Little to say for myself

Monday, September 08, 2003

You Have to Admire his Gall

Bush's speech last night (full text here) makes me fulminate - again.

"Iraq is now the central front [in the war on terrorism]."
So whose bloody fault is that then?

Let's ignore for one moment the definition of terrorism. After all, parallels could easily be drawn between the killings in occupied Iraq and the actions of, say, the Free French in occupied France during WWII. Were they terrorists, or were they loosely organised armed nationals resisting the imposition of a new regime by an occupying foreign military force? But let's ignore this, and call the Iraqi fighters "terrorists".

Why is Iraq now the central front? Because Bush started fighting there. It may be true that there is now more terrorist-type activity in Iraq than anywhere else in the world. If so it's because there has been a huge upsurge of such activity in Iraq - not because the terrorists have all dropped their activities in other countries and moved their theatre of operations to Iraq. If Bush wants to call it terrorism, he has to admit that his actions in Iraq have had a negative effect on the war against terrorism - i.e. created a net increase worldwide.

Instead he wants to have his cake and eat it too. He thinks: "The war on terrorism is stagnating, with no sign of Bin Laden still, and the situation in Iraq is a mess. I know - we can reclassify the Iraq situation, calling it a terrorist problem, and, hey presto, we're back to the 9/11 effect, whose anniversary is.... well waddaya know?"

From today's Grauniad coverage:
"Our strategy in Iraq has three objectives: destroying the terrorists ... enlisting the support of other nations for a free Iraq ... and helping Iraqis assume responsibility for their own defence and their own future."

Americans should brace themselves for further sacrifice, he said, but added that other countries should also get involved.
So, he fully expects that other countries will volunteer to provide cannon-fodder for the current messy, open-ended, inglorious struggle against an invisible enemy, even though they were reluctant to help out before (especially when their reluctance arose because they believed a unilateral invasion without an explicit UN mandate would result in a prolonged armed struggle from factions within the country opposed to the foreign occupation....).

Whatever happened to Bush's "If the UN won't back us, we'll have to go it alone" rhetoric from before the invasion? Does this mean Bush is now admitting he isn't up to the job and can't manage without them?

It seems the UN is no longer "irrelevant". It now "represent[s] the compassion and generosity of the world".

We're about to see if that generosity and compassion extends as far as the US.

posted by Plig | 15:44 |

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Forget the sentimental notion that foreign policy is a struggle between virtue and vice, with virtue bound to win.
Forget the utopian notion that a brave new world without power politics will follow the unconditional surrender of wicked nations.
Forget the crusading notion that any nation, however virtuous and powerful, can have the mission to make the world in its own image.
Remember that diplomacy without power is feeble, and power without diplomacy is destructive and blind.
Remember that no nation's power is without limits, and hence that its policies must respect the power and interests of others.
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