What do you do when you’re the government of a nation whose economy is not as good as it once was?
- Spend $$$ on armaments in a Keynesian spending spree.
- Go to war with a small, easily-defeatable nation.
- 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].
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 [2003–04-06]: 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.