Monday, 24 January 2011

War, just and unjust


I turn my attention again to the Iraq War, the first as well as the second. My view is quite clear: I think the First Gulf War was wholly necessary; I think the Second a gross strategic error.

Surely there must be a contradiction here? No, not really. The first war was a necessary corrective to an act of aggression by an unstable tyrant, one, unfortunately, we had previously given succour to in his struggle with Iran, which only served to whet his appetite and further his ambitions. Were we to stand by and allow Kuwait, a member of the United Nations, to be conquered and brutalised? Were we to follow the example of the League of Nations, which stood aside as Japan marched into Manchuria and Italy into Abyssinia? I have not the least doubt that if the United Nations had not acted further targets would have followed, possibly Syria, possibly Saudi Arabia.

Alongside these questions of collective security and national integrity there is the question of oil and the need to ensure a stable source of supply. Saddam’s adventurism also presented a threat here, a serious danger to the integrity of the world economy. To allow this man to obtain an effective hold of a good bit of the world’s fuel supply was simply inconceivable.

So, Saddam was kicked out of Kuwait. His army and his air force were pulverised. He was only allowed so much room to manoeuvre freely thereafter. He was effectively in a cage, a cage of our own devising, no matter how hard he rattled at the bars. But that’s as far as it should have gone. Yes, I know he was a ghastly human being and one can only sympathise with those under his rule, especially the Kurds, but it was not our business to ‘liberate’ Iraq. Iraq humbled still acted as a useful counter to Iran in the complex politics of the Middle East. The position prior to the Second Gulf War made good sense in the wider game of geopolitics.

But then came Bush and Blair, the BB partnership on a new crusade. The country was invaded in 2003 on the pretext of finding non-existent weapons of mass destruction. It was invaded against the advice of experts, historians, among others, who tried to alert Dumb and Dumber to the complex internal religious and cultural politics of Iraq. BB effectively kicked a hornet’s nest, to the benefit of no one, least of all the benighted people of the country.

A door was opened, previously closed, to terrorism and the worst forms of ethnic and sectarian murder. Most serious of all, looking at the wider geopolitical picture, military intervention was a total failure, creating at best a weak, unstable democracy, to the immeasurable benefit of Iran, not Britain or America. BB, by their precipitate action, by their arrogance and their ignorance, found a bad situation and made it infinitely worse. They made a desolation not even possible to call peace.

34 comments:

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  2. Fair summary Anna. Would also make the comment that Son was intent on finishing what his Father did/could not, which allowed Blair to 'enhance' his status within the world community of leaders.

    Just a thought......

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  3. First attempt failed, so to repeat:

    Fair comment Anna. I also believe that this involved a case of Son being intent on finishing what Father did/could not, plus it allowed Blair to enhance his standing amongst the world community leaders.

    Just a thought......

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  4. I don't really agree that Operation Desert Storm was either desirable or unavoidable - but I'm not in the oil business. The embargo and sanctions that followed struck me as very unusual. The invasion and occupation of Iraq don't make economic or political sense to me, either.

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  5. Adam, I stand by everything I've written, most which, judging by your response, you have failed to understand.

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  6. WfW, thanks. See; you got through twice! Your point about Bush is quite right. Blair was certainly looking for leverage on American policy to barking like a poodle.

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  7. Calvin, in my view it was just as necessary as the UN campaign to defend South Korea in 1950. It's not all about oil.

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  8. Ana, I have some, admittedly dated, experience of war in the Middle East.

    From a purely Western military perspective, each war against Iraq was so easy as to be unbelievable.

    A war? So easy as to be unbelievable? Now that is every Western politician's dream, isn't it?

    It should have been over in less than Six Days.

    :-)

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  9. Hey! I want to thank you ... I've only just noticed, and I'm astonished.

    Ana, which is more important - the blog, or the thread?

    Freedom for both, I say!
    :-)

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  10. Re: Korea - if we had nuked the Mao's army at the Yalu, we might have avoided Vietnam, Cambodia, Tibet, and still ended up with cheap flat screen TVs. Or we might have had WW3 in Europe and ended up with no German autos. I'm not convinced Truman made the right call in either case. Then, there is Suez . . . and the mess we call 'de-colonization.'

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  11. This link got left behind on your Kampuchea blog, but it is relevant here, too:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/24/world/africa/24zimbabwe.html?_r=1&hp

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  12. Iraq goes on , the infrastructure was completly wrecked by an ill planed invasion with no exit strategy. There were no terrorist in Iraq prior to the invasion.G.W.enriched Chaney and friends with contracts to Haliburton and Blackwater etc. The 911 attacks were used to stir public opinion to attack Iraq despite no Iraqi involvement. This was a proxy war for the Zionist state of Isreal and corporate profit.G.W has moved on yo a new global enterprise with new partner Rev.Moon and Tony Blair has cast his lot with the Illuminati. Iraq is now a unstable bottomless pit.

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  13. Anthony, I agree with almost everything you write.

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  14. Calvin,

    You said: "Re: Korea - if we had nuked..."

    Would you? Why?
    :-)

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  15. Almost? the yo was supposed to be to I'm tired.

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  17. @ CI - to cauterize a virulent cancer that has cost millions of lives. But that was long ago . . .

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  19. Yes, you did fail to understand, fighting straw men as usual. I specifically said that it was not our business to ‘liberate’ Iraq. But you rather like liberation, don’t you? Yes, you like it, just so long as it was Saddam ‘liberating’ Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, thus bringing the ‘benefits’ of the Ba’ath road to ‘freedom’. I did not and I do not ‘defend’ the Saudi regime. Reread your Powell quote about nasty people, which you recite ad nauseaum.

    Our ‘island home’ is not an ‘island home’ but part of the main. Saddam was a threat to our interests as much as the interests of America, Syria or Israel. Just imagine how the Israelis would have reacted if your tenth-rate Tamerlane had attempted to ‘conquer the entire Middle East.'

    Adam, your understanding of international affairs is absurdly naïve, caught in a nineteenth century time warp, forever mapped out by narrow reference points. I know exactly what Ba’athism stands for, as do the people of Kuwait who lived through the occupation. You rather like thuggish dictators, don’t you, just so long as they have a secular bent? You may be pleased to learn that Baby Doc is back in Haiti, promising salvation. :-)

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  20. I'm adding the following comment on behalf of Nobby.

    Nobby said;

    Ana,

    I very much enjoyed reading your film review on King George and have just read your most recent blog, 'War, just and unjust'.

    For Bush and Blair everything changed after 9/11- this was an essential point made by Blair in his defence at the Iraq Inqiury. The mood thereafter shifted to an aggressive foreign policy after this date.

    I am not saying that I agree or disagree with this but it is a point worth tackling in your blog.

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  21. Thanks, Nobby, you are very kind.

    Oh, yes, I know about Blair and the ‘calculus of risk.’ You know, what really frustrates me is why he is not pushed more vigorously here. The questions that are put are too long-winded and not nearly forensic enough. It seems to me that BB were taking action for the sake of taking action, not because they had made an intelligent calculation. How else is it possible to explain the invasion of a country that was actively hostile to terrorism, at least terrorism not directed by itself towards its own people? The invasion boosted the threat of international terrorism, not diminish it. If the ‘calculus of risk’ was bad in 2001 it was so much worse after 2003.

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  23. Adam, it is for me, though, to condemn Saddam, just as it is for you, on occasions, to celebrate him. But my condemnation did not extend to supporting a full-scale invasion of Iraq. It was for the international community to condemn and reverse his invasion of a sovereign nation, and rightly so.

    I think Ba’athism a perfectly foul ideology, little better, in its own secular way, than the oppressive Saudi theocracy. Still I’m not at all sure on what evidence you say that the Saudi theocracy is ‘vastly more oppressive’ than the Juche of those vile communist nepotists in North Korea. As far as I can tell nobody starves to death in Saudi Arabia, which, incidentally has no nuclear weapons and does not launch indiscriminate attacks on its closest neighbours. No matter; I have no desire to swing the pendulum in the other direction. I simply do not see things in black and white, if the one is bad the other must be good, or less bad.

    Adam, one is never forced into making choices between greater and lesser evils, forced into choosing a man like Saddam over a man like Bin Laden. If Iraq is an ‘Iranian satellite state’ it’s precisely because of the invasion of 2003, not the war of 1991. All I would ask you to do is to think a little more clearly, to see the world as a far more complex place. After all, there is more in heaven and earth etc. etc.

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  26. For goodness sake what ‘rights’ does a woman have in North Korea that make any sense? The right, in the desperation of hunger, to chew bark off a tree? The right to flee across the Yalu River into China at night, hoping not to be caught and sent to a concentration camp? The right to see tiny children executed because of the alleged crimes of their parents? I repeat; I do not defend the obscurantism of a place like Saudi Arabia, but people are not dying or fleeing because they can no longer tolerate the lives they are living. With no intellectual subtlety at all, you simply defend the sixth circle of hell because it’s allegedly not quite as hot as the seventh. I would like to see your evidence for the Saudi arms contention. Once again it’s your black and white, your Manichean way of looking at things, which prevents proper intellectual and moral discrimination. It’s the sheep of Nineteen Eighty-Four – secular monster good, theocratic monster bad.

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  28. Hey, nice to see you back on night watch!

    I do not have a 'soft line' on Saudi Arabia; I am merely trying to put things in context. I would certainly not want to have been born there - though more there than North Korea with it's equality of misery - but women are not quite as badly off as you suggest, making a growing contribution to what remains a highly conservative society, something I wrote about last year. Marxism for me is the quintessence of evil.

    You think I'm insulting you simply because I disagree with you? I'm so sorry to hear that. It's the argument I go for, never the person. It's simply my style and no offence was ever intended. Thank you for all of the past stimulation you have give me.

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