November 30th, 2004

Illuminati

War

laserboy asked me what my opinion on the most recent Gulf War was - he rightly remembered my inability to make up my mind at the time and wondered where I lay now.

My answer pretty much lies in this article here. Here are two excerpts, one long, one short.
I turn to my Iraqi friends who run the Iraqi Prospect Organisation (IPO) - a campaign group of British-based Iraqi democrats who are in constant contact with their Iraqi friends and relatives - for answers. Yasser Alaskary has just returned from the country. As Iraqis, the IPO have a degree of access denied to even the best foreign correspondents.

"When explaining Iraq to British people, you have to distinguish between the Shia and Sunni resistances," he explains. He has a lot of sympathy for the Shia resistance. "I've talked to the young guys who are leading it, and the foot soldiers too," he says. "They are angry about the unemployment and the electricity and the drains and just the daily pain of occupation, which has been handled abysmally by the Bush administration. The Shia resistance want a democratic election and then for the Americans to go home. They want Iraq to succeed. That's why we totally opposed firing on Najaf. They should have negotiated from the beginning.

"Now the Shia have been reassured by Sistani and the occupiers that the elections will be open and fair, Muqtada al-Sadr and the rest of the Shia resistance have agreed to hand over their arms and stand for office," he continues. "Negotiations worked; there was no need for the senseless violence we saw there. It's an amazing development. The Shia are looking to the elections now. The roots for democracy are growing on the Shia side - and that's 60 per cent of the people."

The Sunni resistance is, however, a different story. "I was there in Fallujah earlier this year. It doesn't look like Iraq; it looks like Taliban Afghanistan. I didn't see a woman's face the whole time I was there. They are all hidden behind those dehumanising shrouds." The resistance fighters he met there believed in either Sunni supremacy or endless jihad. "It wasn't surprising. You only have to look at who they are killing to find out their philosophy. They don't want democracy and peaceful co-existence. If there was any way to negotiate with them, I'd support it. But how can you talk people like this down from their ledge? What can you offer them?"

Yasser then offers two crucial facts. First, there hasn't been a single Shia suicide bomber in Iraq so far. That tells you something about who is trying to destroy security and why. Second, there have been just three weeks this year when there were no suicide bombs in Iraq. They were the three weeks the US forces had Fallujah surrounded. Doesn't that suggest it is the base of the Sunni resistance? Doesn't that suggest it is right to deprive them of their base by force if necessary?

And yet, and yet ... Yasser adds that the Bush administration remains incompetent to the point of callousness in applying this strategy. "Why haven't they set up refugee camps arund the city? They should have asked the Red Cross in. Instead, you have families camping out in the desert or even homeless. It's not acceptable."

--
I backed this war because I believed most Iraqis would rather take their chances with an American occupation for a while than with Saddam and his sons forever. (This turned out to be right, unless you think that every Iraqi opinion poll has been mysteriously and inexplicably wrong).


And reading those, it seems obvious to me that something needed to be done - that you can't leave people in the grip of a psychopathic madman who feeds them into shredders. But that it could have been handled far better, and that there hasn't been sufficient understanding by the politicians of the complexities of the situation on the ground.

I think the unilateral decision-making by the US has been pretty abysmal, which is why I wish that the UN were willing and capable of playing more of a role. Sadly, the current events in Sudan make it clear that it isn't and can't. I hope some day it will.
Illuminati

Absolutely Nothing

Violence

is always wrong
5(13.2%)
is justified in self defence
3(7.9%)
is justified in the defence of others
2(5.3%)
is justified in preventing possible future harm to others
6(15.8%)

It would be reasonable to kill 1 violent person

never
7(18.9%)
to save 1 person
13(35.1%)
to save 2 people
2(5.4%)
to save 10 people
0(0.0%)
to save 100 people
0(0.0%)
to save 1000 people
0(0.0%)
to save a million people
1(2.7%)

It would be reasonable to kill 1 innocent person

never
16(44.4%)
to save 1 person
3(8.3%)
to save 2 people
4(11.1%)
to save 10 people
0(0.0%)
to save 100 people
0(0.0%)
to save 1000 people
0(0.0%)
to save a million people
3(8.3%)