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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

BLAME THE NEOCONS! PART 6.389.712.638.712 David Clark, the author of this piece used to be a "special" adviser at the FCO. I wonder what his "speciality" was?

The war on terror misfired. Blame it all on the neocons

I take the speciality wasn't nuance or a grasp of complexity. But I'm not so sure he's got much of a grasp of the bigger picture either:

it is nonsense to argue that America and her allies are "losing the war on terror". Al-Qaida's capacity to carry out horrific acts of violence may continue to grow, but its real mission - to establish a pan-Islamic theocracy - is doomed to end in failure.

Why? If this is really so we can call the war off. Great news. Except Clark doesn't actually say that the reason why this will fail is because Western arms are and will be used to prevent that happening

Even a Talibanised Pakistan or Saudi Arabia would be too enfeebled to present much more than a temporary and localised threat.

Temporary and localised? Pakistan's military has nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Saudi Arabia has the world's largest oil reserves by a huge gap, so, although Saudi Arabia doesn't have nukes -yet?-
it certainly has the money and the contacts to start getting hold of them pretty quickly.

The ideology of Islamism will remain contained by the backwardness it shares with other forms of religious fundamentalism.

This is the old idiocy about the Taleban and other Islamist extremism being somehow "backwards" and "old-fashioned" or even "medieval". If only. Then they would be contained in themselves. The problem is however that al-Quaedaism is in fact a highly modern, or if you must use the word, post-modern ideology. But even if Clark were correct about the backwardness, a backwards enemy that is capable of crashing airliners into our offices and chemical agents into our tube ventilation shafts is dangerous enough.

Clarke makes a few points about Iraq that I agree with (and quite a few I don't). I have to say the current situation in Iraq is deeply troubling, but any sense Clark could have made of it gets lost in flinging around more mud.

What comes later on is already a standard mistake that such pieces seem obliged to make. Just a while ago I had noticed this in Richard Overy's piece (March 20, 2004) and I have seen it here and there as well. On the one hand it is said that toppling Saddam was not about interests, but was instead part of some sort of neocon, purely-ideologically driven game. Then, a few paragraphs later, when it comes to the issue of Iraq's liberation, the moral and humanitarian case for intervention, all this argument about ideology goes straight out of window, and suddenly these anti-warriors discover that it was in fact only about naked realpolitikal interests. All this happens without noting the quite obvious contradiction in those two positions. Clark does it too:

an act of geopolitical adventurism that had been part of the neoconservative game plan

and then later:

the US removed Saddam from power for the same reason it installed him in the first place: to engineer a balance of power favourable to its own interests.

Look, I don't expect strict logical rigour or 100% consistency in newspaper op-eds, but it would be nice to see these at least accepted as ideals to be aspired to, rather than ignored purposefully. It is quite obvious that the only real point of these pieces is to score points against Bush, Blair and however else supports a hard line on security issues, simply by doing nothing more than listing any number of accusations one can make. Some of these are undoubtedly valid, but to lump together criticisms that contradict and cancel each other out isn't the basis for constructive oppositions, or any opposition for that matter.
As for the point that the US "installed" Saddam, the US and the UK certainly accepted and cooperated with Saddam, though less than the Arab League bankrolled him and Germany, France and the Soviet Union armed him. It's strange that only US and UK support of Saddam in his war against Iran is worthy of condemnation when in fact we were those who supported him the least and we changed our mind after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, a positive change in thinking the Arab League and the axis of "peace" have yet to make.
But Clark isn't quite content to leave it at such student politics; no he manages to go one lower:

The neocons dismiss this as liberal bunk but, like their chicken-hawk president, most of them have not so much as grazed a knee in defence of their country.

So you're only entitled to making decisions on foreign and security affairs if you've done youre your bit? I wonder what kind of an amazing military career Clarke has behind him? None in fact, but it's quite shameful to see he hails from the great place. Strangely enough I can't quite fathom were the left's sudden love affair for the military has come from. In consequence Clarke's moaning would mean that decisions on war would be the exclusive reserve of the armed forces and veterans to make. I'll just say that's an interesting view of democracy.
And all this is just a brief impression of the collected nonsenses that Clarke's article amounts to. Good to know he no longer works in Government, but it's still amazing that Blair once has such an opinion of him as to have hired him to the FCO. Not surprising some people question Blair's judgement abilities.

Update: To be fair to be Blair -hey, that rhymes!- Clark actually wasn't one of Tony's cronies, but in fact was hired by Robin Cook. On second thoughts what kind of judgement was it to have employed him as forigen secretary *shudder*.

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