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The pro-war Right is getting desperate

July 25, 2003

Will you read this? This feller really has the wrong end of the stick:

Let's have a closer look at what he's saying.

Opponents of American foreign policy in Iraq are attempting to focus the entire debate on one small and extremely unimportant event. They're trying to claim that the inclusion of one specific sentence in this year's State of the Union address is the total political issue

This is simply not true. The State of the Union address issue may be making the headlines in the US at the moment but the fact remains that the Niger uranium claim is simply one of many half-truths and outright lies which were put forward by the Bush and Blair administrations as justification for the war.

For example, Donald Rumsfeld claimed that they had "Bulletproof evidence" of a link between Al-Qaeda and the regime of Saddam Hussein. This has since been proved to be a flat-out lie. The Bush administration also claimed to have evidence that guaranteed that Iraq had active WMD programs and even published satellite photos showing buildings which they claimed housed these programs. Despite this supposed copper-bottomed evidence and despite allegedly knowing where the WMD were, nothing has yet been found at the time of writing.

Aside from Al-Qaeda and WMD, the third reason we were given was humanitarian: the liberation and democratisation of Iraq. This reason was, of course, given last, only after the previous two claims had failed to convince doubters. Of all three reasons, it was the one that I personally felt most compelling. It is also the only reason which has not (yet) been proved to be a complete fabrication. No suprise then that Mr. Den Beste immediately siezes upon this as the true justification for the war.

In fact, the real reason we went into Iraq was precisely to "nation build": to create a secularized, liberated, cosmopolitan society in a core Arab nation. To create a place where Arabs were free and safe and unafraid and happy and successful and not ruled by corrupt monarchs or brutal dictators.

I must say that I welcome this new approach from the US. It makes a pleasant change to see them opposing those nasty, human-right-abusing, undemocratic regimes instead of supporting them for short-term gain. Hopefully the US now sees the backfiring folly of supporting regimes like that of Saddam Hussein, or indeed paramilitary groups such as that of Osama Bin Laden. I'll just skirt round the subject of Islam Karimov shall I?

However, in order to claim Iraqi liberation as the war's main justification, Mr. Den Beste must first explain why so many lies were told by the Bush and Blair administrations.

So why did George W. Bush and Tony Blair, in making the case for war, put so much emphasis on U.N. resolutions and weapons of mass destruction? Honesty and plain speaking are not virtues for politicians and diplomats.

It's breathtaking, isn't it, the way that Mr. Den Beste not only acknowledges that these two are liars, but also asks the reader to accept it as the status quo? Does Mr. Den Beste not think that honesty and plain speaking are desirable qualities in those who govern us, no matter whether or not that is the case at the moment? If a politician is found guilty of lying to not only the electorate but also to the government and the international community should they not be punished and removed from office? Or are we supposed to say "Hey, that's what our rulers do, they lie to us. Deal with it"?

The fact that the Right is no longer trying to deny that the Bush adminsitration lied, but is instead trying to get us to accept such behaviour as the norm is indicative of their increasing desperation. They are on the back foot and they know it.

If either Mr. Bush or Mr. Blair had said what I did, it would have hit the fan big-time.

Yes, Mr. Den Beste, it would have hit the fan because while arguably worthy, going to war to affect change of even the foulest of sovereign regimes is illegal under internation law.

Making clear a year ago that this was our true agenda would have virtually guaranteed that it would fail. Among other things, it would have caused all of the brutal dictators and corrupt monarchs in the region to unite with Saddam against us, and would have made the invasion impossible.

This is just plain laughable. For a start, if Mr. Den Beste seeks to convince us that the Saudi, Kuwaiti, and Iranian regimes would have risen up to defend their long-standing enemy Saddam Hussein then he has another thing coming. Even if they did unite against the US invasion, does he really think we'd believe for one second that the US military couldn't easily trounce the lot of them put together? The US armed forces are the most effective military machine in history and I reckon that it could take on the rest of the world and still come out on top.

And that's ignoring the other big inconsistency in Mr. Den Beste's argument. George Bush has been publicly saying for well over a year that he strongly desires "regime change" in Iraq. Yes, that did make the adventure less likely to succeed: not because the corrupt gulf-region regimes rose up, but because the entire international community could see that the Al-Qaeda / WMD claims were simply fig-leaves over a long-since-decided invasion plan.

Later on in the article, Mr. Den Beste brings up 9/11 as a justification.

The memory of 9/11 runs deep. I'm becoming convinced that few in Europe truly understand just what that really meant to us, the anger and the hatred it raised. It's not the kind of thing we get over. We're not going to forget it.

This makes me wonder just what it is Mr. Den Beste is smoking. Of course we in Europe understand the pain and tragedy of that event. That is why there was such an upwelling of international sympathy and support immediately afterwards. The British in particular, after a 30 year terrorist campaign against our country, understand what it feels like to have such an atrocity perpetrated against your people. The American people will always have my sympathy and condolences over 9/11.

I think that this is a fundamental misunderstanding between the US and Europe. The US seems to think that Europe no longer accepts 9/11 as a reason behind their foregin policy because we think that they should "get over it". What the -? Just how are you supposed to "get over" something like 9/11? That is not what any reasonable European thinks. The reason that 9/11 is carrying less weight as a foreign policy justification at the moment is because 9/11 had nothing to do with Iraq.

The Bush adminsitration is constantly exploiting the 9/11 tragedy and citing it here in the context of Iraq is simply a continuation of that shameful practice. Of course, since the Iraq / Al-Qaeda link has now been disproved, Mr Den Beste tries to claim a link between Arab extremism and the existence of the Saddam Hussein regime.

Arab extremism is no longer something that happens a long ways away and that we can ignore, so we aren't going to. It is their problem, but 9/11 made it ours. Now we'll solve it.
In order to remove the danger to us that Japan represented, it had to be reformed. So that's what happened. Now we're going to try to do the same to the Arabs.

I really wish that defeating Arab extremism was as "simple" as invading and occupying an Arab country, but the situation in the region is far more complex. It's my opinion that a far more effective step in reducing Arab extremism would be to negotiate an even-handed and fair settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians leading to a viable and peaceful Palestinian state. President Bush has commendably commited himself to this aim. I just hope he comes through.

So even America-haters in Europe had better hope that this works, because the alternative is much worse.

Europe is not full of America haters at the moment. George Bush haters, maybe, but we have the wit to make a distinction between the current US administration and the people and nation of America. Criticising George Bush does not equal hating America. The sooner American commentators realise this the better. I love America, it's a great nation founded on good liberal principles and before Ashcroft, Bush et al got their hands on it, it was the free-est nation on earth. Now you can get a visit from the FBI over what you've been seen reading.

Which is a really good reason why they'd also better stop trying to make it fail.

Just what does Mr Den Beste mean by this? Which Europeans have been trying to make the reconstrction of Iraq fail and in what way? This is just more typical knee-jerk anti-European rhetoric with zero basis in fact. Mr Den Beste does his cause no favours with such shoddy demonisation of an entire continent.

Right now the Democrats are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, in thrall to their extreme wing, and trying to peddle a message full of recriminations.

I think this excerpt shows just how rattled the American Right are by the fact that their raft of lies are being exposed. Here Mr Den Beste suggests that asking questions about why your nation went to war after the given reasons have been proven untrue is a mark of extreme politics. I don't know about Mr Den Beste but if I'd found out that my government had committed my nation and our armed forces to a lengthy occupation of another country on the basis of a load of unsubstantiated half-truths and downright lies (and I have), I'd want some answers. That's not extreme by an awfully long shot.

The Democrats won't have any influence until they actually look toward the future and start talking about what they think we actually should do.

Isn't it obvious what we should be doing? Now that we're in there we should do what we told the Iraqi people we'd do and indeed what we are doing: reconstructing Iraq and setting up free and fair elections so that they can choose their own destiny. If it was up to me, I'd leave the oilfields in the hands of this new Iraqi government to do with as they see fit, as opposed to just handing them over to Halliburton. The Iraqi oilfields were in the hands of the Iraqi government before the war and they should stay there after the war. If the Iraqi people want to hand them over to Halliburton then they are free to do so. If they don't, then tough cheese.

However, the need to reconstruct Iraq does not negate the need to get to the bottom of the lies that have been told to the American people as well as the rest of us. The American Right know this, which is why we're seeing such desperate articles as Mr Den Beste's, full of tenuous connections and slurs on the patriotism of any American who has the temerity to ask questions of George W Bush's little cabal.

The truth will out and history will judge the instigators of this war. Some of the people all of the time, George, but not all of us forever ...

Posted by Jonah at July 25, 2003 11:58 AM