Against the War" movement is part of a long-standing
tradition of the American intellectual community in resisting
the hegemonic tendencies of the federal administration,
particularly in military matters -- think Vietnam.
intellectual movement has failed to connect the
US populace with global culture
I doubt if many of the poets really care about the Iraqi
people per se: their main concern is with an ascendent hawkish
Republican administration who is prepared to push through
its right-leaning agenda (which includes anti-abortion policies,
tax cuts for the wealthy, scaling down on environmental
efforts and what its own intellectuals see as neo-imperialist
ambitions of replacing one regime with another in order
to gain territorial, economic and geopolitical benefits
in the Middle East). It's more about "Hell no we won't
go" than about saving the poor Iraqi people, whom they
see as backward uncivilised pagans without Harvard PhDs
(and I was shocked to find that this viewpoint was not hyperbole
but a deeply held assumption of several liberal intellectuals
I encountered). It's more about not being able to say their
When I was in the US last year the community of global writers
were all wondering why no one was speaking up or doing anything
about stopping the nascent war effort (no mention of UN
inspectors then, just war and finding a place to hit first).
The assumption was that if it came down to it, something
would be done by some academic or else campuses would stage
sit-ins and strikes and "that would really teach them".
The naivete we encountered was appalling.
the intellectual community is predictably resorting to tired
old methods of protest -- letters. Petitions. Ads in newspapers.
None of it has worked or is going to work. The White House
is prepared to send millions in military spending and the
lives of its own men and women into war. What's a few thousand
signatures going to do? None of these writers or intellectuals
are going to jump ship; which of them are going to leave
their grants and comfortable tenures and publishing deals
to move to Baghdad anytime soon?
liberal intellectual movement in the US has failed; locked
as it is into a university system which derives its funding
from the forces it seeks to subvert. It has failed to stop
the administration from making preparations for war all
the way since Sep 11 till today. The present "Showdown
on Iraq" crisis is a TV network invention; in truth,
the buildup has been taking place over the past year or
so with the US paying no heed to UN resolutions until it
suited their purposes to call the moral card.
intellectual movement has failed to connect the US populace
with global culture in a way that would make it impossible
to demonise or ignore the middle east or any other culture
to the extent that it has (case in point, the comic book
polemic, WWF quality of the terminology in public currency: "Axis of evil"; "Showdown in Iraq").
Unfortunately, they have woken up too late (if at all) to
the fact that they have allowed the US to gaze at its own
navel for too long, and the entire culture has drifted so
far right of the rest of the world that it is losing its
most important allies and markets. China seems moderate
in relation to the US now.
really not about disarmament -- Israel is known to probably
have weapons of mass destruction; North Korea is further
along the line than Iraq and has oppressed its people for
decades -- and the wave of terrorism world-wide has clearly
demonstrated that those bent on mass destruction do NOT
rely on sophisticated weaponry but instead on cunning, resourceful
planning and low-tech materials, turning the world's technology
against itself. Al-Qaeda with a plastic knife has done far
more damage than Saddam's proto-nukes, imagined or otherwise.
In such an environment, where malignant forces are underground
and pervasive, surely the sensible counter-measure is increased,
not decreased global corporation and co-operation; not to
mention a climate of enhanced transparency and resolute
camaraderie between civilised nations, rather than the hawkish
instinct for war that for better or worse can only lead
to greater resentment and a spiral of hatred. If the US
had clear evidence (and Powell admits they have been watching
for at least a dozen years), then how come this was not
made available to UN inspectors ahead of time so that they
can complete their duly appointed tasks?
clear they could have raised the red flag of Iraq at ANY
TIME, probably in the past decade or so. The White House
wants war NOW because (1) it has no idea how (else) to fix
the economy (2) it would benefit the military-industrial
establishment that keeps the Republican war chest filled
(3) It's a convenient and very effective distraction from
domestic woes (4) Americans vote the incumbent when there's
a war going on and the presidential race for 2004 of course
has already begun. (5) Oil.
may be pertinent to remember that there's really only been
one nation in history who has used the power of a nuclear
weapon on another and that nation is not disarming anytime
soon, I'm afraid.
evidence has been presented of a clear and present (ie.
immediate) danger even if Saddam does have weapons (and
he is no doubt keen to acquire or build them if he could,
as with many regimes around the world). No evidence has
been presented to the effect that Saddam intends to use
any weapon of mass destruction it has or may come to possess
in a direct, hostile attack on the US or its allies within
the immediate future.
we don't want to hand a gangster a gun; but there are others
out there in the meanwhile who already have guns and are
not afraid to use them: The struggle in Afghanistan is still
ongoing, as recent casulties indicate, yet little has been
done to stabilise the new regime there nor to sustain the
rebuilding of a genuine potential ally in the region. There
is no push towards a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, which causes real and frequent hardships to all
involved. Saudi Arabia has been suggested as a seminal export
source of the intellectual and financial framework necessary
for fundamentalist terrorism. Humanitarian aid to the region
remains poorly maintained, and it doesn't help that the
US is willing to spend tons on guns but not on paying its
UN dues, nor accede to the War Crimes tribunal's jurisdiction
over its troops.
the US has made it clear that it will pursue war with Iraq
even if it has to "go it alone". Naturally it
is politic for it to at least pay lip service to world opinion
vis a vis the UN, a move predicted months ago. World opinion,
and I'm afraid the opinion of the American people, mean
very little to this White House's intentions.
a more sombre note, the notion of "anticipatory self-defence" is problematic. It has come to be taken as potential justification
for sanctions and military intervention against any
state which is unwilling or unable to root out and disarm
all real and suspected agents of terror within their borders
beyond the shadow of the US's doubt. It could mean bombing
the hell out of Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta and Mindanao
as plausible (even probable) stopover points and supply
line nodes for Al-Qaeda and its associates. I don't think
we'd hesitate to sign a petition to stop that military
action. Not that it would do much good.