What do you do when you’re the gov­ern­ment of a nation whose eco­nomy is not as good as it once was?

  1. Spend $$$ on arma­ments in a Keyne­sian spend­ing spree.
  2. Go to war with a small, eas­ily-defeat­able nation.
  3. After win­ning, rebuild the nation so that it will be forever fin­an­cially indebted to you and heav­ily depend­ent on your tech­no­logy and expert­ise [altern­ate link].
  4. PROFIT!!!

Do I sense some déjà vu? Hitler tried this, as did Gen­er­al Leo­poldo Gal­tieri of Argen­tina and count­less oth­er gov­ern­ments world­wide, includ­ing sev­er­al US admin­is­tra­tions. Is eco­nom­ic growth worth such blood­shed and trauma? That obvi­ously depends on the cir­cum­stances at the time, but for this war I am still uncon­vinced. We’ll see what hap­pens.

I found an inter­est­ing art­icle in The Guard­i­an from last year (April 4, 2002). Here’s an excerpt: 

The Brit­ish people have acquired some not­able inform­a­tion about the Falk­lands war in 2002 that they were denied 20 years ago, when the war itself took place behind a blanket of cen­sor­ship. In the 1982 author­ised Thatcher­ite ver­sion of events, Bri­tain set out to recap­ture the Falk­land Islands with strong but tacit Amer­ic­an sup­port, in the face of French dupli­city, and won a bril­liant vic­tory against a demor­al­ised Argen­tine enemy. Twenty years on, thanks to the mem­oirs of the then defence sec­ret­ary, Sir John Nott, and an inter­view with the task force com­mand­er, Admir­al Sandy Wood­ward, we are learn­ing a very dif­fer­ent ver­sion. Far from being an ally, Ron­ald Reagan’s US stands revealed by Sir John as per­sist­ently unre­li­able. Mean­while under François Mit­ter­rand, a will­ing France turns out to have sup­plied Bri­tain with price­less tech­nic­al details about the Exo­cet mis­sile. Admir­al Wood­ward has now revealed that the fight­ing in the south Atlantic was “a lot closer run” than we were told at the time. “We were on our last legs,” the admir­al says. If the Argen­tines had held out for anoth­er week, they would have defeated an exhausted Bri­tain. Think how dif­fer­ent our recent polit­ic­al his­tory might have been then. 

In oth­er words, the USA stood aside while the ter­rit­ory of its closest ally was invaded by its bel­li­ger­ent neigh­bour. Maybe the Brit­ish should boy­cott everything Amer­ic­an? Even fun­ni­er was the rev­el­a­tion that the UK was aided by France! 

The above-quoted art­icle high­lights the impact of cen­sor­ship dur­ing times of war, not only on the part of gov­ern­ment but also on the part of the media. Over the past few days on my tele­vi­sion I have seen images of “Coali­tion” POWs held by the Iraqis, often fol­lowed by a state­ment claim­ing that these images were taken by Iraqis in viol­a­tion of inter­na­tion­al law. And indeed they were. Yet nobody com­plains when the US does it! They did it in Afgh­anistan, Guantanamo Bay and, yes, even in Iraq! I’ve lost track of how many inter­na­tion­al laws the US has broken, not only in this war but also in pre­vi­ous wars. These include the use of chem­ic­al and bio­lo­gic­al weapons (I thought Sad­dam was the one using those?!), cluster bombs and depleted urani­um, and the tar­get­ing of civil­ian facil­it­ies. What makes me sad is that my own gov­ern­ment is an accom­plice to this. There are (were?) Aus­trali­an cit­izens being illeg­ally and indef­in­itely detained in Guantanamo Bay like anim­als, and the Aus­trali­an gov­ern­ment doesn’t care. 

Anoth­er thing I can­not under­stand is the ‘logic’ that some people seem to hold that since the USA helped France in World War II, France should help the USA invade Iraq. Why should France help the US when it is the aggressor? Note that I’m not try­ing to defend France, because I don’t like them much either. How­ever, this doesn’t make any sense to me at all. If I wanted to use such ‘logic’ (which it isn’t), then I could men­tion that the French gov­ern­ment prac­tic­ally bank­rup­ted itself help­ing the Amer­ic­an col­on­ists achieve inde­pend­ence. Louis XVI basic­ally gave his life for the Amer­ic­an people, since the French Revolu­tion might not have happened hadn’t he been forced to pay for his war debts through rais­ing taxes. I could also men­tion that although World War II began in 1939, and France was invaded in June 1940, it wasn’t until Decem­ber 1941 that the United States entered the war. Even then, it was Ger­many that declared war, not the USA. Some ‘friends’ they were! Of course, using such argu­ments would be excess­ively facile, so I include them only to show their idiocy. 

Update: I just came across this hypo­thet­ic­al dis­cus­sion between a war­mon­ger and a peacen­ik. I found it quite amusing. 

Update [200304-06]: Britain’s Chan­nel 4 screened a great comedy/​documentary on 5 Janu­ary called “Between Iraq and a Hard Place”. You can watch the whole thing over the Inter­net (stream­ing, requires Real­play­er) here.

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