the mode of Basil Fawlty, I've tried not to mention the
war. I know that Guardian readers are massively
opposed to any action against Saddam Hussein, as are 90%
of the people I love and respect both personally and professionally.
But I am in favour of war against Iraq - or, rather, I
am in favour of a smaller war now rather than a far worse
war later. I speak as someone who was born and raised
to be anti-American; I know that, even in my lifetime,
America has behaved monstrously in Latin America, Indo-China
and its own southern states. I was against the US because,
whenever people sought autonomy, freedom and justice,
it was against them. But that narrative is ended now and
a new configuration has emerged.
new enemies of America, and of the west in general, believe
that these countries promote too much autonomy, freedom
and justice. They are the opposite of socialism even more
than they are the opposite of capitalism. They are against
light, love, life - and to attempt to pass them the baton
of enlightenment borne by the likes of Mandela and Guevara
is woefully to misunderstand the nature and desires of
what Christopher Hitchens (a life-long man of the left)
described as "Islamo-fascism".
you look back at the common sense and progressiveness
of arguments against American intervention in Vietnam,
Chile and the like, you can't help but be struck by the
sheer befuddled babyishness of the pro-Saddam apologists:
"It's all about oil!" Like hyperactive brats
who get hold of one phrase and repeat it endlessly, this
naive and prissy mantra is enough to drive to the point
of madness any person who actually attempts to think beyond
the clichés. Like "Whatever!" it is one
of the few ways in which the dull-minded think they can
have the last word in any argument. So what if it is about
oil, in part? Are you prepared to give up your car and
central heating and go back to the Dark Ages? If not,
don't be such a hypocrite. The fact is that this war is
about freedom, justice - and oil. It's called multitasking.
Get used to it!
"But we sold him the weapons!" An incredible
excuse for not fighting, this one - almost surreal in
its logic. If the west sold him the weapons that helped
make him the monstrous power that he is, responsible for
the murder of tens of thousands of Iranians, Kurds, Kuwaitis
and Iraqis, then surely it is our responsibility to redress
our greed and ignorance by doing the lion's share in getting
rid of him.
"America's always interfering in other countries!"
And when it's not, it is derided as selfish and isolationist.
Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
"Saddam Hussein may have killed hundreds of thousands
of his own people - but he hasn't done anything to us!
We shouldn't invade any country unless it attacks us!"
I love this one, it's so mind-bogglingly selfish - and
it's always wheeled out by people who call themselves
"internationalists", too. These were the people
who thought that a population living in terror under the
Taliban was preferable to a bit of liberating foreign
fire power, even fighting side by side with an Afghani
resistance. On this principle, if we'd known about Hitler
gassing the Jews all through the 1930s, we still shouldn't
have invaded Germany; the Jews were, after all, German
citizens and not our business. If you really think it's
better for more people to die over decades under a tyrannical
regime than for fewer people to die during a brief attack
by an outside power, you're really weird and nationalistic
and not any sort of socialist that I recognise. And that's
where you link up with all those nasty rightwing columnists
who are so opposed to fighting Iraq; they, too, believe
that the lives of a thousand coloured chappies aren't
worth the death of one British soldier. Military inaction,
unless in the defence of one's own country, is the most
extreme form of narcissism and nationalism; people who
preach it are the exact opposite of the International
Brigade, and that's so not a good look.
"Ooo, your friends smell!" Well, so do yours.
We may be saddled with Bush and Blair, but you've got
Prince Charles (a big friend of the Islamic world, probably
because of its large number of feudal kingdoms and hardline
attitude to uppity women), the Catholic church (taking
a brief break from buggering babies to condemn any western
attack as "morally unacceptable") and posturing
pansies such as Sean Penn, Sheryl Crow and Damon Albarn.
and we've also got Condoleezza Rice, the coolest, cleverest,
most powerful black woman since Cleopatra, and you've
got the Mothers' Union, with their risible prayer for
Iraq's people, a prime piece of prissy, pacifist twaddle
that even Hallmark "Forever Friends" would reject
as not intellectually or aesthetically rigorous enough.
all in all, and at the risk of being extremely babyish
myself, I'd go so far as to say that my argument's bigger
than yours. Of course, you think the same about your side.
And we won't change our minds. Ever. So let's do each
other a favour and agree not to rattle each other's cages
(playpens?) until the whole thing's over. Free speech
and diversity - let's enjoy it! Even though our brothers
and sisters, the suffering, tortured slaves of Saddam,
can't. Yet. Still, soon.