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“You say Jihad…

… and I say Crusade, you say heathen, I say evil zealot, you say weapons of mass destruction, I say ruthless terrorism‚ let’s call the whole thing off!”

I’ll start by stating the obvious: it’s not for some limey to pretend he can influence the election results of a sovereign State, let alone what is currently the world’s only superpower. On the other hand, perhaps by entering the debate, I can have some influence on the world that results from today (03/11/2004).

Napoleon was not the first world leader to spot that by going to war, he could extend his tenure, the Vikings were excellent at it, as were the Turks, Greeks, Romans, Celts and every other pretender to the crown of world dominance, including the ten or twelve tribes (depending what you read) from whence it is claimed that we came. Chinese dynasties were expert at it, as were the Mongols – I could go on, but I suspect you get the drift!

Where am I going with this? Well, my undergraduate degree is in Comparative Politics (thanks to the UK system, it is also in French and Spanish) and I have read a fair amount of history books and international relations text books. I have a hunch that what is happening in the world today is the coming together of a dangerous mix of essentially unconnected phenomena. If not handled with extreme care, this particular Molotov Cocktail is liable to blow up and take all of us with it to whatever it is that awaits us once we have fallen off this mortal coil – and that has nothing to do with dead parrots or any other Monty Python sketch.

Most (all?) of the European Powers (Old World) have gone to war for reasons other than to defend themselves. The United States (and the rest of the New World) is basically a product of European Imperialism; it is perhaps not surprising, then, that she find herself today fighting war on several fronts. What’s more, many (all?) people seem to believe that their personal way of doing things/beliefs/world view [DELETE AS APPROPRIATE] is the ‘only’ way of doing things. Further, we all belong to the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) camp, so it is understandable that the biggest kid on the block is refusing to allow the Head Teacher to see what is in his pockets – after all, he’s big enough to inflict some serious damage on that nasty big bully – and if we’re honest, nobody seriously believes all that fluff about turning the other cheek in the New Testament, do they? I mean, look at the way governments around the world rule; it is human nature to defend oneself and most of us seem to enjoy getting revenge, or should I say defending one’s honour. I subscribe to the latter, hence my previous entry on this blog.

Unfortunately I am not describing the latest antics of a comic book character; I am describing the actions of the United States of America.

The US justifies its invasion of Iraq on the grounds that Saddam Hussein did not obey UN Resolutions that gave it no choice but to allow its Weapons Inspectors in. But the US itself is guilty of precisely the same behaviour. Moreover, Saddam did not have WMD, which means that in the eyes of many people, the war in Iraq. I was in New York and watched the second debate between Bush and Kerry. Mr Bush used the fact that Tony Blair was on his side to counter accusations that he had isolated the US. Well, I do not yet reached any conclusion on Iraq, but I can tell Mr Bush that Tony Blair is under siege over here, largely because so many Brits consider he lied to them regarding why we went to war.

In the past Prime Ministers and Presidents would be expected to get away with such trivial matters. What is different today is that communications technologies and excellent, inexpensive transport make us all superpowers. You hit me and I do have the means and the wherewithal to hit you back.

The US is continuing its tried and trusted foreign policy of posturing and ‘eye for an eye’ military attacks. This is precisely what the British government used in the past. It is an outdated policy and while it is employed by major Powers, it is making the world a very dangerous place.

Furthermore, there is an extremely dangerous attempt to lump together Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an “axis of evil”. Iran and Iraq are sworn enemies for heaven’s sakes! At worst, this is an example of ‘spin’; an attempt to justify a perpetual “War on Terror” that cannot be won. At best, it shows a frighteningly naïve understanding of the world.

Technology now exists that allows us to engage in dialogue with our ‘enemies’ and try to understand what it is that they do not like about our behaviour. It is only respectful to listen to other peoples’ opinions – this is the basis of democracy. It is also correct to respect other peoples’ ways of doing things. What works for you may or may not work for me; if you impose it on my, I will not like it. I will probably break it. I am a big kid.

Whoever wins the US Presidential Election today, I pray that they begin to show some common sense and start listening to other people.



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