Sorry for this rant. If you've had enough of politics feel free to skip this.
It's worrying to see the recent developments. Let's see what people agree on:
- Saddam is really bad.
- If you're in one of the countries sending troops, you probably hope they all come back safe, and support them.
That being said:
- Saddam being really bad is not enough reason to invade the country. A lot of people may (or may not) be better off afterwards, but if you think like that ("the end justifies the means") then you basically say: the US can attack anyone whose governement it doesn't like. It simply needs to show it "harbours terrorists" or something similar - and in these times of media self-censorship that's rather easy to do. There's a reason why there's so many barriers to start a war. It's because it really is a last resort.
- Saddam being in breach of Resolution 1441 doesn't automatically need to result in war. If "serious consequences" really meant war, this resolution wouldn't have been adopted by a lot of the member states as such.
- "Running out of patience" is not enough reason for war either. As Robin Cook mentioned in his resignation speech, Israel has been in breach of resolution 242 for over 35 years, but noone's losing patience there.
- There's legitimate public doubt about whether Iraq is a clear and present threat to the US/UK or others. On the one hand, they're selling the war by saying it would be a "quick and clean war" without much opposition and on the other hand, a justification for the war is that they have the means to hurt us in a significant way. Despite Bush's continual repeating that Iraq is linked to terrorism, this hasn't been proven. The nuclear path was also discounted by the atomic commision, and we didn't have problem with Saddam having biological and chemical weapons, when they were provided to him by - among others - the US and the UK. To top it all off, they're under very close scrutiny by the rest of the world, so they wouldn't have much of a chance to create a real weapons program. So, what's up with the urgency?
- France didn't use its veto. A second resolution wasn't even submitted, so it didn't need to. There was a lot of talk before that they'd submit a second resolution to prove that France was intending to use its veto "unreasonably". Blair mentioned long before the UK would consider going to war in the faced with a lone veto. However, it seems they didn't even get support from 9 out of 15 members of the security council, otherwise they would have submitted it for sure, and proven to the world how alone France is in it's anti-war stance.
Additionaly, the US and UK are looked at with even more suspicion these days:
- Bush's insistence on linking Iraq and terrorism, to sell it to the American public - even though the evidence was disproven, and no new facts were given. Note that a lot of it's allies (Saudi Arabia for instance) are more easily linked to terrorism.
- The falsified nuclear evidence
- The fact that positive reports from the weapon inspectors were seen as "bad news" by the US. It's clear their minds were already made up.
- Despite Blair's pre-empting of the issue in his excellent speech (Blair mentioned that the natural riches of Iraq would be put in a trust for the Iraqi people), there's still a lot of doubts and cynisism about all the interests involved in this war. The Halliburton angle, the matter of control of this trust, the regime change the Americans seem more interested in than the disarmament, etc. Blair's speech, excellent as it was, didn't do enough to alleviate all the lingering questions. And it seems in the US noone wants or dares to question Bush. He hasn't been articulate at all in selling his war.
- The complete media blackout. Accountability in this war will be completely gone. Terrorism and the media self-censorship that goes with it, the fact that none of the media wants to be seen as unpatriottic, the complete control of journalists on site, being fed exactly the bits the military wants them to report. Propaganda is flowing freely once again. Precision bombing, gasing his own people, torture, rape, etc. I'm not saying all this propaganda is always untrue, I'm just saying it's news disproportionally reported as a means to a goal.
- Bush's commitment to the middle-east peace process. Like many people, I'll believe it when I see the results. Now it just looks like a hastily put together press release to sweeten the pill.
- And finally: The Perpetual War on Terrorism. A war against an enemy you can define at will, for an undefined duration, where nobody can ever know when it's actually over. This is the choice political tool for dictators. They can use it to shape the policy in whatever way they want. Policy, Military, Media, even the judicial system, they're all subject to it. It just seems another holy crusade, bringing "democracy" and "our way of life" to the unenlightened.