The World This Week

February 4, 2010 § Leave a comment


Last week, I was on the France 24 World This Week debate with John Vinocur from the IHT, Judah Grunstein of World Politics Review, who wrote this blog on the discussion, and Pierre Rousselin from Le Figaro. For Part One, click here… and for Part Two, here… We discussed Tony Blair’s appearance at the Chilcot inquiry on Iraq in which I made the point that Iraq was always a war looking for a cause, and so there’s absolutely no point, (indeed, it’s somewhat surreal) to seek to nail him on whether he really believed that WMDs, that only the most naive believed existed, existed or not. In the appalling light of the number of civilian casualties in Iraq since 2003, it also strikes me in passing that the whole thrust of the Chilcot inquiry, to determine whether the Iraq war was “illegal”, is somewhat obscene. It suggests that had the war been “legal” – with French involvement, a nod from the UN? – that mass murder could have gone by a different name. Such staggering logic like the above is not beyond George Monbiot, though, if his crusade to have Blair arrested, and who knows, thrown into the Tower of London, is anything to go by.

We also talked about the burqa in France, but you can read my thoughts on that here, and finally about Afghanistan. Like Iraq, I argued that there was never any clear reason for going into Afghanistan either. And for this reason permanent mission drift is completely inevitable. Worse, none of the so-called mission objectives have been achieved. The war started as a response to 9/11 (i.e. attacks mainly carried out by Saudis and Egyptians) then the flushing out Al-Qaeda, the Taliban with the emancipation of women bunged in for Western punlic consumption. Then it was the elimination of the drugs trade, and now there’s talk of creating democratic institutions, which in reality means the propping up of the hopelessly corrupt Karzai government that admits that it needs foreign troops on its soil at least fifteen more years. Fifteen years is the same as admitting the Afghan state will never be able to stand on its own legs, ever. As to arguments that Afghanistan would descend into civil war if Nato left, the answer is simple. Afghanistan is already in the throes a civil war, as continued Taliban attacks on Kabul make obvious. Judah Grunstein made the valid point that the Taliban don’t have much of a mission either, and that they’re hardly winning hearts and minds. This is true, but in cases of a long war of attrition like, the old maxim “better the devil you know” usually sees the day. In the end, countries just don’t like being occupied, no matter how benevolent the intentions of the occupier might be…


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