Hail to the Thief

“As Britain knows, all predominant power seems for a time invincible, but, in fact, it is transient. The question is: What do you leave behind? And what you can bequeath to this anxious world is the light of liberty.

That is what this struggle against terrorist groups or states is about. We’re not fighting for domination. We’re not fighting for an American world, though we want a world in which America is at ease. We’re not fighting for Christianity, but against religious fanaticism of all kinds.”

There is no American politician alive today who has the simple eloquence of Tony Blair. Yet his speech, while elevating and inspiring, was also somewhat saddening, we it provided a glimpse of those qualities so lacking in our own leaders.

I supported the war with Iraq for a variety of reasons, but two stuck out as the most important.

The first was the belief that Saddam Hussein’s chemical/biological weapons were weaponized, mobilized, and could quickly be deployed against Saddam’s enemies or fall into the hands of terrorist groups. The second was that Hussein had a nuclear program that, if unchecked, would soon allow him a deterrent capacity (like North Korea) and also encourage other nations to pursue their own nuclear weapons.

The premises of these two reasons, based on U.S. intelligence and the word of the president, now appear to be false.

This is the trouble, I think, that presents itself when we examine Blair’s sublime platitudes against the nagging principles of everyday democracy. Namely, those principles dictating that when democratic nations ask their citizens to shed blood in war, those governments must first be honest and forthright about the reasons for such a war. And while we may well find weapons buried in gardens or hidden in far-flung deserts, it has become apparent that Iraq was not an imminent threat either to its own neighbors or the United States.

It is against this new backdrop of cynicism that one recognizes the red herring that was Blair’s address. Indeed, the purpose of his speech may have been to defend the war with Iraq, but it was delivered in the rhetoric of the global struggle against terrorism, so as to invoke images of murderous mullahs in all their fanaticism.

Both Bush and Blair have attempted this strategy, blurring the line between Sept. 11 and Iraq so that, to the traumatized American psyche, there is no longer any difference between the two. They are both guilty of appropriating the lofty language of one righteous struggle in order to advance a conquest already years in the making.

“Destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do. And our job, my nation that watched you grow, that you fought alongside and now fights alongside you, that takes enormous pride in our alliance and great affection in our common bond, our job is to be there with you.”

Bush and Blair are, in the end, one and the same, as their fates have become intertwined in this web of platitudes. Their web grows heavier with deceit each day — so heavy, I think, that they will go, eventually, down into the pit together.

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4 Responses to Hail to the Thief

  1. M. L. Foster says:

    One can not help but like Blair. He is very eloquent unlike Commander Codpiece. I think your reasoning is very sound on the issue of a nation needing to be totally honest when it expects to send its best into battle.

    When I think of Vietnam (I am 58), this was in large part the reason why people turned against the war effort.

    It might be easier to wonder why it is happening again if this were something like ancient history.

    The PNAC documents are out there to explain the real reasons why we were led to war with Iraq. The truth is that Bush Co. (I don’t even know if Bush himself was privy to the think tanks conclusions) could never have sold a war on the idea that conquering Iraq would be the first link in a chain to bring stability and pro American support to the middle east. They had to have cover. And like the corrupt power junkies that they are they used the events of 9/11 to play on our fears.

    I am sure that this will be history’s assessment of the reasons for the war. I have strong doubts that we can bring the kind of democracy to Iraq that is supportive of American ideals.

    And being at war in Iraq means that we are more vulnerable to being hamstrung on other fronts. I keep my fingers crossed that Bush Co. does not end up actually causing what he thinks he is trying to prevent.

  2. John Stean says:

    I’m interested in why we should hold our leaders accountable for intelligence reports which they have made public and acted upon. There could be a case made perhaps for not initiating conflict on the basis of intelligence reports alone but if Bush and Blair truly believed we were in danger on the basis of faulty intelligence then it seems to me that it’s the intelligence services that need a shake up not necessarily the leadership.


  3. Aaron W. Benson says:

    The problem here is not that Bush acted on faulty intelligence, but rather, that the White House knew the intelligence was suspect or faulty and cited it anyway.

    That’s lying, and it’s a hell of a lot more consequential than anything Bill Clinton ever said before his impeachment.

  4. Justin says:

    So now you think Bush may be vulnerable on the Iraq War issue, after all? Because a lot of people who supported the war, like you, now feel duped.

    I address this issue in my “rebuttal to geckoblue” post on http://electoralmap.com/ .

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