Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Abandoning my usual habits...

...of not saying anything about what I do from day to day, I spent some time today reviewing grant applications for the Serbia & Montenegro Ministry of Science. Most of today i spent feeling neuron-deprived and weary, much like Dave, probably pre-flu. All of Androo's concerns about the US not having a plan are very valid, and I guess it is a judgment call as to whether the best response is to try and help them come up with a plan or just to wait and hope they will go away. Actually, both modes of action seem naively optimistic in my current mood. I guess I would be much less likely to support the current US administration if everyone hadn't been abusing them from before they took over. They are not that different from the last lot, unfortunately. They do not have any agenda that any real religious radical or republican imperialist would consider remotely satsifactory. They are time-serving, venial, rotten politicians, all in all, just like their counterparts here on both so-called 'sides' of politics.

In 1998 Clinton bombed Iraq in a pretty serious way, killing a lot of civilians. This really pissed me off at the time and made me briefly consider renouncing my US citizenship. It didn't seem to be achieving anything or to be a well-thought out course of action at all. We now know that it pretty much destroyed Saddam's weapons program, so it was probably justified. But I can't remember anyone protesting agaisnt it- certainly not anything like 2003. I can't help wondering if all those people would have protested in 2003 if the US president, putting forward exactly the same policy, was someone from their 'side' of politics.

In 1999 the US intervened again, putting together a coalition of the willing to bomb a country that had pretty much given away violent meddling in the affairs of its neighbours, that wasn't in breach of anywhere near as many UN resolutions as Iraq was, and that really wasn't all that oppressive and genocidal compared to places like, say, Iraq. I remember there were protests in Sydney, but it seemed from the media reports that just about everyone at them was from Serbia & Montenegro... I don't know if Bush would have gotten off so easily.

Perhaps the exception is Afghanistan: that was the current administration. Afghanistan wasn't in breach of any UN resolutions, it wasn't any threat to its neighbours, it may have offended Western sensibilities but it wasn't genocidal, and the atrocities the Northern Alliance inflicted on captured prisoners make Abu Ghraib look like a CWA picnic. Bush got away with that, so what pressed buttons with Iraq? It couldn't be that the US was run by someone on the so-called 'right' and Iraq was run by someone on the so-called 'left'? I dunno.


Marco said...

My idea was to use the sidebar for things that I'm doing, and the main entries for general rants and/or philosophical thoughts. It is kind of working, especially because I believe my life to be reasonably uninteresting to others for the most part.

Marco said...

As far as the Iraq buttons thing goes, it has a lot to do with multi-country institution thing. If, as a group, NATO, UN, CIS, WTO or whatever, is backing a course of action, that gives a nominal legitimacy to it as opposed to an ad-hoc coalition (without a governing treaty giving it a mandate)

Dave said...

The US had support in Afghanistan because it was seen as a legitimate response to 9/11 against a regime that overtly supported the self-confessed attackers - perhaps in retrospect a rather looser affiliation than was supposed at the time, and Pakistan's government is at least partly implicated in the ongoing existence of Al Qaeda (but Musharref cunningly badged himself as a Close Friend and Ally, thus ensuring some level of security from inclusion in any Axes of Badness).

I think my main complaint about Iraq has always been the weakness of the justifications - WMD (none in existence), implied links to 9/11 (not there no matter how hard Rummy wishes it were so), others I've forgotten which rang equally false. The only one that struck me as legitimate was that Saddam Hussein is very bad, and that he should be removed from power for the good of the Iraqi people. This was overtly *not* employed as the reason for pursuing "regieme change" until well into the pre-war campaign, when it was becoming obvious that the "WMD/support for terrorists" arguments were on shaky ground. Then it became practically a mantra (though of course the other arguments continued to enjoy solid support for months after they were discredited).

If the only reason to go to war was to get rid of Saddam and his cronies, I'd have preferred they just used the CIA's traditional methods of bribery, assassination and coups. That at least would have minimised civilian casulaties.

Or did they try that and it just didn't work?