June 23, 2003

More Claptrap at the Guardian

More Claptrap at the Guardian

This time an insufferably long op-ed delivered in 'deep-think' mode (but uber-poseur in style) with sprinklings of hurt, betrayal, fear--all buttressed by an almost oppressively pervasive solipsism. In a word, a bit West End, a bit playwright-y, a bit Guardian-ish, no?

A representative graf:

"It is difficult, therefore, for someone of my temperament to accept that my own feelings about politicians have become worse than irrelevant. They have become worthless. Why? Because local politicians are, definitively, no longer speaking to me. The important dialogue in Britain is no longer carried on between the governors and the governed, but is maintained in another direction entirely: neither up nor down, but east-west, between the colony and the imperial capital. The charge has been made - as though it were the most damning possible - that Britain and America decided to annexe Iraq and then afterwards search for any random justification, however implausible, which they could find to decorate their intentions. (Paul Wolfowitz's own words plainly bear that meaning, and Clare Short is telling us the same). But far more troubling, at least to those of us who imagine that some sort of national conversation still goes on, is the knowledge that it is now impossible to imagine any American foreign policy, however irrational, however dangerous, however illegal, with which our present prime minister would not declare himself publicly delighted and thrilled. These are, it is clear, frightening times. A revolutionary doctrine of the pre-emptive strike has been introduced into international relations, but its use is to be the privilege of one country alone, on no other grounds than that this particular country is so powerful as to be beyond sanction. The UN, which was established, in Samantha Power's words, "specifically to end the days of military intervention dressed up as humanitarianism", has been pushed brutally to the side."

Let's take a peek at some of the arguments contained in this piece:

1) Blair is Bush's poodle and the U.K. but a servile colony. Can't we expect more sophisticated arguments from the opinion pages of leading U.K. papers? Or do we have to hear the same uncorroborated idiocies trotted out day after dreary day? I'm so weary, aren't you?

And boy, there were lots of poodles then. They were galivanting about Lisbon, Rome, Madrid, Warsaw, Bucharest, Canberra, Tokyo, Seoul, Tashkent, Tblisi, Sophia and points beyond. What a bunch of spineless cowards--all of them. And how noble say, Gerard Schroder, a man well above acts of political convenience, he.

2) Wolfy again--we had no reason to go to war! WMD? Just a rationale cooked up for bureaucratic convenience, nothing more. But a judicious reading of the Sam Tanenhaus interview that I think Hare is referring to doesn't bear him out. Wolfowitz still specifically delineated three (really four) reasons why we went to war in Iraq. Hardly boots on the ground, tame the natives, grab the oil, annex, and we'll all figure out the rationale later at the U.S.-U.K. Officer's Club over a couple single malts and a back-slapping jolly good time.

3) Ah, "frightening times." The Toxic Texan brought the international system down. Top Gun swagger coming to Teheran, Damascus, NoKo, god knows where else. Run for cover, quick.

And anyway, better when war criminals stalk the planet and keep "order", right?

And Hare should be very careful quoting Samantha Power in this context (buy her excellent book by the way). Samantha Power's formative experience was the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. What she witnessed there was the inefficacy of the international community, and especially the U.N., in staving off genocidal actions. Most dramatically, the fall of Srebrenica put the lie to the U.N.'s promise that it would remain a "safe area" for Bosniak Muslims. I'd wager, if, say, a Chinese or Russian veto were all that lay between sending NATO forces to stem carnage in a place like Bosnia or thousands of victims dying instead--Samantha Power would well support a military intervention without U.N. authorization--contra Hare's emotive musings.

All this brings to mind Power's quoting of a Bob Dole spoof in the Congressional Record, the game of "multilateral make-believe":

"In order to believe that the United States approach in Bosnia is working, one simply has to play a game I call "let's pretend." The rules are simple. It goes like this:

Pretend that the U.N. forces are delivering humanitarian aid to those in need; Pretend that the U.N. forces control Sarajevo airport; Pretend that the U.N. forces are protecting safe havens such as Sarajevo and Srebrenica and that no Bosnians are dying from artillery assaults and shelling; Pretend that there is a credible threat of serious NATO air strikes...."

This is Hare's world. A pretend world. He pretends Blair is Bush's poodle when he's really not. He pretends the world is scarier now even though it's safer. He pretends we had no valid reasons to go to war even though Saddam's regime was in violation, not only of 1441, but a gamut of post Gulf-War I armistice arrangements. And all this pretending in one paragraph of an adolescent whine in the Guardian.

Posted by Gregory at June 23, 2003 08:58 PM
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