Tuesday, May 11, 2004

More Euro Perspective

Hi All!

I am cut and pasting the response from George, and have added my response. Lazy writing, I guess, but meaningful words, I hope:

Hi Paul,

You have written very interesting comments. I will try to address each individually.

I'm glad SOMEONE reads my blog -- just started it. Is meant to be kinda local
and provocative. I appreciate that world opinion is against us, but it bothers
me that we put on our hair shirts at the slightest sign of guilt. War is hell,
and what happened to the detainees is atrocious, but what the hell did Saddam do
to HIS prisoners?

I am sure that Saddam was inhuman to his prisoners, much worse than the allies. It is known that he used nerve gas against people. But that, in my opinion, is not relevant in this context. The United States cannot allow itself to be anywhere near as bad as Saddam for the following reasons:
The United States stands for human rights and liberty and justice for all.
Saddam could afford to be bad to his people as he had his thugs to protect him from them. And he had no intention of quitting. The United States and allies need to establish good relations with the population of Iraq to safeguard their interests in the long run. Otherwise it will be difficult to find collaborators within Iraq who have a chance to last long and enjoy the consent of the people. And if democracy is introduced then there is a risk that anti-western leaders will be elected if the west becomes unpopular in Iraq. Of course the west could try to establish a new dictatorship. but there is a risk that a dictator will turn against the west, especially if it is unpopular among the people. (However, the Soviet Union finally succeeded in installing an unpopular dictator, Dr. Najibullah, who outlasted the ones who promoted him.)
In other words, the United States cannot allow itself to be so bad because that would be both against its principles and against its long term interests.

From what I experienced I was one of the few Europeans who wanted to get rid of Saddam. That I had wanted for the better part of two decades. In fact, the situation with the UN and Iraq reminded me of that with the League of Nations and Italy in 1936. Resolutions demanded that Italy, under Benito Mussolini, cease hostilities against Abyssinia. These were backed by sanctions. (Which is why Switzerland has for so many years been reluctant to join the UN.) But no military action was taken against Italy by the international community. I was afraid that history would repeat itself. To my relief some countries decided this time around that the situation warranted action.

Why would Presidents Chirac and Putin and Chancellor Schröder oppose moves to unseat Saddam? Chirac enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Saddam. It was when he was prime minister that France sold weapons and a nuclear reactor to Iraq. Following the bombing of the latter by Israel France helped Iraq replace it. And as there were sanctions on Iraq, which would continue if Saddam remained, I have the feeling that France and Germany had made big profits by breaking the sanctions. As for Putin, he must have figured out that the sanctions prevented a lot of Iraqi oil from reaching the market. This shortfall must have kept the price of oil higher than otherwise, which benefited Russia, one of the world's largest oil exporters (I believe second only to Saudi Arabia).

I've always been uncomfortable with the feeling that the US needs to be the
policeman of the world, but the bastards struck us first and we are trying like
hell to establish a sane and democratic regime in the Middle East.

However, we must keep in mind that Iraq never attacked the United States directly.

There is the feeling that we bailed out Europe from WW1 and WW2 and that Europe
is letting us down in our time of need.

The above seems to have faded from the memory of Europeans. And those who remember often say that the United States saved Europe only to pursue its own self interests. (Have you ever heard of a country which acts without taking its interests into consideration?)


Here is my reply:

Your points are well-taken. I'm sorry that I didn't ask your permission to
quote you on my blog, but I am a newby at this game.

I've always felt that it is the measure of one's life to leave the world a bit
better place than when one arrived. I have always followed that principle, but
sometimes people get impatient and that's when bad things start to happen. It
devastates me that a dozen or so bad apples out of a 200,000 contingent have
fucked everything up so badly.

I cry for the family of the guy who got beheaded today. I'd rather be nakedly
humiliated and live.




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