Thursday, March 27, 2008

The immorality of the anti-war lobby

Just a quick observation on the situation in Basra. The reports in the papers note that it is now Shia on Shia fighting as the Iraqi forces take on militia. The obvious cry is that of 'civil war' and you can guarantee that rabid anti-war protesters that bang on about how the whole thing was 'illegal' will play the connect the dot game with logic and say 'well it's all our fault' line.

You know how it works, if we had not gone into Iraq this fighting would not have happened, ergo, we are to blame for the fighting. It's understandabe why they say this because it's lazy and very easy thinking that is commonplace, particularly on the Left which is defined by its Hegelian tendencies to see the world through a master/slave, oppresser/oppressed type prism.

However, what should really be remembered is this. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni, and the Shias were considered scum of the earth and subjected to all manner of horrors under his regime. To thus play the comparison game and effectively say that if more die now than died under Saddam it would have been better to have done nothing simply results in two things. Firstly it is little more than 20/20 hindsight, but second, and much worse, it places the value of human life as little more than a statistic whilst masquerading itself as a moral position.

Frankly this is what sickens me most about the anti-war Left. They claim to care and cherish human life, and yet they will simultaneously be willing to sit on their hands and reduce that human life they care so much about down to a numbers game. Just look at what some of the idiots bang on about if you don't believe me. They scream about a million deaths in the war (a bollocks figure incidentally) and effectively postulate that because less died under Saddam it was 'better' under his dictatorship. What that really shows is that they don't care about human life at all, what they care about is their own moral self-righteousness.


Anonymous said...

Interesting how much of the media have portrayed this as a last gasp action forced upon the Iraqi military rather than the planned operation which it was.

In recent weeks there have been several reports complaining about the hold the militias have on the city. Now that the Iraqis are acting this is conveniently forgotten.

We (the Brits) didn't have the capability to carry out such a large scale action - even last year when we were still in the Palace.

The Iraqis have the understanding and rules of engagement to do things we could not have.

Chris Paul said...

This is rather disappointing Dizzy. Content-less rant. Surely it is possible to distinguish between different shades of opinion and to recognise that though you do not agree it is possible to hold an anti war position without over simplification.

There is an element of projection about this. Your over simplification versus their over simplification. The same discourse from both sides.

dizzy said...

Sorry Chris, but the anti-war lobby in general play games with figures and actually contradict their claim about being for humanity.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the events in the papers today are easy pickings for the anti-war lobby. Even so, the tensions still tearing Iraq apart are difficult to solve and I doubt that we've heard the last of this.

Anonymous said...

The more in sorrow and not in anger is typical response from C.Paul & Nulabour. High on moral/ethical rhetoric substantially short on reality and
addressing the problem.


Alan Douglas said...

They remind me of Stalin's dictum - one death is a tragedy, one million deaths are a statistic.

He was of the left too, wasn't he ?

Alan Douglas

Unity said...

'anti-war left'?

By which you mean who, exactly?

If you mean the Trots of the STWC, Respect and the SWP then do say so. I take it that's the master/slave reference is coming from.

They weren't the only ones on the left to oppose the war and were far from being the main body of left-wing opposition to the 2003 invasion. Most of us actually opposed the war because we could see in advance how bad a fuck up it would all turn into once the initial shooting match bit was over. Since then we've pretty much taken the view that having screwed things up to begin with, we have a moral obligation to try and sort as much of the mess as possible and leave the Iraqi's with something that remotely resembles a viable state to live in.

I thought we'd long since got past the point of trying to explain that neither the Trots or the 'decents' were in any sense representative of mainstream left-wing opinion on Iraq, but clearly I'm mistaken.

dizzy said...

Wasn;t really thinking of anyone in particular

Unity said...


Stalin's 'dictum' is actually an extremely astute commentary on human nature and propaganda.

A single death is a 'retail' event, something we can empathise with and relate to at a human level.

A million deaths is 'wholesale' - we can 'appreciate' the numerical scale but not personalise its meaning.

We don't easily form emotional connections to statistics the way we do to individuals and the leading exponents, which is what Stalin understood, and the leading exponents of this dictum today are the tabloid press.

It explain why, for example, the Sun never runs one of its 'death penalty' polls when the crime statistics are released and we the annual homicide figures but will invariably run such a poll immediately in the wake a high profile murder, especially the kind where there's a sympathetic victim or some serious brutality to add emotional value to the story.

Stalin was a monster, but he was a clever monster and shouldn't be underestimated for the influence his dictum has even today.

Baldwin said...

I agree with your article Dizzy and surprised you haven't had more support.

Anonymous said...

This is what passes for thoughtful blogging?

"You know how it works, if we had not gone into Iraq this fighting would not have happened, ergo, we are to blame for the fighting."

When you invade a country in an act of aggression and dismantle the central institutions through which the state imposes order, then, yes, you do bear some moral responsibility for the consequences. That isn't "lazy" thinking but a basic moral truism: we bear responsibility for the results of our actions which could have reasonably been anticipated.

Your swipe at the notion of legality in warfare suggests you believe there is no such thing. Ever heard of Nuremberg? According to its judgement a war of aggression is the "supreme international crime" which "encompasses all the evil that follows". Dropping in the word "Hegelian" doen't mean you have any particular insight or argument.

"They claim to care and cherish human life, and yet they will simultaneously be willing to sit on their hands and reduce that human life they care so much about down to a numbers game."

Another stupidity. Are you suggesting that the number of Iraqis that have died as a result of the invasion is entirely irrelevant? What if it had been only 200? Or maybe 5 million? Given that many try to justify the war based on "humanitarian intervention" it surely has some relevance whether war has delivered a more humane outcome. Why does quoting the number of deaths mean "they don't care about human life at all"? Does it apply in all cases? What if I mention 8,000 Kurds were gassed by Saddam in 1988 or 20 million Russians died in WWII , does that mean I don't care?

And why is the 1 million figure "bollocks"? Have you conducted your own more reliable surveys perhaps?


Anonymous said...

Sorry to disagree Dizzy but this should not be our war. Why has a Labour Government been intent on war??
It is NOT our war, the troops should be brought out asap.
The same for Afghanistan, the sooner British troops are pulled out the better.
We are not the worlds policemen.

Pete Chown said...

Guy AC: Dizzy got toasted on the one million figure last time round. In particular, "Elby the Beserk" pointed out that our government was accepting figures of around one million. If the figure was that unreliable, it would be very strange for our government to accept it, because obviously it makes them look very bad for starting the war in the first place.

dizzy said...

Toasted? What a load of crap. The figure is a pure extrapolation based on a survey of a thousand people. As for this line of "the Govenrment accepts it so it must be right" argument. How exactly is appealing to authority with fallacious reasoning a decent argument? Oh wait, it isn't, it's crap. Just because the Government accepts a figure it doesn't make it right.

Alex said...

Dizzy, you start off talking about the anti-war brigade, but then switch to the anti-war lefties. Forgetting that there are plenty on the right who see the Iraq war as an unneccessary war (Saddam was contained and never likely to be a threat), a forseeable mess (just ask G Bush senior why he didn't finish the job 10 years earlier), and a distraction from Afghanistan (which in my totally uninformed opinion would have been much closer to resolution by now if resources had not been diverted to Iraq).

Personally, I don't think the options were simply either to bomb the living daylights out of Iraq or to leave Saddam alone. We now know that even if they didn't topple Saddam, sanctions were effective in that WMD programs were abandoned. To simply resort to bombing a country is a lazy political response. Pre-Iraq war there was an opportunity to build a worldwide consensus to limit the threat from the Middle East, but the US was too impatient to get many of the major powers onside and went for what it thought was a soft target in Iraq.

Adrian said...

What are you on about?? We shouldn't have invaded Iraq. Full stop.

Bishop Brennan said...

Well said Dizzy - but arguing with a lefty is about as productive as fighting fundamentalists with education: they aren't open to reason.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear - what nonsense. Clearly you have been brain-washed and have swallowed wholesale the media narrative of the "hypocritical" left. Obviously, this story line is just a distraction from the central failings of the US and UK administrations and their failure to admit any responsibility for their mistakes.

The left is not being hypocritical - they opposed the war at the beginning and they continue to oppose the war today - it strikes me that they have been remarkably consistent and, even more importantly, RIGHT.

People against the war were not opposed to stopping Saddam Hussein from killing Shia. I'm sure they thought that was a worthy goal, but they did not think war was the best means to achieve that goal. Also, if you think we invaded Iraq to save the Shia from genocide, you are seriously naive/easily fooled.