose bureaucracy they’ve managed to penetrate more easily. That is what scares me so badly about the Bush administration. They don’t want debate, another opinion, objectivity in any manner. If it’s there and threatening their line they will crush it, mercilessly.

    Another government agency that is renowned for their objectivity is the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the Legislative branch’s own personal think tank. It is an elite club that prides itself on factual, unbiased policy work/backgrounders/fact sheets/etc. They work exclusively for Congress by writing papers on important and timely topics, as well as, on topics that congressional offices request. Unfortunately, their work is not open to the public (which in part is because if it were it might be corrupted). Many organizations, however, even some Congressmen republish CRS work on their websites. The State Department, for example, has a good number of CRS papers relating to international relations on their website.

    CRS – http://fpc.state.gov/c4763.htm

  2. I was struck by very similar thing in his interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air the other day (archived on the fresh air site).

    Most amazing to me was when she asked if he would like to see the US and Britain chastized by the un and other countries. I thought he might take a little pleasure in seeing that after how the US and Britian has treated him. Instead, he basically said it was not necessary. The world knows the truth and that is embarrasing enough for Bush and Blair.

    Also amazing is that he wants to continue this type of work and came out of retirement at 72 to do it.

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