Tuesday, September 17, 2002

This started life as a reply to a reader, who accused me of crimes several and nefarious

The message I am trying to get across is that the war of today, and the motivations behind it, are more different from Vietnam, than Vietnam was from World War Two. The radicals of the 60's would not have let an old soldier from D-Day tell them anything about war in 1968. Why should people think what Richard Neville has to say today be any more relevant? Your use of Germaine Greer is quite apt; the world has moved on. A feminist who wants women to wear the burkha, a hated symbol of oppression, to protest the liberation of women from a dictatorship, has lost any relevance she ever had.

ON SECRECY:
I have to assume that you do not believe the public is entitled to know everything the government does, particularly when it comes to war planning. To expect total disclosure when loons like Saddam are in the habit of killing not only spies, but a spy's entire family, including infants, shows a certain lack of regard. The level of disclosure today is higher than it's ever been. And if you don't know something, how do you know it's being kept from you?

ARMS SUPPLY:l
Your point about Iraq being supplied with WMD in the early 80's is relevant. But doesn't that increase the responsibility of the countries that sold weapons to Iraq? If supply of material is not a reason to participate in the cleanup, why should polluters be forced to pay?

Only the shitty dictatorships buy arms. Most everybody else makes their own. If arms-selling countries are not allowed to clean up the mess you say they helped create, and if all action has to be taken as a UN Security Council Coalition, then every suspect nation will at one point have been supplied by one or more of the permanent Members. It's a recipe for inaction. Inaction is what gets you Rwanda.

ON PRECEDENTS:
Pakistan is different from Iraq. If you cannot see that Iraq is run by a brutal despot, who has repeatedly used aggression against his neighbours, and has no stake in not acting rashly, then there is little chance of convincing you. To say "Pakistan is just as bad" implies you would support a strike on Pakistan. Is that the case? Milosevic is gone, and the Serbs are running their own show. Intervention of some degree or another is as old as the UN. Granting moral certitude to the UN Security Council is far more dangerous. What if the UN hadn’t approved of the invasion of East Timor? Should we have stood back?

ON SOLDIERING:
Will Australian Prime Minister John Howard send his sons off to war? No. They are not qualified to fight in a professional volunteer army. To ask the question is to invite political leaders to make their decisions based on their concern for their families, above their duty to their country, which is what they're hired to do. And contrarily, I do not glorify war. But I do recognise it as "the extension of politics by other means". Just as sometimes the police have to beat some fool over the head before we'll come along quietly, some rulers have to be shown the pointy end before they'll get the message.

The world will be a better place without Saddam Hussein. There can be no argument on this. It is possible that by searching high and low, the Iraqi people might find a ruler who is worse, but why would they? And how would such a person gain power, with an occupying force in place? Remember Japan and Germany. The Allies wrote their Constitutions for them. They are now stable, prosperous democracies. We can deliver something similar to Iraq.

Were you asking Howard to send his sons to East Timor? Were you calling for a US pullout of Kosovo? Are you saying an invasion of Saudi would be better than an Invasion or Iraq?

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