August 15, 2002

PERFIDIOUS ALBION? (via Letter from the Olde Countrie) :

George is nuts about Saddam's soft centre (Rod Liddle, August 14, 2002, The Guardian)
If we were to scout around for a country deserving of our expensive bombs we might apply five or six entirely pragmatic criteria. First, does the country possess weapons of mass destruction? Second, is its ideology aggressively hostile to our interests? Third, does it threaten the sovereignty or security of any part of Britain or a British dependency? Fourth, does it threaten our trading interests? And finally, is it inherently unstable or an inherently destabilising influence in an area where Britain has political interests?

These are, I would suggest, pretty objective criteria and if you apply them to Iraq the case for military action is, at best, highly questionable. In at least two of the above categories, the US fits the bill rather better than Iraq which, you may argue, demonstrates either the paucity of my tests or the irrationality of international relations.

Obviously, I am not suggesting that we bomb Washington, desirous though some in this country may be for a "regime change".

It appears the Independent is not alone in thinking there's little difference between Iraq and America. But let's take a look at the two rogue nations according to Mr. Liddle's criteria :
(1) WMD : Iraq and the US both have them, though only the US can deliver them globally.

(2) Ideology : Both Iraq, which believes in Saddam, and the US which believes in the continued relevance of Western Civilization, do indeed have ideologies that are hostile to Britain's, assuming it still has one.

(3) Sovereignty : This is a moot point because Britain is busily transferring its own sovereignty to the EU. Britain will soon be nought but the province of Franco-German bureaucrats.

(4) Trade : This too is a moot point because the British economy is in such decline they aren't likely to be a significant trading power for long.

(5) Stability/Interests : This is half-moot, because Britain has no foreign interests any more, indeed appears to have no interests beyond dole checks and National Health. As to the second part of the question, obviously Iraq is inherently unstable but it is no longer much of a destabilizing influence in the Middle East, nor can it be so long as Israel and America exist to contain it. On the other hand, America is--as it has always been, but never moreso than now--a hugely destabilizing force in the world. Whether in its role as Promised Land or Crusader State; whether serving as a Shining City on a Hill or confronting totalitarianism; whether pursuing a Hamiltonian, Jeffersonian, Jacksonian, or Wilsonian foreign policy; or whether just exporting our culture--America serves as an example of what government looks like at the End of History; stands ready to help when called upon; and is not hesitant about intervening when necessary. In each and every one of these ways America stands as a continuous and awesome threat to enemies of freedom in every nook and cranny of the globe--from South Korea and Taiwan, whose freedom we effectively guarantee; to Afghanistan, whose freedom we restored; to Japan and Germany, whose freedom we created; to Cuba and Vietnam and China, whose freedom we futiley, but nobly, tried to defend and even today stand ready to help revive. So, yes, America is a significant and enduring destabilizing influence, in a world too much beset by tyranny.

Mr. Liddle appears to be correct that it is America which deserves British bombs, not Iraq. But he left a few fairly important points out of his calculus. First, can Britain deliver them? Not bloody likely. Two, has Britain the will to fight America? Don't be silly--Britain wouldn't even take on Slobodan Milosevic until we were there to hold their hands and talk them through it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at August 15, 2002 12:44 PM
Comments for this post are closed.