Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The blame game

I'm no Obama supporter, but I do feel the criticism of the US President by various sections of the media for his "anti-British" rhetoric is a bit rich.

After all, when Gordon Brown was telling anyone and everyone that the global financial crisis was the Yanks fault they all just seemed to nod along in agreement as if this was an obvious fact (it wasn't and isn't. The global financial crisis was the fault of every western nation - the sub-prime mortgage scam was just the ultimate symptom of a system out of control - and the system is called "globalisation").

Now that the boot is on the other fault and Obama is blaming a British company for the environmental catastrophe that has struck the Gulf Of Mexico the media are getting all huffy about it. Tough luck, guys - you shouldn't live in glass houses if you're gonna go around chucking bricks.

What is unforgivable, however, is for Obama to equate the Gulf oil spill crisis with 9/11.

What was the man thinking of? The attack on the twin towers was a premeditated and carefully planned act of wilful destruction and murder that cost the lives of almost 3000 people. The BP oil platform explosion was an accident - possibly an avoidable, but an accident all the same. There is no comparison - none whatsoever.

Of course BP should pay for clearing up the mess - and they will - but running about pointing fingers and shouting "it's your fault" isn't going to solve anything.

And just with the financial crisis we should all take a good long hard look at ourselves before we point the finger - as someone once said (Bob Marley?), when you point your finger there are three more pointing back at you. You could just as easily blame the US drive for energy independence (and thus the exploiting of offshore oil reserves) for the disaster - and when you boil that down that comes down to each and every one of us who demand cheap and reliable energy supplies.

Of course, I am one of those and I still support that demand for energy independence and cheap and reliable sources of energy (and, believe me, if wind farms could do it I would support them - but they can't so I don't). However, as far as Britain is concerned I believe we should be doing more than we are to exploit our natural coal reserves - estimated at 200 years of readily accessible supplies and a thousand years of harder to reach supplies.

Accidents and disasters happen in coal mines too and, when they do, it is right and proper that there inquiries to ascertain what went wrong, what could have been done to avoid it, how it can be avoided in the future and who is to blame.

None of this is helped by the leaders of any nation going around blaming other nations - whether it is a global financial crisis or an oil spill. If you really feel you must blame something then blame the thing that is really at the root of this - globalisation.


Little Englander (sour) said...

Who built the oil rig? - Americans.
Who operates the rig? - Americans.
Who supplied and fitted the valve? - Americans.
Who regulates the drilling operations in the GoM? - Americans.
Who uses most opf the oil (in the world)? - Americans.
BP acquired the drilling license, supplied the money and now, quite rightly, are accepting responsibility and paying for the clean up.
Fair do's.

bernard said...

Little Englander -

Obama's extraordinary outburst against BP could be because he got wind of some racist remarks made by senior executives at BP, to the effect that incompetent/illiterate Mexicans/West Indians were responsible for the explosions on the oil rig. (not Americans)

The notion is not that far fetched.
Remember the outrage caused by the Duke of Edinburgh when he suggested that poor electrical wiring was probably done by an Indian?
He nearly lost his job.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how people play the blame game. I recently wrote about it in an essay contest: There are many ways in which blame can be averted. First, you can claim that whatever harm was caused, it was an accident that occurred randomly. If it couldn’t have been random you can argue that it was unintentional and unplanned. You can claim that you did not know that what you did would have those consequences or that you were somehow incapable of knowing. You can actually argue that you thought it would have very positive consequences rather than negative ones and it was hard to predict otherwise. If you did know the consequences you could argue that you were unable to prevent it or had no other choice or at least really did not desire it to happen. You can argue that you chose the lesser of two evils and if you had done something else, something worse would have happened. In the end, you could say what happened would have happened anyway, even if you hadn’t done what you did.

You can make a case that it is the fault of “the system” and you shouldn’t be singled out. An argument can be made that the harmful consequence was the result of a chain of events to which you or your organization may have contributed only little, and even that is ambiguous. All others responsible in that chain of events can probably claim the same thing and so ultimate responsibility will be diluted and no one takes the blame. Everybody agrees that “we are all to blame” but in fact no one is really held accountable…