Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Henderson: No escape for war's opponents: "Not all opponents of the 'coalition of the willing' have been so remiss. In Raimond Gaita's edited collection Why the War was Wrong (Text, 2003), Robert Manne said that 'those who opposed the invasion cannot wriggle away from the fact that, if our opposition had been successful, the disgusting regime of Saddam Hussein would still be in power in Iraq.' He concedes that 'from this simple, unpleasant truth there is no escape'. Quite so."

This is the best possible case that Bush/Blair/Howard can put on their illegal war, ever since the threat of WMDs and the al-Qaeda connection were exploded as colossal lies. It is superficially plausible, as Saddam is indeed a monster. But it has to be asked:

- how many Iraqis died violent deaths in the last 9 months of his regime? An estimated 10,000 Iraqi civilians and an unknown number of soldiers have been killed since the invasion.

- shattered as the Iraqi infrastructure was during the long Saddam/sanctions regime, is it worse since the war than before it? What of health, education, employment, infant mortality and all the other measures?

- what are the chances of real democracy in Iraq when US objectives are to control the oil and establish military bases in the country? Isnt it more likely that an authoritarian puppet regime will be established rather than a true democracy? And thus the country will yet again be condemned to a long period of undemocratic and violent rule?

- how far has the blatant and illegal aggression against Iraq acted to increase the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction worldwide and to multiply the number of terrorists?

It is not for nothing that aggressive war was described as the 'Supreme Crime' at Nuremburg, that is a crime worse even than tyranny. Experience in the late 20th century has shown that war is not the way to defeat tyranny. Progressive deligitimation and popular uprisings can and will defeat even the worst tyrants provided that the country is not attacked or threatened with war. War is the health of the state and the friend of tyrants and dictators everywhere, whereas peace and stability dooms dictatorship to popular defeat. If the West were genuine in its regard for the people of Iraq, it needed to ban the flow of arms, lift the sanctions, and support liberalisation and the growth of civil society. It is the same with Iran, Syria, North Korea, any such regime. A policy of war or threats of war is criminal, and obviously motivated by hegemonism rather than anything 'noble'.

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