Saturday, March 22, 2003

War war is stupid and people are stupid

That’s my second favourite Rubbish Lyric With A Sensible Sentiment (RLWASS). My favourite RLWASS is on People are People by Depeche Mode; “People are people so why should it be, you and I should get along so awfully”.

Nobby has made an interesting comment on his web site that him and the wife (Vicki) are ‘pro war’. Because he’s chosen not to elaborate, is a startling and jarring statement. I know he likes military history, but this is taking it rather too far.

I’m sure it’s not as simple as that, and that the Dobscrubs are not essentially ‘Pro War’, unlike Colonel Bob on GMTV yesterday who described the arrowhead positioning of British tanks, a classic attack formation, as giving him a “Soldierly excitement”. He also described the death of eight service men in a helicopter crash as “Lousy”. Colonel Bob could provide good value during this war.

It made me think about my stance, and that being anti-war/pro-war is really not enough to define how I feel. I’m not a cabbage munching pinko commie, I actually believe there is such a thing as a ‘just war’. I believe the first Gulf conflict was a “just war”, because a. the invasion of Kuwait, and b. Oil. The protection of oil is a valid reason for going to war. Conflicts only ever arise over two things, ideology, and resources. For some reason, according to anti-war protestors the protection of resources is no longer a valid reason for going to war. Which bucks the whole of human history.

With the exception of Colonel Bob and his soldierly excitement, I don’t think that many people are “pro-war”; few are excited by the prospect of wading in with tanks and planes bombing the hell out of Baghdad. I know I’m not, but the warmongering stick is convenient for anti-war protestors looking to simplify the argument to suit their ideal.

In isolation, I believe the current conflict is a just war. It is widely accepted that Saddam Hussain and the higher echelons of the Iraqi regime are a brutal lot and that rest of Iraq is probably politically moderate, preferring to get on with their lives. Unfortunately these people probably can’t because they live under Saddam’s hammer. I also believe that it’s not all about oil. If it was, we’d be invading Venezuela, who’s oil supplies are probably bigger than Saudi Arabia and therefore have a huge impact on the US economy.

Added to this, is something that stuck in my mind on September 11th; academics and middle east experts claiming that they had warned the US and UK of the Al Queda threat and that there had been no reaction. Anti war protestors indulge in hindsight management all the time, i.e. ‘you should have done this, you shouldn’t have done that’ but if you’re making the decisions without that benefit, then sometimes, the decisions will carry a significant risk. Bush was damned when he did, and damned when he didn’t.

So I’m pro-war. Or am I? The flipside is the way it’s been done. The bulldozing of the UN Security Council sets a precedent. Firstly it takes the power out of the hands of “the world”, secondly, it will inevitably force many nations to line up behind the US on issues they may not agree with but feel they have to support for fear of reprisals (economic reprisals principally). Perhaps this is why Tone has lead the UK to align with the US. He has flaunted public opinion (both popular opinion, and the government elected to represent public opinion) and continued to back aggression. Maybe he knows something we don’t; maybe he doesn’t need covert US sanctions effecting what is already a shaky economy and has decided this is the way to avoid them.

By flaunting the proper procedures to gain support from the UN, the US becomes a unilateral aggressor. Taking me back to my point of we play by the rules most of the time, but we’re all in a position to decide the rules aren’t worth playing by. The US did just this, they decided the UN, and the principles upon which it is founded, no longer suited their needs. If I walked into a supermarket and walked out with a basket of food because I decided that the universal principle of allowing people access to food based only on their ability to pay was unjust, would I be able to get away with it? Of course not.

Now we’re actually underway, I hope they achieve all their objectives quickly, protecting oil reserves, and ousting Saddam. But if, once this is over, we find that all the things Bush and Blair have been saying proven to be wrong (weapons of mass destruction, huge human rights violations etc) then they must surely be accountable for their actions. If they are right, then they should be applauded for their conviction and decisive action. After all is that not the result of taking great risks?

Is there any chance of a mass demonstration for people who see both sides of the argument?


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