Hello America

After writing an awful lot about how the upcoming war on Iraq is a bad idea, it’s time to turn my attention to something a bit more positive: A reminder about why the debate is worth having in the first place.
This isn’t about Saddam Hussein, and it certainly isn’t about oil. This is about the heart and soul of the nation that matters more than any other planet, the United States of America. Coming from an Briton, and one that’s happy with his country (and could never imagine living anywhere else – this is my home ), that might sound a little odd. Perhaps you read that and think that somehow I’m joking. But there is no punch-line. America matters, because America is and remains the best and brightest hope for the entire planet.
That’s not to do with its economic, military or political power, although all those things of course matter. What it concerns is the simple fact that the real values of America – tolerance, freedom, and the rule of law – are those that represent the most important things in the culture of the west. Yes, of course America and Americans don’t always live up to those ideals. Yes, US governments have done their share of dirty deeds, from supporting the Contras through to some decidedly murky involvement in Indo-China. But no government, anywhere, is innocent. Sometimes good people do bad things, because they lack the imagination or the intelligence to do the right thing. Sometimes, bad people even do good things – and I’m thinking of that old despot Richard Nixon here.
Looked at historically, no country’s hands are clean. But one thing that any wise person learns is that to bind yourself with your history is to guarantee you never change. And America, more than any other country, has proven itself capable of change, time and time again.
America is our best and brightest hope of a better world. If I criticise the policies of the present administration, I think it’s because Bush and his cronies do not understand that simple fact. I think they undervalue America and Americans, over and over again. By attempting to justify the invasion of Iraq on grounds that are simply false, they lie to the American people, and to the world. But the one thing that Americans have proved themselves good at is finding out liars, and sooner or later Bush will be found out too.

  • Sean

    I have three simple questions to ask you.

    1) What about the fact that Iraq has been violating internaltion law for 13 years is false?

    2) What about the fact that 1,000 tons of chemical and biological agents were missing during the UN inspections recently are false?

    3) What about the fact (confirmed by people inside Iraq) that Saddam Hussein rapes, tortures and murders his own people is false?

  • jim68000

    1. So have Pakistan, India, North Korea, Syria, Israel among others.

    2. That’s as good a case as any for inspections to continue. I’d much rather fight a war if I knew where these things were. Ask yourself: is a war more or less likely to ensure these things pass into the hands of exactly the people we don’t want to have them?

    3. Deep breath. No-one denies that Saddam is an evil man. No-one denies the ba’ath regime is repressive. What those of us against the war do deny is that these facts are a valid case for war. Genocide and repression are popular tools of Western allies as well as foes: the moral case falls apart when you look at Iraq’s neighbouring states. Torture and genocide are as popular in Syria as they are in Iraq – with 20,000 people killed in one incident – and Syria has a far more established track record of supporting terrorism. The moral argument is unsustainable. Yes, ideally, it would be a good thing to remove the despots from the world. But this sort of idealism cannot be used as a rallying cry for war at the same time as realpolitik allows us to bribe undemocratic states in the UN to support our resolution.

  • http://www.ludicrous.org.uk Ian Betteridge

    I don’t disagree for one second with anything you say Sean. I’d love to see Saddam gone, along with all the other dictators and idiots that Jim mentions about. However, I don’t think that an all-out war against Iraq is the way to do, particularly if you consider the potential to destablize the region.
    You don’t win a war – PR or otherwise – by lying about the reasons you’re doing it.

  • http://www.john.fletcher.name/ John

    It’s a very important point that you make and an important an overlooked argument.

    Love life

    John