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Tony Grist

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Out of my depth- but aren't we all? [Apr. 18th, 2004|09:57 am]
Tony Grist
The War on Terror. I hate that phrase. It's a no-brainer. Terror isn't an entity that can be fought; it's a strategy. A War on Terror is like a war on cavalry charges.

But worse than that, the phrase simplifies the extremely complicated mess we're in. I don't pretend to understand the mess, but then I don't think our leaders do either. Bush, Cheyney, Rumsfeld, Blair, Sharon, Arafat, Bin Laden- they all live in these closed off little enclaves of wishful thinking. They have simple minds. They want the world to conform to their simplicity. Bush wants the whole world to be Texas and Bin Laden wants it to be Afghanistan under the Taliban and Blair wants it to be Islington. Well, dudes, it just ain't gonna happen that way. The quality of these men shocks me. They aren't fit to rule. But who in the history of human affairs has ever been fit to rule? Scum rises to the top. When I try to think of a great leader- anytime, anywhere- who was also a great human being I all but draw a blank. I've got one name for you- Abraham Lincoln. And a second- Pericles. And a possible third- Elizabeth I. Otherwise- bleeagh!

War on Terror. No. It's a lot of little wars. The issues are local. Iraq has NOTHING to do with El Quaeda. But I can't help noticing that on the one hand you have a bunch of white guys with enormous weapons and on the other a bunch of brown guys with much smaller weapons. Two words spring to mind: racist and colonial.

I hate religious fundamentalism. But killing and killing and killing is not the way to douse it. What the U.S. did in Fallujah was a massacre, a war crime. If the occupying forces in Iraq ever held the moral high ground (which I doubt) they have lost it now.

Blair and Bush stand shoulder to shoulder and talk that sub-Churchillian rhetoric about good and evil and courage and perseverance and all that dulce et decorum shite and I cannot express just how disgusting I find it.

From: archyena
2004-04-18 04:05 am (UTC)
There is no way out of the Middle East situation without violence. The question is going to be merely whose violence. The violence doesn't bug me, the United States is doing a fine job by the standards I judge it. The United States is now the government of a third world country where a large percentage of the population wants to seize power for itself, another segment is afraid of losing power, and a last is mostly neutral in it. This country is dealing with the kinds of problems that long plagued countries in Latin America, Asia, and especially Africa.
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From: archyena
2004-04-18 04:07 am (UTC)
Oh and the decorum thing bugs me too, let's be honest, this is the bloody business of seperating peaceful people from what are essentially well-armed and ambitious street gangs.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-04-18 05:14 am (UTC)
Well, yes, I like the realism of your approach. War's a bloody business and there you go. I'm not anti-American and I don't have any positive solutions to offer. I just think the USA and Britain are messing with things they don't really understand. And the handling of things in Fallujah- with the resultant civilian death toll- has been just plain wrong.

You see, I don't believe we should be in Iraq in the first place. There were no WMDs. And the terrorist threat was based elsewhere. OK, it's a good thing that Saddam has gone- I got a high from seeing that statue come down- but I'm not convinced that the present state of the country is any improvement on the way things were.

And I don't get Bush. Like most Europeans I just don't see how this man was ever considered fit to have the top job. And that's putting it politely.

And I despise Tony Blair for backing him up. I voted for Blair in '97 thinking I was going to get a left of centre government and this plunging into foreign wars and sucking up to the most right-wing American administration in living memory is a betrayal.

On a personal note, I have a son in the British army. He did a tour in Iraq and there's a chance (I guess) that he'll have to go back. How do I feel about this? Sick, proud, angry...all sorts of contradictory things.
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From: archyena
2004-04-18 05:55 am (UTC)
I agree, they don't understand the problem. I think this has more to do with Bush and Blair being fundamentally good, well-meaning people. An understanding of the problem leads to a harsh realism that the best way to solve it is going to be disasters like Fallujah where the civilian casualties have been high but I think many people are realizing that this sort of insurgency costs the lives not just of militants, but innocent people as well. The harsh realism dictates that success will depend in no small part on this "don't get me killed" mentality being instilled in the population. You of course, should not seek out civilian casualties, simply committing atrocities (ie the active targeting of civilians because they are civilians) will create the "they're trying to kill us all" mentality. Harsh realism is, well, harsh.

Why is Bush fit to run the country? Simple, because the party machinery said it was his turn. Al Gore got there the same way, a look at his positions and history reveal an altogether different type of unfitness for the job.

I never gave a flip about WMDs and have counted it as a mistake not to make the case based on human rights and the debt we owed the thousands of Iraqis brutally killed by the Republican Guard after Bush the Elder simply abandoned them after promising support. I first became aware of that on a trip to Qatar where it was pointed out to me by a man I was having a discussion with at the hotel in Doha. I've been ashamed for this country over that ever since. But I feel that this project, if successful, will ultimately redeem. That's my personal note.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-04-18 07:01 am (UTC)
Fundamentally good? Maybe that's the problem: two well-meaning, self-righteous, intellectually incurious men.

I agree entirely about Bush Snr. He should have made that extra push and toppled Saddam at the end the first Gulf War.

But Fallujah? I think I understand what you're saying, but it's too harsh for me. I don't see a huge moral difference between targeting civilians and being careless of their lives in pursuit of military objectives. Either way the women and kids are just as dead.

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From: archyena
2004-04-18 07:34 am (UTC)
I don't think of it as careless, really. I think the portrayal of the American military's power and capabilities is fundamentally absurd. For all the smart weaponry in the world it remains a blunt instrument of force. The myth of "surgical strikes" sustains an apetite for military "zero-casualty" adventures in the US and a sense abroad that we are being careless when a civilian dies. It also sustains the idea that we don't need allies, etc. But with carelessness I liken it to doing surgery in the field in the 19th century. You could be as careful as you are capable to be but there will still be damage done by the nature of the tools in use. Why I think it is most important to set about creating a police power to systematically disarm the population, reverse the tendency in the Middle East to have a neighborhood arms war. That will accomplish much that other options won't, but I fear that window of opportunity was missed because of bungling on the part of Bush.
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