Sunday, August 15, 2004


No child left eyeless ... needlessly

The following extract (in the August 7 "Good Weekend") from Bob Ellis's book "Night Thoughts in Time of War" sums up one of the most loathsome arguments made by those opposed to war with Iraq.

No matter, it seems, the man was a monster, it's good he is gone. He killed hundreds of thousands of his own people. He used chemical weapons on his own people. He, or his agents, gouged out the eyes of a child while the parents watched appalled and screaming.

And so it goes. In most war propaganda a bogeyman kills or tortures children: Herod slaughtered the firstborn of Israel (no he didn't), the Kaiser's mad-eyed ogres bayoneted babies (no, they didn't). It's the first big lie in any war whose cause, like this one, is insufficient.

It's all so vulgar and creepy. I mean I assume Saddam, a ruthless, ambitious fan of Stalin, did bad things and killed a lot of people in his time. But kill them pointlessly? I don't think so. He was too shrewd for that, too shrewd to make enemies needlessly: the extended family of the boy with the gouged eyes and the girl in the rape room, the tribe of the men fed feet first into the human shredder. You don't gain total power by being so diffuse in your targets. You don't keep total power without knowing whom to kill. You don't make enemies needlessly.

Saddam is too smart to harm anyone needlessly. Unlike Yanks in general and Dubya in particular:

The Americans have killed 70 people in a raid on a "terrorist training camp" in Iraq. ... What utter fools they are. The 70 dead will have 500 siblings and 5000 cousins who will be coming for them soon.

Many anti-war arguments boil down to "At least Saddam isn't as dumb as Bush". Saddam is too smart to launch WMDs on his neighbours, he's too smart to give them to terrorists, and now, he's too smart to use them on his own people.


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