Thursday, August 01, 2002

Masters of War

Tis' said that countless thousands should die through cruel war
But let us hope most fervently that soon it will be o're
Let them be warned old England, Is brave old England still
We've proved our might, we've claimed our right, and ever ever will
Should we have to draw the sword our way to victory we'll forge
With the battle cry of Britons, Old England and St George.

Mr. Blair wants there to be a war against Nasser Hussein.
I know that Mr. Blair is a truly great and good man, for he told me so himself. So I am sure that there must be some very good reason why he wants to have a war.
I'm just not quite sure what it is.
Mr. Blair has a special relationship with Mr. Bush. Mr. Bush agrees with Mr. Blair that we should have a War on Nasser Hussein.
Last year, on September the Eleventh, the Eleventh of September happened. This was a terrible tragedy, almost as bad as Holly and Jessica. So obviously, it would be bad manners to disagree with Mr. Bush about anything, at least for a while, in the same way you have to be extra-nice to Granny after Granpa's funeral. Anyone rude enough to not agree with Mr. Bush about Nasser Hussein must be anti-American, in the same way that anyone who doesn't think that Jewish people are always right about everything must be anti-Semitic against the Jews because Hitler was so horrid to them.
I'm not anti-American. I've found out that if you ask for "Americano", Starbucks will give you something very much like a cup of coffee. I even had a poster of Captain America on my wall when I was a kid.
There are three reasons why Mr. Blair wants us to have a war against Nasser Hussein.
1: Because he is a baddy (Mr. Hussein, I mean)
2: Because he might have an atom bomb.
3: Because he probably supports some of the people who almost certain support the people who probably bombed the Eleventh of September.
I think he is telling a big fat whopper. I don't think that these are the real reasons at all.
I understand that nowadays you don't have to say why you are having a war before you have it. You are allowed to have the war first, and decide what it was about afterwards. So when we went to war against Afghanistan, everyone thought that it was because the Bert from Sesame Street (the bad man who very nearly definitely bombed September the Eleventh) was probably hiding there and the Afghanistanis wouldn't give him to us so we had to go in and capture him. But after the war was all over, we decided that the real reason for having the war was because the people running Afghanistan were baddies. They were such baddies that when we liberated them all the Afghanistanis stopped being Muslims and shaved in the street, which proved that we were right to have the war. So I suppose we shall have to wait until after we have had the war against Nasser Hussein to find out what it's about.
I don't think that it will turn out that the real reason for having the war was that Nasser Hussein is a baddy. He's been a baddy for a long time, and we haven't had a war against him before, except once. In fact, he was a baddy even in the very olden days when the Ayatollah was the baddy and Nasser Hussein was the goody. And anyway there are lots and lots of baddies in the world, and we aren't having wars against all of them.
I don't think that it will turn out that the reason for having the war is that Nasser Hussein has an atom bomb, either. In the olden days, Russia were the baddies, and they had lots and lots of atom bombs; but they never used them, because the Americans, who were the goodies, also had lots and lots of atom bombs. So Russia was too scared to use them. It was like "there's no point in you killing lots of us, because we can kill just as many as you, so its better to play nicely," which in the end they did. But Nasser Hussein doesn't have nearly as many atom bombs as the Russians, and hardly any aeroplanes and missiles. So there isn't much chance of him bombing New York or London or even Slough. I reckon that if an aeroplane with a bomb on it flew out of Iraq, then Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair would shoot it down before it got to us.
Everyone agrees that Bert from Sesame Street, who very nearly definitely bombed September the Eleventh, is the biggest baddy in the world, as bad as Myra Hindley and Hitler and Jeffrey Archer put together. But I don't think it will turn out that we had the war just because Nasser Hussein probably supports Bert from Sesame Street. There are people in Pakistan and Bradford who think that bombing September the Eleventh was quite a good idea (though not most of them, because not all people with corner shops are Muslims, and not all Muslims support bombing people, anymore than just because you drink Guinness on St Patrick's day you agree with blowing up policemen with car bombs, and most Muslims are nice friendly people who run the good curry houses in Tooting Bec.) But even if there were lots of people who supported him, that wouldn't be a reason for going to war against Bradford. And anyway, I don't think Mr. Blair has any evidence that Nasser Hussein supports Bert from Sesame Street because if he did have he would have shown it to us by now.
So I don't think that any of the reasons that Mr. Blair has told us are the real reasons for the war. I think that he has a secret reason, which he keeps in secret room in 10 Downing Street in a file marked Secret.
I think that if we read the secret file, we would find out that Mr. Blair has picked up some crazy idea that his job as Prime Minister of England is to do things in the world which will be good for England, and America, and also Scotland. I think that he is silly enough to think that as Prime Minister, he ought to be looking out for our interests. I think that he has picked up some wild notion that we use quite a lot of petrol in this country, and that if we couldn't get any, or it was too expensive, everything would grind to a halt, and we would all be very poor and very miserable. I think that Mr. Blair is such a cynic that he wants to stop us all from being very poor and very miserable.
Most people, apart from hippies, think it is all right to have a war against someone who is hurting you. But wars in the old days were easier. When Hitler landed at Hastings, to invade England in 1966, we all got together in lots of little ships and sent him homeward to think again. When the Argies invaded the Falklands, we killed all the Argies and freed the Falkland Islanders, which was a good thing, apart from encouraging Jim Davidson.
It's like this. If in the old days, Mr. Hitler had put lots of U Boats in the English channel and blew up all the oil tankers bringing oil to England (and also Scotland), it would have been all right for us to send out Spitfires to blow up the U Boats and let the oil tankers through. Of course, some of the evil jerry scum who we drowned would probably have been nice Germans who liked Beethoven and sausages and didn't deserve to be killed. But everyone agrees that it was still all right for us to kill them (except hippies).
But nowadays, because of the Internet and Starbucks coffee, the world is more complicated and wars can happen by remote control. Nasser Hussein doesn't need to send out boats to stop us getting any oil. He can lob a Weapons Of Massive Destruction at Kuwait, or Israel; or even do something awful (I'm not sure what) to Saudi Arabia. (Saudi Arabians chop peoples heads off and don't allow beer or vicars or homosexuals, but that doesn't make them baddies it just means that we tell their ambassador that we have very real concerns about their record on human rights from time to time.) And this would still mean that we wouldn't get any oil, and that other bad things (I'm not sure what) would happen. So having a war against Nasser Hussein is really just like bombing Hitler's U-Boats, and if some people get killed as well, then that's just the same as killing German sailors. We're still making sure the oil gets through. Okay, Nasser Hussein hasn't actually done anything yet, we just think that he probably will. But that makes sense too. It's like as if you bombed the U-Boats before they got to the channel; or even better, bombed the dockyards before they built the U-Boats, or even better, bombed Berlin before Hitler even gets into power so the situation doesn't arise. We are sort of saying "We think that if he makes an Atom Bomb, which he hasn't, Nasser Hussein might do something horrid in Israel, or Saudi Arabia, or Kuwait, or Slough in which case we'd have to have a war against him, so it makes sense to have a war against him now, before he even gets to do the things that would have forced us to have a war."
Which makes sense to me.
So, when the war is over, it will turn out that it was really about petrol. But if you say that to nice Mr. Blair and clever Mr. Bush, they say: "Oh no. It's not about oil. It's about an important moral principle. Nasser Hussein is a very bad man, and Mr. Blair thinks we should smack his bottom, and Mr. Bush thinks we should kick his ass, which I think means more or less the same."
But I think wars about moral principles are much worse and more scary than wars about your country's good. If we had to go to war every time Mr. Blair had a moral principle then we would never get a moment's peace. Bert from Sesame Street bombed The Eleventh of September because he had moral principle, because he thought that America is bad and decadent and that Moslemism is the best religion in the world. Lots of people think that, but that doesn't mean they can kill people over it. So Mr. Blair shouldn't kill people because Nasser Hussein is bad and decadent and New Labour is the best religion in the world.
Maybe, just maybe, it would be all right to kill Nasser Hussein and Bert from Sesame Street if we could catch them. In America you are allowed to kill very bad people, provided you give them lots of ice cream to eat first. In England, we stopped hanging people just before the first ever episode of Doctor Who went out. But in both England and America we all agree that they should have fair trials first (apart from the person who almost definitely didn't tell the police about the man who probably had something to do with killing Holly and Jessica, who should be lynched on her way to court, obviously.)
In conclusion: I think that the safeguarding of British strategic and economic interests in the Middle East is legitimate grounds for military intervention in Iraq. I think that it is incumbent on Mr. Blair to explain to Parliament what those strategic and economic interests are; and that if he did so honestly, the campaign would meet with widespread political and public support. But I think that he should immediately abandon the mendacious, sanctimonious propaganda about there being a moral imperative to secure a regime change because of some nebulous quality called "evil" supposedly attributable to the Iraqi leadership. 
Our leaders should trust us with the real reasons for the forthcoming war. Saying over and over again that we have to have a war against Hussein because he is such a naughty, bad, wicked man make us feel that we are being treated like children.