Tuesday, January 23, 2007

This Still Seems Like A Crap Argument

Because I'm an old fart now (45 this year), I remember things some younger readers may not. I remember drawing in the living room with crayons when the TV was on - it was showing adult, eg boring, stuff, the news as it happened - and I saw things that looked a lot like the crayons I was using. They had the rather cooler quality of exploding. That was a war in black-and-white, and I've been unable to see crayons since without thinking "BOOM! (wow!)" My parents also took the 'Guardian' (as it was before trendy lower case fooling); round about the same time it had a front page they couldn't hide from me - a still spectacular photo of a soldier just like one of my plastic models: his arms thrown up and his body bending back from the knees at the impact of a bullet. This was, of course, Vietnam. The war Bobby Kennedy (much praised by Martin Kettle)'s older brother Jack got the US into. One other thing I remember - and I can't place this at all, again black and white, but some air force base in the US, the pilots all came running out shouting "War! War!" happily. I come from a military family: that is my dad served in WWII: but he regarded the US and US pilots in particular as nutters.
And there is of course this. I can't find one with Slim Pickens wah-hooing.
Why mention all this? Because Jonathan Derbyshire has an interview with Oor Nick.

In Ian McEwan’s novel 'Saturday', the protagonist Henry Perowne watches as demonstrators gather for the massive anti-war march of February 2003. He is struck, and slightly disturbed, by the levity of the crowd. 'Everyone is thrilled to be out together on the streets – people are hugging themselves, it seems, as well as each other.' The protestors may be right, Perowne muses: leaving Saddam’s sanguinary dictatorship in place might, just, be preferable to aerial bombing and invasion. But they ought to be 'sombre' in this view – it's a dreadful moral calculus, after all, that weighs summary execution and 'occasional genocide' against the hazards of regime change.

Yes, by god. They should be sombre, as young people going into an adventure ought to be. Less of this joy in being alive, less unconditional happiness and goddam vitality. They should be (sorry I love this):

Hail continual plodders hail
Lengthen out the tedious tale
Pedant still in head and knee
Dull of humour not a trace
Permanently commonplace
Sans genie et sans espirit

Hollingdale from Nietzsche. Young people, eh Jonathan? They'll be having sex next. Kill 'em all, I say. It's not like war is fun or anything.
Get it while you can, and don't let the bastards grind you down.
Slim Pickens (when I find the right vid): Wah-hooo; wah-hoooo; yee-ha!!!!
Update: here it is.
And this is sombre. And finally, since Vera (above) interupted Der Fliegende Hollander Shall We Dance? War is great fun. I can't see why peace shouldn't be too.


Blogger ejh said...

One thing about that formulation - weighing up the violence of regime change versus the violence of Saddam - is that it assumes that the former was basically a beneviolent act, performed with the best of motives for the benefit of the Iraqis, and therefore the only question to ask is which option will hurt these people least. Because you see, it's their welfare that is our priority. In the heads of the regime-changers, their own motives and values, and those of the Coalition, are necessarily good: that's a given. The moral calculus doesn't extend to any consideration of that particular aspect of the invasion (and any attempt to so extend it can be described as "anti-Americanism" by Cohen, Hitchesn, Aaro, Peter Beaumont et al).

1/24/2007 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

"Cohen is interested in the psychology of such accommodations"


1/24/2007 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stephen Poole on Unspeak offers an insight into life chez wor Nick:

1/24/2007 02:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm old enough to remember clearly the start of "Operation Rolling Thunder" (1965). My experience over more than 40 years leads me to agree with ejh, that it isn't just a question of weighing up the risks of violence of regime change with the violence of Saddam Hussein (or whoever). The invasion of Iraq has led to a failed state in Iraq. Am I surprised? No. Because 40 years of watching US-led wars (sometimes close-up) leads me to think that US administrations (especially the current one) don't understand nation-building, don't understand why states fail, don't understand institutions and accountability and state-society relations, and are a little too optimistic about the effectiveness of violence in creating positive outcomes.

1/24/2007 03:13:00 PM  

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