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BLEEDING IRAQ September 24, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.

Juan Cole coolly observes:”The war is costing about $1 billion a week.” A question arises, given the military exigencies, as to how the money is been spent. Even Bomber Beazley could not create as big a blackhole as this one created by Bush and Blair, with a little help from “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” Howard. “The war” is also costing a continuing and substantial amount in human suffering and loss of life and for what? When the killing stops, what will have been achieved? What will have been lost? What guilt by association will we bear? And how might we expiate it?

Iraq seems to be forgotten, as other inconvenient issues in the electoral dialogue, but it will not go away. Hopefully, in the immediate future Howard and Bush, might. I think we have to move out completely – Embassy, security guards, the lot. John Quiggin suggested something similar (although he also foresaw that Iraq would become central to the electoral campaign.)

Then we have to prevail on the Americans and the British to do the same thing. In there place there has to be an international force organized by the United Nations with its composition subject to Iraqi public opinion, and with sunset clauses as to duration and the organization of fair electoral process. Some Iraqis, understandability, will not be taken with Egyptian, Brazilian and South African soldiers either, but at least they will have the UN flag.

Not everyone is as pessimistic as I am about Iraq apparently, and I do not live there, it is true.. Being an Iraqi is one qualification, being a tough guy another, but it turns out the person to die is a Briton, and his government is compromised. Also it seems that Bush’s opponent, John Kerry, has been stuck in an electoral quagmire. Could it be the Bushies are better at American electoral campaigns than they are at foreign military ones. There is a moral here.

Still Kerry seems to be fighting back. I notice that Cheney praised Bush as “a steadfast leader”. It occurs to me you could plausibly say that about any blockhead. But is it realistic to live in the hope that he isn’t?

Kevin Drum is usually balanced about elections in Iraq and that is sufficient cause to quote him.

Of course the theme of this post is democratic elections, and how they should run, in Australia as much as any where else. Iraq is a case in point, since it illustrates that the issues are not been debated. We have a pseudo-dialogue constrained by the political tactics – some of which are abhorrent – and electoral realities. And I am to a degree culpable too, by failing to make a proper contribution.


Gary also comments on the lack of democratic substance in the election at Public Opinion.

UPDATE: 25/09/2004:

The Iraq tragedy continues with no end in sight. Kevin Drum, praised above for balance, is going nuts. He notes:

It’s no longer clear if George Bush is merely a cynical, calculating politician — which would be bad enough — or if he actually believes all the happy talk about Iraq that his speechwriters produce for him. Increasingly, though, it seems like the latter: he genuinely doesn’t have a clue about what’s going on. What’s more, his staff is keeping him in a sort of Nixonian bubble, afraid to tell him the truth and afraid to take any positive action for fear that it might affect the election.

Since good sense, might for once prevail,let us decide not to ask John Howard for his opinion. We have heard the original John, so we do not need to hear the repeat.

Imad Khadduri, quoting an acticle by Robert O Keohane and Annie-Marie Slaughter makes a connection, that is critical to us, as much as to the Americans:

“Behind the debate about the conduct of the war in Iraq, and the occupation, is a larger divide – between those Americans who believe that their unique virtues should permit them to act above the law, and those who believe that people in authority, necessarily imperfect, must be constrained by institutions and by law.Those who understand and believe in the theory of the American Constitution should reject the Bush administration’s political theory of personal good and evil. We must continue to insist that the United States is a “government of laws and not of men”.

UPDATE #2 26/09/2004

Ken Parish agrees that Iraq has been a descent into chaos, with no order in sight, except another strongman dictator – Allawi would fit the bill. He foresees the need for a US withdrawal, and envisages the breakup of the country into three. From memory the problem with this scenario is the economic viability of the parts, and the acceptability of the outcome for the majority Shiites. There is hope if elections, beginning with local elections, can be held. Australia could play a decisive role, but will not if Howard is re-elected, by withdrawing in toto.

From this report in The Observer, it seems the British hostage might still be alive. Blair is invoking War II, although the analogy escapes me, other than to see himself as Winston Churchill. Warning Iran not to interfer, suggests that Blair is somewhat behind the play.

UPDATE # 3 26/092004

The Independent reports polling suggesting that 52% of Britons (allowing for polling errors, rouge results) want to withdraw from Iraq. Given that the ALP win, and the Australians are withdrawn – official military, private military and the rest – it may have an important knock on effect. In this instance, potentially Australian voters can have a influence for the better in the world. Tony Blair while accepting that Iraq does exist does not want it to dominate discussions at the Labour Party conference.



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