Comment, Comics and the Contrary.
As a short addendum to my comments below, regarding the consequences and responsibilities of speech in terms of actions and events on the ground in Iraq, I would like to draw out a significant difference between holding a pro-Iraq-war position and being anti-Iraq-war.
It is true that one can hold many motivations for being pro-war, as one can hold many reasons for being anti-war. The war could have supported out of patriotism, as part of the war on terror, as means of increasing American power in the region, as a humanitarian intervention, etc. The war could be opposed from a position of support for the Ba’athist regime, out of isolationism, out of a belief that the human destruction involved in war outweighs the humanitarian benefit, out of opposition to an increase in American power, etc.
Those who are anti-war are often accused of being ‘objectively pro-Saddam’. If this is the case, then it is also the case that those who are pro-war are ‘objectively’ in favour of all the consequences of this war. At first glance it appears that it is the case that either both are true, or neither is, and for the sake of productive argument it is better to hold the position that neither of these ‘objective’ truths have any value. However, despite the dominance of the anti-war is objectively pro-Saddam argument, it is more reasonable to argue that pro-war support for the consequences of this war. This is because there is a categorical difference between supporting a particular action and a particular path of history, and opposing that action, leaving a variety of alternate futures.
Those who support the war for reasons that are not the motivations of the prosecutors of this war must face the fact that the prosecutors of this war hold the power to shape the war according to their wishes, and any reshaping of Iraqi society will take place in similar accordance. Support for the war and subsequent occupation is not support for a future except that determined by those who hold the power over, and agitated for, this war. This is the future that is unfolding now, a future of civil chaos, human destruction and no progress, even retreat from, towards rapprochement between the Muslim world and the West.
Opponents of the war need not be pro-Saddam, as war is not the only anti-Saddam measure that could be taken by our governments. Supporters of the war often shout, ‘but what would you do?’ This challenge assumes that war is the default option in international affairs, only prevented by a comprehensive anti-war plan is presented. If war is the default option, then the responsibility for producing this plan would fall on governments as part of their duty to protect their citizens and behave in a humane and decent manner towards citizens of other nations. However, any decent person neither seeks a world of war as default, nor believes that such a world is the case, that war does not erupt between all nations simply through the relentless presentation of anti-war plans. The onus on planning must always lie with the agitators for war, and these plans must be meticulously worked, foolproof even. The facts of the war in Iraq suggests that the war plans were not as meticulous as required*, yet these arguments still prevailed. This suggests two things. First, that all other things being equal, the anti-war campaigners should not have been asked to present a water-tight plan that would produce a democratic and free Iraq, only a suggestion of one that, if necessary, could have demanded huge government expense and accepted a high level of human sacrifice. Such a plan would equal any Special Plan coming from Rumsfeld’s office. Second, that this US administration regards war as its principle and default diplomatic stance, or at the very least, treats such a devastating state of affairs as something morally unexceptional. And support for a war run by these people is support for an increase in the power of these people, something that no humanitarian should engage in.
*Again, this either suggests incompetence, which should involve resignation or sacking, or a level of negligence that has devastated the lives of hundreds of thousands, an act that is the greatest argument against claims that this is a humanitarian war.