Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Salman Rushdie has come out in favour of taking out Saddam:
In this strange, unattractive historical moment, the extremely strong anti-Saddam Hussein argument isn't getting a fraction of the attention it deserves.
This is, of course, the argument based on his 31/2-decade-long assault on the Iraqi people. He has impoverished them, murdered them, gassed and tortured them, sent them off to die by the tens of thousands in futile wars, repressed them, gagged them, bludgeoned them and then murdered them some more.

Rushdie easily points up the dilemma for the No War Ever argument:
This is the hard part for antiwar liberals to ignore. All the Iraqi democratic voices that still exist, all the leaders and potential leaders who still survive, are asking, even pleading for the proposed regime change. Will the American and European left make the mistake of being so eager to oppose Bush that they end up seeming to back Saddam Hussein, just as many of them seemed to prefer the continuation of the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan to the American intervention there?

There is a nod to the skeptics of US policy:
The complicating factors, sadly, are this U.S. administration's preemptive, unilateralist instincts, which have alienated so many of America's natural allies. Unilateralist action by the world's only hyperpower looks like bullying because, well, it is bullying.

But then this curious prediction, which smacks a little of getting his ducks in a row for a very big I Told You So.
And the United States' new preemptive-strike policy would, if applied, make America itself a much less safe place, because if the United States reserves the right to attack any country it doesn't like the look of, then those who don't like the look of the United States might feel obliged to return the compliment. It's not always as smart as it sounds to get your retaliation in first.

The simple fact is that the “retaliation” excuse is just that, an excuse. All strikes against other countries are an exercise of raw power, to further the interests of that State. It may be self-defence, it may be pre-emptive self defence. It is often just a grab for land and money. But to imagine that the loons who might launch a terrorist attack against the USA should have their motivations examined with a view to divining their true reasons smacks of Fiskism. The primary motivation for terrorism is to kill as many civilians as possible, while avoiding contact with authorities.

But at the last, Rushdie will not commit to war regardless:
I am bound to say that if, as now seems possible, the United States and the United Nations do agree on a new Iraq resolution; and if inspectors do return, and, as is probable, Hussein gets up to his old obstructionist tricks again; or if Iraq refuses to accept the new U.N. resolution; then the rest of the world must stop sitting on its hands and join the Americans and British in ridding the world of this vile despot and his cohorts.

He has no Plan B, and is comfortable giving China a veto on taking down Saddam. The US is a “bully”, but he can’t admit to one simple fact: it’s the only game in town.

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