Monday, March 12, 2007

Like the invasion of Afghanistan? You're endorsing the 'Axis of Evil' concept

Recently, Tariq Ali, a venerable socialist from the UK, came out with an article on Afghanistan advocating withdrawl that contained this passage at the start :

"Few tears were shed in Afghanistan and elsewhere when the Taliban fell, the hopes aroused by Western demagogy did not last too long. It soon became clear that the new transplanted elite would cream off a bulk of the foreign aid and create its own criminal networks of graft and patronage."

Really? Break one standard of international law and more are sure to follow. Many people argued that the authorization by the UN was forced, was illegal in itself, and that the U.S. was using its domination of NATO to construct its own unilateral fighting force there. But what about the tears for the Taliban? In a way, that's just the point.

The Taliban were of course an extremely repressive group ruling with an extreme interpretation of Islam that brought the country back into the stone age. Hard to be sympathetic. However, the point of advocating for invading Afghanistan was that if a regime is horrible we don't have to obey international law in invading and overthrowing it.

The undertone of the invasion of Afghanistan was that there were regimes in the world that were obnoxiously bad, that had gotten western tolerance for too long and now in the wake of 9/11 had to be dealt with with a hard fist. No more Mr. Nice guy for regimes that liberal tolerance had accorded such things as negotiation or diplomacy, or multiparty talks, as in North Korea.

Enter the Axis of Evil speech. Afghanistan was overthrown because the Taliban's harboring of Al-Qaeda personnel and training camps was an insult to the civilized world and something had to be done. Enough was enough. Then, after Afghanistan was invaded, Bush outlined three other obnoxious to the civlized world states that similarly could not be tolerated: Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.

It didn't matter that they had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda; they were outlaw regimes that posed a threat to the free world by their very existence and needed to be dealt with with an iron hand.

That was the rhetoric surrounding the invasion of Iraq, that it had weapons of mass destruction and was going to use them, that was and is the rhetoric surrounding North Korea, that it's developing, has developed, nuclear weapons and is prepared to use them, that's the rhetoric now surrounding Iran: that it's pursuing a nuclear weapons program and is prepared too threaten everyone.

Of course despite the presence of nuclear weapons in North Korea and an ambiguous stance on nuclear weapons development from Iran, the rhetoric is all just that: rhetoric justifying U.S. foreign policy.

But if you object to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and object to furthering conflict by invading Iran, yet support invading Afghanistan just remember something: that which you buy into as being justified and right is the very reasoning which has justified the conflicts that you oppose.

Consistency would be nice, even though the Taliban were bastards.

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