"Power corrupts, but so does weakness," said Josef Joffe, editor of Germany's Die Zeit newspaper. "And absolute weakness corrupts absolutely. "
Well, call me a redneck yahoo, but I would find a lecture on the ethics of pacifism and unilateral disarmament more impressive coming from Clint Eastwood, rather than from Woody Allen. In renouncing force, many of these European nations are simply making a virtue of necessity - given their limited capability, force is not an option.
As the Brothers note:
"In Munich and Paris they may dismiss Mr. Friedman's latest ("He's one of them, don't you know"), but when the foreign policy voice of the Times--the Pravda of the liberal establishment--dismisses your nations and notions outright, you've gotten yourselves seriously out of step with your most important ally. "
Saturday February 1, 2003
In the mode of Basil Fawlty, I've tried not to mention the war. I know that Guardian readers are massively opposed to any action against Saddam Hussein, as are 90% of the people I love and respect both personally and professionally. But I am in favour of war against Iraq - or, rather, I am in favour of a smaller war now rather than a far worse war later. I speak as someone who was born and raised to be anti-American; I know that, even in my lifetime, America has behaved monstrously in Latin America, Indo-China and its own southern states. I was against the US because, whenever people sought autonomy, freedom and justice, it was against them. But that narrative is ended now and a new configuration has emerged....
...Over Bosnia, Kosovo and over Afghanistan, voices on both the Left and Right have been consistently raised to object to the use of force. Where these voices have belonged to pacifists, they have my respect, but most often they have belonged to the purely selfish, the pathologically timid, or to those who somehow believed that however bad things were in Country X, the Americans were always worse.
In last week's edition of the New Statesman, one of the latter, John Pilger, takes this newspaper to task for allowing that it might be right to depose the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, by force. Even suggesting such a thing, he said, was a betrayal of the great traditions of the newspaper....
Nothing about Iraq is hard for Pilger. He was opposed to using force to get Iraq out of Kuwait, opposed to the containment of Saddam through the enforcement of the no-fly zones, dismissive of the threats to the Kurdish people of the North. Many in his camp were in a favour of sanctions when the alternative was force, and were against sanctions when the alternative was nothing.
It isn't like that here. In the offices of this newspaper, as you turn left out of the lift, just by the pigeonholes, is a photograph of a dead Observer journalist, Farzad Bazoft, who was hanged by Saddam Hussein in 1990. Bazoft's photo always has flowers beneath it, placed there by his family and friends. As the journalist Robert Fisk subsequently commented, it was characteristic of Saddam that the first Bazoft knew about his imminent execution was when a British diplomat turned up at his prison to say goodbye. Saddam joked that Mrs Thatcher had asked for Bazoft to be returned and now he was being returned 'in a box'.
...I don't believe that Saddam is a major backer of al-Qaeda (though he gives support to other groups) and I think it quite likely that he has had no effective nuclear programme for years. He would if he could, but he can't. But I want him out, for the sake of the region (and therefore, eventually, for our sakes), but most particularly for the sake of the Iraqi people who cannot lift this yoke on their own. If they could, that would be best; if he would agree to go into exile, that would be just dandy. The argument that Saddam's removal will of necessity lead to 'chaos' or the democratic election of an unsuitable Islamist government is worthy of Henry Kissinger at his most cynical. It is pretty disgusting when heard in the mouths of 'left-wingers'.
The Iraqi people, however, can't shift their tyrant on their own. Again, it would be preferable if an invasion could be undertaken, not by the Americans, but by, say, the Nelson Mandela International Peace Force, spearheaded by the Rowan Williams British Brigade. That's not on offer. It has to be the Yanks.
I think the Yanks are coming, buddy. It seems to be what we do. But if anyone can find examples of formerly "pro-liberation" types switching sides, do let us know.