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[P]
A week is a long time in politics

By caek in Op-Ed
Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 04:27:14 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

The evening of March 18 saw the the Labour Government, assisted by the Conservative Party, defeat a rebel motion which opposed impending military action in Iraq by 396 votes to 217. John Reid, Labour Party Chairman immediately appeared on BBC2's Newsnight saying,

A singular message has been sent from [Parliament] to the Iraqi reigime, who thought that we were incapable of action because we were a degenerate and enfeebled liberal democracy.

This may seem like a victory for Blair's Labour Government and their policy of supporting the US. But the size of this rebellion, and a previous vote also on Iraq, are unprecedented in recent British history and follow a week of open and candid criticism from members of Tony Blair's own Cabinet and a series of resignations. This article aims to assess the scale and character of the rebellion, and speculates on its impact on British foreign policy, which has recently had such a disproportionate effect on debate at the UN and elsewhere.


Preface

For the benefit of non-British readers struggling for a frame of reference, the last ten days or so (I told you a week was a long time in politics!) have been variously described as "historic", "momentous", "potentially fatal [for Blair]", and "shocking". This kind of thing not typical of British politics, and has not been seen at all under New Labour.

If you are already familiar with the background and details of the resignations, interviews and votes of the past weeks, please feel free to skip down to The fallout. This lengthy backstory is an attempt to give international readers an idea of the significance (or lack of) of the last few days.

Putting the current Government in Context

New Labour, Tony Blair's rebranded, newly electable version of Labour, Britain's party of the Left, was swept to victory in the General Electon of 1997. Their huge 179-MP majority was the largest ever in a House of Commons of 659 seats. [The House of Commons is the elected lower chamber of the UK's Houses of Parliament.]

In making Labour electable, Blair had moved it from its traditional Left wing stronghold to more appealing central ground--to the disgust of traditionalists and the annoyance of the Conservatives, the UK's Right wing party. He did this by reducing the role of Trades Unions in determing policy and removing the much-loved but laughably unelectable Clause Four, which aimed "to secure for the workers...common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange", and had been retained in the Party's constitution more to placate the extreme Left than because it was policy.

New Labour's huge Commons majority, and its reinforcement in the General Election of 2001, have seen six years of relatively placid domestic politics. Public apathy has increased (turnout in 2001 was an 80-year low), and there is a general impression that the Commons is little more than a rubber stamp for the Government.

However, There is still a sizeable contingent of the Parliamentary Labour Party (and a much bigger fraction--perhaps even a majority--of the grassroots) that identify themselves as left wing. Many of these retain an affection for traditional Labour causes célèbres, in particular the Welfare State, which provides healthcare that is free at the point of delivery and financial support to those that need it.

The turbulent last week in British politics discussed below can be characterised as the last roar of the Old Labour dinosaur, unhappy with New Labour's wilfull association of itself with the goals of US foreign policy. This is part of the reason you've just sat through a five-minute history lesson, but my thesis is that this is a gross simplification, and I hope to draw out some of the real implications below.

The beginning of the Labour rebellion

On September 12, 2002 George Bush went to the UN and delivered a speech demanding a step-change in the pressure being applied to disarm Iraq.

After Resolution 1441, which threatened "serious consequences" for Iraq, received unanimous Security Council backing, opposition to military action amongst the British public began to increase as did disquiet amongst the Parliamentary Labour Party. In the face of extreme pressure, not least from the best-attended protest in British history, Tony Blair was forced to make clear the conditions in which he would be prepared to go to war. The relevant quotes from the BBC interview are all in Gromit's article for Kuro5hin. Meanwhile, many Labour MPs promised their constituencies that they would not support a war in the absence of a second UN resolution.

February 26 saw what was, until March 18, the biggest rebellion by Labour backbenchers since New Labour's election in 1997 (backbenchers are MPs who are not ministers so sit on the back benches). After an impassioned debate, 122 out of 410 Labour MPs voted against the Government. The previous record for the current Labour Government on a matter of principle was 65 MPs voting against changes to incapacity benefit. This was a massive rebellion, and for the first time commentaters were suggesting serious repurcussions for a Prime Minister who had been able to largely ignore the will of his own Party. Some even went as far as to suggest the previously unthinkable possibility that this might be the beginning of the end of his Premiership.

The Long Week

Clare Short's threats

Clare Short is Minister for International Development, a humanitarian role, which makes her a member of the Cabinet. This means she is expected to toe the party line, with little room for her own opinions. She is not seen as particularly left wing, but does command a lot of respect within the party for her ethically-grounded stances on issues of foreign policy, in particular her support of the Government's involvement in NATO's air attack on Serbia without UN support.

In an unprecedented step, she asked to be interviewed for BBC Radio Four on Sunday March 9 (excerpts). Asked if she thought the Prime Minister was being reckless she relplied,

I'm afraid that I think the whole atmosphere of the current situation is deeply reckless; reckless for the world, reckless for the undermining of the UN in this disorderly world, which is wider than Iraq--which the whole world needs for the future--reckless with our government, reckless with his own future, position and place in history. It's extraordinarily reckless, I'm very surprised by it.
Perhaps she was hoping this very personal outburst would provoke Blair into sacking her--the tone of the interview seemed deliberately provocative--but he resisted the tempation to give the "Peace Party", as it was now being called in Westminster, their first martyr.

Robin Cook's resignation

Last week saw many protestations that Cabinet unity on this issue was "rock solid" but, following the failure of diplomacy and the meeting the in the Azores, all eyes turned to Robin Cook. In his time as Foreign Minister Cook had been the architect of the ethical dimension some claim British foreign policy now exhibits. Having been promised by the Prime Minister that he would retain the post after the 2001 General Election he was understandably furious at losing it. The BBC said at the time:

Robin Cook's move from foreign secretary to leader of the House is a serious demotion and a further sign of the diminished standing of the man of whom so much was expected when Tony Blair first won office in 1997. It also confirms his ejection from membership of Labour's "big four"--previously Mr Blair, Gordon Brown, John Prescott and Mr Cook. It is a bitter blow to the man once seen as Labour's brightest, sharpest intellect.

Cook had little to lose, and had been noticably absent from the Cabinet big guns wheeled out to defend Blair's policy. He resigned this Monday morning (March 17) and delivered his resignation speech to Parliament that evening (the House of Commons often sits late into the evening). The speech is discussed elsewhere on kuro5hin. It was brilliant. Cook is a respected orator and fiercly intelligent man, and his forensic analysis of the inconsistencies of the Government's policy did not disappoint.

Much was made of it in the following day's papers (although I can't link to Britain's leading right wing paper's, The Daily Telegraph and The Sun, as the former requires free registration and the latter doesn't publicly archive content). Cook expanded on his ideas in The Guardian the next day.

But is the resignation anything more than a flesh wound to the Government? Apparently, "A senior No 10 aide told The Times recently: 'The only person agonising about Robin's position is Robin. We don't care.'" Indeed, following another resignation the next morning (further Junior Ministers have followed Cook), John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister, childishly claimed never to have heard of the resignee.

Cook's career was effectively over but by forcing him out Blair has given him a new lease of life. As Labour discovered under Neil Kinnock, a predecessor of Blair, and as my school mates would often remind me and my flaxen locks, "no one likes a ginge", and Cook was a ginge of the particularly gnomic, unelectable variety. He is not PM material and is notoriously aloof, but his resignation speech hasn't done any damage to his estimation amongst MPs, and should Blair's leadership be challenged in the next few years don't be surprised to see Cook throw his hat in to the ring to exact a revenge. He won't win, but he might force concessions from Gordon Brown. Brown is the current chancellor and seen as the obvious successor to Blair.

But it has been Cook's refusal to twist the knife in Blair after resigning that has won him so many plaudits. Does this represent a new maturity in British politics or just the character of one man, or even just one man acting in his own interests?

Clare Short's U-Turn

Clare Short then had an undignified change of heart, which couldn't be in starker contrast to Cook's confident, graceful and even polite resignation. Short appears to have persuaded to stay by the prospect of involvment in the UN's attempts to rebuild Iraq, despite having said very clearly when asked if she could better wield influence from within the Cabinet:

"I think I could add a bit if I stayed, but it's a very, very, very good department and you can't stay and defend the indefensible in order to do some other things that you think need doing. I can rely on others I think to do what is right.
And, when asked if she would resign if there was "no mandate from the UN for war", she said, "Absolutely. There's no question about that." She explains her change of heart here. If you buy her logic, that's a hell of a slight-of-hand. Wednesday's papers aren't impressed.

Don't expect her to stay in the Cabinet for long though. It suits Tony Blair to have her on board at the moment; he avoids making her a martyr, and has probably irreparabaly damaged the good reputation she previously had with her natural constituency on Labour's left. As a historical ally of Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, she may stay for a while, but she will doubtless be increasingly marginalised.

The last vote

On Tuesday March 18, there was a second parliamentary vote giving MPs the opportunity to support or oppose going to war. There was never any question the troops would receive backing, but there was some uncertainty as to whether the Labour Government would have to rely on Conservative votes to vote down the opponents of war (the right wing Conservatives have supported Tony Blair throughout). The number of Labour MPs voting against the Government increased from 122 to 140. It would have needed to approach 165 to put the Government in any real danger or relying on the Opposition.

This damp squib can be ascribed to Clare Short's failure to resign and Government and media hyperbolae over the consequences of a lost vote; Blair's resignation and Constitutional crisis was made to loom in the minds of possible dissenters. Rumours were abound that Cherie Blair, the Prime Minister's wife, who is popular amongst Labour's women MPs, was phoning around support in the hours before the vote--probably another first if true.

Most importantly though, was the Prime Minister's speech introducing the motion of support, and the debate that followed. To my mind it was by far the best he has ever given. Never an ostensibly sincere man, there was genuine passion in it. He finished up with these powerful sentences, which undoubtedly changed the minds of several MPs:

This is not the time to falter. This is the time not just for this Government--or, indeed, for this Prime Minister--but for this House to give a lead: to show that we will stand up for what we know to be right; to show that we will confront the tyrannies and dictatorships and terrorists who put our way of life at risk; to show, at the moment of decision, that we have the courage to do the right thing.

The fallout

The size of the rebellion was a disappointment to its proponents. There had been genuine excitement--a kind of visceral thrill--at the possibility of dealing a very, very serious blow to a previously untouchable Prime Minister. That chance now appears to have passed as public support inevitably swings round to support the troops.

Nevertheless, Blair's relationship with his own party has been seriously damaged. Despite protestations that he has respect for others' opinions, there is a feeling that, with his undoubted and strongly-held moral conviction on this issue, he has failed to ascribe the slightest credibility to the disquiet of his own party and the rest of the country. That's rude.

MPs who would never have thought of voting against a Government they disagreed with on less important issues have now tasted blood. Expect more frequent, more substantial rebellions on matters of domestic policy after the war. If these persist to the extent that it makes Government difficult don't be surprised to see Blair take his bat home in frustration and let someone else have a go at leading the party and the country. In the meantime expect Britain to be forced into making a choice between the increasingly polarised US and EU on future foreign policy (I will discuss the international implications in more detail in a later article).

Perhaps the most positive thing to result from the crisis is a reinvigoration of the House of Commons. Charges of being little more than a rubber stamp for the Cabinet have been levelled at the Commons since Labour won their massive majority, but the recent votes have shown that it is still capable of mature, well-reasoned, respectful and exciting debate, and can follow this with votes that really count. Expect an increased turnout in May's Local Elections as a result. February's record-breaking Stop The War march in London and today's protests from school children in my own town and elsewhere are an encouraging sign for the future of British democracy.

As Wednesday's Guardian Leader says, it's hard for dissenters not to consider this a consolation prize.

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Display: Sort:
A week is a long time in politics | 97 comments (68 topical, 29 editorial, 0 hidden)
Huge Effects (4.00 / 2) (#9)
by OldCoder on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 02:49:27 PM EST

British politics, which has recently had such a huge effect on the behaviour of the US and the rest of Europe
To which huge effects do you refer?

--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
The UN (4.75 / 4) (#11)
by caek on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 02:55:23 PM EST

Britain was at the centre of debate at the UN and, if you believe Tony Blair's supporters, the only reason the US was even there.

It certainly wields a disproporationate influence over both the US and Europe on matters of foreign policy, and has found itself trying to resolve two fundamentally opposed opinions. The sentence is not meant to be a dig at the significance of the US.

[ Parent ]

What they told us (4.66 / 3) (#32)
by OldCoder on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 09:29:11 PM EST

Here in the USA, they told us that going to the UN was the Bush administrations idea. I guess it took the combined staffs of both heads of state to originate the suggestion...

--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
[ Parent ]
I'm not surprised (none / 0) (#72)
by caek on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 03:04:33 PM EST

I don't believe for a minute what Blair's defenders say that he is uniquely responsible for the US bothering with the UN. The idea that the US could have ignored the UN alltogether 6 months ago is absurd. Now is another matter...

But my point remains. Britain has been caught in the middle of this debate and mainland European and US attention has been directed towards it in an unusual way. Whether that is due to any genuine influence the UK has, or just that its the country where public and government opinion is closest to being evenly divided--so the most interesting things happen--I don't know.

Nevertheless, I would never have expected to se the resignation speech of a British minister make Fox News before--even on a matter of foreign policy. Something's up.

[ Parent ]

Yeh (4.90 / 10) (#24)
by bc on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 07:31:49 PM EST

The whole debate has absolutely nothing to do with the morality of invading Iraq, nothing at all. Instead, it is all about Britain's relationship with America, the prime issue rattling through the century and fucking up both the Tories and the labour party every decade or so.

In the Labour Party's case, the last time was the early 80's, when it had:

  • The Atlanticists, pro-Europe, pro_nuclear, pro-American, headed by people like Shirley Williams, David Owen, Roy jenkins etc. These are the ones that formed the SDP.
  • There was the centre, anti-Communist and very much for NATO, but really quite sceptical of American foreign policy (good job too, these are the ones that kept us out of the Vietnam fiasco earlier).
  • The Neutralists, who were the real hardcases - anti-nuclear, anti-American, anti-NATO, and so on.
So when the neutralists Michael Foot won the leadership, the Atlanticists got shit scared and formed the SDP to split the vote and force the Labour party back to its senses, as they saw it.

Which it did, when first Neil Kinnock, a neutralist, started to moderate the Labour postion, then when John Smith, an Atlanticist who had stayed in the party, got back into power and - lo and behold, his fellow Atlanticist acolytes were one Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the pair of whom went on after his death to put the final touches on making the party electable.

So now, what we are seeing is ruptures within the labour party from the neutralists and the centrists, who are extremely unamused at Tony's decision to bring the UK so close to the US.

The situation with the Tory party is no better, really: the big issue that divides them is also about Britain's relationship with America, in the form of euroscepticism. The eurosceptics, the great majority of them, are very much for subjugating UK foreign policy and the UK national interest to the Americans, it is all they really talk about. The Daily Telegraph is the natural stomping ground of these third columnists, with their whining whenever the labour party doesn't jump high enough when Washington shouts "jump" and dreamy little editorials hypothesising a "free Britain within NAFTA", ugh. What'd you expect from a paper owned by a Canadian who has subjugated his own identity into that of Ameica, Conrad Black is a cunt.

Its europhiles, meantime, tend to be a bit more sceptical about America, but still (insanely) dream of handing over sovereignty to somebody else - Brussels. Its enough to make a man despair.

Anyway, the reason the eurosceptics didn't really come raging to the forefront till the 90's was that the primary motivation for the Tory party, which is naturally failry nationalist, to be in Europe was to buttress Western Europe against the Soviets. That's why America at that time hugely encouraged UK involvement, and why staunch anti-communist Tories would tend to be quite pro-European - even Margaret Thatcher. And remember, in the dark days of 70's nationalised Britain and earlier they thought that the more free market EU would be wonderful for Britain, forcing us to mend our ways, and they were naturally free trade. And, of course, the Americans really wanted it.

Until, finally, that reason, the Soviet Union, completely dissappeared, and many of them turned against Europe and went back to their roots - Maggie with her Bruges speech, notably ("No no no!").

And when we consider further back in history, all the other calamities, from Suez to the early Cold War, Vietnam, whatever, every single crisis in british politics seems to boil down to this:

Should we lick the boots of the hegemon, or defy him?

Personally, I wish British foreign policy could return to its historical roots. The guiding principle of British foreign policy up until 1945, from 1066 on, was "look around, and see who is top dog. if it isn't you, resist him." I wish we could return to it, instead of this pathetic farce, and look to our own interests first.

♥, bc.

British foreign policy (2.00 / 3) (#36)
by wiredog on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 10:54:53 PM EST

If Blair falls, Britain may not have a foriegn policy. It may be slave to the EU foriegn policy.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
And which European foreign policy would that be? (4.00 / 2) (#52)
by L Satyl on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 05:39:57 AM EST

French, German, Spanish, Belgian, Dutch, Greek?

Each country has its own stance on this war, there is no spoon, urm, united European foreign policy.

[ Parent ]
Well those countries are supposed to be democratic (4.66 / 3) (#57)
by nictamer on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 10:32:42 AM EST

... and their people are vehemently anti-war.

Aznar is now being recognized as the fascistic franco afficionado he is. He's gonna lose the next elections.
--
Religion is for sheep.
[ Parent ]

top dog (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by ukryule on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 11:04:13 PM EST

The guiding principle of British foreign policy up until 1945, from 1066 on, was "look around, and see who is top dog. if it isn't you, resist him."
Yeah, but that stopped being fun when France stopped competing for the title. Nowadays it's:
"Look around, and see who is top dog. Because it won't be you, support him."

[ Parent ]
indeed (4.00 / 1) (#41)
by martingale on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 11:35:15 PM EST

Even though it took a long time in the particular case of Britain, France has finally realized that police actions in former colonies aren't worth the aggravation. The English should go play more with the Scots and Welsh.

[ Parent ]
spot on (none / 0) (#54)
by it certainly is on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 08:46:23 AM EST

This is just Blair carrying on the "special relationship" we've had with the Yanks since the Airstrip One days. What appals me is the fact Blair is carrying out the role with even more gusto than Maggie when she was taking it up the shitter from Raygun.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

-1: potential 3rd british-centric fp post (nt) (2.00 / 4) (#26)
by circletimessquare on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 08:46:05 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

it's still well written +1 [n/t] (5.00 / 2) (#30)
by martingale on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 09:04:31 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Big deal... (none / 0) (#73)
by MajorMajor on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 03:40:35 PM EST

...it makes a change from US-centric stories.

Do I complain that there are too many US stories? Live with it.

[ Parent ]

us, great britain, canada, australia, new zealand (none / 0) (#75)
by circletimessquare on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 06:49:49 PM EST

us population: 285 million
uk population: 59 million

so, the statistical ratio, over many months, should be, ideally, strictly democratically speaking: 1 uk story to every 5 us stories...

get used to it, you're smaller than us. democratic principles apply.

and if indian and chinese kuro5hin use ever approached similar per capita use as in the us/ uk, i fully expect to have chinese and indian stories dwarf us stories by roughly the same ratio.

if you want, pity the poor ideal story ratio versus the uk as canada, at 32 million people (1 to 2), or australia, at 20 million people (1 to 3), or new zealand, at 4 million people (1 to 15).

such is and should be the rule of democracy. and kuro5hin is rightly founded on democratic posting principles. go ahead and try to fight it, to no avail. or start your own goddamn uk-centric meta site and censor and limit story submissions by geographically resolved ip addresses.

i don't think it should be us-centric here. i just think it should be democratic.


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Hey, I've got an idea! (none / 0) (#76)
by caek on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 07:50:31 PM EST

start your own goddamn uk-centric meta site and censor and limit story submissions by geographically resolved ip addresses.
Why don't we let people vote for the stories they want to post! That way we won't have to worry about where people are from! Nor will we have to assume they are only interested in stories about the country they live in! That way the stories that post are found interesting, well-written, likely to induce discussion, or all three!

Hey...wait a minute...

Live with it.

[ Parent ]

heh (none / 0) (#77)
by circletimessquare on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 08:01:24 PM EST

you realize of course you have just demonstrated an amazingly sarcastic and blistering display of how much... you essentially agree with me.

this site is, and should stay, democratic. and i will democratically continue to vote down stories if they are too geocentric in their subject matter, or if i see THREE GEOCENTRIC STORIES IN A ROW. and i think a lot of people, with votes, agree with me.

live with it indeed. ;-)


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Safe (none / 0) (#92)
by caek on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 02:11:15 PM EST

live with it indeed. ;-)
Party on!

[ Parent ]
Always look on the bright side (4.83 / 6) (#27)
by psicE on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 08:48:26 PM EST

Perhaps Blair didn't stop England from entering the war with Iraq. Little matter: the United States would have gone to war even without Britain's support (we had already convinced 29 other countries; so what if Estonia is one of the richer ones on that list?) But this may set the stage for a sea change in British politics.

It is not a huge leap to say that the Conservatives are a dying breed. Sure, they may be the second-largest party in Parliament, but that's about to change, with mass numbers of voters swinging from the Tories to the left-of-New-Labour Liberal Democrats. With young voters recognizing why Britain needs to be in Europe, they are deserting the Tories in droves, and due to ingrained phobia of Labour's socialist and centralist leanings, the LibDems are the only other viable choice. Many observers predict that, come next election, they will replace the Tories as the second-largest party in Parliament, and are in fact poised to have a majority, or at least be part of the goverment, sometime in the next few elections.

Now, compound that with the fact that a plurality if not a majority of the British public is still opposed to war, and with the fact that the LibDems are currently the only established "anti-war" party. Labour is of course split, with Blair and Brown on the pro-war side, Cook and many (most?) backbenchers against; but the Tory electorate is also split on the war. In a country with only two major parties, such differences within the parties could perhaps be tolerated, as no one could possibly expect to divide people, no matter the issue, into the same two camps. But Britain has three parties, and one of those parties is firmly anti-war, while the others are formally in support but conflicted.

Something's got to give.

It's obvious that Blair's political career is over. If the war fails, he looks like an idiot for disobeying the will of his country, and being wrong. If the war succeeds by Bush's definition, he still looks like an idiot, because Iraq won't be a democracy, and Blair's beloved Bush still looks like a crazed imperialist. So Blair's gone, and soon. Then what? If the war succeeds, it will be a race between Gordon Brown and Robin Cook (or some other representative of the left-wing), one that Brown will be likely to win simply because of conservative forces.

But what if the war fails? Possibly Cook will win, and the Labour Party will begin to turn left again; in essence, British politics will be returned to normal, with socialist Labour on the left, Liberal Democrats in the centre (the liberal European centre, not the current right-wing British one), and the Tories on the right. Or, a large number of voters, who hate Labour for whatever reasons, leave either of the major parties to join the LibDems. Charles Kennedy for PM, anyone? In that case, Gordon Brown would undoubtedly be interim prime minister, because all the left-wing forces would have left Labour, but new elections would have to be called as soon as possible, making the point moot.

I could give a proper conclusion, but I'm too lazy. Don't underestimate the significance of the war. It's big.


Not quite. (2.00 / 5) (#49)
by Demiurge on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 04:00:08 AM EST

You see, the US is going to win this war. Unless something horribly unlikely happens, it will be a resounding military success. A month from now, when Iraq's military power has been completed shattered by a military force lightyears ahead of it, Blair and Bush will be basking in their victory while Chirac will look like the shrill, pompous sleazebag he is.

[ Parent ]
You are missing the point (4.20 / 5) (#50)
by Betcour on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 04:44:33 AM EST

Chirac does and will still look like the guy who said what the majority of humans on this planet think. A victory of the USAUK is not going to change this - especially since there will be absolutely no merit to it.

To win without risk is to triumph without glory (Corneille)

[ Parent ]
Except (2.00 / 2) (#55)
by duffbeer703 on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 08:47:30 AM EST

Iraq has already used long-range missiles that weren't supposed to exist and caches of banned weapons will be found all over Iraq.

When the Bush and Blair are proven right, nobody will remember the protests anymore. But everyone will remember the cowardly actions of Chirac and his Belgian and German buddies.

[ Parent ]

All in the details (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by Betcour on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 11:22:04 AM EST

Iraq has already used long-range missiles that weren't supposed to exist and caches of banned weapons will be found all over Iraq.

So ? Has Chirac ever said Saddam was hiding nothing ? The French plan was colling for increased inspections coordinated with military presure. I don't see how this event change anything to the validity of this plan.

When the Bush and Blair are proven right,

Proven right in what ? That invading Iraq is the only solution to prevent it from attacking another country ? How can you proove that ?

[ Parent ]
All about ignoring the facts (1.00 / 2) (#62)
by duffbeer703 on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 11:49:15 AM EST

The French wanted to maintain that staus quo of the last decade to strenghten their political position in Europe and to make money. The French "plan" was to continue to keep the incompetent Dr. Blitz greasing the buerecratic wheels of the UN indefinately.

When the Iraqi government is deposed, and NBC weapons are confiscated and destroyed, we will have delivered a clear message to other rouge states, like North Korea, that building these weapons is unacceptable.

[ Parent ]

The Facts (5.00 / 1) (#64)
by Robb on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 12:26:24 PM EST

In recent history France has never had as much political influence as they do now in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The reason for this is that right now we (the US) are diplomatically out gunned by the French. I'm not even sure the current administration understands the concept of diplomacy.

This is rather astonishing since the George Bush Senior and his administration were so good at diplomacy -- you think George Bush Junior might have picked something up.

[ Parent ]

Exactly right (5.00 / 1) (#70)
by duffbeer703 on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 02:08:23 PM EST

And France has choosen to flex those new muscles -- just as one would expect.

French opposition has everything to do with building political capital and self-interest and nothing to do with morality or innocent people.

[ Parent ]

Propaganda (none / 0) (#65)
by Betcour on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 12:27:22 PM EST

to strenghten their political position in Europe

Humm - how not having a war in Iraq would have strenghten the French political position in Europe ? I'm curious, really !

and to make money

Iraq accounts for 0.2% of the French global trade... Besides, US was buying more oil from Iraq than France.

and NBC weapons are confiscated and destroyed

First they'll have to find some, which is still not sure (unless you have some "special connection" and top-secret info that even the UN inspectors weren't aware of).

we will have delivered a clear message to other rouge states, like North Korea, that building these weapons is unacceptable.

North Korea doesn't even need to build those weapons because, unlike Iraq, we are sure they already have them, as well as the mean to use them on American cities. So, why is the US invading Iraq again ?

[ Parent ]
So where did you get those facts? (1.00 / 1) (#66)
by redhanded on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 12:46:10 PM EST

Iraq accounts for 0.2% of the French global trade... Besides, US was buying more oil from Iraq than France.

From every credible news source I can find France gets over 40% of its Oil from Iraq at a huge discount. America is currently getting 3% of its Oil from Iraq. If this was all about Oil there are many other middle east nations with large oil supplies that would be easier targets.

First they'll have to find some, which is still not sure (unless you have some "special connection" and top-secret info that even the UN inspectors weren't aware of).

Even in the limited success of the recent inspections we found shells used to contain chemical weapons, missles that had a range farther than allowed by the U.N. and unmanned drone planes that are not allowed by the U.N. Correct me if I am wrong but that sure sounds like they found something; I am more worried about what they did not find.
This is not a signature!
[ Parent ]
Show the goodies (5.00 / 1) (#80)
by Betcour on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 03:06:29 AM EST

From every credible news source I can find France gets over 40% of its Oil from Iraq at a huge discount.

Where are "all" those credible sources ? Go ahead, show the stuff.

Even in the limited success of the recent inspections we found shells used to contain chemical weapons, missles that had a range farther than allowed by the U.N. and unmanned drone planes that are not allowed by the U.N.

None of those being a WMD. The missiles had a measly 10 to 15% extra-range over the UN limit (150 km), the artillery shells were olds and empty, as for the drone it is not clear whether it was allowed or not (planes were allowed, so why not unmanned planes ?). I fail to see how all of this was a "immediate threat to world peace". On the other hand the attack started by the USAUK, against the will of the UN, is an immediate threat to world peace, and could ignite the whole middle-east and set a dangerous precedent by giving legitimacy to "preventive wars".

[ Parent ]
Why Sure, here you go. (none / 0) (#90)
by redhanded on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 01:28:54 PM EST

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2757797.stm

This is a bbc article describing multiple economic ties between France and Iraq but if you search on google for "Iraq france economic ties" you can find dozen of articles.

None of those being a WMD. The missiles had a measly 10 to 15% extra-range over the UN limit (150 km), the artillery shells were olds and empty, as for the drone it is not clear whether it was allowed or not (planes were allowed, so why not unmanned planes ?). I fail to see how all of this was a "immediate threat to world peace". On the other hand the attack started by the USAUK, against the will of the UN, is an immediate threat to world peace, and could ignite the whole middle-east and set a dangerous precedent by giving legitimacy to "preventive wars".

1% over the range is enough for me. The restrictions on Iraq were placed for a reason. Next time you get a speeding ticket tell the officer "I was only going 10-15% faster than the speed limit". With all of the games Saddam Hussein was playing with weapons inspectors it is amazing they even found anything at all. If the three examples listed above were the things Iraq was unable to hide in time just imagine all of the other stuff that was more important and was succesfully hidden from inspectors. We had a valid excuse to attack iraq the first time they violated a U.N. resolution after Desert Storm.
This is not a signature!
[ Parent ]
Only if... (none / 0) (#94)
by teeth on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 09:11:12 PM EST

"We had a valid excuse to attack iraq the first time they violated a U.N. resolution after Desert Storm."

...the "we" in question is the UN.


Copyright is for protection against publishers
[ Parent ]

Try thinking for once... (1.50 / 2) (#67)
by duffbeer703 on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 01:19:27 PM EST

Instead of making up figures and reading the repetitive shit spewed out by the "peace" crowd.

France, Germany and Belgium have a vested interest in creating rifts between the US and Europe or breakup NATO apart.

The vision of the rulers of these nations is to transform the EU into a nation in its own right. Standing in the way of that is US influence in a number of countries, principally Britain, Spain, and the former Soviet satellites.

The European opposition to the war (at the government level) as nothing to with the war, and everything to do with the wider scheme of political alignments.

Most of the people in the streets are genuinely against war in general. The the actions of their governments have nothing to do with Iraq or morality.

[ Parent ]

Speaking of "wider scheme", (5.00 / 1) (#86)
by Viliam Bur on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 09:20:29 AM EST

I personally think that the war in Iraq is really a preventive war. But not against terrorism and other stuff.

It's a preventive cold war against EU. Just like USA and USSR were fighting in Vietnam instead of attacking each other, USA and (not ready yet) EU are fighting in Iraq. EU's way of "fight" was trying to diplomatically stop USA from attack - they have clearly failed.

The main goal of the Iraq war is to show that USA may attack any other country regardless of what the rest of world thinks; splitting Europe is a welcomed consequence. "Divide and conquer."

People of former Soviet satellites (based on what I see in Slovakia) are not happy about USA foreign policy. We still remember the Soviet regime, and... what a surprise... now we see many similarities with USA. Most of people oppose war - it is only our leaders that want it. You may say that we elected them, democratically. But in democracy often those guys win, who have most money for ads. So perhaps they are now only repaying their debts.

OK, just my few thoughts. Many people are sceptical about EU here, but almost everybody dislikes USA behavior. This is the recent joke I heard (note: "Dzurinda" is name of Slovak prime minister):

News from war on Iraq:

The attack on Iraq has to be delayed for a few hours. President Bush must go to a serious surgery...

...they have to remove Dzurinda from his ass.


[ Parent ]

You got it. (none / 0) (#87)
by duffbeer703 on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 09:51:46 AM EST

You are certainly one of the few people here (or anywhere else for that matter) who is capable at looking beyond the immediate issue of the day.

Keeping Europe split is the single most important goal of the United States today -- and I think that is a good thing (I am a biased American though). A three axis USA-Europe-China world alignment would not be condusive to peace.

I like to think more positively about US long-term policy. I think our long-term goal is to break the power of OPEC to control global petroleum prices -- particularly in the future as developing nations demand more and more oil.

If you think about it, most of the serious recessions since the 1960's have been worsened by OPEC limiting oil supplies to maintain high prices.

[ Parent ]

Tony is a Traitor (5.00 / 1) (#88)
by teeth on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 11:14:47 AM EST

"Keeping Europe split is the single most important goal of the United States today"

Nice to see you admit it.

As a Scot, and by extention European, I consider it crucially important to resist US hegenomy. Tony Blair should be holding common cause with our neighbours in the EU, not acting as an agent for a foriegn power, which is treason.

I would have no problem with a UN commanded force stomping on the Iraqi regieme, I have big problems with a US force doing it.

I think the biggest freak-out for the US is the possibility of the Euro replacing the Dollar as the international oil trading currency and the consequent adjustment to the Dollar's inflated value. When the inevitable credit crunch comes I'd much rather be tied to the relatively solid base of the Euro than the paper-chase Dollar.


Copyright is for protection against publishers
[ Parent ]

Tony wants an independent UK (none / 0) (#89)
by duffbeer703 on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 01:07:10 PM EST

The notion of a single European state is a fantasy that is destined to be short lived.

As an American, I see a strong Europe as a barrier to world peace and prosperity... especially given the extensive histories of conquest and opression by various European states.

The last fifty years have seen Europe pacified under the protective umbrella of the United States. Once that umbrella goes away, Europe will return to its former ways.

The the Euro is just as paper-tied as the dollar and the US and European economies are very tightly tied together. Since most European countries have very signifigant investments in US Treasury securities, any credit crunch would nail Europe (and Japan) just as hard as the United States.


[ Parent ]

p (none / 0) (#96)
by it certainly is on Sat Mar 22, 2003 at 12:29:43 PM EST

As an American, I see a strong Europe as a barrier to world peace and prosperity.

Funny, that. As a European, I see a strong USA as the barrier to world peace and prosperity.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Yoorp (none / 0) (#97)
by teeth on Sat Mar 22, 2003 at 06:52:18 PM EST

" As an American, I see a strong Europe as a barrier to world peace and prosperity... especially given the extensive histories of conquest and opression by various European states."

As a European, I see a strong America as a barrier to world peace and prosperity... especially given the extensive histories of conquest and opression by various American states.

...I'm not sure if that is (meant as) a joke or not.

A petro-Euro will survive as well as a petro-Dollar, from my viewpoint the petro-Euro is the better option.


Copyright is for protection against publishers
[ Parent ]

Winning the peace (5.00 / 3) (#53)
by treefrog on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 05:47:40 AM EST

I think Tony Blair's future depends very much on whether the peace is won.

We are all expecting a military victory for the UK / USA coalition. Hopefully this will come sooner rather than later, and with minimum disruption to the lives of the Iraqi people.

But where do we go from a military victory? Iraq must be reconstructed as a democratic state, despite the obvious tensions threating to tear it apart.

In the north, the Kurds have established a de-facto democratic state. How will this survive after the war: Turkey is worried about the possibility of Kurdish insurgency in its Eastern provinces, and has threatened invasion if the Kurdish peshmurga (militias) take the city of Kirkuk, with its oilfields (which would give them the economic base for a viable state). There are also fears of ethnic cleansing by the Kurds against Arab and Turkomen minorities in the North.

In the south west, there is a sizeable Shiite community who tend to look towards Iraq's Eastern neighbour, Iran.

To win the peace, the coalition must square the circle, by creating a democratic Iraq which promotes the aspirations of its constituent peoples, possibly via a cantonal model (like Switzerland). It must then step away, and let the Iraqi people take control of their own destiny.

If this happens, and the Prime Minister can point to a democratic Iraq in a year's time, and say "I told you so", then his position as one of the greatest Prime Minister's of recent times is assured.

But if in a year's time Iraq is either still under military administration, or is being obviously plundered by US corporations, or is riven by civil war, then the Prime Minister will have failed. In that case I would expect the Labour party to look for another leader.

regards, treefrog


Twin fin swallowtail fish. You don't see many of those these days - rare as gold dust Customs officer to Treefrog
[ Parent ]

you say Iraq will not be a democracy (2.00 / 1) (#59)
by modmans2ndcoming on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 11:00:35 AM EST

how do you know? do you have precognition? I didn't think so, infact, that pesimistic view is created out of your political stance. you don't want blair to be PM any more, you want a communist type to be PM, so it of course follows thatIraq will not be a democracy becasue if it was, your view of the world would have to change since this does become the right thing to do and to people of your slant, that is the same thing as dividing by zero.

[ Parent ]
Well, (5.00 / 2) (#61)
by it certainly is on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 11:47:40 AM EST

given that Iran isn't a democracy, Saudi Arabia isn't a democracy, Chile isn't a democracy, Afghanistan is ostensibly a democracy but in reality is no such thing, etc., what are the chances that Iraq will be a true democracy once the US finishes installing the US-friendly regime to sell it Iraq's oil at a reasonable price?

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

given we have not installed any governments (2.50 / 2) (#68)
by modmans2ndcoming on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 01:45:24 PM EST

in any of those countries but Afghanistan, which is a democracy in the making, it takes time remember, they are in the second of 3 stages to turn Afghanistan into a democracy, they have a constitution, they have a provisional government and they are building the infrastructure so they can have full elections and be able to project their power into every village and every field in that country....Iraq will be easier becasue it is not infested with or has a histry of lawless people.

BTW, how can we install a democracy that is nessisaraly friendly to us? if the locals vote in their leaders in a hopefuly federalist system, then we will have no input.

[ Parent ]

ok, i'm calling trool on you [n/t] (none / 0) (#91)
by it certainly is on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 01:29:56 PM EST



kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Why we're hearing so much about this here (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by Lode Runner on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 09:56:22 PM EST

The spate of K5 articles about the the Labour Party revolt is surefire sign that the revolt wasn't effective. Why? Because K5 is where the marginal come to vent grandiose steam and right now the Guardian has been utterly marginalized.

Tony Blair's still in power, George W. Bush is approved by a small majority of Britons, and Clare Short, who was supposed to spearhead the rebellion, balked.

Meanwhile, the hammer's falling.

Well that would (2.00 / 1) (#35)
by exile1974 on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 10:41:22 PM EST

then also include you, now wouldn't it.

exile1974
"A sucking chest wound is Nature's way of telling you to stay out of a firefight." --Mary Gentle
[ Parent ]

it doesn't follow (3.00 / 1) (#39)
by Lode Runner on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 11:24:15 PM EST

Just because the marginal come here doesn't mean that others don't.

Of course, that postulate doesn't prove my non-marginality

[ Parent ]

but it does... (4.00 / 2) (#42)
by martingale on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 11:39:42 PM EST

...weaken your original proposition. So now k5 is frequented by both marginals and non marginals? Damn, all good things turn mainstream after awhile.

[ Parent ]
only if (none / 0) (#44)
by Lode Runner on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 11:54:45 PM EST

you accept the premise that non-marginalized people toe the Guardian's editorial line. And your fantasies of defining future discursive norms tell me that you're of the stripe that accepts this outrageous premise.

[ Parent ]
d'oh! (none / 0) (#46)
by martingale on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 12:22:38 AM EST

you accept the premise that non-marginalized people toe the Guardian's editorial line.
Silly me. Is that what I was doing? It's not hard to prove, though. You're relying on the assumption that the Guardian's editorial line is never toed by those who don't consider themselves non-marginalized. Given the large population of the UK, that's rather optimistic (read ludicrous).

And your fantasies of defining future discursive norms tell me that you're of the stripe that accepts this outrageous premise.
Yeah baby yeah! You're switched on! You're smashing! You're shagadelic, baby! Oops, doesn't all that talk of fantasies make you HORNY?

[ Parent ]
bold (none / 0) (#47)
by Lode Runner on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 01:39:31 AM EST

You're relying on the assumption that the Guardian's editorial line is never toed by those who don't consider themselves non-marginalized

Realize that I make no such assumption. Now, refigure.

Oops, doesn't all that talk of fantasies make you HORNY?

Assuming [sic] you're not evoking the insalubrious conception of half-elves (or half-orcs), then yes I applaud your acknowledgment of the eternal braid of sex, social control, and power. If only the other progressive-interventionist Europhiles would be so frank.

[ Parent ]

Sorry, you lost me... (none / 0) (#63)
by cdyer on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 12:21:53 PM EST

...why, exactly, did you put a "[sic]" after assuming? I double checked, and according to bartleby.com, it's spelled correctly. Is there some other problem I'm missing? Cheers, Cliff

[ Parent ]
it's not about spelling (none / 0) (#69)
by Lode Runner on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 01:55:45 PM EST

it's about my ironic, un-nuanced use of the word "assuming" in an exchange about assumptions.

[ Parent ]
I see. (none / 0) (#74)
by cdyer on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 04:38:35 PM EST

Got it now.  Cheers.

Cliff

[ Parent ]

Marginal Media (3.00 / 1) (#40)
by cam on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 11:29:13 PM EST

Tony Blair's still in power, George W. Bush is approved by a small majority of Britons, and Clare Short, who was supposed to spearhead the rebellion, balked.

The Washington Post has been remarkably consistent and homogenous in its discussion of the issues surrounding the Iraq conflict. They have by a weight of approx 90% for conflict and invasion. I can only recall two articles that were a definate no, and none argued or reasoned in the manner that is seen here. IIRC one was Richard Cohen and it was only because he did a back flip after the failure of Colin Powell to gain a diplomatic solution.

If articles like this are appearing here it is because the mainstream media is not satiating readers appetite for these kind of articles with these kinds of slants.

+FP from me.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

nota bene (4.00 / 1) (#43)
by Lode Runner on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 11:45:30 PM EST

If you like dissenting commentary, that's fine. But know that when it comes to hard-hitting factual journalism about world hotspots, the Post almost always scoops the Guardian. Guardian editorialists spun up a storm about the massacres of Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan, but it was Post investigative correspondents who broke the story.

Bottom line, I prefer to see the facts and form my own opinion, and if someone's going to help shape my opinion, it's going to be the paper that gathered the facts, which is almost never the Grauniad.

FWIW, I goose-egged this story.

[ Parent ]

Geoffrey Howe (4.00 / 1) (#38)
by ukryule on Wed Mar 19, 2003 at 11:22:33 PM EST

I was wondering about similarities between Cook's resignation and that of Geoffrey Howe - which caused the downfall of Maggie Thatcher. Howe wasn't exactly famous for his rhetoric (his verbal assaults where famously compared to "being savaged by a dead sheep"), but his resignation speech was enough to cause people to challenge Thatcher as leader.

However, Thatcher had been widely unpopular for a while - it wasn't just a single issue that had come to a head (in fact the resignation issue was about joining the Euro, which she was proved right on a couple of years later). Apart from on Iraq, Blair is still pretty popular - so it's hard to see a further rebellion unless things in Iraq get really horrible.

undermining the UN in this disorderly world (2.00 / 4) (#51)
by thom2 on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 04:44:53 AM EST

Those telling words, spoken by one of the "rebellious" Labor MPs, provide a perfect framing for this little example of the great and wonderful UN in action.

For those who cannot be bothered to check the link, a summary: looters in the Central African Republic recently raided a UN warehouse and made off with enough food to feed the nation's children for eight months. Needless to say, said food will now be going to fatten the bellies of the C.A.R.'s best armed and most ruthless.

A perfect exapmple of what the UN truly is: impotent, incompetent, and implanted firmly on the scrapheap of history.

The UN is a joke. The Coalition presently extinguishing Saddam's tyranny in Iraq are far better off not having to deal with the meddling of all those sawdust-brained diplomats who clog the UN Building in New York City, squabbling career bureaucrats more interested in getting a good parking space than bringing freedom and democracy to the world.

As for Tony Blair's political future, I'm sure the victory parades through the streets of Baghdad, with joyful citizens hailing him as a liberator, should boost his poll numbers considerably.

Blair's future (none / 0) (#71)
by caek on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 02:54:26 PM EST

One of the points I was trying to make is that Blair no longer faces threats just from a Public who hold him in contempt (the right consider him corrupt and insincere and the left consider him corrupt and insincere too).

There is now a credible voice of dissent within his party and, crucially, it's not just the left of his party.

[ Parent ]

Maybe so (none / 0) (#84)
by thom2 on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 04:45:10 AM EST

But I think the man still has it in him to pull a Churchill.

[ Parent ]
You mean appear in the wet dreams of... (4.00 / 1) (#93)
by caek on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 07:48:44 PM EST

American politicians? British politicians haven't inovked the spirit of Churchill here in the UK to justify war. His place in history is a little less perfect than that he appears to have in America. Britons are a little more familiar with his appalling "Human Rights" record (including in Iraq), his relative incompetence in spheres outside of conflict and his weakness as a military strategist.

Churchill is seen as little more than a great speech writer and orator, a great writer, a polymath and a wit. But not a great politician--he was voted out immediately the second world war ended for a reason.

[ Parent ]

UN credibility (5.00 / 1) (#78)
by Space on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 08:37:24 PM EST

Sustained criticism of the UN as you have espoused in this post forms a type of self fulfilling prophecy perpetuated by ultra-nationalists and right wingers such as yourself. It doesn't take too much contemplation to realise that any political institutions effectiveness in fulfilling it's stated goals is limited by the support and confidence placed in the institution itself especially in a decentralised environment such as the global community. Attacks upon the UN's competance and credibility is a non-constructive and destabalising influence on the fragile international political landscape. If any criticism can be made of the UN it could equally be leveled at the institution of democracy itself. Democracy is by nature a slow, irresponsive process prone to compremise and inefficiency. But despite these failings it's inheriant stability and sustainability makes it the favourable and best option. The UN is particularly vulnerable to these failings of democracy not because it's a flawed institution but because it lacks the more authoritarian aspects of western democracies such as party based coalitions and ministerial or executive leadership which aren't features of true pluralism which democracy is founded upon. So long as you criticise the UN and champion unilateral action you are supporting an unsustainable system of global politics that is more likely to destabilise world affairs than bring sustainable prosperity.
<recycle your pets>
[ Parent ]
There's a crucial difference (none / 0) (#82)
by thom2 on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 04:24:04 AM EST

Democracies work because the individuals comprising the populace of such states share a single language (or a small number of multiple languages, as in Switzerland), a single history, and a single culture. Common hopes and common dreams, even if individuals may disagree on how to get there, help keep a balance of powers from turning into permanent gridlock.

The member states of the UN share none of these things, which leaves them inevitably doomed to stagnation. With so many great powers and lesser powers, each with its own interests and alliances, weighing against one another, the UN member states are like the man trying to play tug of war with himself: they have know way of gauging their success.

[ Parent ]
Not a big difference (none / 0) (#95)
by Space on Sat Mar 22, 2003 at 03:02:02 AM EST

The people of the world have more in common than they have differences. Apparent differences are more often than not the product of racism, sexism, classism, authoritarianism and other forms of descrimination that the UN has been fairly successful at addressing via it's limited means. Besides, the only alternative is unilateral action by super powers like the US who would much prefer the addage "might is right", than seek sustainable long term solutions through IGO's such as the UN. If you use the ends to justify the means you will inevitably lose the ends. While this might be debatable I sincerely believe it to be true and would hapilly challenge anybody to the contrary.
<recycle your pets>
[ Parent ]
you can't be serious (5.00 / 1) (#79)
by misanthrope112 on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 02:52:54 AM EST

Someone breaks into a warehouse, and this makes the UN impotent and irrelevant?   I understand (though disagree with) someone wanting to throw away the idea of collective security, but a warehouse break-in is hardly going to be the clinching argument.  The UN represents an effort to recognize and deal with the fact that we're all in this together.  Even if the UN fails and is disbanded, the idea is still true, despite what jingoistic nationalists might tell you.  

[ Parent ]
Well... (none / 0) (#83)
by thom2 on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 04:37:43 AM EST

Let me put it this way: the warehouse break-in is a perfect metaphor for how the UN works: good intentions quickly undermined by bungled implementation and the harshness of real-world geopolitical situations.

Real transnational coalitions (which I support wholeheartedly) should be based around a central group of nations with common linguistic/cultural/historical ties. The Anglo-US-Australian alliance currently spearheading the liberation of Iraq is a perfect example of this.

[ Parent ]
And what else did the Easter Bunny tell you? (5.00 / 1) (#81)
by alizard on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 03:58:44 AM EST

Meanwhile, in the real world where a real war is going on having nothing to do with freedom and democracy:

The US will place advisers in Iraqi ministries

The US is scrambling to put together a team of former ambassadors, and defence and intelligence officials to serve as a shadow government for postwar Iraq, amid continuing debate between the Pentagon and State Department over how much autonomy to grant a post-Saddam Iraqi administration.

read the rest of the story in the Financial Times (UK)
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

Shock and awww... (none / 0) (#85)
by thom2 on Fri Mar 21, 2003 at 04:52:21 AM EST

Well, yes, the US will have advisors in Iraq for a short time just as was done with Japan after World War II, long enough to get their government up and running. Then the reins will be handed over to the Iraqi people. Big deal.

Oh, and here's something else the Easter Bunny mentioned: seeing sinister conspracies behind every door doesn't make you superior to the unwashed masses, it just makes you an annoying paranoiac.

[ Parent ]
if the far left in Briton wins out big (2.00 / 1) (#56)
by modmans2ndcoming on Thu Mar 20, 2003 at 10:23:13 AM EST

int he future, say good bye to the Anglo-American alliance as we know it. so far left PM will come in when Blair is gone and allie with France and Germany on most international policy issues and boost France's power in the EU.

A week is a long time in politics | 97 comments (68 topical, 29 editorial, 0 hidden)
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