Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Question Time.

OK, OK, so I said I'd give up reading the news. Maybe it isn't that easy - but I've definitely cut down.

Anyway, the BBC have a little timeline of the hunt for Saddam's Toys, linked to from Straw justifies himself.

Here's a question, though. Why does it start from the publication of the government's dossier? This is what keeps getting me, to the point where I think I may be WRONG or even MAD about my own memory.

As I remember it, the government published the dossier as a result of increasing public demand for argumentative evidence. Up until that point, we had simply been told that piling all this pressure in Hussein was the right thing to do. I remember this kind of clearly because I remember dismissing the dossier as a dumbed-down pamphlet that played more to the emotion than the brain, as if the government were merely trying to convince the public of the validity of their train of thought based on gory anecdotes and fear figures, rather than any - uh - politics, for example. I remember dismissing the pamphlet as propaganda.

This means that much must have gone on before it was published. But here's where my memory is blurred. What was it? Infuriating.

I'd also like to not get sidetracked by the arguments presented then, and the arguments still being presented now, as to why it would be a good idea/was a good idea to depose Hussein. In fact, all the media and political efforts to concentrate on the evidence then, the reports now, and the apparent moral case for war just prove to me quite how much of a void there is in reporting and politics alike.

For me, the questions that remain unasked in the right circles are:

1. Where was the sense of restraint (that should be a given) amongst leaders before heading into war? We're oft told that was was considered a last resort, but I see very little evidence that those in power would wait any longer had they had to go through it again, nor do I remember much talk of restraint at the time. Urgency was the order of the day. War was wanted. Why? And what other things will leaders rush into given half the evidence?

2. Am I to believe that justification after the act is now a moral way in which to act? Given the shoddy evidence, the bias inherent in intelligence agencies, the clambouring for public support and the reasons-versus-discoveries, this has been, in my mind, very much a case of "shoot first, ask questions later." Is this an attitude to now be upheld then? If we let this one pass, can all political action be counted as necessary until proven unnecessary?

3. Why is the philosophical side of global politics remaining out of sight, as if politicians are afraid of it like some unnatural, freakish son? Saddam's behaviour in Iraq (which I do not defend in any way, in case you thought me a soft-tailed tree-licking lefty) is being presented as a be all and an end all of despotism - one man, one vision of terror, all ended in one war. Realists amongst us know that the world is a whole load more fucked up than that, and a fair amount of it caused not by turning a blind eye to despots, but by the "moral" eye being blinded by the eye of economics and political relations. Where are all the questions regarding where our arms trade is sending its wares, for instance? Instead, we're treated to a cut-down, under-the-carpet view of international relations. Perhaps all hell would break looseif the public realised just what was going on in the world...

Anyway. Maybe it's time to write to my MP or something.

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