What do you do when you’re the gov­ern­ment of a nation whose econ­o­my is not as good as it once was?

  1. Spend $$$ on arma­ments in a Key­ne­sian spend­ing spree.
  2. Go to war with a small, eas­i­ly-defeat­able nation.
  3. After win­ning, rebuild the nation so that it will be for­ev­er finan­cial­ly indebt­ed to you and heav­i­ly depen­dent on your tech­nol­o­gy and exper­tise [alter­nate link].
  4. PROFIT!!!

Do I sense some deja vu? Hitler tried this, as did Gen­er­al Leopol­do Galtieri of Argenti­na and count­less oth­er gov­ern­ments world­wide, includ­ing sev­er­al US admin­is­tra­tions. Is eco­nom­ic growth worth such blood­shed and trau­ma? That obvi­ous­ly depends on the cir­cum­stances at the time, but for this war I am still uncon­vinced. We’ll see what hap­pens.

I found an inter­est­ing arti­cle in The Guardian from last year (April 4, 2002). Here’s an excerpt:

The British peo­ple have acquired some notable infor­ma­tion about the Falk­lands war in 2002 that they were denied 20 years ago, when the war itself took place behind a blan­ket of cen­sor­ship. In the 1982 autho­rised Thatcherite ver­sion of events, Britain set out to recap­ture the Falk­land Islands with strong but tac­it Amer­i­can sup­port, in the face of French duplic­i­ty, and won a bril­liant vic­to­ry against a demor­alised Argen­tine ene­my. Twen­ty years on, thanks to the mem­oirs of the then defence sec­re­tary, Sir John Nott, and an inter­view with the task force com­man­der, Admi­ral Sandy Wood­ward, we are learn­ing a very dif­fer­ent ver­sion. Far from being an ally, Ronald Rea­gan’s US stands revealed by Sir John as per­sis­tent­ly unre­li­able. Mean­while under François Mit­ter­rand, a will­ing France turns out to have sup­plied Britain with price­less tech­ni­cal details about the Exo­cet mis­sile. Admi­ral Wood­ward has now revealed that the fight­ing in the south Atlantic was “a lot clos­er run” than we were told at the time. “We were on our last legs,” the admi­ral says. If the Argen­tines had held out for anoth­er week, they would have defeat­ed an exhaust­ed Britain. Think how dif­fer­ent our recent polit­i­cal his­to­ry might have been then.

In oth­er words, the USA stood aside while the ter­ri­to­ry of its clos­est ally was invad­ed by its bel­liger­ent neigh­bour. Maybe the British should boy­cott every­thing Amer­i­can? Even fun­nier was the rev­e­la­tion that the UK was aid­ed by France!

The above-quot­ed arti­cle high­lights the impact of cen­sor­ship dur­ing times of war, not only on the part of gov­ern­ment but also on the part of the media. Over the past few days on my tele­vi­sion I have seen images of “Coali­tion” POWs held by the Iraqis, often fol­lowed by a state­ment claim­ing that these images were tak­en by Iraqis in vio­la­tion of inter­na­tion­al law. And indeed they were. Yet nobody com­plains when the US does it! They did it in Afghanistan, Guan­tanamo Bay and, yes, even in Iraq! I’ve lost track of how many inter­na­tion­al laws the US has bro­ken, not only in this war but also in pre­vi­ous wars. These include the use of chem­i­cal and bio­log­i­cal weapons (I thought Sad­dam was the one using those?!), clus­ter bombs and deplet­ed ura­ni­um, and the tar­get­ing of civil­ian facil­i­ties. What makes me sad is that my own gov­ern­ment is an accom­plice to this. There are (were?) Aus­tralian cit­i­zens being ille­gal­ly and indef­i­nite­ly detained in Guan­tanamo Bay like ani­mals, and the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment does­n’t care.

Anoth­er thing I can­not under­stand is the ‘log­ic’ that some peo­ple seem to hold that since the USA helped France in World War II, France should help the USA invade Iraq. Why should France help the US when it is the aggres­sor? Note that I’m not try­ing to defend France, because I don’t like them much either. How­ev­er, this does­n’t make any sense to me at all. If I want­ed to use such ‘log­ic’ (which it isn’t), then I could men­tion that the French gov­ern­ment prac­ti­cal­ly bank­rupt­ed itself help­ing the Amer­i­can colonists achieve inde­pen­dence. Louis XVI basi­cal­ly gave his life for the Amer­i­can peo­ple, since the French Rev­o­lu­tion might not have hap­pened had­n’t he been forced to pay for his war debts through rais­ing tax­es. I could also men­tion that although World War II began in 1939, and France was invad­ed in June 1940, it was­n’t until Decem­ber 1941 that the Unit­ed States entered the war. Even then, it was Ger­many that declared war, not the USA. Some ‘friends’ they were! Of course, using such argu­ments would be exces­sive­ly facile, so I include them only to show their idio­cy.

Update: I just came across this hypo­thet­i­cal dis­cus­sion between a war­mon­ger and a peacenik. I found it quite amus­ing.

Update [2003–04-06]: Britain’s Chan­nel 4 screened a great comedy/documentary on 5 Jan­u­ary called “Between Iraq and a Hard Place”. You can watch the whole thing over the Inter­net (stream­ing, requires Realplay­er) here.

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