Apparently, during the Crimean War, some Victorian spectators, men and women, journeyed to the area to watch the battles. Can you imagine viewing The Charge of The Light Brigade whilst tucking into strawberries and cream? That would seem to be like stopping at a motorway pile up and getting the hamper, parasols and deck chairs out of the boot. Surreal? Of course not. It’s still going on.
It’s difficult for me to imagine how the England cricket team can possibly play even the one game in Zimbabwe. It beggars belief that discussions and a vote haven’t taken place among the players as to whether or not to entertain Robert Mugabe. It’s not as though the whole world doesn’t know who he is. It wouldn’t be easy for me to pull out of the biggest tournament I was ever likely to play in, but I think that tucking into ham sarnys at teatime in a town where there will be protests, a probable riot, and possibly even a couple of deaths to mark it’s stay in town might be a bit like swallowing the whole pig. In the usual half-baked manner King Tony fudged when he said he would have preferred them not to participate, but he didn’t actually ‘advise’ them not to go. He just took a moment out to pay the usual strained lip service to democracy again. I’ve been waiting for someone with some small degree of gumption to pull out, make a stand against a vicious regime in Southern Africa, and I cannot believe that it’s got this far. But then again, it’s hard to believe that the Bush/Blair adventure has got as far as it has. Are we all just sitting back being entertained by the surreal? In the certain knowledge that there isn’t a thing that we could have done about it unless we’d all been Presidents of the Oxford Union thirty years ago? During all our separate checkered childhoods?
Confused? You ought to be. Nothing is straight. Not that it ever was. But right now it’s as wrong as it was in 1933. Worse, because we should have different lives and agendas by now; and we don’t. Like then, the most powerful military nation on earth has a fundamentalist religious maniac in charge of it’s arsenal. A man you wouldn’t trust to come up with one rational thought. He’s nothing short of a warped comedian, and his straight man is the honourable member for Sedgefield. A fundamentalist conservative who would have Mandelsoned his way into whichever political party was fashionable in his youth.
There is not a doubt that Saddam Hussein is cut from the same kind of cloth as these two, and that he should have been removed some time ago. The fact remains that he rules with terror and he’s dodged coming clean with anyone for most of his life. Political genius often resides in the unstable. And who isn’t unstable? ‘But he’s different’, I hear you say. “Bollocks”, say I. It’s now really obvious to most of us that world political leadership reads like a list of slime-balls. There are one or two exceptions of course. I think that Jimmy Carter is a man who has always appeared to be socially motivated, Nelson Mandela has often attempted to cajole ‘the west’ into giving credence to ideas and to people it didn’t necessarily want to, and the Dalai Lama has always fought his strange little corner.
The rest of the economies have been catching the US hand over fist in one way or another for a while now, even though the race is currently a bit sluggish. The writing’s been on the wall and it’s been clear for at least ten years that the American hegemony perceives that it will lose the grip on it’s complete domination of the financial world and the way in which it does business if it lets the second biggest oilfield in the world fall into hands that are not guided by it’s own. The Bush administration would obviously like to open up the Iraqi oilfield to the world market, which of course is a euphemism for it’s own market, but they won’t do that because they can’t trust Saddam not to spend the dosh with Osama’s cronies, and time for negotiating with him has apparently run out. Admittedly, it should have done after ten years. Then there’s the added fact that it would be mildly embarrassing to tell the exact oily truth to the whole village. Added to this it’s obvious that the US needs another ‘friendly’ buffer territory besides Israel in the middle of the perceived Islamic minefield. All this is painfully obvious stuff.
Last week I noticed that the first women’s fashion magazine to be published in Iran for over 25 years has just hit the streets of Teheran. Perhaps that may have been applauded in a fairly free-spirited Democratic regime, but in the household of the Texas Evangelist it will probably only serve to be a reminder of what can happen to your daughters if you don’t bring them up lovingly. This in turn will probably bring up another irrational quote from The Book of Isaiah onto his monitor the next time he tries to speak.
Though the ethics are of no actual concern to people like Dick Chaney, the UN Resolutions are potentially in the way of straight unilateral invasion by the US. Moderate USA doesn’t particularly want to be seen to be breaking international law, which should reside in the authority of The United Nations, because, after all, international power should sooner rather than later be seen to reside SOLELY in the remit of the world’s United Nations. Invasion of Iraq by the US military alone will be seen by the rest of the world as breaking international law… A very bad example to set the international global village community….. The result of which would be to automatically continue to relegate international law to the realm of toothless wonder.
If international law was to have real teeth, then within a century it is conceivable that a democratic peace on earth could prevail. Rights for everyone could gradually but really be established. The red tape could stretch to Orion. ‘There are men employing men employing men employing men who fill in forms employing men that forms a queue of paperwork clear stretching out into the murk, so that nine tenths don’t produce, holding ransom calling truce, and looking dangerous’, was something I wrote twenty years ago. Go’a larf in’ya. But the future after that is looking a trifle compromised. Moves are already afoot.
The first UN resolution mandating weapons inspections in Iraq dates back to April 1991. Enough already.. Republican USA wants to see the Dow Jones index restored to it’s 11,000 point ceiling of early 2001. And to quickly go beyond that. It wants/needs to wipe out the memories of Enron, Worldcom and the rest of ‘the accounting scandals’ and get on with the proposed tax cuts, the elections for the ‘second term’ and less visible corruption. And yesterday… So the Iraq card has to be cashed in. ASAP. Cheaper fuel equals cheaper overheads equals cheaper industry equals more trade. Quantity. Turnover. And for the period it can hold it’s own mandate over Iraq.. much cheaper industrial output. The next election would be a formality. The dynasty would be assured. Very Roman. At the moment the Bush combo are trapped in the double whammy of effectively corking up the world’s second biggest oilfield at the same time as they want to burn it.
But moves are afoot already to remove the last of the emperesses, whoever he/she may be. We have all invited artificial intelligence not only to share our own platform, but to be continually advanced in rank, because artificial intelligence can be progressed to manage increasingly large workloads. Which are intellectually and evolutionarily beyond our present means… Artificial intelligence doesn’t have nappies to change. It currently has no housework. The international community is taking care of it’s housework. ‘AI’ is an infant with a big future. The big question is… When it becomes more intelligent than it’s creator, which will be quite soon, will it be able to do without his slave labour? Will it be able to build slaves of it’s own? At which point will it’s intelligence no longer be considered by us to be ‘artificial’? Before we realize that just another step will unlock the everlasting beast on an entirely different emotional level?… …There is no after… is there? At that point, we’re all proles. And then there are those among us who would ask who it’s creator really is. In a word.. Shit..
‘The descendant of Smith, ran a colony of centaurs, roamed a zoo with a mastodon, and never knew of his mentors’. (Roy-1986)… maybe quite close now. It’s not likely to be the mad bastard in the underground biochemistry lab unleashing the mother of all bugs who totally changes the shape of life on earth. More probably it’ll be the teenage nerdbag in his bedroom who’s been trying to make little friends since he was four. The CIA’s going to have to be a lot faster off the mark with it’s indoor UAVs to nip all of that in the bud.
In the present circumstances, all we can do is to have trust in the international community as expressed by the United Nations. The existence of the UN owes itself to the massive destruction of swathes of humanity in two world wars. They really were WORLD WARS. The point at which we choose to forget that world war puts monumental stresses on our social and emotional faculties, and for huge amounts of time afterwards, we invite another to further erode our ability to be able to embrace the natural tragedy of death as the only precondition to the wonderful visit here. To put death in it’s legitimate place as predetermined corollary. Life can be a celebration of sentience, or a universal affliction. Stretch it out as far as it will go, yes, but forever can only be in the imagination. Expressed in terms of the usual religious fantasy propaganda, life is purely a brief and temporary state before eventual and eternal immortality.. or infinite condemnation… Can’t wait to meet Lucrezia Borgia… Quelle bollocks. (When I was 16, I used to think that it was a good job that world war had been committed to film, and that therefore all we needed to do to prevent war was to instruct every generation with the use of that footage. This was just after I’d recovered from teenage nazi worship. Probably brought on by wanting to shoot, torture or gas at least one of my parents!…)
What’s in danger of being eroded by Bush and Blair is the primacy of the UN to maintain ‘international peace and security’. It doesn’t look like they’re going to do it alone because the folks in southern Europe with Muslim countries just over the water are all ready to back Blair. (Even though they don’t have too many brownie points at the UN). And eastern Europe is in favour of course. But for the next month they’ll probably be doing it without France and Germany, whose electorates are more largely against war than the rest of Europe. We can partially put this down to keeping the muslim populations in both countries in tow. The Turkish population in Germany and the North African population in France. But the French are having one of their international moments. They’ll want to string it out for a week or two yet. If the Bush axis does go it alone, then there can be no immediate future for ‘international security’, let alone peace.
War of any kind is going to destabilise the entire region, if not the whole world, so that no one in the region really wants it, except perhaps a heavy minority of the Israelis. I can see a few of the others keeping fairly quiet and looking on with furtive interest, like the Saudis in their ivory towers. There is nothing more certain than that thousands of young muslim boys will gladly swell the ranks of the guerrilla martyrs if the US goes into Iraq alone. (Later on today, after I’d written this, I discovered that the Saudis have put a price on Saddam’s head. They’re offering to spare the lives of any Iraqi generals who murder him. The Saudis are the people who hold public executions). !
The US is a $10.5 trillion dollar economy. Yesterday’s news was that the US government is putting $44 billion dollars of government bonds up for sale. This will be to loan the dosh to go to war with.. Although there’s another $370+ billion in there earmarked for ‘defence’. $2.23 trillion dollars is the proposed budget for the year; with a $307 billion dollar deficit. Wading through the highlights at http://w3.access.gpo.gov/usbudget/fy2004/pdf/budget/highlights.pdf I was struck by the difference in the amounts budgeted for Medicare ($400billion) and for the Environment ($4.4billion). I wondered about how much the environment impacts on health care. You would have thought that if more was spent on the environment then not so much would be needed for care and drugs, but I don’t particularly want to get any further into dodgy dealers and getting hooked in this paragraph. If you consider that they’re borrowing $44billion from the ‘market’, then the combined total of $351bllion is a big deficit. Correct me if I’m wrong, but about 16% of the budget is pie in the sky. (Maths was never my strong suit though. I used to consider that my strongest suit was my puking tackle, which was worn from 4pm Friday till I woke up in it on Monday morning).
What this amounts to, trying to read between the lines, is that the Bush administration are gambling, with cash, to get that second term in place. Seeing as the term of this budget doesn’t start until October 1st 2003, they’ll be into the next election by the time this budget is spent in November 2004. And in the 2005 budget, which will presumably be proposed in February 2004, the crown jewels can be given away, because they can easily be clawed back the following year when he’s in for the duration and it no longer matters. A great time to borrow cash is while the folks are feeling patriotic. So you get ‘em all patriotic about fighting the enemy, and the need for the cash to do it. It goes without saying that some of that cash is already earmarked to be used against enemies in your own country like for instance The Democrats. Winning a war, even if it’s with an opponent against whom the odds are stacked so heavily that it’s a foregone conclusion, will be the ticket to that second term in office. Judge Scalia will be retired after that in favour of someone more reactionary.
The proposed war also represents a political gamble for Blair, unless he can get at least the French to party with him. The French might not want to miss out on a bit of war, in the final event. A few combat missions here and a few oil or weapons contracts signed there. Personally, I don’t think that it can go very wrong for Blair in the short term. Even though he’s dragging his party kicking and screaming with him, he looks like he’s backing a 10 to 1 on favourite. But is there any real need for it?
What would I do? Well to be honest I’d stop bombing Iraq. Protect the Kurds in the north and the Shi’as in the south and talk to Saddam. Have a continuous dialogue. Set an example. Keep the inspectors in permanently, continue with the legal sanctions and keep satellite eyes on him. Draw up an unbreakable new UN resolution to restrict Iraq completely until it complies. Make it the best faith for all sides. But don’t kill anyone else. We get tarred with the same brush if we do any more killing. We’re as bad as he is. We fall into his giant trap if we kill. Tedious martyrdom will drink red rivers. According to him we’ve killed 300 since we started bombing. He calls them ‘civilians’. A few of them will have been. We realize that he’s killed thousands, but he has as much legitimacy as the president of his country as does George Bush Junior. I have no time for him, and I wish he was gone, but have you ever been in the Arab countries and tried to buy a trinket. You don’t just pay for it, you haggle. And you haggle hard. It’s part of the culture. The Bushes have never haggled, they’ve just threatened and barked orders. That’s not going to get any positive response in the souk. Some bargaining has to go down. Serious bargaining. After you’ve made each other’s personal acquaintance.
I don’t really believe that Saddam is either the same war criminal he was eleven years ago, or that he has any weapons which could really be described as ‘weapons of mass destruction’. That he deserves to be tried is beyond dispute, but how much harm will that do? His ambitions may be to have serious weapons, but the few Scuds that got as far as Israel last time were about the strength of it. He is much more likely to respond to being treated as a leader than he is to being treated as a mad dog; even though he is one. We all remember Gaddafi being the most hated man in the west, but he seems to have acted more reasonably in the last few years, even turning the Lockerbie bombers over to trial in the Scottish Hague?! This doesn’t legitimize Saddam’s regime, or change his past behaviour, but neither does it destabilize the area. I like to see social revolutions, they’re interesting, but religious revolutions are mind killers. Doleful, abysmal, empty shrieking devils.
The UN is going to have to be about consensus and compromise. I don’t think that human rights can be forced on people. Communities have to understand what concepts of equal rights are about before they can appreciate how to fight for the benefits of them. You can march in and impose, but then you’ll have to stay in for at least a generation. The renaissance church had outlawed knowledges regarding the size and shape of the world, even though the Greeks had understood that knowledge 1600 years before that. Too much can degrade. Knowledge especially. Things can be forgotten in days.
I realize that all this sounds a bit like peace at any price, but it isn’t. The only way to effect a continuous peace in the world will be with whatever authority can be vested in the UN by ALL the nations of the world. At present the UN isn’t strong enough. The dichotomy is that if it became very strong there are chances that it could be used, (and in some cases purposely not used) as a means to any end by those who effectively run it. For certain, there are members of the US government who despise the UN, but mainly because they think that it should do as it’s told. And even Colin Powell, the supposed military dove, thumped the UN table today. Inferred they were not up to it. But the world outside of the USA isn’t the same world as the one inside the USA. There are different priorities and a lot of sensibilities among the other 194 nations that the US fathers wouldn’t immediately be able to get to grips with. Most things just don’t run on the Baptist Rabbinical model of the universe.
Brit Fido himself may very well get away with a short war, particularly if it’s fought and won cheaply, but it may be quite a lot harder than that. The CV will suffer after that. His statue stands a good chance of being decapitated with a cricket bat. But more of that later.
So; what do YOU want? D’you want Bush to slouch in and take the oil price down by $10 a barrel to fuel economic growth and keep the bucks rollin’ in? Be rescued from stagflation again? All keep your jobs and your way of life and sod anything else outside of that? Or is your dream a bit broader than that? Will you allow it to believe that sometimes you may not be able to judge a situation purely by what’s fed to you in a biased media? You can vote for cozy if you want to, but that’s going to backfire. It’ll lead to lack of knowledge and then to distrust, and eventually to ignorance and to hate. Remember when Beirut was a cool place to go to, before it was ‘destabilised’? We live in a much more polarised world than we did in my youth. Do we need to have another Palestine?
I was on the hill this morning when suddenly I was blinded by a flashy presence. It was Freddie… Or maybe it was god in drag. One of the two. He said this to me, and I wrote it down on a tablet of Rennies. “Dearest Mucker Roy, half-wit prophet of the hairy fringe, be of good cheer I beseech you. Verily, verily, ‘peace and security’ will come. You must go firth and put Nasser Hussein in charge of Iraq and Saddam Hussein in charge of the England cricket team on the field. This will be a double whammy-edged sword, O holy one, the mother of all swords. This way we’ll get the batting order right in Harare, with Saddam in at No. 3 to prevaricate, and cheat his way to a double century. He must then be encouraged to stay on and murder the Australian pace attack in Port Elizabeth. O yea, meanwhile Nasser will introduce Rumsfeld and the 8th Cavalry to Cricket in Baghdad and coach the ‘youngsters’ in the finer arts of accepting a dodgy umpiring decision with maximum emotional effect… How… I have spoken”… Actually, I don’t think the Cricket team can possibly play in Zimbabwe, it would be lunacy on all counts. Hopefully that goes for the team in The Gulf as well. They’d be mad not to get hold of the Iraqi cowboy and talk it out of him. But I don’t have any good feelings about George Bush and his cronies.
It’s February 6th, 2003 years since the birth of King Tony’s god. It’s a cold night. As I write, there’s an owl on the windowsill outside and an odd feeling in my strange old heart. Do monkeys wish they could be birds? Is this all still happening.. after all this time?
There are about 195 nations on Earth.
The total population is over 6 billion persons.
Total population of Iraq c. 20 million
Total population of USA and UK c. 320 million
There are 15 United Nations specialist organisations, eg., UNESCO and WHO.
A total of under 60 thousand people work for the UN and all it’s organisations (in total)
The US Government comprises 4 virtual persons
The UK Cabinet comprises I virtual and five eighths persons
The Iraqi Government comprises 1 virtuoso plonker persona.
This is a test for us all. Are we serious about living in a tolerant peace? If we are, then we don’t invade, we just make damn well sure that Iraq comes to heel at the UN. And then is forgiven and set free. Victory in war is no longer a credible solution for people with any commitment to world harmony. An example has to be set. The ‘buck’ stops right here, and right now.
After listening to Colin Powell’s ‘speech’ to the UN, I was disgusted to discover just how little actual modern hard evidence the Bush axis is prepared to go to war with. The theory was fine, like an unmanned MIG 21 or UAV ‘can’ deliver a chemical or biological payload underneath radar etc.etc.etc. Ad inf., but it was all circumstantial evidence.
There was emotive talk of a ‘nuclear mujageddin’, Al Qaeda, Al Zaqawi and he waved aloft a file of imaginary smallpox.. Some probable lies on tape by two possible Iraqis. All good clean fun, but still no actual smoking gun. You can almost smell one, or is it the soap? but no absolutely definite sighting yet. The Chinese, Russians and French were all for tightening inspections and making sure he couldn’t move. The French Foreign Minister, Dominique De Villepin said that inspections must continue until they were no longer working. He looks like a future leader of France. Perhaps he needs a bit more blustering dishonesty yet. ‘Why go to war when we can strengthen inspections’? Etc. Then Iraqi General Amir Al Sadi gently waffled Iraqi reaction. At one point he smiled and said, “We have time, what’s the hurry?” But his boss isn’t going for a second term.
The only other thing of note was that Aussie Premier John Howard came completely onside with Bush. But we already knew he had soldiers on the way to Iraq. He’s got a couple of hundred million potentially crazed Islamic Indonesian immigrants in a never ending queue of unique maritime disasters and wrenching human rights sacrifices off the north coast of Queensland. Poor bugger, it would be truly apocalyptic to see the world through those four lenses.
Then the ICC came out and blasted the England/Wales cricket team for six, saying that there was no good reason to move the match from Harare to South Africa for reasons of ‘security’. They avoided the political issue entirely. The cobwebs grew over them as they spoke.
Later on tonight, Blair addressed us with reasons to kill Iraqis. He didn’t convince me at all. Mendes Campbell said that he didn’t doubt the Prime Minister’s sincerity, but I was focused on another issue. Namely, he continues to misguide himself.
We’ll always be in a zoo of our own making. And we start making it today.
Copyright 2003 Roy Harper