15/11/2005 - 21:00

Joe Poprzeczny: State Scene - A change from Bush bashing

15/11/2005 - 21:00


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President George W Bush’s decision to militarily engage America’s sworn Middle Eastern enemies at the head of a ‘coalition of the willing’ has resulted in numerous unexpected outcomes, not all of which are welcomed by his dogmatic critics.

President George W Bush’s decision to militarily engage America’s sworn Middle Eastern enemies at the head of a ‘coalition of the willing’ has resulted in numerous unexpected outcomes, not all of which are welcomed by his dogmatic critics.

A little-noticed one is the emergence of two formidable public defenders of the engagement that Mr Bush’s enemies and critics want discontinued.

The first is one-time hardline leftist British writer Christopher Hitchens, who called the passenger airliner suicide attacks in New York and Washington of September 11 2001 that murdered 3,000 innocent people a barbaric onslaught on civilisation that must be resisted, with the perpetrators and their backers caught and punished.

The second is Californian historian Victor Davis Hanson.

Hitchens began public life as an anti-fascist and anti-theist.

Like Premier Geoff Gallop he attended Oxford University and like Dr Gallop was a Trotskyist while in that ivory tower.

Hitchens criticised the Reagan and the GH Bush administrations and opposed the Gulf War that liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s military and secret police.

Today, Hitchens says he’s on the same side as the neo-conservatives.

Although not a great fan of George W Bush, he is nevertheless a leading public defender of America’s foreign policy of engaging Islamic jihadists and wrote a devastating critique of Michael Moore’s film, Fahrenheit 9/11, before the equally revealing book by David Hardy and Jason Clarke, Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man.

As one commentator said: “As an anti-theist intellectual with a penchant for drinking, Hitchens was unimpressed by Bush’s claim to have been ‘saved from drink by Jesus’.”

In May he debated ultra-leftist British MP and Hussein loyalist, George Galloway, who called Hitchens a “drink-sodden former Trotskyist popinjay”.

Hitchens responded in an article slamming Galloway’s record, his evidence given to a US Senate inquiry and “made a case for Galloway’s complicity in the Oil-for-Food scandal”.

Most recently, Hitchens signed an open letter arranged by the British-based group, Labour Friends of Iraq, inspired by the London bombings that claimed the life of one Australian and seriously harmed another.

“Association with this statement and with many of its fellow-signatories involves two commitments,” Mr Hitchens wrote.

“The first is the elementary duty of solidarity with true and authentic resistance movements within the Muslim world, such as the Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq and the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, who were fighting against Ba’athism and Talibanism (and the latent alliance between the two) long before any American or British government had woken up to the threat.

“It should go without saying that, though the suffering of their peoples was intense, neither [Iraq’s present Kurdish president] Jalal Talabani nor [murdered Northern Alliance resistance Afghan leader] Ahmed Shah Masoud ever considered letting off explosive devices at random in foreign capitals.”

Hitchens is thus a leading critic not only of those who back “acts of nihilist murder”, but anyone opposing resistance.

That means he has enemies in the West who are primarily motivated by anti-Americanism, and in the Middle East where they seek to see the emergence of something far removed from a pluralistic and tolerant political order.

Both types, Hitchens argues, are working for the re-emergence of an order resembling Ba’athism and Talibanism, tyrannies the world recently ridded itself of thanks to the Bush-initiated military actions.

The second unexpected outcome was another backer of engagement – Victor Davis Hanson, senior Fellow at Hoover Institution, a privately funded San Francisco-based research centre, think tank and archive.

Before joining California State University 21 years ago he was a full-time farmer and has held a visiting chair in military history at the US Naval Academy.

He is regarded as one of America’s premier military historians and is an expert on classical as well as modern warfare.

“In 1991 he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given yearly to the country’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin,” his curriculum vitae says.

Hanson has written nearly 200 major articles and book reviews on military history and contemporary culture, and 13 books, including: Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece; The Western Way of War; and The Wars of the Ancient Greeks.

He recently wrote: “[T]he US military is quietly empowering the once-despised Kurds and Shi’ites – and along with them women and the other formerly dispossessed of Iraq.

“In short, the US Marine Corps has done more for global freedom and social justice in two years than has every UN peacekeeping mission since the inception of that now-corrupt organisation.

“This is high-stakes – and idealistic – stuff.

“And the more we talk in such terms, the more the president can put the onus of cynical realism on the peace movement and the corrupt forces in the Middle East, who alike wish us to fail.

“Forget acrimony over weapons of mass destruction, platitudes about abstract democracy, and arguments over US security strategies.

“Instead bluntly explain to the world how at this time and at this moment the US is trying to bring equality and freedom to the unfree, in a manner rare in the history of civilisation.”

To Hanson, Michael Moore is simply a producer of “celebrity venom” – nothing more.

Critics simply can’t match Hitchens or Hanson.

Most journalists and academics who back the aims and purpose of the coalition of the willing prefer remaining silent.

For this alone, State Scene believes both deserve acclamation.

They’ve put their mouths and computer keyboards where their minds are by regularly and often speaking out against Michael Moore followers.

But who is winning?

True, more than 2,000 American soldiers have died in Iraq.

Some estimates indicate 26,000 innocent Iraqis have also died by terrorist bombings. And there are the 3,000 others who were murdered in New York, Washington and London by criminal jihardists.

That’s 31,000 deaths, more than 150,000 fewer than so far found in unearthed mass graves of victims killed during the Hussein era.

State Scene suspects the Ba’athists and Talibanists killed are significantly below 30,000, so statistically Hitchens-Hanson are on the losing side in this regard.

But does that mean their case is losing?

Remember it’s always difficult to deduce during wars, even ones on terror, who is actually winning and just when the scales have tipped one way or another

Let’s also not forget last month’s other unexpected outcome, the Volker Report into corrupt financial wheeling and dealing with the Hussein regime that was preceded by several equally damning US Congressional reports on such matters.

Together these investigations show that not only Baghdad but the United Nations was a can of worms with many of those opposing the type of evaluations Hitchens and Hanson made deeply implicated.

We now know Hussein embezzled more than $2 billion via the UN’s Oil-for-Food program, which probably makes it the biggest corruption scam in history. And it happened on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s watch, with his son implicated.

This can of worms was exposed because US troops found documents Hussein’s underlings never destroyed.

One investigative reporter wrote: “The UN itself was either corrupt, or so stunningly incompetent, as to require total overhaul”.

Some 1,300 oil vouchers were issued to individuals, companies, governments, political parties and organisations in 50 countries with 15 per cent of these going to France, 20 per cent to Russia, and 10 per cent to China, Hussein’s strongest UN backers.

And many individuals were named as gaining oil vouchers, including George Galloway, France’s former UN ambassador Jean-Bernard Merimee, former interior minister Charles Pasqua, and Russian ultra nationalist Vladimir Zhirinosky, to name just four.

Maybe those with sticky fingers in the Oil-for-Food kick-back scam in Baghdad and the UN are winning against Hitchens and Hanson when measured in numbers dead. But certainly not when judgments are made on the basis of old-fashioned moral grounds.


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