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The world will be a better place once Saddam has gone


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#1 porky

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 03:56 PM

The world will be a better place once Saddam has gone
By Toby Harnden
(Filed: 31/01/2003)


Laurel Lodge seems an unlikely setting for a council of war. But the cabin on the sprawling Camp David estate in Maryland's Catoctin mountains, where President George W Bush will welcome Tony Blair today, is a place with some history.

It was around the large oak table there that Operation Desert Storm and the Afghan invasion were debated. And it will be in the same wood-panelled conference room that the two leaders will meet today to discuss a new conflict with profound implications for the world.

Mr Blair's presence at Camp David is a reflection of Britain's central role in the coming conflict in Iraq. But while Americans lionise him for taking a stand against Saddam, back home he is mocked as a poodle at the end of Mr Bush's leash.

The tragic paradox is that, while America and Britain have never been closer allies, the political debates about Iraq on the opposite sides of the Atlantic have diverged to the point where they could be happening in two parallel universes.

In Britain, of course, much of what currently passes for intelligent discourse is not really about Iraq at all, but America - or, more precisely, about the actions of President Bush, who during a recent visit home I heard described in the space of a few days as a retard, a spoilt child doing his daddy's bidding and a man intent on mass murder. I listened to diatribes about Mr Bush pursuing a war about oil, to boost his domestic popularity, to placate Israel or to satisfy a Texan bloodlust.

What was almost entirely missing was any discussion of Saddam Hussein, the nature of his fascist regime, the threat posed by his arsenal or the dangers to all of us of his joining forces with a terrorist group and mounting a nuclear September 11.

In America, Saddam is the issue. The Bush as idiot caricature that so persists in Britain is now the preoccupation of only a small, tedious minority. The UN process is championed by the New York Times as an end rather than a means, but, beyond the coastal elites, the question is what should be done about the Iraqi dictator.

Yet, with the cognoscenti clamouring to condemn the "rush to war" and claiming that Mr Bush is in thrall to a cabal of dangerous hawks, the real story escapes them. What we are seeing is a new American foreign policy that cannot be defined in terms of the old cliches. "You see," Mr Bush said in Michigan on Wednesday, "September 11, 2001, changed the equation. It has changed the strategic outlook of this country."

The powers that be in the BBC and the Foreign Office have still not recognised this. For the past year, Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, has been endlessly cited as the one man of reason in the Bush Administration, the honorary European who could halt the drive to war. European diplomats have derided Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney as warmongers, spoken of the "wild-eyed" Paul Wolfowitz and shuddered at the names of Richard Perle, Doug Feith, Peter Rodman and J D Crouch.

But far from being creatures of the night intent on waging war for war's sake, these men have provided much of the intellectual weight behind a radical and idealistic vision of re-ordering the world.

Now, Mr Powell is being hailed in Washington as the new hawk. "There comes a time when soft power or talking with evil will not work, where, unfortunately, hard power is the only thing that works," he told George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, in Davos this week.

Why has Mr Powell changed his tune? White House officials state bluntly that the reason is that he told Mr Bush that patient diplomacy would work and in return was double-crossed by France and Germany. "In the end, he couldn't deliver," said one senior adviser.

Mr Blair and, perhaps belatedly, Mr Powell have come to realise that the right aim for America and its allies is, in Mr Bush's words, "more than to follow a process, it is to achieve a result".

Yet for many opposed to war, the UN process has been elevated to an end in itself - and the unstated truth is that most who cite the overweening importance of UN resolutions and inspections see them less as a mechanism to force Saddam to dispose of his weapons, than as a way of disarming Mr Bush politically by mounting a diplomatic filibuster.

Their Gulf policy is one of containment - containment of America, that is, rather than Iraq. The fact that many supported military intervention in Kosovo without UN backing exposes the dishonesty of their current stance. Those calling for more time for inspections must realise that, without American forces stationed on Iraq's borders, Saddam is less rather than more likely to disarm. It is as if anything to postpone the day of reckoning will do - and Saddam knows that, if he can survive into the hot days of April, then he will have faced down the world once again.

Barham Saleh, a regional prime minister in Kurdistan who was in Washington to visit the White House last week, told me how Saddam used chemical weapons to massacre his people in 1988.

Dr Saleh was in London at the time. "We were trying to knock on every door," he told me. "We were told that the British Government could not verify those reports and needed further evidence. Eventually we had the evidence, in the form of the bodies of 5,000 civilians littering the streets of Halabjah.

"There is a war in Iraq as we speak. It is a war of brutal oppression being conducted by Saddam against the Iraqi population. The Iraqi people long to be liberated."

Mr Bush is looking beyond Saddam and the liberation of Iraq to an even greater promise of a democratic revolution in the Middle East. A free Iraq could hasten the end of corrupt despotism in Iran and Saudi Arabia and give hope to Palestinians. It is a Big Idea - similar to Ronald Reagan's 1980s vision for eastern Europe - rather than hawkish lunacy, and it merits our attention.

Resentment of American power and appeasement of a despot with a track record of internal repression and external aggression are no basis for a foreign policy. And it is imperative that we realise that the world will be a better as well as a safer place once Saddam has gone.



The Telegraph
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#2 uglybastard

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Posted 31 January 2003 - 03:59 PM

British newspapers are weird.

What ever your political beliefs, you can find a paper that won't offend you. And will make you feel good by attacking those with opposing views.

The Telegraph is conservative. The Guardian is liberal.

In the US, newspapers are objective. They found they could sell more that way.
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#3 MirrorMan

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Posted 04 February 2005 - 10:17 PM

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