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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

thin gruel « Previous | |Next »
March 28, 2003

The conservatives are not doing a very good job on managing the domestic politics of a war that daily grinds on. Maybe they hope that by sitting tight and avoiding public debate the US-led war will get them across the line in terms of electoral politics. Maybe they hope that the fallout of the war will convulse the Labor Party? Maybe they hope that the shift in the reason for a war from ridding Saddam Hussein of his weapons of mass destruction to a humanitarian war to save the wretched citizens of Iraq will do the trick.

Commentators are now beginning to address the longer term consequences of the Iraqi war. The old western alliance is split, Europe is split; the UN displaced and the doctrine of state sovereignty is not sustainable.

What then of the US ordering the world as a hegemonic power as a global policeman? What does Pax Americana necon style mean post Iraq? This obliquely came up on Radio National this morning, when Gerard Henderson was asked about the impact of the neo-cons on the Bush administration. He discounted their influence, without giving any indication of the neo-con theoretical strategic framework which the Bush administration is working within. Let us say kindly that Gerard is out of his depth on the geo-political stuff.

This
article by Josh Marshall is what Gerard should have talked about or addressed: the possibility of future chaos in the Middle East due to US neo-con strategy in the region. An bleak assessment for Australia can be found at eye of the eagle.

It was sort of addressed in Geoffrey Blainey's article, Causes for concern. He is celebrated as challenging orthodoxies, questioning long-held assumptions, deciphering history, making it and being able to write well. Blainey has a good opening paragraph:

"Much of the public debate about war and peace is like a debate about malaria in the era before it was realised that swamps and mos­quitoes were the villains. The peace marchers are sometimes like an anti-malarial squad, passing a long swamp on its way to a city square, not realising that the swamp should be its focus. While it is vital that there should be peace movements, it is vital that they should be fighting the correct enemy."

The peace movement is flawed because it singles out one enemy, creed, institution or culture as the main cause of war. With the current war we have simple anti-capitalist and ant-American placard-like theories of war.

Now Blainey is not just deciphering placards in marches. He acknowledges that:

"...most of the Australians who temporarily sympathise with the peace movement are pragmatists, possessed by no grand theory. They simply believe for one reason or other that Australia should not be taking part in today's war. If the United Nations approved the war, however, most of these Australians presum­ably would support it."

However, the:

"...high weakness of the peace movement, in all its manifestations, is that it remains confused about war. It assumes that peace is the normal condition of the world and that if people can only prevent the outbreak of any future war, then peace and stability will reign. But peace can create anarchy just as war can create anarchy."

Then Blainey is of on a history of war, appeasement, Hitler to argue that in "disputes between nations, war remains the ultimate court of appeal. In that sense, international war fulfils a vital function. Only when that elementary truth is realised will a serious attempt be made to replace war."

So the peace movement is a bunch of pacificists. What about those who would support invading Iraq if there had been UN approaval? They are not peaceniks. Blainey dismisses them quickly:

"My own view is that Prime Minister John Howard's arguments in favour of a war in Iraq are stronger than the arguments against him. Indeed, the raggle-taggle United Nations may well be the beneficiary if the war succeeds. But the rightness of any such verdict will depend on the war itself. If the war is short, swift and successful, the leadership by President George W. Bush will seem justified, in the medium term at least."

Why are Howard's arguments better? No reason. They just are. Is it because the raggle-taggle UN is pretty useless? Talk about placard-like theories. Blainey is mixing it with the best of them. Oh, course this is good writing.

Then Blainey is off canvassing the possibilities of a swift clean war. Towards the end he returns to the issue at hand:

"Saddam Hussein, year after year, has made the UN look like a monkey. Ironically those who say they believe fervently in the UN, and who refuse to sanction war in Iraq without UN consent, have unwittingly done their best, in the past weeks, to protect Saddam instead of helping the beleaguered monkey."

To adopt a strategy of the PM's, Geoffrey is entitled to his view. I hear and understand where he is coming from. But its thin gruel. The UN sucks. Nothing about the neo-con view of international relations vs working through the UN.We have all the academic spin by an authority in history who dishes up junk about quitening down the debate and internal criticism of government policy by Australian citizens.

And the swamp? What does the swamp refer to? Is that the anarchy and disorder in world of nations? Presumably, given the refernce to the sparks flying across the Iraqi border sparking violence in other nation states and redrawing the map of the Middle East. However, Blainey says this should not deter the Anglo Americans from intervention and prevention.

He addresses Gerard Henderson's silence on the US neo-con strategy for the Middle East region. Blainey holds his tongue on the US setting out to redraw the map of the Middle East. He does his job by mocking the antiwar movement, discrediting the UN and justifying US occupation of Iraq. Through 'prevention' he legitmates prolonging the war through attaks on other nation states in the name of rooting out Islamic terrorism and Muslim fundamentalism. The US neo-con strategy is slipped in under the covers of war being the ultimate court of appeal.

If we come back to this, we find Michael Costello questioning Blainey's prevention strategy: Costello says:

"... the US is going to have to find a way to redefine its way out of its announced policy of unilateral pre-emption, which has so blighted the powerful case for action against Iraq. This doctrine is intolerable to its friends and allies. It is in practice unenforceable. The US is not going to undertake unilateral pre-emption against Iran or North Korea because, despite its awesome military power, the costs of such action would dwarf that of the Iraq war."

I reckon that the neo-cons ae going to get mugged by reality once again. The public debate is pretty thin gruel in terms of the blowback of the war in our region.


| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:08 AM | | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (1)
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Comments

Comments

"peace can create anarchy, just as war can create anarchy."

Is Blainey writing articles about community councils, the gift economy and radically democratic organizational structures now?

In any case, the 'war' on the poor continues to kill thousands every day.

Sorry, just feeling envious and hateful today. Must change the workplace radio over to some Mix 102.

Comfortable and Relaxed. Comfortable and Relaxed Comfortable and Relaxed.

ahhhhhhhhh

Why the hell do we have to listen to Gerard Henderson, who today denied the neocons have any real power in the Administration? Why do we have to listen to the same ramblings of the two ex military men on the 7.30 report? I want to know more about PNAC, the new world order and so on.

The two ex-military types on the 7.30 Report cannot see beyond the press releases of the Amnerican military. they are shocking.