Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fake justice...

So, Saddam Hussein will be made to swing. Good, he deserves it. I'm against capital punishment but for those who commit atrocities like the Nazi war criminals or butchers like Hussein I've no problem making an exception.

So, justice has been done? Not quite, argues John Pilger and I'm inclined to agree with him.

What about the many Western leaders, who supported him, provided him with weaponry, credit lines, chemical precursors, aided and abetted him in his brutal aggression against Iran etc etc? They carry no guilt? These collaborators, aiders and abetters? Of course they do. But we can't have the West hang out its dirty linen, now can we?

So, at best "half justice" has been done.
Or as John Pilger puts it: fake justice...

9 Comments:

At 12:12 AM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

I was always under the impression that crimes against humanity had quite a lot to do with intent. Is Pilger arguing that Bush Sr, Albright, et al had the intent on killing Iraqi civilians on par with Saddam and therefore deserving the same punishment?

Definitely those who prop up dictators should pay for what they have done but in the end it is only those dictators who chose to act and murder their own in the way they did. And the argument that without American support Saddam would have been far less ruthless betrays the fact that he was oppressive when he was under heavy sanctions after the first Gulf War and sidesteps the fact that most dictatorial regimes have the ability to oppress even while isolated ie. North Korea.

It is not surprising that when we read of charges against the American realists who propped up dictators, we never once hear about the political context of the Cold War. Instead we apply an incredibly high standard of morality on passed actions. And further we are able to do so with the benefit of hindsight and accurate information. When Pilger claims Bush and Blair purposefully lied to bring war on Iraq, there is no mention that to make such decisions usually relies on faulty and incomplete intelligence under incredible pressure. This is the tragic story of international relations - no one really knows what they are doing or if they are wrong until years later.

If we follow Pilger's logic to its final conclusion, I am going to assume he would also like to see George Galloway, Jacques Chirac, etc swing from the gallows as well.

 
At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like moths to a flame, these Pharisaic Phalanx-niks can't help but betray their plans by occident!

Desperation has put the backwards neo-Zealot outpost in an ideological pickle - sure it takes power, but does it do so NOT at the expense of the very religion it claims to protect?

Check out my upcoming post for the predictable truth we all saw coming - Sinister Semitic Shlock-artists and the Slime they Sell!

 
At 2:40 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Hi David:

"It is not surprising that when we read of charges against the American realists who propped up dictators, we never once hear about the political context of the Cold War. Instead we apply an incredibly high standard of morality on passed actions."

We do hear about the context of the Cold War, but perhaps not enough though. The part the West has played (and to some self-serving extent continues to play) in propping up dictatorial regimes around the globe isn't something that is widely known by the general public. That's the dirty linen we don't like to hang out. Don't be an apologist...

"American realists": that sounds so endearing, but the current clique doesn't deserve much (if any) of my sympathy...

Anything wrong with high moral standards?

Now we hear the Bliar bleating on about how pivotal the Israel/Palestine conflict really is (an exaggeration, IMHO) and that we should start there. He also briefly touched on that in 2003, and then... radio silence! Must be the "pressure" again. Blair has lost all credibility a long, long time ago. As CEO of any organisation he would have been pushed 5 years ago. To stupid (yes, stupid as in "unintelligent" and "incompetent") to be a lawyer, but good enough for the highest office. "Emperor" and "new clothes" spring to mind...

"And further we are able to do so with the benefit of hindsight and accurate information. When Pilger claims Bush and Blair purposefully lied to bring war on Iraq, there is no mention that to make such decisions usually relies on faulty and incomplete intelligence under incredible pressure."

You're being incredibly naive. It's inconceivable that it wasn't known to Bush/Blair that the "intelligence" was faulty. On the part of Blair a certain and considerable degree of demonstrable lying took place. "Incredible pressure"??? From where? By whom? Iraq is a disaster we called upon ourselves: nobody made us do it and there was no "clear and present danger". Instead there were lies, fear mongering, poor (if any) planning, no foresight at all, and the use of brute force against mainly innocent people, need I go on?

"If we follow Pilger's logic to its final conclusion, I am going to assume he would also like to see George Galloway, Jacques Chirac, etc swing from the gallows as well."

Why Galloway? Because he dissents? He's already been thrown out of Zanu Labor for that, now you want him indicted?

And Chirac: for refusing to take part in the debacle? For France and Belgium to take a principled stance on the whole affair was clearly the right thing to do.

 
At 2:16 AM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

American realists aren't in power in the current administration. Bush is not a realist - 9/11 had a profound affect on him and former-realists like Rumsfeld. This is why they take so much heat from the realist camp of Mearsheimer and Walt.

It's not naive to think that political leaders have tough choices to make, in pressure-cooker positions, with incomplete intelligence. I'm not as skeptical as you when Bush or Blair says they want to bring democracy to the Middle East. I'm not convinced the war in Iraq was for oil either. Instead, the war was a product of an idealist-interventionist foreign policy that came out of the ashes of 9/11. For me the debate revolves around not their intent, but how they are trying to bring that goal about.

America and its alliance in the first gulf war made a huge mistake and betrayed the iraqi people by leaving Saddam in power. Bush sr was a realist - he wanted to maintain the status quo in the region and a weakened Saddam was thought to do the trick especially because the sanctions and no-fly zones placed him in a box. Obviously this was the wrong choice. Sanctions did nothing but hurt the Iraqi people and it still allowed Saddam to continue to hold onto power and oppress. As the sanction regime fell apart as the decade progressed, it was clear that Saddam had survived and was even powerful enough to reject UN inspectors. France supported this approach and in an interview about his opposition to the invasion, Chirac said his main issue was that he thought the inspectors would do the trick to keep Saddam in check. Principled maybe, but part of a failed logic that continued to keep the dictator in power and the Iraqi people suffering. So while we criticize Rumsfeld et all for keeping Saddam in power, those who opposed the American intervention also tried to keep him in power by applying logic that was proven faulty over and over again.

I really wonder whether the international community had supported the move to forcefully remove Saddam from power, whether the conditions on the ground would have been any better. Perhaps a better thought out plan would have worked and with international support, local actors would have had more resources at their disposal.

Galloway supported Saddam and told him so to his face. He's a joke.

In Iraq, it seems like Iranian meddling is a serious issue. That needs to be dealt with for Iraq to progress.

 
At 4:46 PM, Blogger Gert said...

David:

"I'm not convinced the war in Iraq was for oil either."

I've always maintained that it wasn't about oil, even though Western interests in the broader ME are often de facto oil-driven.

"America and its alliance in the first gulf war made a huge mistake and betrayed the iraqi people by leaving Saddam in power. Bush sr was a realist - he wanted to maintain the status quo in the region and a weakened Saddam was thought to do the trick especially because the sanctions and no-fly zones placed him in a box. Obviously this was the wrong choice. Sanctions did nothing but hurt the Iraqi people and it still allowed Saddam to continue to hold onto power and oppress. As the sanction regime fell apart as the decade progressed, it was clear that Saddam had survived and was even powerful enough to reject UN inspectors. France supported this approach and in an interview about his opposition to the invasion, Chirac said his main issue was that he thought the inspectors would do the trick to keep Saddam in check. Principled maybe, but part of a failed logic that continued to keep the dictator in power and the Iraqi people suffering. So while we criticize Rumsfeld et all for keeping Saddam in power, those who opposed the American intervention also tried to keep him in power by applying logic that was proven faulty over and over again."

The UN mandate for the liberation of Kuwait did not stretch to regime change: the mandate was mainly designed to push Iraqi forces back into Iraq and secure the border between Iraq and Kuwait.

The UN should only sanction regime change in the most exceptional of cases, e.g. when the International community is at risk from the actions of such a regime. Otherwise we're looking at the thin end of the wedge and regime changes could be instigated "at will", for purely political reasons.

It is precisely for this reason the UN did not sanction GW II: it judged there was no clear and present danger. This is one of the US's main beefs with the UN, dammit, they never do as they're being told!

Of course the sanctions were a big mistake: that became apparent after about two years into the sanctions regime. We're about to make the same mistake with N. Korea. Sanctions never work: they didn't work against SA, they didn't work against Saddam Hussein, they don't work against Hamas and they won't work against Kim Jong Il either.

"Galloway supported Saddam and told him so to his face. He's a joke."

In his own words:

The public is unaware, because it is convenient to some that they should not be aware, that I was condemning Saddam Hussein when he was backed by the anti-communist West in his homicidal war against Iran and using chemical weapons supplied by our Allies.

I met Saddam Hussein twice, the same number of times that Donald Rumsfeld met him.

The difference is that Rumsfeld met him to sell his regime guns and gas and to give them the maps necessary to target them while I met him to try and avert suffering sanctions and war.

If I have said words which taken out of context have upset some people, I refuse to forget that context.

If I appeared to flatter a dictator, I was not. My praise was for the courage, strength and indefatigability of the Iraqi people not their dictator - qualities which have had to be demonstrated all too often in the near decade since I made those remarks I could not oust this Dictator so my first duty was to help his people where I could.


I don't much care for the man either but a number of things are being laid at his doorstep with which he has little to do. Zanu Labor has a bit of a history in compulsive party-line toeing.

"In Iraq, it seems like Iranian meddling is a serious issue. That needs to be dealt with for Iraq to progress."

There is little evidentiary basis for this assertion.

1. If the US could clearly prove Iranian meddling, the evidence would be paraded on our TV screens day and night, but this is not the case. Only Fox News makes it sound like the entire insurgency is run by Iranians but they too do not provide a shred of evidence for this.

2. British military experience with the Southern border shows cross-border activity to be almost negligible.

3. It isn't in Iran's nuclear interest to get caught in the melee. The Americans have played their hand in Iraq so terribly badly that all Iran needs to do is lie low and wait. We may not like the Iranian leadership one iota but they aren't stupid. Getting demonstrably involved in Iraq would not help their position at all. There is no motive.

So, I conclude: no evidence, no motive, no case. There may be low-level, non-Tehran-sanctioned Iranian Shia activity but that hardly constitutes a serious issue to me.

 
At 8:56 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Regarding Iranian involvement in Iraq, you and I can only speculate. I have read conflicting reports on Iranian involvement but I think they are involved and I also think this involvement is mostly sanctioned by the Council of Guardians in Iran.

The reason I think Iran is involved is because I do not view the Iranian theocracy as a strictly rational actor and a normal nation-state that is content with being confined to its own borders in the context of the international system of states. The Iranian revolution, being both Islamic and Marxist, was imperialist and the way the government acts is in perfect concern with the goals of the Islamic ideological current in the revolution. No acceptable form of democracy by our standards exists in Iran - the Council of Guardians, run by unelected mullahs, determines who exactly can run in the elections. Oppositional movements are frequently crushed and have so in the past when they do not adhere to the goals of the revolution. The leftist parties that attached themself to Khomeini in the late 1970s and '80s were then betrayed because they did not into the mold of an Islamic regime bent on exporting their values.

Iran wants to be a regional superpower and by getting its tentacles into Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and the rest of the Gulf, it is aiming to achieve this end.

Further, the insurgency in Iraq must get its funding from somewhere. And I think Iran is partially supporting it because the more chaos in Iraq the better for Iran. It bogs down America and renders the goal of establishing a democracy there irrelevant.

I dont know though, this is just a thought based on a certain set of assumptions I have about Iran.

 
At 2:19 PM, Blogger Gert said...

OK, thanks for that last comment. I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

 
At 11:17 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

hey, did u read Kissinger's op-ed in the most recent sunday times? what do you think?

 
At 3:30 PM, Blogger Gert said...

David:

I assume you're referring to this article.

Well, there's much I agree with and much I disagree with. Kissinger's basic premise remains Iran's "imperialistic" tendencies and I fundamentally disagree with this. Sure, Iran want regional influence but so does any large nation in any region. With imperialism this has little if anything to do in my view.

I think Europeans and Americans will continue to have a basically different outlook on the Middle East and it may well be true that Europe's perspective is shaped by its own division and military insignificance.

I do agree that the US's "talk to the hand" strategy is a contradiction in terms and the restarting the Israel/Palestine peace process can play an important role in the wider ME.

 

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