Thursday, February 22, 2001
Post Box Time

One piece, with my responses interlaced:

Thank you for another interesting piece.

I can but try.

You make a good point about Britain's being a net oil exporter. But is it not worth asking, For how long? I do not pretend to know the answer, but I should be surprised if North Sea oil proved to be inexhaustible.

Surely a good case then for maximising our short term returns from a resource that will eventually run out. In fact the depleting nature of our reserves combined with the high costs we have of drilling oil offshore (as compared to through the sand) we have a greater economic interest in short-term high oil prices than, say, the Saudis.

Your explanation of Britain's action in Iraq - sycophancy - is not all that plausible

Sorry to hear that.

(although there is a case for saying that, since America is the world's most powerful country, a measure of sycophancy towards it is probably in our interests).

Avoiding hostility from America is definately in our interests, but sycophancy invokes diminishing returns. America has not exactly stopped interfering in Northern Ireland.

Sycophancy also has considerable downside risks that neutrality/friendliness does not. Compare the fates of Musolini with Franco.

Iraq is a rogue state,

Is there an objective definition for that, apart from "we don't like her"? Israel for example ignores international opinion far more than Iraq, yet we don't describe it as rogue.

& a potentially dangerous one,

Isn't every country? That doesn't mean that we keep the rest of the world under imperial domination.

with a leader intent on amassing weapons of mass destruction.

India? Pakistan? South Africa? China? Israel?

It has to be kept in check.

Why? It does not pose any threat to us?

Its sovereignty is neither here nor there:

Do as you would be done by?

Iraq itself has proved that, given a free hand, it is a more deadly threat to other nations' sovereignty than either Britain or America.

And Kuwait's or Iran's sovereignty is either here or there?

And if, as I take it you believe, the sole determinant of foreign policy ought to be Britain's national interest,


what does sovereignty in other countries matter anyway? What direct effect does it have on our interests?

As much as risking service men's lives, wasting our money or making needless enemies matters.

Surely the only important thing is to preserve our own sovereignty? Does what you call the "genocide" of Iraqis matter to our interests?

Weakening our armed forces and trashing the concept of territorial sovereignty is hardly helping.

Perhaps it gives Saddam a propaganda gift, & so helps to keep a megalomaniacal, potentially-dangerous psychopath in power,

Pretty much a killer fact if we wanted to be rid of him.

but, other than that, I ask again, what does it matter?

Well, how about taking what our leaders say seriously? I would prefer that they practiced and preached a policy solely in defence of our national interests. But until that happy day why are we stopping genocide by killing half a million children because of their nationality? And why are we stopping regional aggression by attacking a country with whom we are at peace?

At least when we have a stupid and muddle headed policy, lets have one which is consistent with its stated aims.

And is it really fair to say that it is Britain & America, rather than Saddam Hussein, who are killing the Iraqi children?

If we bomb sewage treatment plants and stop detergent coming in to Iraq, then yes it is a fair charge.

All Saddam has to do is to allow the inspectors back in. It really isn't that hard.

Are these the same inspectors who admitted spying for the Americans?

Our moral position is better than his.

But the gap is narrowing rapidly.

We are determined to stop him from stock-piling dangerous weapons,

Aren't all weapons dangerous?

& he is determined to stock-pile them.

Of course our dangerous weapons...

We "kill"

What's with this deporsanalisation? Arabs can be killed as well, and have genocide committed upon them.

children to preserve security,

Whose? Not ours.

he kills children so he can threaten security.

Eh? Aren't we threatening Iraq's security by killing their children.

"Air defence", obviously, is designed to shoot down British 'planes.

And British overflights are designed to violate Iraq's sovereignty. A reasonable reaction, would be to defend yourself.

What would you think if the French started overflights over the home counties?

I agree entirely on the question of the European army.


There is no way that it ever will or should rival America's armed forces.

Will - Don't bank on it not doing so. Someone at some point will.

Should - It's none of our business. As long as we're secure (and out of it).

It is actually quite convenient for the countries of Europe not to have to spend very much money on defence, & let America protect us instead,

Not going to happen for long. Relying on America to get us out of this fire is far too risky. There is simply no strategic reason for them being here in strength.

Its also terribly immoral that we are protected by a foreign power that spends a greater proportion of its GDP on defence than us.

which obviously involves keeping N.A.T.O. as strong as possible.

Fighting the last war. We can't keep NATO going through sentiment alone. The American public will wake up sooner or later.

It means that we can afford health & social security services.

So we have the same independence and dignity as a dole scrounger. No thanks.

It's a shame that idiots in France & elsewhere don't realise that.

The French are supremely selfish, but I would not say that they're idiotic.

And here's another piece:

It was only when re-reading 1984 that I remembered who Emmanuel Goldstein was!

I take issue re Iraq and would argue that Sadam must bear the first responsibility for the death of his citizens because he could, as I understand it, buy essential supplies for the well-being of the Iraqi people. It is in his interests to let them suffer to focus their anger
on the west whilst rebuilding his frightening arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

All this is because the job wasn't finished properly the first time.

Still, you have to admire his tenacity!


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