Saturday, February 08, 2003

On hating America, and Belgium

I hate to break the flow of Phil Chaston's excellent work on the European Constitution, but I will.

Matthew Parris has a brilliant piece in the Times on how the peace movement is deluding itself. What happens if Saddam is hiding WMD (Wepons of Mass Destruction, Without Means of Delivery), the UN security council is sufficiently bribed and cajoled, the invasion (not the occupation) is a success and there is no immediate bloodbath in Iraq or the wider Muslim world? All of these events are in themselves highly probable on their own, and put together they probably have a higher than 50% chance of all coming right together.

The problem is that the peace movement in this country has a hate that daren't speak its name, America. (Matthew Parris surprisingly shares this concern in a more diluted sense). That's all fair enough, although not particularly enightened. Personally I like America a lot, and I think hating any country - except, of course Belgium, but they deserve it - is counterproductive. However many more people have entered politics because of their hatred of some particular group and country than have entered it out of any ludicrous belief that they can improve anything - whether its hatred of the rich or trade unions or whatever. This is a fact of political activism which will never be changed, and will have to be accepted.

However what is needed is an analysis of what Britain should be doing in the world, and how she can do this. My humble contribution is that any state primarily exists to preserve the security of its subjects and that its role in foreign policy should therefore be to preserve the state's security and independence. This war in Iraq will not improve our security one jot, and will degrade our military, cost us lots of money and increase the likelihood of terrorist action against us. In short all minuses and no pluses. No mystical invocation of the Anglosphere or vapid equations of Saddam to Hitler will change this calculation. We don't need to hate America, or worry about whether she will get a de facto Empire (too late chaps), just as we don't need to hate non-Belgian Europeans or worry about whether the EU will develop into a superstate (again, too late). All we need to do is keep out of those spheres of inflluence, which surely is not too hard a feat for the next largest economy in the world.


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