Reasoning about the news

Every now and again interesting (worrying) stories are released in the news which presumably people interpret in different ways. For instance recall when Tony Blair said the following (12 January 2007):

There are two types of nations similar to ours today. Those who do war fighting and peacekeeping and those who have, effectively, except in the most exceptional circumstances, retreated to the peacekeeping alone.

Britain does both. We should stay that way. But how do we gain the consent to do it?

Note the rhetoric of “retreat”, how the UK (“we”) “should” continue to engage in “war fighting”, and the problem of how “we” persuade others (who?—Brits who disagree? Other countries’ governments?) to allow the wars to take place. I remember reading this and thinking that a UK prime minister couldn’t possibly have allowed these words to leave his lips. But there it all still is on a website!

The story currently confusing me concerns the downing of a plane in Iran. Initially the story was that an American plane, flying low to evade radar, was forced down. Its passengers and crew were questioned for a day before being allowed to fly on. It turned out that they had got lost, straying into Iranian airspace. Then it became an aid organisation’s plane (“not a military plane and did not belong to the United States”, said Al Alam). The Americans denied than an American plane had been downed (still consistent here!), but it was reported that five passengers (in the aid plane) were US military. Again from the US press release, “All U.S. aircraft supporting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq are accounted for”.

The “Diplomatic Editor” at the Telegraph writes: “The aircraft and all of its occupants were, it transpired, Hungarians.” Oops. According to, the count is four Hungarian soldiers and three crew from Jas Cargo, the company that rented the plane to the Hungarian Army. “The Hawker 800 aircraft was forced to land because there was a mistake in one figure in the written overflight permit,” they write. (It was a Falcon business jet yesterday.)

And… well so it continues.