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Saturday, May 10, 2003  

Wars come and go

I got out of bed just now and told Sue that it must be six months since I last wrote a blog entry. But it's not: it's less than three. Will I spoil my reputation if I rush in with an entry now?

A war has come and gone since the last entry. On 28 March I posted to the Libertarian Alliance forum a strongly pro-war essay on Islam, terrorism and the West, by an old college friend of mine. I preceded his piece with these responses of my own:

I'm in agreement with your sentiments almost up to the end – but I think finally that I mildly disapprove of this war. 'Mildly' might seem like a feeble reaction to a big event – one would think that where a cataclysm is concerned you ought to be strongly for, strongly against, or blockheadedly don't-know. But this is the reason why I can't get worked up against this war: although it's bad for us – because Iraq doesn't directly threaten us, and we should meddle much less than we do with other countries – this is mitigated by the fact that it will be good for Iraq. It's a form of foreign aid. In general I'm against (government-organized) foreign aid, but in this instance it's likely to do more good than harm – for Iraq.

I think Iraq is no danger to the West precisely because it's a visible, vulnerable state, and we have overwhelming nuclear weaponry (you see that I'm no peacenik!). Just rattling our atomic sabres would terrify Saddam into making sure he could never be linked with any terrorist action against us. (Perhaps this war could be justified on the grounds that it's the only way to convince the world that the Anglosphere really has abandoned its despicable pre-9/11 appeasement attitudes.)

That being so, I think actually invading Iraq on unconvincing pretexts is a peculiar venture, and I can't help thinking that it's meant as a distraction from the real war against terror, which by its nature is going to be long drawn out, tedious, and lacking dramatic, televisual victories.

But I would never march against the war. (Not even 'mildly' stroll.) I think a day's work is a better contribution to society than having a street party. And I have nothing in common with the pacifists, anti-capitalists, anti-Westerners, UN-fanatics, collectivists, and assorted world-government bullies ('anti-globalist', yet pro-global-government) who provide the footsoldiers on such events. They want to dominate the world in their own way.

No, I don't think Iraq is – was – the real threat. Al-Qaeda and all the other Moslem fanatics' clubs that will follow are the real danger, I believe. And to me, as a libertarian, among the biggest threats they pose are the shackles that our governments will pile on us with the pretext that they're saving us from the terrorists.

There's too much to say on all this – here's just one last thing: I feel the same way at the thought of an Islamic future for our countries as you do - it's too horrible to contemplate. Actually, it's inconceivable to me that our history could end in that way. I think that the example of our science, technology and individualism will erode Islam as surely as it's eroded Christianity (I don't know what it's done to Judaism). Eventually there will be a diluted Islam that will convince itself that it's holding to the old truths while in reality compromising with modernity. We just have to hold out till then, by being heavily armed in our own defence, and believing in ourselves.

I don't want to retract anything I said there. While the war was in progress, I was wholeheartedly on the coalition side. I rejoiced in its victories and was contemptuous of nearly everything I saw and heard that was against the war. And, being on the coalition's side, I was shamed and downcast when its bombs and bullets went astray, angered when it behaved ruthlessly, and contemptuous of much of the justification that came out of Downing Street and the White House.

Sometimes the state gets something halfway right. Brushing Saddam aside might prove to have been one of those things.

But what about those weapons of mass destruction? Were our leaders genuinely mistaken or recklessly lying? Or might they prove to have been right?

I genuinely want them to be found. But that's a perverse wish: such a discovery will be used to justify many more such interventions. And these won't always be against something as monstrous as the Saddam regime.

7:02 AM

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