Saturday, July 30, 2005
The Spectrum of Violence
I recall Dennis Healey, a man well versed in defence questions of course, saying the invasion was a mistake as Saddam could have been disposed of via special forces action. This seemed a bit optimistic when Saddam's survival precautions and record of survival are considered. Democracies moreover, do not use assassination as an instrument of foreign policy though maybe they ought in certain circumstances. More importantly for foreign policy makers perhaps is the need for much greater care in considering violence as an instrument in the first place. I was against the Afghan invasion personally as I feared that entering that highly volatile spectrum of violence might set in train a sequence of unforeseen consequences that made the situation even worse than before. Vietnam is the precedent which haunts the mind. Initial results made me think I was being too timid but more recent analyses from this benighted country suggest the occupation has been mishandled and is again reaching crisis levels. Iraq was another case where I suspected the embrace of violence-however jusified the removal of Saddam- would turn out to be self defeating with the biter eventually being bit more savagely than the bitten.
We should know enough about the passions raised by people being killed, especially by forces of a foreign power, to have exercised more prudence and care than charging into the fraught world of Middle eastern politics with guns blazing alongside US armed forces. At least let us hope that the Iraqi adventure will be the last of its kind for another generation and hope that the UN can eventually be fashioned into a legitimate instrument of armed force to maintain international order and justice, instead of individual states. Some hope I agree, but at least its a direction to aim in.