Hugging soldiers

Hugging soldiers
: Julie Burchill — God love ‘er — nails the anti-war movement in Britain for its hypocrisy regarding soldiers:

When anti-war/pro-Saddam types had finished trotting out all the dumb clich

  • Pyecraft

    Ah Julie, the angry man’s pin-up girl. Any idea if she’s married or not Jeff?

  • Such a reasoned opening … anti-war equals pro-Saddam. It’s a pity so many people can only grasp simple concepts.

  • John Irving

    Ok, so if you were opposed to the war, you could still be opposed to Saddam? In what way? Wishing real hard he’d go away? Hoping he’d get nibbled to death by ducks? With opponents like that, his worst fear would be his diet plan, I should think. Of course, thats how it turned out for the anti-war crowd anyway. About as effective as shooting fish with a waterpistol, and less accurate than a Psychic Friends hotline.
    It’s a pity so many on the left like to obscure basic logic behind “complexity.” Or maybe they can only grasp simple concepts like “war is bad, mmkay” without considering the consequences of leaving brutal dictators in power.

  • Diana

    Yo Stageleft: Some things really are simple.
    Now that I’ve got your ear, answer two questions:
    1. War to remove Saddam: got a better idea?
    2. Where were you in 1998 when the weapons inspections regime broke down?

  • Anonymous

    Huh? Republicans (IRA, et al) are responsible for the ‘kiddy-killing”? Perhaps I’m reading the entry wrong? Some important context is necessary here. While there are no innocent combatants in Northern Ireland, only the most blind or politically (religiously?) partisan would argue that the Ulster Unionists are not intractable, hostile and provocative to their minority population. What exactly were the Catholics supposed to do in this situation, having endured decades of violence and prejudice visited on them without retribution? Eventually the minority turned as ugly and violent as its oppressors. Even the British soldiers I interviewed were disgusted by the hard hearts and venal behavior of the Unionists. Of course, few in the US or GB received a balanced reporting of the ordeal of the Catholics, so I can’t say I’m surprised at the lack of insight into this dilemma. I’ve seen tens of thousands of Unionists march through Catholic neighborhoods shouting “death to Papists” and “Get out of our country’ while protected by hundreds of British soldiers–rifles and tear gas at the ready to quell even a modest objection by the understandably angry indigenous population. Catholics aren’t even allowed to congregate in the far more affluent, walled-off Protestant quarters, much less march in such a obviously hostile and inflammatory manner.
    The BBC, deserving of its righteous slamming here and at other rational news outlets, diverged for once from it’s attack on all things Anglo by consistently reporting the conflict as the fault of the Catholic minority. And thus, just as in Iraq, the BBC argued for a continuation of an untenable status quo rather than the obviously necessary ‘regime change.’ (Though if one wants to strain the comparison…the BBC was consistent in one other significant way- once again the BBC colluded with an religious faction that was intolerant to the point of terrorism.)
    As for arming Saddam, ‘not much’ equals .7 of one percent of total Iraqi purchasing of all military hardware since 1973. I think we could fairly drop forever the meme that ‘we armed him.’ We don’t have anything to apologize for: Britain and the US combined sold less than Brazil during this period!

  • Terry

    Amen, John! Have any schoolchildren from UNIONIST areas had bags of urine (or grenades) flung at them as they walked to school, simply because they approached the front entrance by walking down a so-called “CATHOLIC street”? I wonder that Tony Blair has no trouble facing down an entire political party AND the EU regarding removing Saddam Hussein, but does backflips and handsprings to accomodate David Trimble – instead of telling him to read what he signed, suck it up, and honor his commitments.
    Otherwise, Burchill is right on.

  • Jack Tanner

    ‘Such a reasoned opening … anti-war equals pro-Saddam.’
    Uhh….yeah. If you were opposed to removing his police state then you were supporting him. All your moral posturing aside if you opposed those who wanted to remove him then your actions helped protect him. He knew that much and was all in favor of it.

  • Richard Webster

    It’s tragic that the American Media for the most part paints European sentiment as so solidly leftwing – make that mindlessly leftwing. Reading the previous comments and the article which provoked them, it’s obvious that free thought and the individual’s ability to use it logically is still running loose in Britain.
    I sometimes get the sense that protestors such as the ones seen recently professing to be anti-war down to the core of their being keep themselves going by thinking about how heroic they will look in the five-part docu-drama that their biography will become. I’m glad they spoke up though, if they had never challenged me, I might not have been certain I was right.
    In the adult world one learns that the best solution to a difficult situation is not always the solution that makes one the happiest. No one loves war. It is the tool of last resort. We waited a good long time before we used it. We had good reason to use it. We used it well. And now it goes back on the shelf.
    It is a mistake to think that this way of life we have, which promotes the health and happiness of the individual to a level undreamed of by past generations, cannot be lost in the blink of an eye. It must be actively defended on all fronts. Sometimes to defend it most effectively, it is necessary to fight before you are attacked.
    Good Night Sadaam.

  • aelfheld

    the IRA, like Reagan, believed that the sanctity of life began at conception and ended at birth.
    I wouldn’t have thought Burchill that stupid.

  • Jimmy

    Uhh….yeah. If you were opposed to removing his police state then you were supporting him. All your moral posturing aside if you opposed those who wanted to remove him then your actions helped protect him. He knew that much and was all in favor of it.
    So war is the only way to get rid of tyrannical police states? I supported this war, and even I can see how uninformed that opinion is! If that’s how we solve all the world’s “problem” countries, why aren’t we in North Korea? Why aren’t we knocking on the door of China with missles instead of dollar bills? Yes, there are some anti-war protesters who could be considered pro-Saddam, but that does not mean everyone is like that. I would not support a war with China (at this time), so does that make me a supporter of their communist regime? Of course not! The problem with the anti-war movement is that they got themselves caught up in other issues and offered no true alternative, after 12 years, other than to say they were against war. That makes them a bit stupid, but certainly not pro-Saddam.

  • Balbulican

    “Stupid” is a little harsh. Let’s say, perhaps, a certain reluctance to take at face value America’s sudden, heartfelt concern (as you point out, after 12 years) at the fate of the suffering Iraqi people, and a rising nervousness about America’s adoption of the role of Globocop.
    It may just be my failing middle aged memory, but I don’t remember any great public surge of pity for the oppressed Iraqis for the ten years following the Gulf War.

  • John Irving

    Then you’ve been under a rock, and your memory is as selective as Bill Clinton’s vocabulary, Balbulican. The suffering that the Iraqi people were going through has been brought up many times in the last twelve years, especially with the added weight of the sanctions and the oil-for-palaces program.
    So, after the US gets an early morning wake-up call that we can’t just wait for the UN or anyone else to fix the worlds problems before they come visit us here, President Bush does something about it.
    Tada, no more Baathist regime in Iraq, and things are looking better for Iraqis already.
    Balbulican, you are a puzzle. You apparently took at face value France, Germany, and Russias protestations of peace, but you distrust the US?
    Oh yes, ‘moral relativism’ trumps ‘moral absolutism’ for you, without seeing any middle ground. In that kind of mindset, the US is morally the equivalent of the USSR, Saddam’s Iraq, or any other repressive regime you care to name. So why do you bother arguing? It seems to me you don’t really care how the world is, just as long as you can criticize the United States in the process. Or maybe you’re just playing devil’s advocate, but it seems to me the devil has a mighty weak case this time.

  • balbulican

    Yes, I do rememember that, John, thanks, usually in the context of whether or not to continue sanctions. Let me clarify: I don’t remember the American people or government calling for an invasion of Iraq until Mr. Bush decided that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and military might posed a danger to the US, and began to sell his war on that basis.
    I take France, Germany, and Russia’s positions at face value to the same degree as I take America’s. I assume, like the US (and like Canada, where I’m from) they are acting from a combination of self-interest and principle, as all governments do. As an informed and articulate person, I assume you view your government’s actions and pronouncements with a certain amount of scepticism?
    As far as “middle ground” goes… I’m allowing for a bit more of it than commentators who equate any disagreement with Mr. Bush with support for Saddam Hussein. I think you know better than that.

  • John Irving

    Balublican, it is true that I view pretty much all government actions through a large dose of skepticism. However, I also mix in healthy doses of pragmatism, realism, and patriotism. While I greatly respect other cultures, being something of a nut about Celtic, Japanese, and even Arabic cultures, among others, I am an American first and foremost. Thus, while it is somewhat understandable that France (f’rinstance) chose to slander us as ‘warmongering’ while reaping oil profits from a corrupt and brutal regime, I expect my nation to hold to a higher standard. The US has not always done so, and will lapse again in the future, but I am certain we will still behave with greater regard than any of the Axis of Weasels. The United States has done more to aid the cause of freedom in the world than any other power, bar none. We have our faults, but they are far outweighed by our strengths.
    Also, I do not take issue with those who do not politically support President Bush. There are legimate differences in opinion in this country, and our political parties allow us to expres those differences in a civilized manner. What I take issue with is those who automatically asume any policy decision he, or any other President, is corrupt, evil, or stupid merely because he holds different political opinions.
    Specifically, those who say “I’m anti-war, because I think its the wrong President,” or “I’m anti-war, but I’m anti-Saddam too.” Ok, what were your realistic alternatives? Remember that more civilians would have died under Saddams regime in the same three-week period the war took. How long were people going to allow this? Until Inauguration Day 2005? what if President Bush is re-elected? Then 2009? The fact that these same people claimed “moral superiority” because some would die in a war is reprehensible. They would have allowed Saddam to strengthen, to re-arm, and to continue to oppress his people, over petty differences here in the States. That kind of stance I take issue with.I myself disagree with Bush on many issues, particularly the place of religion in American government, and of the necessity for intrusive, privacy-challenging law enforcement powers. But in regards to both the war on terror in general, and the war in Iraq particularly, I think he is 100% correct.
    As to whether or not this develops into some form of Pax Americana, I’m not too concerned. Over the long term, all things change, but historically changes have been for the better overall. I think an American peace would be better for the world overall than any currently possible alternative. In the future, who knows who shall lead?

  • Jack Tanner

    ‘That makes them a bit stupid, but certainly not pro-Saddam.’
    Bullshit. People went to protect his country, people in this country stated that they would do whatever they could to prevent his removal even after Saddam said that they were helping him. You didn’t see any of the peaceniks denouncing this or coming up with anything other than the same lame excuses about how he could be removed by peaceful means, though he obviously couldn’t, and that the US had no right to invade a sovereign dictatorship. That’s not stupid, that’s complicit.

  • Richard Webster

    Well done, John. Well done, Balbulican. Great discussion! A bit acerbic, but invigorating.
    John, what about those points B. brings up? Is war the only remedy to oppressive regimes? Why not North Korea? US = World Police?
    The first question

  • John Irving

    Is war the only answer? I really don’t know. I don’t recall any time in history were an evil regime has been overthrown by anything but sheer force. India doesn’t even count, Gandhi was successful because he faced a (mostly) moral opponent. Imagine how passive resistance would have fared against a Nazi occupation of India, or even a Soviet one. The authorities would have fell over themselves laughing at how easy it was, either guide the resisters onto the train, or if they refuse to move, shoot them where they sit.
    Maybe we’re entering a new era where economic pressure and diplomacy can accomplish what only main force has been able to in the past. But given the worlds conditions as you cite, Richard, we are unlikely to be able to accomplish that. There will always be someone willing to point out any hint of secret motives even as we are honest about the majority weight of our intentions. I think we could all agree that no nation made up of human beings could meet the standards we are expected to maintain. At the same time, those nations who are insisting that we meet those absurd standards couldn’t even meet the realistic ones we set for ourselves.
    So the place of the world in relation to the United States is the true dillema for the 21st century. We entered the 20th century as one of many regional powers of the world, and left it as the sole superpower, having faced off against two of the most destructive, dehumanizing, and evil empires to ever exist on Earth. I’m giving us good odds for this century.