Friday, November 24, 2006

Wrongs and Responsibilities

Conspiracy theories aside, it is clear that the attacks on Sadr City yesterday were not perpetrated by coalition troops (cui bono? - Bush and Blair may be fools but they both desperately need Iraq to work). The Shiites who died yesterday were killed by Sunni insurgents of one form or another.

Why then, do attacks like these generate such anger against Bush and Blair? On Question Time last night, Denis MacShane argued that this anger was unjustified and that our anger should be direct instead exclusively towards those who perpetrate these attacks. It would be easy to totally dismiss this for the diversionary "don't blame Tony" spin it so clearly is and I am sorely tempted to do so. But, despite the fact that MacShane has a particularly detestable motive for making this point, there is a kernel of truth contained within his spin. Reading the views of some on Comment is Free, for example, you'd think that Blair himself had killed every one of the estimated 650,000 Iraqis who have died since the start of the invasion (those who wish to dispute that figure can rebut it by presenting the official coalition death toll statistics. Oh wait, there aren't any). MacShane has a point in that some of those who opposed the war seem not to be able to recognise that the people who carried out these attacks also have a moral responsibility for their actions. Whatever the circumstances, there are some actions which are always morally unacceptable and yesterday's indiscriminate attacks on civilians fall squarely into that category.

The suggestion that this alleviates Blair and Bush from any responsibility for what is happening in Iraq is, however, ridiculous. There are many reasons; here is just one of them. I call George W.Bush to the stand:
We are fighting the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other parts of the world so we do not have to fight them on the streets of our own cities.
It's called the flypaper theory (in itself a monumentally stupid notion as the attacks in London last year demonstrated) and the imperialist hubris behind such an attitude is truly sickening. The idea that the entire world is Bush's battleground to do with as he will, that other countries must endure whatever privations the President of the United States deems necessary in the "war" on terror is beneath contempt.

Iraq was a country held together by a brutal dictator, one which would quite obviously face enormous challenges when that dictator was removed from power. Even in the most benign of circumstances, the period after Saddam's removal would have been beset by instability. And into that sea of troubles, George and Tony decided to export their "war" on Sunni fundamentalists, a war which had absolutely nothing to do with secular Iraq.

(And no, pointing out that Saddam's Iraq was secular does not mean I think Saddam was great. How often does it need to be said? Do you support the immediate military invasion of North Korea? If not, does that mean you are a supporter of Kim Jong-il and approve of the suffering he imposes on the people of North Korea? It's a facile argument and I'm long since sick of it. MacShane tried this one too and it's pathetic.)

Bush and Blair deliberately exported the "war" on terror to Iraq. Blair might not be so quick to admit it but that is what he signed up to when he agreed to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with Bush at their meeting in Crawford Texas more than four years ago. It was not their fight but Iraqis are now dying for it in their thousands. And yet these same people, the very people who have shown such callous disregard for the consequences of their actions for people in far away lands, now have the audacity to accuse those who wish to bring them to account of not caring about the future of the people of Iraq. They are, as I said, beneath contempt.

MacShane, like too many New Labour careerists, continues to insist that that sort of behaviour is not worth getting angry about. We've come a long way indeed since New Labour boldly proclaimed that they intended to apply an ethical dimension to British foreign policy.

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3 comments:

Tim Neale said...

The usual bullshit.

On one hand they claim that nothing they could do could possibly reduce the level of violence in Iraq, but the level of violence fell tomorrow do you can bet Bush and Blair will be claiming a personal triumph.

Compare this to how Labour in Scotland is claiming that the fall in crime there is down to them. No mention of personal responsibility there.

It's difficult to tell if they are knowing hypocrites or they have a developed a blank spot in order to be able to get to sleep at night.

Anonymous said...

I'm a simple person and like simple things.

I equate Iraq to Bush and Blair pushing a big boulder over the top of a slope with the intent of hitting a spot down the valley.

Oh dear. It's been diverted by that guy protecting his house and now its away on a tangent.

Oh well. That is nothing to do with us say Bush and Blair. It's that goat herders fault. I think they believe their own propoganda but could you imagine that defence in court.

Ms Bush and Blair you are charged with causing death to the several hundred foreign nationals. Bush will never face it but I still have my fingers crossed for Blair.

Anonymous said...

MacShane also hilariously claimed that most attacks were now on civilians rather than coalition troops, despite the fact that 110 American soldiers died last month, the highest monthly toll since November 2004.

Worse than MacShane though was Esther Rantzen, who didn't have the slightest clue what she was taking about. Not only did she bring up yet again the fatuous fallacy of comparing Saddam to Hitler, she also suggested that Israel was surrounded by countries that wanted to destroy it, and that the summer war with Hizbullah was completely justified.

Oh god, someone's edited her Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esther_Rantzen

"On 23rd November 2006 Rantzen appeared on Question Time, where she abused the memory of World War Two and the Holocaust by attempting to draw a parallel between Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler. She made the ludicrous assertion that in both the Second World War and the Iraq War, the consequences of inaction were likely to have been worse than action, a statement refuted utterly by the carnage that has ensued in Iraq. It has been speculated that the moustache shared by both of the aforementioned men may have caused her the confusion."