Stating the obvious


by Sunny
27th September, 2006 at 4:52 am    

George Bush yesterday suffered a blow to his argument that the removal of Saddam Hussein had made Americans safer after he ordered the release of an intelligence report warning the war in Iraq had become a “cause celebre for jihadists”.

“The Iraq conflict has become the ’cause celebre’ for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world. If this trend continues, threats to US interests at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increasing attacks worldwide.”

The report, reflecting a consensus of 16 intelligence agencies, acknowledged some US success in disrupting al-Qaida. But it said these gains were outweighed by other factors, fuelling al-Qaida’s spread: anger at corrupt Muslim regimes, anti-US sentiment, and a decentralised leadership that made it harder to penetrate. [The Guardian]

If this comes as a surprise to anyone then, well, they need their heads checked. To Osama Bin Laden and his ilk, the invasion of Iraq was a boon. Actually, George Bush was a boon to them but let’s stick to the matter at hand.

Supporters of the war in Iraq or George Bush are likely to respond in two ways:
1) Saddam Hussain needed to go anyway so the war is still justified.
2) The jihadi movement would have been there anyway despite the war hence it doesn’t matter.

There are also the big nut-jobs who will say the west has been at war with Muslims for 1400 years or so in a clash of civilisations and this is just a continuation of that but let’s leave them aside for now.

Our favourite polemicist Melanie Phillips for example says:

It would be idle to pretend that Iraq has not become a cause to be manipulated for recruitment for the jihad. But that observation doesn’t get you very far. For a start, it does not invalidate the war. The justification for toppling Saddam remains as valid as it ever was: that he was an unconscionable danger to the world because of the axis between his sponsorship of terror, his ambition to lead the Arab world and his intention to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Secondly if wasn’t Iraq something else would have acted as a recruiting sergeant for the jihad. Indeed, something else did: Afghanistan, and before that Bosnia, and always Israel.

This is just wilful ignorance. Even George Bush knew Hussain had nothing to do with 9/11, and it is well known he was an ardent secularist who had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda and their ilk. How exactly did he sponsor ‘terror’ outside his country?

And he may have been deluded but Hussain was in no position to “lead the Arab world” after being humiliated in the ten-year war with Iran and then the first Gulf war. And lastly he may have wanted to develop WMD but he neither had the capability nor the means to. Otherwise we would have found some in Iraq, no?

On the second point, while I accept that the hardcore bunch of religious extremists will use any excuse to justify their hatred, this does not excuse the fact that Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine serve as a cause to increase their influence and recruit more to their cause.

Instead of dealing with a hundred nutters, say, we now have to deal with a thousand because those original hundred have piggybacked on these issues, used the pictures of dying babies and crying mothers to get their bretheren angry, and brainwashed them into believing that a violent response is the only answer. And more keep breeding.

Will Melanie Phillips and her ilk understand or accept this? Looks unlikely.

Now George Bush has royally screwed up in Iraq (a point even Phillips concedes), this has become a fight to death. Both the Americans and their opponents need to win Iraq otherwise their campaigns will be dealt a fatal blow. Hence the former hang on in the country despite a lack of a strategy to improve conditions, and the latter continue to spead violence even during their holy month of Ramazan.

In other words the Iraqi people are getting caught in the cross-fire.

The only way out I can see would be a coordinated military intervention by the other Arab states to stabilise Iraq so the violence does not engulf the whole of the Middle East. That may also give the ME states more confidence in promoting peace in their neighbourhood given they failed so miderably in Darfur.


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  1. realitist — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:24 am  

    sunny, saddam might not have anything to do with 9/11, but he was a potential terrorist threat. a dozen or so saudis with a coupla million dollars brought america down to its knees. saddam might have done similar things.

  2. realitist — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:27 am  

    “The only way out I can see would be a coordinated military intervention by the other Arab states to stabilise Iraq so the violence does not engulf the whole of the Middle East.”

    typical suggestion from liberals. one must have ‘consensus’, universal approval, united nation collaboration, etc.

    you can jump through all these hoops, and then after the whole process, whos actually going to do the heavy lifting, who has the resources to sustain an active war effort in another country?

    yeh, america and the UK. the rest are insignificant. if everyone knows this, then whats the point of all this hand holding, oh it must be an arab effort.

    middle east peeps are not stupid, they have a good grasp of reality, and they know these symbolic things dont matter. they are aware that american will matters.

    let america sort out syria and iraq, and the terrorist tide will stem in time.

  3. soru — on 27th September, 2006 at 9:11 am  

    ‘he was an ardent secularist who had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda and their ilk.’

    No, _they_ (al Qaeda specifically) wanted nothing to do with _him_, presumably because they could recognise a dead man walking.

    If you look at the fact that of all the sinful people in the world, ansar al islam decided that Saddam’s enemy the Kurds were the ones who especially needed killing right now, and travelled all the way from Afghanisatan to do so, the logical conclusion is that Saddam kept on asking until he found some people who could reconcile jihad and taking his cash.

    The ‘Saddam Fedayeen’, ‘al qaeda Iraq’ and ‘Ansar al-Sunnah’ all very likely have something of the same roots.

    The fact that the invasion has obviously increased the strength of that kind of thing doesn’t logically imply it must have started from zero, and you weaken your argument by tacking on that unnecessary claim.

  4. Kesara / StrangelyPsychedelic — on 27th September, 2006 at 9:43 am  

    I like to think of Iraq and Afghanistan as giant bug machines where flies swarm to carry out their sacred duties and BZAAAAAAP – sizzlin terroristas!

  5. Jai — on 27th September, 2006 at 10:23 am  

    Sunny,

    =>”The only way out I can see would be a coordinated military intervention by the other Arab states to stabilise Iraq so the violence does not engulf the whole of the Middle East.”

    Agreed. They should have been doing this from Day 1. Ditto for the strife in Darfur.

    There was an interesting article in The Times recently regarding the current problems with jihadism worldwide; the somewhat-controversial item was titled “Can the West defeat the Islamist thread ? Here are 10 reasons why not”.

    Check it out here, when you have some spare time. Thought-provoking stuff, and it does mention the political miscalculations which the West has been making and is apparently continuing to make.

    I’m not sure if it’s all correct, but it’s quite thorough.

  6. Jai — on 27th September, 2006 at 10:24 am  

    =>”Islamist thread”

    Arrgh, should say “Islamist threaT”.

  7. sonia — on 27th September, 2006 at 10:31 am  

    the thing is it’s mostly about politics and political stances for most people. are you against or for? is the ralllying cry. something to ‘debate’ – and chew over. if someone wants to be ‘pro’ a war they jolly well ought to be prepared to risk their own lives, get involved. Are they a stakeholder otherwise? -to use the language of local government? if they won’t – well then is their ‘pro-war’ stance really pro-war>? do they know what war means in any case or would involve in the specific instance they’re supporting? or is it just about political opinion since they’re not out there themselves to deal with the reality of war.

    it wouldn’t be much good if residents of K&C decided it was fine for Southwark and Lambeth to be bombed would it?

    it’s one thing if you’re in that much immediate danger and you need to act. presumably in your own defense. all this war-mongering is clearly separate to that – let’s not fool ourselves it isn’t. the parallel/analogy of course should always be that to standards held in ‘normal life’ as pertaining to individuals and self-defense. do you resort to violence if you think there’s someone out there who doesn’t like you and might have it in for you? i.e. you think about, send a memo round to your friends and then toddle off to do the dirty? well if you did then it would be murder – cold blooded calculated murder at that. you can’t ‘pre-emptively’ strike someone and then shout self-defense. it won’t wash.

    the problem i see is taking it out of the context of individuals, normal standards – when it comes to ‘international relations’ and what ‘countries’ ought to do. Sorry but if a standard of behaviour is good enough for an ordinary individual why the heck shouldn’t we hold a country to the same standards? Ridiculous and not very logical.

    It’s like these political leaders who send their armies to war – if they had to go themselves at the head of the army i think we’d find they’d be suddenly much more amenable to diplomacy. This could be suggested to George Bush – of course he won’t have it. Look at the fuss everyone’s made about the ‘Death of a President’.

  8. nyrone — on 27th September, 2006 at 10:32 am  

    Lord almighty, I’ve really just started reading some stuff by Melanie Phillips..I feel sorry for her, a typical example of a theoretical idealist Marxist-Professor (what-can-we-do-about-those-brown-folk) type who sits in their room all day reading accounts and papers and then trying to stress through the use of word why her all-encompassing theory of the organized world must be accepted and put into place, because she’s ‘figured it out’.

    It reminds me of Plato’s Utopia, only worse…she is so arrogant in wanting to create a a new world order filled with people just like her, I wonder if she’s ever set foot outside the UK (South of France doesn’t count!) This person would defend Guantanamo on some loophole too, God I hope she never enters law..

    Regarding the “war making terrorism stronger” report doing the rounds, has a piece of news ever been more blatantly obvious? Today’s newscast: The sky is blue…see you tomorrow, same time , same place…

    Is it possible that even though these reports were not what GB wanted to hear, that he is not really that concerned about them either? While much of the media and activists seem to be listing reasons for why the ‘Iraq thing’ hs become so bad and out of control, is it possible that GB couldn’t give a toss, and might even embrace all this? Civil war was probably a popular probable when they started this war ‘leave them to blow each other up and de-stabilize the region, we’ll provide the guns and steal the oil” and judging by the recent profits for arms companies, are we sure this is actually a “failure” for GB and the hawks? For most people, of course but for the neo cons, probbaly not…they live off war, it’s practically their main hobby…they probbaly play real-life risk on Tuesdays and Thursdays….

  9. nyrone — on 27th September, 2006 at 10:34 am  
  10. sonia — on 27th September, 2006 at 10:39 am  

    and about removing saddam from power – one could find many other ways to do that. assasination – have we never heard of? has no one read any spy stories – send Mossad in to do the job – they’re the best around. much smarter than the CIA bumbling crew. Or pay the entire Elite guards the same amount of money the war’s cost. Oh but that would require an abhorrence of war and some measure valuing of human lives. not just iraqis but american soldiers too. honey what have we got an army for if we don’t want to use it?

  11. sonia — on 27th September, 2006 at 10:42 am  

    well the terrorist whoever they are use the war as an excuse. but since it’s a ‘war’ then that presumably allows for the other side to fight back – no? so in WWII was anyone suprised that various sides were off trying to bomb each others cities? no. so if any of the iraqis who’ve lost their families and homes somehow got hold of a fighter plane and showed up over london and bombed some of us in the same way they were bombed = how can we say – oh didn’t y ou realize when we said WAR we meant a one-sided war?

    the fact that they aren’t doing so is something we ought to be f***ing grateful for.

  12. sonia — on 27th September, 2006 at 10:43 am  

    and giving terrorists excuses is a damn silly thing to do. but of course terrorists and governments enjoy all this as they get more power over us normal folks so there you go.

  13. sonia — on 27th September, 2006 at 10:49 am  

    one can never ‘defeat’ anything with force – millenia of history should have made that bl**dy clear. the use of the word ‘defeat’ in itself is combative and as such isn’t likely to work.

    it’s about time ‘Authority’ realized that and spent some time thinking about human psychology.

  14. soru — on 27th September, 2006 at 10:58 am  

    ‘ Or pay the entire Elite guards the same amount of money the war’s cost.’

    That actually happened, it was one reason there was very comparitively little fighting during the actual invasion.

    ‘one can never ‘defeat’ anything with force – millenia of history should have made that bl**dy clear.’

    What? Like, what?

  15. sonia — on 27th September, 2006 at 11:02 am  

    why don’t you think for yourself Soru? :-) you’re not that dumb are you?

  16. Arif — on 27th September, 2006 at 11:17 am  

    soru,

    you might be right, but just want to point out that the CIA believes it was the other way around:

    “Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qaeda and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al-Qaeda to provide material or operational support.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5328592.stm

    I think Melanie Phillips has a point that if it was not for Iraq, there would still be a large and growing number of festering injustices which violent groups would use in their recruitment. I think the easiest and most effective way to have isolated them would be to give evidence that those injustices would no longer be supported by the powerful. The second most effective would be to have a sense from competing Muslim organisations that there are meaningful ways to stop the injustices nonviolently. The third most effective (but in some ways the best) way would be to have a focus from Muslim organisations on removing injustices that Muslims themselves are responsible for. To some extent all have been pursued, but none have had any momentum.

    The momentum would probably come from seeing some small success from efforts so far. Yet, even though violence is such an obvious failure too, people keep pursuing it. It has its own momentum.

    I find the hypocrisy of claiming to oppose terrorism or to oppose oppression while using threats and violence yourself very obvious. These politicians recruiting and deploying these armies will use whatever legitimation comes to hand. And their violence handily provides each other with legitimations in terms of opposing the new Hitler, or the new Crusades. By claiming that all civilisation is threatened by other people who love only to kill for material or spiritual gain.

    It is a pity for humanity that these methods seem to speak to us more than attempts to develop a common conscience. And even if they don’t speak to us we can be enveloped in the violence they generate by the few.

    I’m sure gennuine political objectives are at stake on both sides. If we support these objectives, on whatever side, we should be clear we will not pursue them by violence. If we oppose them, we should also oppose them without violence. If you use violence, then what legitimises your violence above that of someone who sincerely opposes your objectives? I know Blair and al Qaeda have ready answers based on their own assumptions about obligations to protect the State or to protect holy places. But for me these are only justifications for violence which is necessary for effective self-defence. The violence both sides actually carry out is a mixture of retaliation and pre-emption. So how is that justified?

    Melanie Phillips seems to be arguing people who you believe are irrational and dangerous must be removed, but by justifying doing this by war she must have some corollary arguments eg

    1. Killing those unsympathetic to you will leave you with more sympathetic people, or

    2. It doesn’t matter why people submit to your authority – if instilling fear and removing people’s ability to protect themselves might work, it should be tried, or

    3. There is no other way, even a global war without end would be preferable to avoiding war in Iraq.

    Maybe there are better arguments, but these seem like delusions to me. You will not awaken people’s sympathies for you by killing others, so you will require constant oppression to stop retaliation in turn. And this is the lesson we should also be sharing with al Qaeda supporters.

    Pursue your way of life and political goals by all means. But do it nonviolently. Defend yourself by all means, but it isn’t self-defence to look for people to kill after you fail to defend yourself.

    Rant over.

  17. sonia — on 27th September, 2006 at 11:28 am  

    “Defend yourself by all means, but it isn’t self-defence to look for people to kill after you fail to defend yourself.”

    good one arif – you’re much better at expressing these things than i am – that’s what i was getting around to saying.

  18. Arif — on 27th September, 2006 at 11:41 am  

    Actually, my rant took so long to write, it turned out you already said what I wanted to say before I posted it sonia. Still, it was good to get it off my chest, even if it was redundant.

  19. Kismet Hardy — on 27th September, 2006 at 11:45 am  

    Did you hear Bush say ‘I disagree with this report. People who think this are naive, it’s a mistake.’

    The amount of time I’ve read on this very blog people say: ‘Why are you supporting a war that kills so many thousands of innocent men, women and children?’

    Only for some right-wing-on politico to say: ‘Well that’s an incredibly naive way of looking at it…’

    Well hallelujah to all those pompous farts, you officially speak Bush’s language.

  20. Tilling — on 27th September, 2006 at 11:58 am  

    The only way out I can see would be a coordinated military intervention by the other Arab states to stabilise Iraq

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA! Yeah right. As if.

  21. Kismet Hardy — on 27th September, 2006 at 11:59 am  

    That’s very ‘naive’, Tilling :-)

  22. Chairwoman — on 27th September, 2006 at 12:07 pm  

    Jai – I’ve just read that piece you recommended. It does indeed make interesting reading.

  23. soru — on 27th September, 2006 at 12:10 pm  

    ‘ I think the easiest and most effective way to have isolated them would be to give evidence that those injustices would no longer be supported by the powerful. ‘

    For example, by deposing Saddam and enforcing a just settlement of the Palestinian issue.

    Despite what sonia says, it is obviously wrong to say violence never works.

    If all US troops had withdrawn within 12 months, leaving behind a mostly peaceful and stable state on the path to becoming a democracy, and the ink was being dried on a 2-state solution, then that almost certainly would have led in a large drop in popular support for non-military violence, and recruitment into jihadist.

    The fact that didn’t happen is something you know after the event, not something predictable in principle in advance.

  24. Sid — on 27th September, 2006 at 12:14 pm  

    Jai I’ve just read the piece you linked to.

    And whilst it has some pretty good points, it starts off with the premise of ‘Destroying’ “Islam”. What the whole damn caboodle?

    Surely the writer means destroying “Islamist Extremist Violence” specifically.

    But then, this was a Times article. So who can tell…

  25. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 12:17 pm  

    The Arab League’s complete failure to keep their house in order is the reason we had to get in there. You don’t extract oil cheaper and easier by destabilising the region. The price goes up. Possibly why Saddam set his heart on destabilising the region.

  26. nyrone — on 27th September, 2006 at 12:24 pm  

    Thanks Jai, indeed a thought-provoking and original article you linked earlier on..

  27. Kismet Hardy — on 27th September, 2006 at 12:37 pm  

    Saddam was a bad man but really, if you were to compile a realistic top ten of the world’s most dangerous tyrants, he’d struggle to beat the likes of Kim Jing-il, Omar al-bashir, Than Shwe, Mugabe et al.

    Saddam, for all his evils (and it’s still a source of great hilarity that they amount to killing less hundred people in 1982), kept the country together. Not very well, but together. In a country where shia, sunnis and kurds all want to kill each other, you kinda needed a despot to tell everyone to behave themselves. Take ‘em away and, well, this is what happens.

    Compare the number of people that died at Saddam and his evil regime’s hands compared to the thousands upon thousands that have perished since Bush decided to save them.

    No, Saddam wouldn’t do well on the most dangerous men on earth list at all. George Bush, well, he always wanted to be number one

    He is now

  28. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 12:41 pm  

    If Saddam had just kept the country together we wouldn’t be there. But he invaded his neighbours which is the unforgiveable part. Note – Iraq has been occupied, not invaded. Saddams efforts were to permenently annex new territory for Iraq, hence invasions.

  29. Arif — on 27th September, 2006 at 12:47 pm  

    Am I the only one who found that article to be a bit paranoid, I assumed it was a kind of joke to make certain points about how decadent the west is. It clearly mentions its paranoid assumptions about the nature of the threat in the beginning and says “If such war is under way, there are ten good reasons why, as things stand, Islam will not be defeated in it.” Which as Sid points out is a bit of an overblown goal, but I assume he believes in it only for the purposes of the article. I’m interested to know what thoughts it has provoked in you all!

    Soru, I think that even if a war was undertaken in Iraq giving the reason as being to protect Muslims, and it was successful in installing a stable government, that would not be very effective evidence that they no longer support injustice. on its own would be seen as a pretext. The kind of evidence I have in mind would be a lot less dramatic – having a Swedish-type foreign policy, perhaps. Not arming oppressive allied regimes would be far more powerful evidence than selective interventions to remove non-allied regimes.

    Similarly the way in which a settlement in Israel/Palestine is approached is much more important than having anything enforced.

    I think the issue is partly one of proving morally trustworthy and partly of proving neutral between competing groups outside your territory. Not about effectiveness in achieving goals which appear amoral and hypocritical.

  30. Kismet Hardy — on 27th September, 2006 at 12:52 pm  

    Bert, why are we not in Zimbabwe, Sudan, North Korea, Uzbekistan, Burma or Iran then?

    Or is that all to come?

  31. sonia — on 27th September, 2006 at 12:53 pm  

    24. good point sid. then again a lot of people conflate islam with ‘islamism’.

    also the title was can the ‘west’ defeat it – how amusing, which implies that no one else is bothered by islamism. again so much for media representation. and for understanding anything about the dynamics of countries with a majority of muslims where people don’t have to worry about ‘being traditional’ and most people generally think mullahs talk shit and are out for control and power etc. and do their best to avoid them. in any case.

    this lot should get more publicity in my opinion – the progressive muslims union. of course the usual nasty heavy blokes have said nasty things about them -issued fatwas and the like – e.g. that qaradawi bloke. so annoying those men. grr. oh and those eye on gay muslims folk ( dont like them much either – seeing as they’re non-condeming of homosexuality.

    http://www.pmuna.org/

  32. sonia — on 27th September, 2006 at 12:58 pm  

    Yes maybe if they stopped manufacturing arms and selling them to all and sundry we’d be more convinced of how ‘sincere’ their wish to disarm dictators. Or supporting those dictators generally..

    but of course the arms trade is ‘central’ to British industry…

    ha ha! maybe if people didn’t waste so much money going to war then they wouldn’t miss that money made in weaponry.

  33. Kismet Hardy — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:03 pm  

    I’m still pissed off with the ‘naive’ comment.

    They put billions into the war chest, dupe people into thinking there are millions of people who want to kill us all, and while the economy suffers these idiots say: ‘you’re right not to put money into your own country, spend the money killing the enemy that you say want to kill us’

    Naive twats

  34. Chairwoman — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:10 pm  

    Sonia – Good points @31, I’m not sure that I understood 32. Are you coming over all Christian on us, and advocating beating the spears into ploughshears, or any other kind of agricultural equipment?

  35. soru — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:11 pm  

    ‘Compare the number of people that died at Saddam and his evil regime’s hands compared to the thousands upon thousands that have perished since Bush decided to save them.’

    Why don’t you do that?

    I think a lot of the basic difference in attitude between most Iraqis and the US/UK on one side, and the rest of Europe and the Muslim world on the other, is the belief that Saddam really was not just a routinely nasty piece of work, but a grade A world class tyrant, with a death toll of multiple millions, up there with Kim Jong, but with no other modern competitors. Certainly he is way above petty dictators like Mugabe, who still has to bother with things like rigging elections and beating up opposition leaders.

    http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.php?menuID=1&subID=536

    the Black Book puts the number closer to two million. During 25 years of blood-soaked tyranny, in a systematic programme of torture, rape, assassination, execution and genocide, he killed Iranians, Kuwaitis and Iraqis, among them Kurds, Jews, Marsh Arabs, Shiites and his fellow Sunnis

    Bernard Kouchner, a co-founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres and former cabinet minister, who writes that “Saddam was one of history’s worst tyrants and it was necessary and urgent to remove him.”

  36. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:12 pm  

    Kismet wrote: “Bert, why are we not in Zimbabwe, Sudan, North Korea, Uzbekistan, Burma or Iran then?

    Or is that all to come?”

    Because as yet none of those have invaded the neighbours. Possibly because they know we’ll use it as a reason to get in.

  37. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:15 pm  

    Sonia – Many of today’s problems problems can be put down to indiscriminate arms sales in the past. We can’t put the clock back, and we now enforce many limitations on what arms can be sold where. It’s a step in the right direction, but until China etc. start doing the same thing it’s not going to do any good. The damage is done.

  38. Kismet Hardy — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:17 pm  

    (hurumph mode) Iraq invaded Kuwait 15 years ago. Israel invaded Lebanon just the other day

  39. Kismet Hardy — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:19 pm  

    Why is it when America or Israel go into a country and bomb the fuck out of everyone, it’s called occupying and not invading?

    (insert occupational hazard gag here)

  40. soru — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:21 pm  

    ‘a Swedish-type foreign policy, perhaps. Not arming oppressive allied regimes’

    I take your point, and I’d definitely support more regulation of the arms trade, up to a boycott of all non-democracies. But I think you picked a bad example – Sweden is actually a fairly major exporter of arms to Pakistan:

    http://www.sipri.org/contents/armstrad/TIV_exp_SWE_95-05.pdf/download

  41. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:23 pm  

    Kismet – read my post at #28.

    /righteous victor mode.

  42. Arif — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:29 pm  

    You’r right soru, I wanted to use Sweden as an example of a country which is active in foreign policy, and trustworthy enough to be a neutral facilitator to solve overseas conflicts.

    I think their arms dealing is terrible, and think it undermines a lot of their standing. Glad you picked that up, though, soru.

  43. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:34 pm  

    I honestly can’t think of a single country that matters that could be seen as a model to follow.

    Arms sales will probably get worse too, as nations such as Brazil are getting into it in a big way. Filling the gap left by the likes of us, sadly.

    It’s a very bad thing – a government has to worry far more about public opinion until it gets tanks and helicopters. Once it has them public opinion can go to hell, all that matters is army opinion as there’s nothing farmers with rifles can do to an armoured brigade.

  44. Kismet Hardy — on 27th September, 2006 at 1:35 pm  

    Soru, if Saddam is so bad, why isn’t he being tried for all these henous crimes? He’s on trial right now isn’t he? Anything to do with the fact that if it came to court, it might turn out that a lot of the blame falls on a greater power? (not god, bush)

  45. soru — on 27th September, 2006 at 2:19 pm  

    Kismet: No doubt, at the very least there are doubtless generals and spooks serving the current Iraqi government who will want what they did kept quiet. They did widen his trial from one specific well-documented incident to genocide.

    I can see there are problems with a full trial procedure when everyone involved would die of old age before the court reached a conclusion if as little as 15 minutes was spent on each suspected victim.

  46. Uncleji — on 27th September, 2006 at 2:20 pm  

    he was an ardent secularist who had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda and their ilk.’

    Buzz ! does mean anything because Atheist Syria has long been best pals with Islamist Iran. Infact Syria is sponsor of Hellazboh. Also Arab Nationalist Iraq backed Christian General Aoun in the dying days of the Lebanese Civil War.

  47. Kismet Hardy — on 27th September, 2006 at 2:27 pm  

    So Soru, you’re agreeing that Saddam was the fall guy for a lot of other people? Which makes getting rid of him, at the expense of killing thousands of people and inflaming global terrorism, the right thing to do how?

    All this for one man. As if a dictator needed his ego pumped any more already

  48. Uncleji — on 27th September, 2006 at 2:27 pm  

    But the British policy on Palestine sucks big time.
    How exactly is Blair going to solve the Palestinian question when only player that has any leverage over the Israelis are the Americans, and they don’t give a dammn. Bring back George Bush Senior, he threated to cut off aid if Shamir and his ilk didn’t jaw jaw rather then war war.

  49. Kismet Hardy — on 27th September, 2006 at 2:36 pm  

    “the only player that has any leverage over the Israelis are the Americans”

    I’ve never used the word leverage because I’ve never known its correct usage. So thanks for that. I see it means ‘endorsing killings and supplying tools and protection to carry out the killings’

    Hm. It’ll be difficult to slip that one in conversation over a few pints

  50. Arif — on 27th September, 2006 at 2:39 pm  

    Nonetheless, Uncleji (#46), the CIA who were looking for evidence of such a link, found that Saddam Hussein really didn’t want anything to do with them. It is commonplace that groups with common enemies make alliances. The postwar CIA report to the Senate argued that although al Qaeda wanted such an alliance, Saddam Hussein did not.

    http://intelligence.senate.gov/phaseiiaccuracy.pdf
    (see p105 of the document, p108 of the pdf file)

  51. SastaRasta — on 27th September, 2006 at 2:43 pm  

    Agree with most of your post. Some quibbles:

    “…he was an ardent secularist”

    He was better than a lot of others, but he did make his contempt for Israel quite clear and it had everything to do with religion.

    “The only way out I can see would be a coordinated military intervention by the other Arab states to stabilise Iraq”

    History shows that Arab states don’t trust each other any more than they trust the West. There is no evidence to suggest this could change in the near future. Among other things, the Shia-Sunni divide ensures that this is the case.

    Kismet, I also agree with you that GW is the most dangerous person in the world at the moment. If it wasn’t for him, Bin Laden would have had that honour.

  52. Kismet Hardy — on 27th September, 2006 at 2:50 pm  

    If it wasn’t for him, SastaRasta, bin laden would be a footnote in history

    But hey, none of us have a time machine…

    If you hadn’t burnt my house down than I might not have slept with your sister which means you wouldn’t have gotten your revenge by killing my hamster

    And so on

  53. soru — on 27th September, 2006 at 2:54 pm  

    Kismet: I’m prety sure saddam was his own man, he wasn’t anyone’s stooge.

    Uncleji: british (specifically, Blair’s) policy on Palestine is kind of a long shot, but it would be pretty impressive if it turned out to work.

    Not sure that anyone other than Blair thinks he can persuade Bush to threaten sanctions at just the right moment to get a deal. But it’s not acually impossible.

  54. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 2:57 pm  

    I saw Saddam as an ardent secularist when he needed a united Iraq to fight Iran. Then he invaded Kuwait and the secularists came and kicked his arse. Then he got more and more religious as he realised that was his only hope of support from abroad.

    So basically he was an opportunist, nothing more.

  55. BollywoodScum — on 27th September, 2006 at 3:02 pm  

    And again no one mentions sanctions.

    Are you seriously telling me that all the anti war ppl have forotten that in the aftermath of the WTC attacks, the sanctions imposed as part of the truce had already (by conservative estimates from the UN)killed at least 500,000 children?

    Nevermind that the same sanctions applied to Iraqi Kurdistan but that somehow they didn’t have the need to have george galloway raisng money for an appeal (supposedly for medical equipment for Iraq)for money.

    Never mind that at the celebratory Question Time after the WTC attack where virtually every ‘conscious Muslim’ speaker advancing the ‘cosmic bitchslap’ theory for the carnage quoted the Iraqi deaths from sanctions as a reason for the attacks. I also recall several loudly complaining as to why this tyrant who oppressed Muslims was still being allowed to run riot over a nation of more than 20 million – why, he was surely the west’s puppet wasn’t he?

    So. Don’t invade Iraq. Accept that ‘containment was working’. keep sanctions as a ‘non violent’ means of maintaining order in the nation.

    Then wonder why Muslim opinion was still so upset.

  56. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 3:15 pm  

    The sanctions were applied after Saddam willfully broke the terms of the truce, not as a part of it.

    The children died because he needed to rebuild his military machine.

  57. Arif — on 27th September, 2006 at 3:15 pm  

    Agree with Bert Preast (#54), but to overcome the shock I’ll nitpick with soru (#53) – I don’t think sanctions are the right way. I think the US should not squander its goodwill with Israel and coerce them. It should just try to be even-handed and principled. Such principles should include a principle for considering military aid and other support only for States respecting international law and/or taking part in negotiations on their territorial disputes. Perhaps removing aid can be considered de facto sanctions.

    What happened to the Middle East Peace Conference the US promised after the early 90s war against Iraq? That would be a start.

  58. Sid — on 27th September, 2006 at 3:16 pm  

    Then wonder why Muslim opinion was still so upset.

    Most Muslim opinion doesn’t give rat’s ass about Iraq. Arab opinion is something altogether different. The recent report defining Iraq as a “cause celebre” for young Arab tearaways to gravitate to is totally peculiar to the failure of the US/UK invasion. And not because there were or there are proto-Islamists who are “part of picture whether there was an invasion or not”.

    I just wonder how Ferret Boy and the Fat Bastard still command our fawning attention.

  59. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 3:28 pm  

    Read the article Jai.

    I go with (roughly) the 2nd comment below the article:

    Along the lines of same old rhetoric as we had vis-a-vis the Societ threat.

    Also the quote in the article (Saudi scholar 2004) is a mirror of the rubbish we have been hearing since mid-80s justifying continued pro-nuclear posture only this time aiming the missiles at the Mid-East.

    The predictability of it all would be quite funny if it wasn’t so serious.

  60. Arif — on 27th September, 2006 at 3:32 pm  

    BollywoodScum (#55), though I’m not sure what point you really want to make, I think you raise an important issue: that humanitarian aid should be principled and sanctions to bring conformity to international law need to be separated from that.

    There are plenty of reasons to oppose Saddam Hussein’s regime. The leap to then starting a war, justified by desire to pre-empt the use of non-existent WMDs, bolstered by arguments of non-existent links with al Qaeda was a bit of a mistake. Some argue that with better post-war planning it could have been justified later for making life better for Iraqis freed from an evil despot. Fine, but are we going to make this our new principle? If not it sounds to me and Kismet hardy like another convenient pretext.

    So let’s have principled and humane foreign policies. I think the world would be safer for all of us if we did. Otherwise we are just using principles selectively to hide our goals. My idea of democracy would be incompatible with secret government policies covered up by public relations.

  61. soru — on 27th September, 2006 at 3:34 pm  

    Arif: 57 is a better way of phrasing the same thing I meant.

  62. Kismet Hardy — on 27th September, 2006 at 3:51 pm  

    “If not it sounds to me and Kismet hardy like another convenient pretext.”

    Yeah, me and Arif’s army

    I’ll bring the flowers to place in arif’s rifle

    (chuffed.com)

  63. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 3:53 pm  

    I mostly agree with Arif, except on the make life better for Iraqis point.

    One of the reasons Iraq has become such a disaster is the cretinous rhetoric of our own politicians, Bush, Blair and the UN big players all. There was every excuse to go into Iraq and kill/remove Saddam on the grounds he consistently broke the terms of the truce. Sanctions were proving useless as without military action no one could force him to spend his resources on Iraq rather than the Iraqi military.

    So what the fuck were they thinking banging on about WMD and bringing freedom and democracy to the people of Iraq? Did they think they needed public support and the only way to get it was to scare them or appeal to their idealistic natures? Boy, didn’t that one backfire globally, just? What a bunch of chodwits.

  64. Sid — on 27th September, 2006 at 4:04 pm  

    Did they think they needed public support and the only way to get it was to scare them or appeal to their idealistic natures?

    No, because of the nature of Security Council Resolution 1441, invasion without some overarching principle (WMD, humanitarian etc) would constitute an internationally illegal action. Our leaders were simply using legalese to protect their skins from ICC tribunals in the future.

  65. Bijna — on 27th September, 2006 at 4:06 pm  

    Third Night of Ramadan Rioting in Capital of Europe
    http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/1384
    Who needs al-Qaida?

  66. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 4:19 pm  

    Sid – We all remember the results of the sanctions, which were supposed to harm Saddam but did nothing of the sort, in fact they cemented his position in the eyes of many in the outside world. There were only 2 alternatives really, keep the sanctions until the only Iraqis left were in Saddam’s uniform and employ, or go in and get the bugger. Surely that’s humanitarian enough?

    Do you have a link for the bit of international law you mention?

  67. Arif — on 27th September, 2006 at 4:43 pm  

    Bert, I don’t think either sanctions or invasion were humanitarian in intent or outcome. Of course they could have been, in which case they would be done differently. And if they were done by actors who are genuinely humanitarian, then they would have completely different foreign policies in all sorts of ways to the ones they actually do.

    Once they decided to start being humanitarian, they might have found a better way of making it clear that it was humanitarian. Working through the UN, making links with humanitarian NGOs to develop consistent policies with all States, and incrementally acting according to those policies whether in Iraq or elsewhere.

    But I can’t believe that States with histories of supporting dictatorships (including sometimes the one in Iraq), suddenly decide to be cack-handedly humanitarian in this one intervention. Perhaps they cannot be humanitarian elsewhere due to overstretch. In which case, I’d expect them to start going down Kismet Hardy’s list as soon as they have enough troops.

    Except none of us expect them to, because I think we know that for the UK Government “humanitarianism” is – at best – a minor consideration among a range of objectives. At worst, a convenient lie.

  68. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 4:44 pm  

    Bjina,

    Has Ramadan got anything to do with it? Other than a sly headline.

    Read the story, still don’t know what its about.

  69. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 4:50 pm  

    We cannot re-write history because of 9/11.

    500,000 children died due to US and UK inspired and enforced sanctions.

    Post the US / UK invasion it was quite clear that what many had said was true. Iraq was no threat to anyone. No WMDs, nothing.

    The idea that continuing the sanctions would kill only more civilians so the most humane thing to do was to invade is silly.

    Its the same attitude which the Bush Blair coterie is now trying to promulgate – yes OK we got the invasion slightly wrong, but look at them massacring each other. Muslims killed by muslims is much more than we we’ve killed. As if that could possibly be true.

  70. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 4:55 pm  

    Arif – I didn’t say the intention was humanitarian, the sanctions were there as punishment and to guarantee reparations for Kuwait etc.. But the way things panned out the only options were to sit and watch ordinary Iraqis die while Saddam consolidated his grip on the country by rebuilding his military, or taking military action. If we can come up with a method of humanitarian soldiering we’re onto a winner, but I doubt it can be done. So to my mind while not humanitarian, military action against Saddam was the only humanitarian thing we could do.

    I’m not putting this very well really, am I? Try again: It COULD have been viewed as humanitarian, but our glorious leaders gloriously cocked that up trying to scare people when there was no need to.

    The third option was to drop sanctions and reparations and welcome him back into the international community, but for me that option doesn’t exist. He’d shown no remorse and was crowing over his “victory”, and that would send an unacceptable signal to the whole world. It’s unfair the Iraqis have to suffer for a principle, but it’d be even more unfair on the Kuwaitis.

  71. Anas — on 27th September, 2006 at 4:57 pm  

    It would be idle to pretend that Iraq has not become a cause to be manipulated for recruitment for the jihad

    It would be wrong too.

    The justification for toppling Saddam remains as valid as it ever was: that he was an unconscionable danger to the world because of the axis between his sponsorship of terror, his ambition to lead the Arab world and his intention to develop weapons of mass destruction

    Here we go re-writing history again. The justification for going to war was that Saddam HAD WMD, not that he had the intent to develop WMD. The ‘intent’ justification came post-invasion.

  72. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 4:58 pm  

    The figure of 500,000 children dying may not be entirely true. If memory serves it’s the difference between how many infant mortalities there were under sanctions IF the rate of infant mortality had continued to decline at a similar rate to the preceeding decade. I don’t know what that rate was, but I’d bet it declined quite a lot, so the figure can’t be seen as objective.

    I’m not denying people died here, by the way.

  73. Kismet Hardy — on 27th September, 2006 at 4:59 pm  

    I’m with refresh and anas

  74. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:06 pm  

    Refresh – It’s true that Iraq was no threat to anyone post invasion, but prior to invasion Iraq was a threat to Kuwaitis, Kurds, and Israelis etc. – WMD or not.

  75. Anas — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:08 pm  

    the Black Book puts the number closer to two million. During 25 years of blood-soaked tyranny, in a systematic programme of torture, rape, assassination, execution and genocide, he killed Iranians, Kuwaitis and Iraqis, among them Kurds, Jews, Marsh Arabs, Shiites and his fellow Sunnis… Bernard Kouchner, a co-founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres and former cabinet minister, who writes that “Saddam was one of history’s worst tyrants and it was necessary and urgent to remove him.”

    Does it mention that for a large percentage of his reign of terror he was being supplied with arms and military equipment by the US who well knew what use he was putting them to? The only reason they stopped directly arming him was b/c of Kuwait and had nothing to do with any humanitarian reasons.

  76. Anas — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:11 pm  

    Refresh – It’s true that Iraq was no threat to anyone post invasion, but prior to invasion Iraq was a threat to Kuwaitis, Kurds, and Israelis etc. – WMD or not.

    And how big a threat to world stability is it now?

  77. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:11 pm  

    Anas – That’s odd. When I had a gander all his arms were disguised as Warsaw Pact stuff.

  78. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:13 pm  

    Anas #76 – A huge threat, I agree. Saddam Hussein may well go down in history as having caused more trouble than a bastard son of Hitler and Genghis Khan.

  79. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:34 pm  

    The US can have Saddam Hussein, he was after all their bastard. But why the rest of the Iraqis? And why have him attack Iran.

    Saddam’s initial venture into massacres were of left wingers and trade unionists based on names supplied by the CIA. Admittedly it was for the greater good of winning that other battle of good v. evil against the Soviet Union.

    In Blair’s swansong at the Labour Party conference, he mentioned that the terrorist attacks on the US were not as a result of the Iraq invasion. I thought he was going to go onto tell us when the whole thing started – but of course he couldn’t. It would have meant dissembling over US policy of the last 60 years, and UK policy of the last 80 and before.

    We are at a stage where we are required to fall into line so the battle royal can commence – as Blair says to last a generation.

  80. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:39 pm  

    If you see Saddam as a US creation, do you see Baathism in the same light? Pan Arabism?

    How can you assert that US intelligence was so wrong, then that Saddam needed their help to purge Iraq of commies?

  81. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:41 pm  

    Bert
    “The figure of 500,000 children dying may not be entirely true……”

    You do not account for the masses of depleted uranium left, not to say I accept your thinking on how the 500,000 figure could be reduced. To say 250,000.
    A little more palatable?

  82. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:41 pm  

    Blimey, we’re only at it again!

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/5384294.stm

  83. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:44 pm  

    Bert

    “…Baathism ….etc”

    How am I supposed to see that or any other movement?

    Pan-Arabism, is that something that is unacceptable to you? As it was to Anthony Eden?

    Before I forget what is Baathism?

    Cue Kismet…

  84. sonia — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:44 pm  

    yeah the damage is done..and continues to be done!

  85. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:45 pm  

    Refresh – My jury is still out on DU. As most of those munitions were used in Kuwait and there have been no complaints I’ve seen from there, I’d say birth defects are more logically down to chemical spillages into drinking water etc. during Saddam’s time. Also, when Saddam complained the UN wanted to send a team to study the problem he would not allow them too.

    For the dead children please don’t assume I feel like that or don’t care. But I see it as very much a “sexed up” dossier on the grounds I mentioned earlier, and we all know what that can lead to.

  86. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:46 pm  

    Bert,

    Its a joke – its called Operation Sinbad probably to be led by Captain Pugwash.

    The names are chosen probably to make us at home feel warm and cosy about it all.

  87. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:48 pm  

    Neither Baathism or Pan Arabism have my support, but neither are they unacceptable to me. I just dispute that Saddam Hussein was the Americans fault, because he wasn’t. The CIA and MI6 got up to all sorts of tricks in the region post WW2, and they were almost all disaterous failures at least from a UK/US point of view. I don’t credit they had the power and influence needed to produce a Saddam – all they did was work with him when it suited both sides.

  88. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:49 pm  

    Bert

    I don’t assume for a minute that you personally feel any better for it. But what is of concern is the levels we go to justify the unjustifiable.

    As for the numbers dead through sanctions, remember thats only the children. What of the elderly, the poor and weak?

    Madaleine Albright was more than happy to accept those figures when she said it was a price worth paying.

  89. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:50 pm  

    The British army is usually very careful in giving operations silly names:

    US Op Desert Storm – UK Op Granby
    US Op Iraqi Freedom – UK Op Telic

    So I suspect the name Op Sinbad may have been chosen by the Iraqis?

  90. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:52 pm  

    Refresh – I know, and while against lifting sanctions I was well up for getting in and doing what needed to be done for Iraq from about 1995-96, when it became clear what Saddam was about.

  91. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 5:53 pm  

    Saddam was the US’ own. And again they can have him.
    But I would also like to put in the same dock all those ‘hapless’ wonders that drive US / UK policy. From the top.

    That to me would be principled. Anything else is the usual finger-pointing. Worse it means justifying another 50 years of bloodshed – althought it’ll probably at an acceptable ratio of 1000:1.

    A ratio any US/UK politician can live with.

  92. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 6:01 pm  

    Is the whole Arab League the US’s own?

  93. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 6:01 pm  

    “A ratio any US/UK politician can live with.”

    Apologies, not any, but some politicians.

  94. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 6:03 pm  

    Bert

    “….and while against lifting sanctions I was well up for getting in and doing what needed to be done for Iraq from about 1995-96, when it became clear what Saddam was about.”

    Where were you in the 1980′s when we were protesting against Saddam and his supporters here in the UK and US. Include Thatcher and Hurd in that.

    Read Pilger from that era.

  95. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 6:05 pm  

    Bert

    “Is the whole Arab League the US’s own?”

    I am not sure we were discussing the Arab League.

  96. ZinZin — on 27th September, 2006 at 6:13 pm  

    Sunny please check spelling.

  97. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 6:17 pm  

    I was just wondering if you’d tell me who else is a US stooge in the region?

    With US hardware Iraq would have beaten Iran hands down. Especially as Iran had British hardware and we were refusing to supply them ammo and spare parts. So did the US want Saddam to attack Iran? I don’t think so. I don’t think they had any more than a very minor influence on him, apart from being able to threaten to invade him. Even when they did that he flipped them the bird and said bring it on.

    And in the 80s I was in the army, so protesting wasn’t the done thing really.

  98. soru — on 27th September, 2006 at 6:22 pm  

    ‘The British army is usually very careful in giving operations silly names:’

    They supposedly have a little computer program that spits out randomly generated names for operations.

    I don’t know what they would do if the computer program randomly came up with the name ‘Operation Pagan’ or ‘Operation Porkpie’ or something.

  99. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 6:25 pm  

    Op Pagan has already been done by the rozzers:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/kent/4305612.stm

    :(

  100. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 7:17 pm  

    Bert

    There are friends, allies and stooges.

    Friends and allies are usually sovereign and independent. Stooges are usually placemen.

    I don’t have sufficient knowledge to answer your question.

    However I would like to see all the Arab nations to be friends and allies of US / UK – but never stooges. In other words they have to be independent and only back foreign government on the basis that it is in the interest of its people, and then the region.

    Similarly I would like them to friends and allies with China and Russia on exactly the same basis.

    What gets in the way is knowing what is of strategic interest of a nation. In the case of the UK it seems its anything that is determined to be so by the US. For the US its anything that’s going to get in the way of the its divine right to rule the world.

    And of course the most strategic of all interests is control of the flow of the most precious of resources – oil. No serious commentator disagrees with that. It may be a co-incidence but the vast majority of the worlds reserves of this and gas is muslim regions.

    So Iraq as the second largest of producers/reserves of the stuff could not have ever been ignored in the 80′s (and before) and now.

    Iran itself had its democratically elected leader overthrown by the UK / US intelligence services because it chose to nationalise its oil industry. Why? Because the Iran was getting less of the share of the revenue than we were. At a time when Britain and other countries were nationalising their own stragic sectors.

    I hadn’t meant to labour on this thread – but without context we will be killing people and be thankful we did. ‘Cos otherwise they’d be killing us for our ‘way of life’.

  101. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 7:20 pm  

    My grammar is getting worse. Sunny, can we have the preview thingy back.

  102. Jai — on 27th September, 2006 at 7:20 pm  

    Bert,

    =>”Saddam Hussein may well go down in history as having caused more trouble than a bastard son of Hitler and Genghis Khan.”

    He may have to arm-wrestle Osama bin Laden for that particular honour, assuming that the latter actually didn’t die of typhoid a month ago as rumoured.

  103. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 7:29 pm  

    Jai – I see Saddam as largely responsible for the global influence of OBL in that he was the cause of half a million armed infidels on Saudi soil. That was a big recruiter, and OBL having been turned down in his offer to defend Saudi made sure he got the most capital he could from it.

  104. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 7:43 pm  

    Refresh – The current US/UK friends and allies in the Arab world are Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Forgive me if my view is that neither is actually friendly nor an ally to count on, and that our support is doing no good to the people in either place. Whereas with China and Russia, while not friends and allies things are on the road to improvement for the people there.

    Yeah, I think I’ve been vague enough there to get away with that. Damn, I’m good. :D

    We have to get away from the idea that the strategic interest of the US/UK is to conquer other countries and subjugate them to our will, because it isn’t. The strategic interest is to trade with stable governments and prop up our artificially comfortable lifestyles until either the rest of the world is as comfortable or they suss they’re being had.

    The road to cheap oil is stable and friendly or at least not unfreindly governments in oil producing regions. The problem is that in most of these regions the governments have spent the last 50 years larging it up big time while telling the people it’s the evil imperialists who are the cause of their poverty. After 1973 that just won’t wash, but the said governments are not about to tell their people that. They need someone to blame. Now we’re all going to pay the price, it seems.

    The point about Iraqis nationalising their oil industry and us overthrowing them I see as void, because if that had been the case we would have regained control over the oil and we didn’t.

    One thing that interests me today about oil is the number of islamic groups who seem to think the islamic world could bring the west to it’s knees if only they could get together and shut off the supply. They think they can sell the oil to China instead and carry on as they were while wathcing the west being humbled. They really need to show more respect to Chinese business sense than that – when they know they’re not in competition for the oil, I doubt they’re going to want to pay the same price from it. They have a win/win situation there – what every businessman works toward.

  105. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 8:42 pm  

    Bert

    “We have to get away from the idea that the strategic interest of the US/UK is to conquer other countries and subjugate them to our will, because it isn’t.”

    This is proving to be difficult to get away from. The incessant interference in Latin America with direct support political,military and financial. As well of course full training from the elite School of the Americas http://www.soaw.org. Millions impoverished or massacred as a consequence.

    Three million dead in Vietnam; est. four million in Korea; and so on.

    The nationalising of oil was in Iran and the US did get its way. They installed the vicious Shah. Until the people finally found their voice. As a consequence Iran is now in line for an invasion – despite several credible reports of secret diplomacy which could have easily resolved matters.

    Getting back to world domination – it would be remiss of me not to mention the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and Cheney/Bush declared objective of ‘full spectrum dominance’.

    On the question of Oil, there never has been a move to restrict the flow (as far as I know). I will vouch no Arab will want to hold on to it – they can’t drink the stuff. They have to sell it. At market prices.

    What the Arab regimes have to fear is that they have for too long duped their populations, and danced to someone else’s tune.

    There is a way forward – but I fear that way doesn’t suit the rightists on all sides.

  106. soru — on 27th September, 2006 at 9:06 pm  

    ‘The nationalising of oil was in Iran and the US did get its way.’

    Don’t you just hate those WWII movies where a brave US pilot fights off the invading LuftWaffe, perhaps with a little help from his plucky brit sidekick?

    Give credit where credit’s due. This was pre-1956. The Mossadegh coup was a British led and run operation, in British interests, to protect a British oil deal. The USA was duped/persuaded into helping a bit.

    What’s the world coming to when the evil Brit imperialists can’t get no respect?

  107. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 9:12 pm  

    Soru,

    Sad isn’t it.

    The mighty Churchill needed the go ahead from Washington.

  108. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 9:13 pm  

    Unlike Eden’s invasion of Egypt!

  109. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 9:46 pm  

    Refresh – I’ve seen nothing to convince me that the South Americans, left to their own devices, can do a better job. Here in Spain and we have masses of them now, yet I’ve never heard one mention Bush or Blair as a reason they got out. Many are Venzuelan these days, and they’ve done one because they don’t trust what Chavez will do to the country and you can’t say he’s in the CIA’s pocket. They aren’t getting out from fear of a US invasion either, it’s the domestic situation has them worried. There has been US intervention in the Caribbean and Central America in the past few decades, sometimes for the best and sometimes not. But for 30 years the South Americans have been left to get on with things aside from a few ill conceived and idiotic campaigns against drug smugglers.

    On the whole, Latin America has been a success story when compared to Africa and other ex colonial regions. Mostly down to the US defending them from the evil Europeans, if we’re honest.

    For Vietnam and Korea, I think we fought on the right sides. Whether we had to fight or should have fought is another thing entirely.

    The nationalising of oil production went on across the ME after WW2 as the countries gained independence. The Shah of Persia did not give us free oil nor allow us to control the fields any more than the house of Saud does today. When the people found their voice and took over, forgive me if I’m left with the impression that perhaps they were in error. I doubt many are feeling the freedom they expected the revolution to bring.

    I wouldn’t say Iran is today in line for invasion. We know it’ll just be more trouble, so it will be “Operation Damn Good Slapping” until their nuclear facilities are rubble. Let’s hope they really are well away from population centres.

    The PNAC is a thinktank, and compared to some other thinktanks in the world is rather mild and considered in their output. Though they do worry me too, I admit.

    For the oil, that was my point. They have to sell at market prices, though if you look up the 1973 oil crisis you’ll see how they made sure they got a fair price. But if they cut off supplies to the west, the market price will freefall, and they will find themselves contending with a bunch of starving and angry people long before the west will. For a cynic, that may not matter. They know their armoured brigades guarantee they can watch their people starve, whereas in the west things will get very unpleasant very quickly. Time will tell.

  110. Refresh — on 27th September, 2006 at 11:58 pm  

    Bert

    Just on the point about oil for now:

    “But if they cut off supplies to the west, the market price will freefall, and they will find themselves contending with a bunch of starving and angry people long before the west will.”

    That is why I suspect you are the first and only commentor who has put this put this theory forward.

    And therefore I can’t think of anyone who would agree with you.

  111. Refresh — on 28th September, 2006 at 12:00 am  

    “The PNAC is a thinktank, and compared to some other thinktanks in the world is rather mild and considered in their output. Though they do worry me too, I admit.”

    You should worry a little more – they set out to do what they proposed. Iraq is proving to be a bit of an obstacle.

  112. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 12:13 am  

    Refresh – you think if they take the competition out of the market the Chinese will still gladly pay the OPEC prices? They know full well if the Arab countries cut off the supply to the west there is no way on earth they will lose face and go back on the deal. They will have most of OPEC over a barrel, and offer maybe a fifth of what the west pays for oil. After all, it’s no use to OPEC if no one buys it. $15 a barrel? See who suffers more. Not the Arab militaries, be sure of that. Just the ordinary people. It’s a fantasy to believe otherwise.

  113. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 12:17 am  

    Reference PNAC, they are a think tank. It worries me the power they seem to wield, but in the real world they are tempered by voters, the press and public opinion. Unlike Hisbollah, for example, who really worry me.

  114. Refresh — on 28th September, 2006 at 12:24 am  

    RE- OPEC – I think we are both saying the idea is preposterous. I am saying I’d not heard of such an idea before.

    RE- PNAC – Public opinion? No WMDs and we still went to war to defuse them – did we not?

    Fool some of the people some of the time – but watch them rally to the flag when the bullets start to fly.

  115. Bert Preast — on 28th September, 2006 at 12:36 am  

    I didn’t support the war on grounds of WMD, as I pointed out above. I’ve been raging to get my teeth into Saddam’s throat for 15 years now, and I shall honestly feel gutted and betrayed if he gets off with a firing squad. I’ve seen the bullets fly and I’ve seen the biggest demonstrations rally to the other flag to take you seriously on the second point, I’m afraid. Saddam Hussein was the last man on earth deserving of sympathy or a third chance.

    The OPEC thing is something I’ve seen bandied around often on various forums, mostly by Arabs who are under the delusion all war is for oil and therefore they have the world at their knees. Disabusing them of this notion will mean a lot of people suffering, so I like to beef about it whenever I get the chance. Not that I’m delusional I’m changing peoples minds – I expect it’ll just make me glow with righteous horror at some point in the next few years.

  116. mr skin — on 20th October, 2006 at 8:01 pm  

    Now that’s a Surprise! Kim Jong Il actually apologized for North Korea for conducting nuclear testing?!! He said he didn’t have plans to test anymore. Something just doesn’t sound right about that one.

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