Monday, June 02, 2003

WMD’s and the 700 billion US dollar question

I don’t know which side irritates me more – the “We were lied to!” bleatings of the Left (try today’s Letters to the Ed in The Australian for an example), or the “I had my fingers crossed behind my back, so it doesn’t count” type defence laboriously argued by Right spokesperson Andrew Sullivan, also in today’s Australian.

If you want my own view, I’m happy to let Jack Strocchi (and/or the kava, apparently) do the talking. The only think that I’d add to Jack’s excellent as usual take on the ostensible WMD’s is to rhetorically ask the Left: would they have preferred for the US to have bypassed the United Nations completely? Invading-Iraq-to-take-out-the-WMD’s started out as a benign-enough rallying cry – a starting point on the butcher’s paper – for UN debate and then action. As the weapons inspection process dragged out over the months of late 2002 and early 2003, it became increasingly clear that the UN just wasn’t going to play along with the game. Up to a point, this is fine – that’s their right and prerogative. Query, though, whether it is also the UN’s (main) role.

Next time, the UN may wish to consider the Realpolitik – in 2002-03, America asked nicely first (re the WMD’s), and only after exhausting all other avenues, went into Iraq anyway. Given the disproportionate backlash that its failed, Left-appeasing attempt to co-opt the UN, now being voiced among the same elements who opposed any invasion of Iraq in just about any circumstances – the US may well decide, in future, that there’s simply no point asking nicely. Which I think would be a helluva shame, BTW.

Coming to the other side of the main issue – how totally to now ditch the Saudis, and especially their $US 700 billion in the kitty. Jack Strocchi sees both micro-politics (Bush/Saudi Royals cronyism) and macro-economics (the survival of the US hegemon) as necessitating a softly-softly approach, with Iraq needing to be built-up over time before the Saudi Royals (and presumably also, their tainted money and their tainted cronies) can be metaphorically bulldozed into the Red Sea and the Potomac.

On the other hand, as I’ve blogged here, I think that the US not only has very little time now in which to (relatively) cleanly ditch the Saudis, it is also hard to see how (even if everything else works out) that the US’s longer-term colonial presence in Iraq won’t lead the reluctant host country into becoming a virulent new Saudi Arabia.

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