Those unruly mobs don't realize that the most important thing in the world
is the feeling that one's own hands are clean [...] GOOD people must go on
being GOOD, with clean hands, i.e., passive and impotent. [...] But not
nasty guns and bombs and tanks and POLITICS, because that runs the risk of
blurring the difference between being GOOD and being BAD [FP]
The casus belli for Bush and Blair was that SH had WMDs and was an urgent
and puissant threat. Given the brevity of this war (so far), the apparent
ease with which it's being won and that WMDs haven't (yet) been found, they
were either grossly mistaken or dishonest. Unless it was simply good
The removal of SH, in other words, is epiphenomenal, rather as the
emancipation of Iraqi women (one might note) was greatly assisted by
Ba'athism but not its most notable feature. And it's hardly unexpected or
unwelcome _in itself_.
But it's not 'in itself', of course. It was preceded by earlier US support
for Saddam; then two wars, one of which included a war crime and terrible
after effects for the Southern Shia communities. And it will be followed by
something unknown, the omens for which do not look very promising.
This isn't what you disparage as hypothesis, simply opening the other eye.
Although you share his unilateralism, you affect to 'despise' Mr Bush. So,
for you, the war has been a 'useful accident'. (The term is mine, but you
accepted it.) You don't support Bush's intentions. You don't (necessarily)
support the consequences (intended or otherwise) of what he does, merely
those that strike you as 'useful'. Because 'useful' is a particular sort of
dispositional (gaining its meaning from conditions or hypotheses that are
underspecified, constantly being updated by new contexts) you treat this war
and the politics of which it's a part _precisely_ as you accuse others of
doing, taking refuge in passivity, viewing it ('making use of people you
despise') rather as you might a rather strange game of chess in which the US
is the only player, cherry-picking the good, leaving behind the bad.
For an indication of how your instrumental view of international politics
may work in practice -
I'm hoping for, first, a net gain in freedom in Iraq and the Mideast;
second, geopolitical advantage for the West against radical Islam; third, a
precedent for getting rid of tyrants; four, a more fluid political
- let's go back to Iran under the Shah.
Whilst the Shah's reign drew unpeacefully and too slowly to its close, a
friend was based in Meshed: days spent teaching English, evenings drinking
with the local secret police. Meanwhile (not out of greater moral
sensitivity but because I liked the music) I was attending highly emotional
expat concerts here in London, being leafleted by frightened dissidents
wearing IRA style balaclavas.
Once the Shah did finally go, the expats and the dissidents returned. The
result was popular at first and may have been, in your terms, 'a more fluid
political situation'. But was it either a 'net gain in freedom' or 'a
precedent for getting rid of tyrants'? And when SH took over from Ahmed
Hassan al Bakr (supported by the US and later specifically by the divine Mr
Rumsfeld) did that increase the West's geopolitical advantage against the
'radical Islam' of Shi'ite Iran or was it more complex than that?