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Friday, April 11, 2003

Knock on Wood-This post by Wood over at the Connexion has "Fisk Me" written all over it.
These are the reasons why I'm ambivalent. 1. Moral HighGrounding What upsets me is the attribution of a moral dimension to the motives of the US and UK governments. No one is toppling Saddam Hussein for altruistic reasons. Before you go, "Oh, here we go again, he's talking about oil," hear me out. It's not about oil. Fact: the UK and US supported and subsidized Saddam Hussein's government in the 80s.
Supported, to an extent. In the Iran-Iraq war, we were rooting for a tie, to drain the Soviet-leaning Iraqis and the Islamic theocracy in Iran. We "subsidized" Iraq only to the extent that we bought oil from them; it was the USSR and the French that were sending them arms. As far as the altruistic reasons, they did add into the mix. However, getting rid of a thug that has a track record of using whatever weapons he gets his hands on was the primary reason. Freeing the Iraqi people from the thug was a secondary effect.
Fact: Saddam has always been an evil mass-murdering dictator. Back in the 80s, he had torture chambers, right. He was killing Kurds right left and centre. He's not changed his ways. The UK and US governments seemed to do the getting-in-bed-with-evil-dictators thing a lot back in the day - Pinochet springs to mind, for example. The principle at play was "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". This principle is the primary reason for most of the messes the West is in, and the reason why other nations so cordially hate us. We're at war with Argentina, we join up with Chile's mad evil dictator.
Quick history lesson-Pinochet came to power in 1973 and the Falklands War was in 1982. That's not to excuse Pinochet, but Argentina wasn't the reason, fear of a ham-handed Marxist (yes, an elected Marxist) Allende government was the reason.
We're in a bad way with Iran, we join up with Iraq. We're not so keen on the USSR, we train the Taleban guerillas fighting them.
Once again the war with Iran wasn't the US or the UK's idea; as far as I can tell, it was Saddam's idea of a land grab at the expense of a Iran still consolidating its Islamic Revolution and without an American sugar daddy-I'm surprised Wood never mentioned the Shah in his list of bad guys. We did train the mujahideen in the 80s, the Islamic guerillas who hounded the Soviets for a decade. A number of Muslim fighters from around the Islamic world came in to help; one of them was a rich young Saudi named Osama bin Laden. We were in bed with the founder of al Qaeda in the 80s, but not to Taliban, who grew up out of the madrasas in the refugee camps in northern Pakistan, who came in advertised as upstanding students of Islam to clean up after corrupt warlords.
We are the two most hated nations on Earth. We are, respectively, seen by 95% of the people on Earth as The Evil Empire, and The Evil Empire's Prison [she-dog].
Blair is kinda cute, but I think Laura's cuter. If this joint is the Evil Empire, why are people flocking to get here? It may well be true that our nations are the most hated, but it's because our countries are thriving and many others aren't. As Derb put it the other day, we've got the BSD and other countries are jealous of our swagger, that hatred being more of covetousness than derision. The world hates us like baseball fans hate the New York Yankees, not because the Yankees are bad, but that they're so consistently good.
Sad but true. Part of the reason for this is that we are rightly perceived by (for example) Islamic nations as unprincipled in our choice of allies. We back a country up, then when it suits us, we stomp them. Sure, the Islamic states hate Saddam's guts... but they hate us more. Meanwhile, whatever you might think of states run by Sharia Law (and I wouldn't want to live in one), one thing is true: their alliances are made on principles... and they are kept.
I guess you didn't catch the Sura where Mohammed said that it's OK to double-cross an infidel and that any contract or treaty with an infidel can be morally broken. Granted, the US has backed up some ugly dudes in Saudi Arabia and other places, but I don't think that gives the Islamic world the moral high ground.
If we were really doing this because Saddam is a Bad Guy, we'd have sorted him out back in the 80s. Along with Pinochet and the nuts who run Indonesia, and all the other countries the unprincipled right-wing nuts who ran our respective countries in the 80s enlisted to be on our side.
Granted. If being a Bad Guy were cause #1, the tanks would have rolled into Harare first, or even Riyahd. However, Saddam is more the USSR's Bad Guy than ours. You can blame Pinochet and Suharto on the US, but Saddam's a socialist and got most of his help from the USSR in the 80s. Going into Iraq in the 80s might have triggered WWIII. Going to Baghdad in 1991 would have been proper in 20-20 hindsight, but I think the peacenik crowd would have screamed just as loud then.
There is no moral reason why we did what we did. No government ever goes to war if they do not consider it in their interests to do so (and yes, that even includes WWII - go read up on it if you don't believe me). We did not "suddenly see the error of our ways".
OK, if this isn't moral, it's immoral and of the devil. If I'm reading Wood right, God would prefer inspections to be tried and retried and retried. God would prefer Saddam in power killing his own people day by day rather than the short war we had. You can be working in the country's best interest and be moral at the same time. Dinner intervenes, I'll finish this piece off later. {update 10:15PM-On second thought, that's enough fisking for one day. Anyone who wants to deliver the coup de grace is welcome to it}

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