Salman Rushdie ®
I woke up the other day to find myself, along with Christopher Hitchens and Martin Amis, transformed by the British liberal media into a member of "the belligerati", a term coined, to describe those who have supported the US campaign in Afghanistan, by the ex-revolutionary Tariq Ali, an enthusiastic advocate of the "blowback" or "America deserved it" analysis of the 9/11 atrocities.
This dime-store jeer was immediately pronounced "brilliant" by a second leftist journalist, while a third described my pleasure at the fall of the Taliban as a "premature celebration of victory".
As John Lloyd wrote in the New Statesman recently, "Much of the intellectual left in Europe cleaves to a view of America as the largest danger in the modern world." But in Afghanistan the Taliban, perhaps the cruellest regime on earth, had permitted the country to be hijacked by a parasitic terror organisation dedicated to the overthrow of western civilisation.
The cleansing of those stables by the United States deserves a far better press than it is getting. Sadly, cheap slogans and ad hominem sneers have long passed for reasoned argument in the British papers. This doesn't much matter, except in so far as it is part of a wider portrayal of the United States as a vengeful nation bent on war and hot for foreign blood.
It does matter to deconstruct that caricature, because it's important for the world outside the United States to understand with what sober gravity Americans, young and old, liberal and conservative, have been thinking and feeling their way through personal tragedy and global crisis.
In recent weeks I've been to to four American universities and also to Washington DC, where I spoke to large groups of both Democrat and Republican senators and senatorial staff, so I've been hearing how the argument is going in intellectual circles as well as political ones.
And yes, there is a certain amount of gung-ho let's-kick-us-some-Arab-butt war-fever around, particularly, but not only, in the Republican camp. When I warned the senators I'd been invited to address that, should the US go after Saddam Hussein, it might very well do so alone, more than one of the great men allowed as how that would be just fine.
Equally noticeable, though, was the high degree of anxiety - in the corridors of power in DC as well as in the lecture rooms of Harvard, Yale, Brown and Syracuse - about the many pitfalls in the road ahead. Critiques of administration policy in the "war against terror" grow stronger and more vociferous every day.
This is the paradox at the heart of the debate: how can you present yourselves as defending the great values of freedom and justice, if that defence promotes unfreedom and injustice?
The real "belligerati", the hawks among America's makers of foreign policy, have made such mistakes before - by supporting the Shah's tyranny in Iran, a policy which led eventually to Khomeini's revolution; by supporting the coup against President Allende in Chile, a decision which made possible the nightmare of Pinochet; and, more recently, by tilting towards the Islamist fundamentalists in Algeria.
They are in danger of doing it again. If Saddam and his cronies are to be unseated, it's important to find a successor regime that doesn't require decades of propping up. This is the point the Saudis were making when they expressed support for an Iraqi-led revolution against Saddam. The US gets the point; unfortunately, at present, the CIA-dominated thinking appears to be that a military strongman is needed.
Thus the main opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress led by Ahmed Chalabi, is treated with scorn - "an ineffectual showboat", as one recent American report put it - while the US starts cosying up to a string of exiled ex-generals, many with attractive backgrounds in chemical warfare. This is the warlord option, and it alarms many of us, even if the warlords are at present somewhat less than fearsome, running small restaurants in Virginia or living in severely reduced circumstances in Wuppertal, Germany.
But shouldn't a paid-up "belligerato" be pleased by America's tough-guy stance? Why be squeamish about making use of old soldiers who may have been responsible for using poison gas on the Kurds? Such questions reveal the absurdity of the slur. I can't speak for the others, but my own view is pretty straightforward. If America gets into bed with scumbags, it loses the moral high ground, and once that ground is lost, the argument is lost with it.
We don't yet know if the Chalabi group commands sufficient support within Iraq, but such anecdotal information as there is suggests Chalabi is at least as likely to be "viable" as any of the generals. A month ago, Chalabi told the Council on Foreign Relations that the INC is committed to the creation of a just society in a country from which justice has been exiled for far too long: "We are for the establishment of a democratic, pluralistic system of government. We support a federal system for Iraq, so that the Kurds can have their own identity and the rest of the communities can feel safe. We renounce weapons of mass destruction. We renounce terrorism and we renounce the use of force as... the instrument of national policy."
If the US laughs at such democrats and backs new dictators instead, people may judge that Americans care only about their own security and are once again prepared, in the name of that security, to sacrifice the freedoms of others. If that judgment is made, America's cause will be lost. America's national interest can only lie in the advancement of the cause of freedom and justice.
The blame-America-first gang in Britain and elsewhere should know that an enormous number of Americans feel this way. The government of the United States should know it too, and start paying attention to what the American people are beginning, more and more emphatically, to say.
Tomado de The Guardian.
Volver a la página principal | Volver a la sección de política