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Après le 11 sept. 01


Julie Burchill, The Guardian Week End magazine (1 February 2003)
Why we should go to war

In 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.

The 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".

When 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:

1) "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!

2) "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.

3) "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.

4) "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.

5) "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.

Oh, 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.

So, 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.



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Dernière mise à jour: 04.02.2003

François Brutsch - Genève - Suisse