Friday, February 22, 2008

March 15th a time to remember murderous errors

I notice CND have redesigned their website, and very nice it is too. It includes a blog from Kate Hudson and a report on their recent peace summit, cheap at half the price.

The anti-war movement is in many senses a victim of its own success. So omnipresent are its ideas that generals, ex-spin doctors and Lords of the Realm all agree that the Iraq War was a bad idea. Where once you could identify a radical by their opposition to war now even potential Presidents of the United States are prepared to come out against a currently running war.

Unheard of surely?

Five years ago on March 15th it seemed like the mass movement that spawned the largest demonstration in British history could not be any bigger or stronger, but whilst the marches have dwindled to a fraction of their former size the generalised ideas that the invasion of Iraq was wrong has become so widespread it's genuinely surreal when you come across someone who is still willing to defend the invasion.

You do not need an anti-war "leader" to clearly express their repugnance at what has happened in Iraq. Their role is superfluous.

It's true that a democratic society should not automatically require the state to do whatever the majority of people want on any particular issue (as Norm rightly argues) but of course a democratic state does not lie to the people, and when the people are unconvinced do they storm ahead anyway for their own hidden agenda.

The mendacity of the British government (along with others across the world) and its willingness to unleash an ill thought through murderous plan for the benefit of anyone but the ordinary people of Iraq put it outside of all meaningful definitions of democracy - but we've sat back and let them get away with it, so perhaps we're all partially culpable.

But whatever successes within defeat the anti-war movement has achieved its monopoly on ideas is as shallow as it is widespread. Far from a ubiquitous anti-war consciousness the feeling is that this war was wrong - and mainly because we are losing. You can see this in the American consciousness over Vietnam. For many Americans Vietnam was not wrong because of the untold death and carnage unleashed upon one of the poorest nations on Earth but because the American experience was vile, disputed and one of defeat.

Whilst MASH might have been set in Korea it was always about Vietnam and was completely focused upon the horrors faced by the invading soldiers. There seems little criticism of the objectives of the Korean or Vietnamese War on either side of the Atlantic. Likewise the experience of the occupiers of Iraq is thoroughly unpleasant and I have every sympathy with them - but this is not the reason to oppose the invasion.

Those of us who organised coaches and pickets and vigils were clear - it would make the world a more dangerous place; it has. It would replace one brutal regime with another; it did. The reasons for war were based on lies; they were. And it would lead to the immiseration of the Iraqi people; it did - and well beyond our expectations.

Many demonstrations are functional at best but on March 15th it is time for us to revisit the arguments against their war machine, not just one example of its horror. Local transport details here.


Roobin said...

"... cheap at half the price".

But, is it cheap or half price ;-)

Jim Jay said...

I love that saying - it's so beautifully meaningless