[OPE-L] Norman Geras and the killing fields in Iraq

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Thu Oct 19 2006 - 18:34:31 EDT

I should perhaps point out that Geras does blog in the end that "had I
anticipated the scale of the human costs the war in Iraq would involve, I
would not have felt able to support it."
http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/ In other words, confronted by the
blood and gore, he has now retreated from his previous enthusiasm about
the war.

But this makes his moral argument even stranger - he is effectively
predicating his *support* for the war cause, on the *outcome* of the war (in
a context where the Bush administration itself fanatically claimed it would
pursue the war regardless of the costs, with a perspective of "permanent

As I noted, the problem all along has been that this war, started on
false pretenses and contravening international law, was nevertheless
supposed to justify itself in the longer term by its positive results, which
would affirm "global values" over national sovereignity considerations. That
was a cynical political game of "playing for time", roping in
gullible people with expectations of a grand new order. But really time has
run out for the war.

No doubt we all like to be on the side that's winning if we can, but the
moral issue is whether the pre-emptive attack was rationally or humanly
defensible in the first instance. Anybody with some knowledge of the first
Gulf war and its aftermath could have anticipated "the scale of the human
costs the war in Iraq would involve". Toppling a regime is one thing - the
rebuilding of a country by a foreign military occupation force is quite
another. If it didn't work for the Soviet Union, why should it succeed in
Iraq? Brzezinski mooted: "Sovereignity is a concept, but it's a relative
concept. If there was a provisional government of Iraq, we could give it
symbolic sovereignity and it would help it to gain legitimacy, thereby
reducing the need for an assertive occupation." (3 October 2003)
That was the dream.

But what is spectacular is that somebody schooled in the Marxist
tradition could have been hoodwinked by imperial propaganda in
this way. Rational argument cannot have had much to do with it - probably it
is more a case of personal sentiments and circumstances, a sort of personal
faith or evangelism. War as a "faith-based initiative". In  "Tempting Faith:
An Inside Story of Political Seduction," David Kuo relates how the Bush
administration manipulated evangelical christians for purely political
purposes, and how the politicians candidly revealed their disdain for the
very bloc of voters that helped the Republicans to power. But leftwing
intellectuals jumping on the bandwaggon? It's a bad dream.

I also find it spectacular that American politicians who cannot even
guarantee a fair count of the living in the elections of their own country
can simply dismiss a scientific study of the dead in Iraq for
"methodological" reasons. Some "methodology" indeed! "Spreading
democracy" in the world when you rig the votes on your own turf,
and deny the lethal consequences of your own policies...


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