Invasion unfit for purpose?


by Kulvinder
13th October, 2006 at 12:07 am    

The standard way for anyone under New Labour to take a new position is to completely seperate themselves from the past; am I the only one who found some similarity between Richard Dannatt’s…interesting outburst and John Reid?

Tony Blair probably isn’t the first PM to curse the fact the army swears allegiance to the Queen; it makes them that bit more vocal than in America. Whilst I commend Sir Dannatt for stating the obvious – we aren’t making progress in Iraq, he doesn’t present any alternative ideas to helping the Iraqis. The best that seems to be on offer is to cut and run; at worst if it all goes wrong the americans will still be present – it’ll be their problem, and at best if it does increase stability well it was our good idea. That’s from the British point of view. The reasoning is little more than finding the easiest way to save face.

I’m uncomfortable with the thought that we can invade another country with the retrospective goal of improving the lives of its citizens, but leave when it’s most convenient for us whilst washing our hands of the entire mess. The Daily Mail and the rest of the media may call for the withdrawl of British forces, but they wouldn’t be willing to accept any refugees or asylum seekers that came from Iraq. We accept the authority and the power a permanent seat on the UN Security Council brings but we want none of the responsibility. We pre-emptively invade a distant nation on the basis it presents a threat to us, subsequently justify our actions as being the Iraqis, but we then exit when it suits us.

I did not agree with the war in iraq, and I agree things aren’t going well but I refuse to accept that we can absolve ourselves of any responsibility we owe the iraqis. If we do withdraw from Iraq it cannot be on the basis that the situation in Iraq is no longer our concern. How can we possibly justify to history the fact we travelled thousands of miles to act against another nation but automatically refused assistance to those who fled that same area simply because they did not seek assistance in the first border they crossed? We initiated the crisis in Iraq we cannot in good conscience leave the humanitarian implications of that to the nations surrounding iraq.

Saying we should leave is easy; saying we have a moral duty even if we do leave is far harder.


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  1. Kulvinder — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:26 am  

    Incidently sending Harry or William to Iraq and Afghanistan would be amongst the most idiotic military decisions ever taken. We’re already thought of as imperialist invaders, and theres a legacy of empire in both countries. It would be a PR coup for every insurgent group. The Iraqi nationalists and Al-Qaeda couldn’t ask for a better common symbol of opression if they tried. God knows what would happen if they actually killed someone, and thats even without considering the implications at home.

  2. Kulvinder — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:34 am  

    “It is said that we live in a post Christian society. I think that is a great shame. The broader Judaic-Christian tradition has underpinned British society. It underpins the British army.”

    I support his right to say and think that, but when giving an interview as the head of the british army it probably isn’t a good idea to offer credence to an enemy that gets support by claiming you’re on a christian crusade.

    Id also like to point out the vast majority of armed conflict within the british isles over the last few decades was very much along christian lines.

  3. Chris Stiles — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:52 am  


    I support his right to say and think that, but when giving an interview as the head of the british army it probably isn’t a good idea to offer credence to an enemy that gets support by claiming you’re on a christian crusade.

    Where did he claim he was on a christian crusade? In fact he says:


    “We are in a Muslim country and Muslims’ views of foreigners in their country are quite clear.”

    As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited in a country, but we weren’t invited certainly by those in Iraq at the time.

    I think the a large part of the ‘Judaic-Christian tradition’ trope is complete bollocks – but it’s true to say that the British army reflects British society, which is his wider point. I don’t see any indication that he is saying that he sees the role in Iraq as part of a plan to bring these ‘Judaic-Christian traditions’ there – quite the opposite.

    Stop lending credence to the claims of people who find it hard to read and comprehend ;)

    On the cut and run thing – I’d say the first task on the ground is to actually create and maintain order – rather than sporadic search and destroy missions. To do this probably requires a Shinseki sized force. As the majority of the US supported the war in Iraq and the majority in the UK did not, I’d see the extra troops coming from the US army. If it requires a draft to maintain 400K troops in Iraq, then so be it – perhaps it would help a significant proportion of the population of the to regard warfare as more than entertainment put up for their own benefit.

  4. Kulvinder — on 13th October, 2006 at 1:20 am  

    Where did he claim he was on a christian crusade? In fact he says:

    I shan’t think much of you if you’re going to completely missread what i wrote. Al-Qaeda and more broadly other islamists believe the ‘west’ is on a crusade. Saying christian tradition (whatever that actually means) underpins the british army gives their view a degree of credibility.

    Stop lending credence to the claims of people who find it hard to read and comprehend

    Before you try to patronise me understand the point im making

  5. Sunny — on 13th October, 2006 at 1:41 am  

    An argument well made. I completely agree we have a moral duty towards Iraqi and Afghani asylum seekers.

    But one can quite easily make the case that leaving soon, with a quick plan on getting the existing govt up and running, and then setting out a blueprint to exit, would improve things there.

    Things are so bad in Iraq that I don’t see how staying will actually improve things.

  6. Leon — on 13th October, 2006 at 10:17 am  

    We initiated the crisis in Iraq we cannot in good conscience leave the humanitarian implications of that to the nations surrounding iraq.

    Because they’ll do a worse job over there than us?

  7. Sahil — on 13th October, 2006 at 11:11 am  

    “Because they’ll do a worse job over there than us?”

    This is the point. I always agreed with the china shop analogy, break it, then fix it. But I really think Iraq would be better off, if we let them rebuild their country, by cheap (or free) financing from USA et al, and getting out of there asap. But Iraq seems to constantly break all rules for predicting anything :(

  8. Kismet Hardy — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:00 pm  

    ‘Saying we should leave is easy; saying we have a moral duty even if we do leave is far harder’

    I’m sick of hearing people say: we went in (uninvited), it’s our moral duty to stay there until the job is done.

    Which begs the question: what precisely is the end of this job? Peace and harmony amongst all the sects that are running riot/amok/afraid? Does anyone actually believe that’s going to happen while the invading army is still there killing/protecting them?

    Another thing that gets me goat is when pro-war type says: look, let’s not dwell on whether we were right or wrong to go to war, the important thing is what we do about it now…

    Bollocks. You’re not getting off the hook that easy. Every single browned faced one of us are paying the price for the actions of a bunch of dickheads on 7/7. We’re not allowed to forget how terrorists have put all Asians under suspicion and have to accept that’s just the way it is.

    Same goes for those that started the war. If I have to be subject to paranoia every time I pack my gym bag and go on the tube, you too have to endure deep resentment every time you try to justify this horrific atrocity that’s not only been bad for the Iraqi people, but made life that little bit harder for every human being on this planet.

  9. Refresh — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:05 pm  

    Some good news coming through:

    Iraq reporter ‘unlawfully killed’

    Terry Lloyd was not “embedded” with the military

    A coroner has recorded a verdict of unlawful killing on ITN reporter Terry Lloyd, who was shot dead by US forces in southern Iraq in March 2003.

    BBC Breaking News.

  10. soru — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:09 pm  

    Things are so bad in Iraq that I don’t see how staying will actually improve things

    I sort of disagree with that. My impression is that the situation in the South is one which would naturally lead to troop withdrawl over a 1-2 year timetable. At least, assuming it was not the plan to make Iraq a part of a new British Empire for a generation or two – the equivalent of wiping out the Thugees is not going to happen (although I am sure there are some commanders out there who are tempted by the idea).

    Using military force to deal with human rights violations that have widespread popular support in Iraq, tasking troops with making it not just a democracy but a liberal democracy, would be imperialism. There is going to be no popular support in the UK for attempting that, and no acqiescence in Iraq for that being done to them. It’s not the 19C any more.

    The thing that could be done, but probably won’t be, is to redeploy UK troops to more dangerous areas of the country once they have left the South. I think it’s a matter of military capability that you can’t do that and Afghanistan at the same time.

  11. Leon — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:10 pm  

    Great choice reporters have isn’t it? Be embedded and have your stories curtailed or not and risk being killed!

    “ITN’s editor in chief, David Mannion said they fully supported the Lloyd family’s desire to “bring those responsible for Terry’s death to account before a court of law”.

    Mr Mannion added: “I would also like to say something that I know Terry would have wished me to say.

    [b]“Independent, unilateral reporting, free from official strictures, is crucial; not simply to us as journalists but to the role we play in a free and democratic society.”[/b] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6046950.stm

  12. Refresh — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:12 pm  

    Kismet – share your frustration.

    It was a crime, and crimes are perpetrated by someone.

    We need a new deck of cards. These will serve as a reminder of who the true enemies of freedom and democracy are.

  13. Kismet Hardy — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:12 pm  

    Don’t you think that part of the reason why America (hence Britain) still want to stay there is because they really, truly believe they can come out of this looking like heroes to history?

    ‘But we had it all planned. We go in there, topple saddam, take control of the oil, spend some of it giving ‘em democracy, everyone’ll thank us. Are you telling me that can’t still happen? La-la-la I can’t hear you’

  14. Refresh — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:15 pm  

    No Kismet – I don’t agree.

    It assumes there is a morals based ideology at work.

    Its the power and greed – ‘great’ nations work on 50 year plans – its that plan that is the reasoning.

    Nothing else.

  15. Chairwoman — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:24 pm  

    No Kismet and Refresh, it’s all about Georgie Boy wanting to do something that his daddy couldn’t, and Our Tone wanting to play with the big boys.

  16. Refresh — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:28 pm  

    The whole multiculturism argument is all to do with taking the heat of Tony Blair.

    Fine.

    It seems muslims don’t need to tell Blair its his fault. His own army can do it.

    Forget Ruth Kelly, forget Straw, forget them all. Its a side show, which we on Pickled Politics enjoy. But that is not and never was the issue.

    To think otherwise, means the ‘browns’ turning in on themselves. Yes we want a progressive society, but not to be shackled to one of the worst crimes ever committed.

    The problem is there doesn’t seem to be a way out – who do you elect to put things right? And I mean elect here in the UK, not in Iraq.

  17. Leon — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:29 pm  

    Don’t you think that part of the reason why America (hence Britain) still want to stay there is because they really, truly believe they can come out of this looking like heroes to history?blockquote>

    Don’t agree with this at all. The reason they don’t want to leave is their business interests mean they can’t until Iraq is assured of having a compliant government ready to serve the interests of international capital.

  18. Leon — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:30 pm  

    Damn tags…

  19. Refresh — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:31 pm  

    Leon

    Dangerous stuff that!

  20. Shoque — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:34 pm  

    Nobel Peace Prize won by Bangladeshi economist and inventor of Grameen bank

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2402640,00.html

    Please big up Muhammad Yunus lets praise this inspirational man Pickled Politics

  21. Refresh — on 13th October, 2006 at 12:41 pm  

    Congratulations to Mr Yunus – well deserved contribution to the world.

  22. Leon — on 13th October, 2006 at 1:01 pm  

    Er, not to be discourteous but you guys do know there is a submit news section on here right?

  23. Refresh — on 13th October, 2006 at 1:15 pm  

    Leon – no didn’t know, but perhaps Sunny can delete unrelated messages – and Shoque can move his to the news section.

    BTW, the news item I threw up was linked to the subject heading.

  24. Leon — on 13th October, 2006 at 1:42 pm  

    Don’t think there’s much need to delete just thought I’d point out a possible derail, apologies if my comment was considered a bit heavy handed.

  25. Refresh — on 13th October, 2006 at 2:04 pm  

    Leon, I think we all know a bit of heavy ‘policing’ would not go amiss on here so at least we have a productive debate. So heavy-handed? No.

  26. Refresh — on 13th October, 2006 at 2:23 pm  

    Military coup if he is sacked?

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2402666,00.html

    Stretching it I know but…

    And as democrats, if it came to it, we will again be forced to protect the politicians.

    Its now we really need Robin Cook.

  27. Chairwoman — on 13th October, 2006 at 2:27 pm  

    Refresh – I was actually wondering last night if we were looking at a military coup, but I seem to have got unnecessarily over-excited.

  28. Refresh — on 13th October, 2006 at 2:38 pm  

    To be forewarned is to be forearmed, Chairwoman.

    Not sure what is going on – but our boys are not happy.

  29. Leon — on 13th October, 2006 at 2:42 pm  

    Refresh, Iain Dale alluded to something similar I think. This whole thing really does present a problem for Blair. Not a good week for the pro war lot either…

  30. Leon — on 13th October, 2006 at 2:53 pm  

    Heh, you couldn’t make it up, check out the forum that Times story is derived from: http://www.arrse.co.uk/

    Catchy url aint it?

  31. Refresh — on 13th October, 2006 at 2:57 pm  

    Blair has to go and take Reid with him, before any fireworks start.

    If Blunketts diaries are anything to go by, there is virtually no one left with any integrity who could continue in cabinet.

    Gordon Brown should stay on as a caretaker PM, followed by an election as soon as constitutionally possible. Then Richard Dannatt should step down.

    If Labour need time to work out their policies in a post-Blair world then that’s their look out. This is looking too serious to leave unresolved.

  32. Kulvinder — on 13th October, 2006 at 3:27 pm  

    Because they’ll do a worse job over there than us?

    Conceivably, yes. Im not advocating staying in iraq, rather if we do leave we don’t simply abandon the place to countries that have far less money available to help the iraqis. If that means getting out but still pumping money in so be it.

    I’m sick of hearing people say: we went in (uninvited), it’s our moral duty to stay there until the job is done.

    Im unsure how that links to what i said, but what do you mean by ‘stay there’? I agree we shouldn’t keep our troops in iraq but i also don’t believe in abandoning the situation. It isn’t exactly noble to suggest we pack up the army and let Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait and Iran cope with what happens.

  33. Oli — on 13th October, 2006 at 4:18 pm  

    I fully agree with Kulvinder’s views on this subject, the invasion of iraq was fully unjust, and most evidence supports the fact that americas pointing of the finger of 9/11 at afghanistan, subsequent invasion of Iraq, and now the provocation of Iran is fully to do with threats, and follow throughs of Oil being sold by the Euro.

    Now we have invaded Iraq we cannot jsut back out, but I agree with the fact that we should remove many forces, and the middle east views of our army are very clear. We promised to be out of their country within a year and that has blatently failed to happen, this is only escalating the problem in Iraq.

    I think the best way we could move forward now is to ahve the army start rebuilding Iraq, building a better infrastructure with water and electricity would hopefully make our armies more welcome in a country that has been traditionally hostile towards us, Hussain being our fault anyway. If we keep our army in as a purely military presence we will only increase tension between ourselves and the people of Iraq who were friendly with us.

    The things the US will do to avoid another depression.

  34. Chris Stiles — on 13th October, 2006 at 5:40 pm  

    Kulvinder -

    Apologies, I think I missed a line when reading the first followup comment you made.

    I think the ‘Judaic Christian’ reference was mostly redundant, however IME army personnel – especially past a certain level – are more likely to come from a social group that still thinks of themselves as lapsed Anglicans and God as an Englishman who looks somewhat like W G Grace. Commensurate with that, they are also much more liable to view their careers in the form of a service to society. Finally, it’s not too far fetched to see British law as coming out from a ‘Judaic-Christian’ tradition, even if that is from several removes away and even if it is now mostly fairly value neutral – with vestigal laws like those on blasphemy. As such, the Army as the defender of the realm etc etc.

    Yes, there are consequences to such language, but on the other hand I’m slightly uncomfortable with an edict of ‘always express yourself purely in secular language’ – especially as the context was mostly that of an internal debate. Yes, Al Qaeda could always misuse it – as they could with any even slightly positive reference to other religions – but one would sort of hope that the umma would be applying reason as a filter, rather than taking every one of AQs communiques as a reason to up the offence level.

  35. Douglas Clark — on 13th October, 2006 at 5:43 pm  

    Kulvinder,

    I couldn’t agree with you more about the retrospective justification thingy. I protested against the intervention in the first place, was overuled by a huge display of Police protecting our very own Beloved Leader, but it seems to me to be the case, as you rightly say, that cutting and running is not an option. I do think that we were pulled into a fight we should not have entered without UN approval, but to walk away now? Without at least attempting to turn an imperialistic, revenge for the father, masquerade of a policy into something useful to the Iraqi people, but just walk away on what would be at least a two way genocide, with a Turkish option to the third, would be to pretend that frat boys from Texas can always walk away from the grief they cause
    (erm.).

    That specifically means filling the gap until such times as Iraq can police, and I mean police, itself. We need Dixons of Dock Green on every corner of every street, and Al Quaida saying ‘It’s a fair cop guv.’ OK, I’m being a little ridiculous, but the withdrawal of a Military presence would end up in the bloodbath that Saddam Hussein kept under control through terror. We must try to get peace through democratic institutions, consensus, education, antisexism, whatever. If that means a fifty year commitment, then so be it. It would be a pennance for the US and the UK for having had the ridiculous hubris that they could do it better, and then effectively tried to rape the countries resources. Then we could talk about war reparations from Bremner in particular, to the Iraqi people.

  36. Rowshan — on 13th October, 2006 at 6:19 pm  

    If we left from Iraq what would happen to the oil interests? Can’t trust the Iraqis to all that oil …. can’t trust the North Koreans to the nuclear energy, either, these countries aren’t rational enough to be responsible so we have to stay in and make the sure teh job is well done.

    We only trust our friends to be rationale and responsible. Those who aren’t friends are irrationale and irresponsible. Hmmm.

    Re-writing history seems to be so easy.

  37. Douglas Clark — on 13th October, 2006 at 7:02 pm  

    Rowshan,

    I hope, but fear, that that was a reply to me. I can assure you that under nearly any circumstances you could imagine, I believe Iraq’s oil is Iraq’s oil. Not in the least convinced that having a lunatic in charge of nuclear weapons is comparable, or equitable. Have any of your generation the faintest idea how downright disgusting Hiroshima or Nagasaki were, either for the lucky ones that died instantly, or the others that died from painful and fatal cancers? If we go down a route that idiots like Kim Il Sung can have them, then I assure you you will die, one way or another. I cannot understand this relativism. The most recent nuclear states, India and Pakistan should be leading a multilateral arguement. Rather than extending their dicks on a table.

  38. Sunny — on 13th October, 2006 at 9:13 pm  

    can’t trust the North Koreans to the nuclear energy

    Damn straight! When you’ve got a leader who lives in opulent luxury while his people are starving in the millions I don’t hold out much hope for his mental state. Please stop defending North Korea – that’s the job of complete lamers.

  39. Douglas Clark — on 13th October, 2006 at 9:48 pm  

    Sunny,

    Oh Sunny, it gets increasingly difficult to post here because I cannot read you as a satirist or a realist. You do realise that your second last sentence could be taken as a comment on the Blairs, don’t you? OK, maybe not starving, exactly, more fattening, obvesiously. Whatever.

    If you really, really meant it, and I spit on my hand and you spit on yours, it is the case that North Korea could be the bastards who let off the next atomic bomb. I’d say join CND, but they seem to have lost the plot.

  40. Kulvinder — on 14th October, 2006 at 11:02 am  

    Did anyone catch the report on Newsnight? I didn’t catch his name but the commander of british forces in iraq said that after authority in the southern districts had been transfered to the iraqis britain would withdraw to basra airport and keep a brigade sized strength present. Apparently not because of any instability (the iraqis will be incharge) but to give support to ‘our major ally’ ie the americans.

    Even after we’ve transfered authority over, we’re keeping our troops there to support their exit timetable, but presumably with our money!

  41. Refresh — on 14th October, 2006 at 11:19 am  

    Kulvinder,

    The US plan is to have a permanent presence, in support of whatever regime that comes out of it all. There is no doubt about that.

    The instability will serve its purpose.

  42. Chris Stiles — on 14th October, 2006 at 12:25 pm  

    Kulvinder -


    Even after we’ve transfered authority over, we’re keeping our troops there to support their exit timetable, but presumably with our money!

    I suspect that not only are we keeping our troops there on our money, but that we are also paying for the PMCs now working in some of the areas in which we were formally in control.

    “Shadow Company” is a good, if rather tangential look, at how screwed up Baghdad – and by extension Iraq – is these days.

  43. Sid — on 14th October, 2006 at 12:44 pm  

    Kulvinder, you’re right on the mark. The one thing that the ‘Mongers don’t bring up, naturally, is the the humanitarian crisis that the invasion of Iraq has precipitated. Notwithstanding the humanitarian pretext that was one of the many goalposts that we saw shifted prior to invasion.

    The pieces of the humanitarian disaster of the war will have to be picked by someone (the UN?) since Blair/Bush and their supporters on Iraq are too busy fighting other more pressing fires, such as the blowout of their credibility. This is going to go on long after the troops have pulled out.

  44. Kulvinder — on 15th October, 2006 at 12:04 am  

    I suspect that not only are we keeping our troops there on our money, but that we are also paying for the PMCs now working in some of the areas in which we were formally in control.

    Fair point, i think this is probably the first modern war where private mercenaries have become part of the scene.

  45. Rowshan — on 15th October, 2006 at 1:14 am  

    Douglas post 37

    Was thinking out a loud but as you raised Hiroshima and Nagasaki, let’s discuss – we haven’t forget about those at all – but who dropped them?

    Potted history: The US dropped the bomb, Japan capitulated, US occupied Japan, wrote a constitution for Japan that included clause that made japanse military build up illigal, and now the only security treat that exists following post WW2 order is the US-Japan Mutual Defence Treaty which legally obliges US to defend Japan in case of attack… the price for forgoing its own nukes.

    There are two elements that threatens US Interests in North-east Asia: China and North Korea. We know US can’t deal with Chinese PLA but the Korean – well we know what happened to North Korea when the US attacked in the 1950s – it created a mad korean regime.

    Whether North Korea goes Nuke or not is part of its own security interests – whats the US 7th Fleet doing in the Taiwan Straits at the moment? Peace keeping or keeping North Korea and China on its toes? How would UK react if there was a hostile naval presence at its door?

    It isn’t as simple as keeping North Korea off the nukes – much of this debate is about US interests in the balance of war in north east asia, which goes as far back as US going to war with japan…

  46. Rowshan — on 15th October, 2006 at 1:41 am  

    Not sure i understand what North Korea or Iran has done wrong so checked what non-proliferation gurus have to say on this. Aparently they haven’t done much that requires sanctions from the UN. Yet Pakistan, India or Israel have done a huge amount to build their arsenals but didn’t show good faith in peace by not signing the non-proliferation treat to begin with..

    David Krieger – the president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

    The NPT’s Article IV promises as a matter of “inalienable right” full access to peaceful forms of nuclear technology for non-weapons states. Several countries (including parties to the NPT such as Germany and Japan) have a complete nuclear-fuel cycle, including enrichment phases, which makes it possible for them to acquire weapons in a matter of weeks or months. Iran is being threatened with military attack and United Nations sanctions if it moves in a similar direction.

    This appears to be such a blatantly discriminatory application of a vital provision of the NPT as to give Iran grounds for regarding itself free from any duty to comply. It is elementary treaty law that if an important provision is violated, this constitutes a material breach that allows other parties to declare their unwillingness to remain bound by the treaty. In any event, the treaty allows for parties to withdraw, and North Korea has already exercised this option.

  47. Rowshan — on 15th October, 2006 at 1:46 am  

    Sunny

    Not defending the beloved leader in Pyongyang but trying to keep an open mind – so difficult, as you say, because the mad leader doesn’t help

  48. Sunny — on 15th October, 2006 at 1:47 am  

    I’d say join CND, but they seem to have lost the plot.

    Douglas, agreed.

    Rowshan – given that N Korea has tested missiles over Japan I think they’re the ones most likely to push for some hard sanctions over this. S Korea will want to carry on trying soft power over hard power. Either way the point is N Korea’s nukes pose a threat more to Japan and S Korea than the USA. It is likely that the latter two are pushing for the USA to do something.

    But over the long term I do agree with one point. This is a losing battle unless the powers that do have nukes also make a plan to dismantle their nukes and give up. To think they can control whose hands this technology gets into is just downright naivety.

  49. Chris Stiles — on 15th October, 2006 at 2:06 am  


    This is a losing battle unless the powers that do have nukes also make a plan to dismantle their nukes and give up.

    They would be fighting a losing battle even if they also made a plan to dismantle their nukes and give them up.

  50. Rowshan — on 15th October, 2006 at 2:29 am  

    Sunny

    Disagree. North Korea doesn’t pose threat to Japan and South Korea – Japan is a proxy for US influence in north-east asia. You do know US is legally bound to come to military rescue if Japan is attacked?

    South Korea will go for soft power because they are ultimately all Koreans – pre-US involvement in Korea, there was no South or North Korea. Many South Koreans have relatives across the border.

    You’ve missed the point about US interests in north east Asia – US interests were big enough in that theatre of war for US to go to war with Japan so clearly there are big strategic interests there which goes amiss.

    Japan will do whatever US wants it to – that’s the point of a secruity alliance – Japanse security is under-written by American nuke umbrella – and American maintains security tie with Japan as a balance to Chinese and North Korean – and also (depleated) Russain power. This is why traditionally Russia and China doesn’t push hard on North Korea because they are in fact regional allies against US influence in north east Asia.

    This is what is known as the cold war in Asia – and also explains the tensions over Taiwan and its non-recognition in the UN. China goes ape shit everytime Taiwan, supported by US, applies for UN recognition. So US maintains possibly its largest naval fleet within a stone’s throw of Taiwan Straits to stop China. US maintains ties with Japan as a buffer against China.

  51. Sunny — on 15th October, 2006 at 3:04 am  

    I think you’re letting some sort of a bias against America cloud your judgement here.

    A few months ago when N Korea tested its missiles over Japan the country went into full red alert mode and warned N Korea quite sternly. And it is the one that has been most pissed off by N Korea’s nuke test, and the one that has upped its defence budget as a result and pushed for action. See article

    And it’s also the one debating internally whether it should increase its defence budget to tackle N Korea.

    Just because its protected by the nuclear umbrella doesn’t mean it is neither worried nor unwilling to deal with N Korea.

    You also say S Korea has nothing to fear. Rubbish. If N Korea doesn’t invade, but collapses insead, then it’ll be sitting next to 24 million very hungry refugees and won’t be able to deal with them. Plus the N Korean army is 1 million strong. Who will deal with them?

    The cold war in the East is N Korea’s doing and through China’s support.

    US maintains ties with Japan as a buffer against China.

    Sure, but you overlook that Japan needs the US more as a buffer against China too. This is why they’ve also been flirting with India as a buffer against China. And this is why China maintains a good relationship with Pakistan – to try and distract India.

  52. Rowshan — on 15th October, 2006 at 4:29 am  

    Sunny

    ‘The cold war in the East is N Korea’s doing and through China’s support.’

    Again, disagree but with more passion this time! This is a very poor reading of the region’s basic history. Some days I’ll happily accept charges of bias against the US – e.g. I think Americans have no fashion sense but to set out US patterns of historic engagement in North east Asia is as factual as saying the US was involved in Vietnam. How we interprete US motives is subject to interpreration and bias but that’s not what we are discussing at the moment.

    Cold War in East Asia can’t be North Korea’s doing ! It predated before the 1950 Korean war – it explains superpower rivalry ( US-PRC-USSA) in Asia since the turn of the century before WW1! Don’t forget the Rape of Nanking, Japanese incurions into Manchuria etc in 1920s, and 1930s which marked out Japanse expansionism on the world scene – and Japanse ambitions in the region now parallel US interests because the two have a military alliance. ( US also now allied with Taiwan, Phillipnes, etc).

    It might be more accurate to say cold war in northeast asia took on glbal significance as it contains among its resident members both the global powers, the US and the USSR, and the major regional powers of significance are China and Japan.

    North Korea is tiny factor here and cannot be responsible for broader tensions between these larger powers. Don’t forget US entered Korean war not to bash North Korea but to contain ‘Red China’. North Korea’s sudden attack was also an important catalyst in the US decision tp establish a unified NATO command. The consequence was that an economic embargo imposed on China and that the US Seventh Fleet would be imposed in the Taiwan Straits to stop pending Chinese communist attack on the island. President Truman’s intension was to deny Taiwan as a potential base to the Soviet Union in the wstern Pacific. As you know, iy was the crossing of the 38th parallel ( which seperated North and S Korea) by the American dominated UN forces and their approach to the Chinese border , that led to military intervention by the Chinese.

    The Americans and UN thought they were uniting Korea( which were artifically seperated) but was perceived by Mao as a threat to China’s security.

    But as I’ve said this is about USA – hence why relations with India,Pakistan also tell something about Sino-American tensions so I think you are agreeing with me in saying US is a problem.

    The end of the cold war and the disintegration of the SU was not accompanied b the collapse of the key communist states in the Asia-Pacific, in China, Vietnam an North Korea. As a result, an element of the cold war survived in the region sd they all feared the political agenda of the US – the only surviving supowerpower.

    but agreed on the point that South Korea doesn’t want hungry population to spill into its borders.

    Sorry to bore everyone with potted history of north east Asia.

  53. Sunny — on 15th October, 2006 at 5:19 am  

    Rowshan, I’m not ignorant of S E Asia history but let’s try another approach. Let’s take the USA out of the equation.

    You think there won’t be tension between China and India? Given they hold each other’s territory? You don’t think they’ll be tension betweem China and Japan? Or China and Taiwan? Or S Korea and N Korea? If N posed no threat to S and they wanted to get along, they would have done so by now, instead of grandstanding for decades. If there was no beef between Japan and N Korea than the former would not be screaming the loudest for sanctions against N Korea.

    There may be US interference in the region from as far back as we wanna go, but to think that these tensions would not exist without the USA is naivety. What the US has managed is to contain an arms race because China cannot even begin to threaten the USA (yet) and hence Taiwa, S Korea and Japan can feel relatively safe from it. It’s that simple.

  54. Douglas Clark — on 15th October, 2006 at 10:34 am  

    Rowshan,

    Thanks for replying:

    Re your post 45: There have only ever been two atomic bombs dropped in anger in the history of the planet. I’d like it to stay at that number forever! Mainly because the prospect of a nuclear exchange between the West and the Soviets was a nightmare of my childhood. Maybe more rationally because the impact of nuclear weapons is genocidal and genetically messes up future generations too. It is probably not too much of a reach to say that the proliferation takes us all nearer a nuclear winter. Which is why I was challenging the notion that nuclear weapons are in any way comparable to conventional weapons.

    Your potted history mentions the US – Japan Mutual Defence Treaty. Given the 5th of November casual approach to rocketry that the North Koreans are showing, blasting missiles into the Sea of Japan, and if memory serves, right over the top of it, the US would hardly be keeping it’s side of the Mutual Defence Treaty if they didn’t have a big military presence, would they?

    Re your post 50. To be honest I’d always been under the obviously mistaken impression that Japan declared war on the US, having somewhat sneakily bombed Pearl Harbour first. The Yanks were in a really isolationist phase at the time. It kinda galvanised them.

    To present day matters. The UN Security Council Resolution will only be a good step if it forces NK to the negotiating table.

  55. Rowshan — on 15th October, 2006 at 12:22 pm  

    Douglas

    Agree nukes are bad – just dont agree we can take moral ground as to who has , who hasn’t got them.

    re: japan , lots of versions exists as to the degree to which Japan was forced into position of attacking Pearl H, given the virtual economic isolation US had imposed on Japanse with sanctions etc – though not denying Japan didn’t attack US – but am making the point that US dropped the first nukes in history and we must’nt let US claim moral high ground on nukes – they haven’t proved themselved to be responsible with nukes have they? Perhaps they can be more responsible in comtemporary times.

    Sunny

    I think I’ve written enough blog entries to suggest that regional power rivalry in East Asia is complicated enough! without the Americans.. surely I am not still coming across as naive when I’ve mentioned a zillion accounts of Sino-Japanse incursions??? ( without the Americans involved in the 1930s).

    No – we can’t go back to US history as far as we want to go – it’s a 20th century phenomenon, as Douglas, says, US was until then relatively isolationist, ( with exception of Latin America ) and didn’t enter Asia Pacific until they ran head on with competing interests with japan & China in this region.

    The US is a problem. At least with Japan, India, two Koreas, China – these are all countries dealing with regional rivalries in their own backyard. They have legtimate squabbles in their own backyard. The US doesn’t need to be involved in every theatre of the world – it is very simple, as you say. We all know there were tensions in Vietmam, for example, but the point i am making is that Ho Chi Minh didn’t need an American war in Vietnam. American involvement in Vietnam delayed unification of Vietnam. Same with Korea – N Korea was trying to unify Korea when the Korean War broke out – and the US was trying to stop it. But now South Korea would happily NOT reunify because the North is mad. But this wasn’t the case in post-1945 yalta settlements.

    I am not sure i agree with yr analysis that US has contained arms race and China? I’d argue China has forced the US into recognising the latter as a military might. And we will see the fall out of this stand-off in the future -still.
    US has also picked up the role that Japan, Taiwan, South Korea would play against China. Surely you don’t think it’s just altruism that US picks up the security umbrella for these countries? For free?

  56. Douglas Clark — on 15th October, 2006 at 1:41 pm  

    Rowshan,

    Don’t think that you and I are far apart on this issue really. You may want to consider my road map for a way out of this impasse.

    That the inspections under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should be non-negotiable.

    That every nation should be obliged to sign up to it as a requirement for continuing UN membership.

    That failure to do so should involve sanctions.

    That, if we want to survive as a species a consequent movement towards a Nuclear De-Proliferation Treaty is something that everybody might then be able to subscribe to. (Dunno if there is such a word as De-Proliferation but there sure ought to be) And that certainly has to include the early nuclear powers along with everyone else. Including the boys that let the genie out of the bottle in the first place.

  57. Rowshan — on 15th October, 2006 at 9:10 pm  

    Douglas

    Yes, agree – and NPT should be made effecive to do what it was set up to do – de-eseelate nuclear tensions. That would be fine day to wake up to.

  58. Sunny — on 15th October, 2006 at 10:05 pm  

    Rowshan: lots of versions exists as to the degree to which Japan was forced into position of attacking Pearl H, given the virtual economic isolation US had imposed on Japanse with sanctions etc

    I’m sorry but this is just a bad reading of history. The imperialists in Japan attacked the USa because they were desperate for goods given they were getting badly tangled up in China, but to try and blame that on the US too is very lame. Japanese atrocities during WW2 were phenomenal so they weren’t exactly the innocent party during the war as you’re trying to imply.

    I am not sure i agree with yr analysis that US has contained arms race and China?

    You don’t think? Well why not read up on the Japanese press who are now asking the country should stop relying on the USA for security and start investing more money into offense technology. This will only fuel China to spend more money and as a result S Korea and Taiwan.

    I’m also contemptuous of the US sticking its nose everywhere but to try and make out that they’re making things worse in SE Asia is a bad analysis of events. You can see the whole security umbrella in danger of unravelling now and how it’ll only lead to an escalation of weapons stockpiling.

    It is still Japan that has been screaming hysterically about N Korea’s weapons.

  59. Rowshan — on 16th October, 2006 at 12:33 am  

    Sunny
    re: Japan and Pearl Harbour

    i am not blaming things on the Americans – just trying to show a wider picture.

    It’s not a bad reading of history. It’s what’s known in historical studies as a revisionist reading of history , revisionists, if you recall, also tell a different view of US involvement in Vietnam. I don’t have to repeat this.

    Historians disagree about the extent to which US embargoes on oil to japan sealed a virtual attack from japan . Again, your reading of history is very conventional account blaming japanese imperialists exclusively. I am not asserting opinions but just pointing out that there is more to Japanese history in WW2 than Pearl Harbour and atrocities.

    There are revisionists accounts in the US that tell a different story and there are many versions in japan about the suicidal position they were put in due to the economic embargoe from the US. But agree that Japan was over-stretched in China.

    No-one is denying Japanse atrocities in WW2. This is a cheap argument that doesn’t do Japan’s complexity much justice.

    Yes, today the Japanse are asking to build their own missiles as US is progressively withdrawing its presence from Asia-Pac. But there are also many in Japanse quarters who would dye in horror if they chose the nuke option – the legacy of Hiroshima has sparked a deep anti-nuke lobby in Japan.

    The point I am making ( it seems with a lot of confusion!) is that North Korea is part of a broader balance of power in East Asia and US is a central cog in this.

  60. Sunny — on 16th October, 2006 at 1:16 am  

    Rowshan, my cyncism extends from the implication that showing a ‘wider picture’ means blaming the USA when it doesn’t really apply. I am all for blaming the USA when they mess things up (Iraq) or try and subvert democracy (Venezuela) or even try and seize power (all over Latin America). But I’m not for blaming them as such when there is no need.

    is that North Korea is part of a broader balance of power in East Asia and US is a central cog in this.

    Um, no one has actually denied that. But you seemed to be blaming the US for upsetting the balance of power between these nice and lovely SE Asians, while I’m saying the US has so far stopped an arms race get out of hand in the SE Asia by extending security to S Korea, Japan and Taiwan. I believe that was a force for good.

    What I do accept is that the USA has made N Korea more paranoid since its “axis of evil” speech and made things worse and it should probably leave it to the S Koreans and Japan to try and negotiate. But it cannot completely withdraw from the area when those very countries want its support.

  61. Rowshan — on 16th October, 2006 at 1:25 am  

    sunny

    US made North Korea paranoid by attacking North Korea beyond the 38th parallel which divided the orginal N and S Korea. US then installed a big naval power in the Taiwan Straits. This happened in the 1950 Korean War.

    This is what I mean by wider picture.

    It didn’t start with the axis of evil.

    After Generam Macrthur (US) attacked North Korea in the 1950s, North Korea has been paranoid. Surely you can see this?

    And US attacked North Korea because it wanted to save South Korea and keep it ‘free world’ against the Communists – and China saw US action in North Korea as a clear indication of agression and then started building the nuke for China. In fact Chinese nuke building starts from the day US attacked Korea and the Russains didn’t come in and provide China nuclear cover.

    So telling me US kept the peace in the region?

    You;ve really got to have a better understanding of US interests in the region.

  62. Rowshan — on 16th October, 2006 at 1:31 am  

    Let me put it bluntly.

    China started its nuclear project from the repurcussions of the Korea War – from an immediate knee jerk reaction that after Pyingyang, Peking will be attacked by the US.

    So the US isn’t as scott free as you make them out to be.

    US then extended security alliance to these other powers primarily to check China.

    US and China are still ‘racing’ by other means.

    That’s the future conflict.

  63. Sunny — on 16th October, 2006 at 1:57 am  

    US made North Korea paranoid by attacking North Korea beyond the 38th parallel which divided the orginal N and S Korea. US then installed a big naval power in the Taiwan Straits. This happened in the 1950 Korean War.

    Um, you seem to have decided on a completely different version of history entirely.

    SK and NK were split up by the USA and Soviet Union following the collapse of Japan (which ruled Korea at the time). It was the N Koreans who decided to ‘unify’ the peninsula and triggered the Korean war.

    Because the Soviet Union and China supported N Korea the USA had to maintain a fleet to protect S Korea and Japan. So my analysis still stands.

  64. Rowshan — on 16th October, 2006 at 2:08 am  

    It doesn’t stand Sunny.

    North Korea attacked South Korea for unification purposes.

    US then came in to deter North Korea back to the 38th parallel which is the divide.

    US then went beyond the 38th parallel and attacked North Korea itself. This is what is known as US attack on North Korea. Hence the paranoi.

    China then asked Soviet for assusrance of military cover should US venture beyond North Korea into Chinese territory.

    Soviets refused to give this assurance.

    China almost went to war with US over Korea. Then China started its own military build up.

    Why? Because US is maintaining proxy military interests in South Korea and Japan.

    Surely you see that US is a long way from home in the Pacific and that countries like China and North Korea mighr be a little bit suspitious and paranoid about US presence in their backyard.

  65. Rowshan — on 16th October, 2006 at 2:21 am  

    You also realise that China intervened in militaily in Korea to stop the Americans from crossing from North Korae into the Chinese border? The Chinese did this after immense protests to the Americans that the should not aproach the Chinese border.

    As soon as North Korea attacked South Korea , US announceed economic embargo on China.

    You might ask why the Americans were hell bent on getting close to the Chinese border…. open question.

  66. Sunny — on 16th October, 2006 at 2:24 am  

    North Korea attacked South Korea for unification purposes.

    US then came in to deter North Korea back to the 38th parallel which is the divide.

    Or one could see it as aggression by N Korea backed up by the Soviets. I think we’re gonna have to agree to disagree here because you clearly see the US only as an aggressor whereas I think the US did well to offer protection to S Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

  67. Rowshan — on 16th October, 2006 at 2:31 am  

    So was unification of Vietnam seen as Soviet inspired? Or nationalist sentiment?

    In any case you agree that the region’s paranoia didn’t start with axis of evil speech.

    I don’t see US as only agressor here – you were denying that US had much of a role here. I was saying it plays a major role – as did the Soviets – and that’s what’s referred to the cold war in east asia , i think we agree.

  68. Sunny — on 16th October, 2006 at 2:52 am  

    You might ask why the Americans were hell bent on getting close to the Chinese border…. open question.

    Hey look, there is no doubt there was paranoia over the cold war. But it was on both sides. The Soviet Union was as engaged in arms building as the United States was. And China was paranoid from the start, there’s no point denying that.

  69. Rowshan — on 16th October, 2006 at 7:19 am  

    OK OK – I think we’ve bored our other bogglars by now .. see you at another spar.

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