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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Friday, August 12, 2005

Ideology before morality

Unidicted war criminal Henry Kissinger appears in today's Australian. The article is sickening and proves the Murdoch broadsheet cares little about the broader implications of publishing a figure like Kissinger. He talks of his "anguish" over Vietnam and the "the West's statesmanship in shaping a global system relevant to its necessities."

Kissinger has neither crediblity nor respect. He should be in the dock and charged with war crimes. For Murdoch, however, power always comes before morality.


Blogger Armagnac Esq. said...

Indicted beautifully by Christopher Hitchens, back when he wasn't a class-A cock.

Friday, August 12, 2005 12:57:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Says a lot about our national daily, doesn't it?

Friday, August 12, 2005 1:06:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Hitchens, before he was seduced by easy answers and easy friendships, was a vital voice, on Kissinger and Mother Teresa, and others.
As for the Oz, they've published him before and will continue to do so. As I wrote, they don't care what he's done, he's the 'voice of the establishment' and that's what matters. We wait for the rantings of Saddam on the op-ed page soon enough...

Friday, August 12, 2005 1:42:00 pm  
Blogger Ian Westmore said...

Oh, well, Rupert has been playing Joseph Goebbels to Dubya's Adolph Hitler for several years now, so printing the deluded thoughts of another war criminal (and murderer) is no surprise.

Anyway, Rupert is expecting a big present or two from another unidicted war criminal, John Winston Howard, any day now!

Friday, August 12, 2005 3:18:00 pm  
Blogger Vasco Pyjama said...

Okay, I am running the risk of sounding utterly naive here. I mean, I find Kissinger problematic too. I dislike even his language, which is tinged with arrogance, and fear and hatred of The Other. However, we (as in the coalition of the willing) have created this bloody awful mess. Are we just hoping that everything that Kissinger is saying has no validity?

I mean, personally, I think that we have directly escalated this ideological war between Islam and the West by going into Iraq. And I think his warmongering about how moderate Arab states getting involved next is rubbish. I think they would only get involved if we force their hand.

But I do worry about the potential for civil war. I do worry about what will happen to the Kurds who have so strongly aligned themselves with the Coalition. I mean, is Iraq like Afghanistan? Is it heavily armed? How many combatants (insurgents) are there currently? Who are potential combatants? Is it strategic to leave now before the conflict escalates further so that potential combatants don't become combatants? Or is it too late?

As Australians, and participants (whether we liked it or not) in the coalition of the willing, we have a certain duty of care here. It would be sad if we withdraw and later find mass graves of Kurds.

(I'll stop my rant here).

Friday, August 12, 2005 11:32:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Much of what you say is correct, BUT, elevating a person like kissinger, a man who contributedmuch to profound suffering around the world, as having a valuable insight is dangerous.
Sure, listen to what he has to say but treat him with the contempt he deserves. Think about why the Oz publishes him...

Saturday, August 13, 2005 11:02:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Hmm. Sound points, Vasco. Your thoughts on this topic have always been quite logical and considered. I disagree that we should allow Shrub and Co to continue with the occupation on principle, but concede your views that further violence may result.

Need the answer be confined to withdrawal or occupation, though? Kissinger (and his role in "sideshows" in the past) aside, we should also consider the usefulness of occupying forces to prevent massacres in the past. What good did the military campaign in Yugoslavia do?

I don't think you can convince me that having US troops in Iraq is safe-guarding security for civilians. Quite the opposite appears true, in light of statistics about suicide bombings and attacks on Iraqi authorities.

Can we do something that will at once end the occupation by the US and preserve the security situation for Iraqis and reduce the incidence of violence? Maybe, maybe not. What is clear is that any solution to the raft of problems facing Iraq - problems that go far deeper and extend far wider than "freedom haters" - will be more complex, more difficult, and possibly more subtle - and certainly more international - than any strategies so far proposed.

Why? The current "strategy" is not intended to protect Iraqis. It is there to protect US interests and preserve the greater geo-strategic plan.

And back to Antony's main point - what are Kissinger's credentials on human rights and peace making? We can be sure that any suggestions he makes will be coming to us via the same machiavellian perspective he applied while in formal positions of power.

I'll leave it there. Let's discuss again. I need a beer.

Saturday, August 13, 2005 3:28:00 pm  
Blogger Psi Star Psi said...

Vasco, I'll answer your questions as they seem to me.

Iraq is far, far worse than Afghanistan. It is even more heavily armed, because it had 30 years of a paranoid, warmongering dictator buying weapons from compliant western governments with oil revenue, and the armouries were looted immediately after the invasion while American troops were busy securing the Oil Ministry. Afghanistan IS heavily armed, but not to the same extent, because it didn't have the infrastructure to support such a massive army. Ammunition is more of a problem in Afghanistan too. Iraq is still overflowing with Saddam's munitions, which is one of the reasons there are so many roadside bombs there compared to Afghanistan. Afghanistan is rich in light weaponry, but in Iraq the insurgents have thousands of artillery shells but no artillery.

Current US estimates are generally range of about 20,000 to 50,000 insurgents. I imagine this is far more than the number of Taliban actively engaged in Afghanistan, and the other combatants are not united against occupation. A quick look at respective casualty tolls in the two countries for American troops is enough to indicate the scale of the difference - over 800 dead per year in Iraq on average, about 50 per year in Afghanistan.

Also, the Americans currently have about 8,000 troops out of about 13,000 foreign troops in the country, compared with over 150,000 foreign troops in Iraq, about 138,000 of which are American. Yet Iraq has mass violence on a scale Afghanistan doesn't even approach.

Re potential combatants, the biggest groups are the Kurds and the Shiite militias. The most immediate threat would probably be al-Sadr's militia, but if al-Sistani throws in his lot against the Sunni, as the terrorists in Iraq are trying to achieve, the country would fall about. A lot of analysts regard him as the most powerful man in Iraq, and I'd agree. Luckily for Iraq, he knows he's got more to gain from working with the Americans and nation-building than by fighting, and his power is, for the moment, enough to keep the Shia extremists in check.

If the insurgents manage to assassinate him, though, the Shia could go into open revolt. If that happens, expect the Sunnis to respond. Really, mass graves of Kurds are the least of your worries. Saddam's days are over. The Kurds will be largely left alone until the Sunni and Shia are done killing each other.

And to your final question, no, it's not strategic to pull out now in my opinion. Much as I hate to admit it, the Americans are the only force that's holding Iraq together now. They're clinging on by their fingernails, but they're clinging very hard. If the Americans leave now, the entire country will collapse, I have no doubt. Firstly, insurgents will concentrate again, as they did in Fallujah before the second US offensive in November scattered them. After consolidating, they will take over large parts of the country, including throughout the Sunni triangle. From there the radical Islamic groups will strike at the Shia, and it's likely the nationalist and Ba'athist factions will begin to fight them (and there is already evidence of this happening). Expect Shiite militias to respond and you'll get at best a failed state with endemic violence, at worst a civil war.

Not that I'm saying the Americans staying will accomplish much. They really need to increase their troop commitment, and hold it for at least a decade, probably longer. It's the only chance they have to restore order, and it's a slim one at that. But the American public and politicians have the short attention span usual with democracies, and they won't do it, particularly in the face of mounting casualties. They also just can't afford it, long term. No other countries or groups of countries, including Iraq's neighbours, have the will, ability or money to replace the Americans there. And the Iraqi National Guard certainly can't handle it - even though Australian troops are heavily involved in training them, which is probably the best assistance we can give them.

So if the Americans can't do it, no one can. Sad truth of the equation. I predict they'll pull out in a few years, and the country will go to pieces. Possibly not as far as civil war, but the US has really screwed this one up.

The above is, of course, entirely my personal opinion based on my own research and analysis.

Sunday, August 14, 2005 6:41:00 pm  
Blogger Vasco Pyjama said...

AL, DBO and PSP... thanks for your thoughts. Sorry I took so long to come back. Pre-deployment is not only annoying, but is also time consuming.

First of all, AL and DBO, I agree with you that Kissinger lacks any veracity in this debate. His track record in international peace and diplomacy is appalling. I do not intend to credit him with 'valuable insight'. I find his attitude too problematic. I suppose I just was wondering if we should not just pull out of Iraq purely because we are anti-war, or anti-Kissinger, or anti-Bush.

Secondly, PSP, you have given me much to think about. I would like to move this discussion to another forum. Will post a comment here once I write it up.

Sunday, August 14, 2005 8:08:00 pm  
Blogger Vasco Pyjama said...

PSP and others, I have posted for discussion on a peace discussion community on livejournal, MyPeaceTank.

Sunday, August 14, 2005 8:28:00 pm  
Blogger Vasco Pyjama said...

Oh forgot to say, happy to move this discussion elsewhere if anyone has other suggestions.

Sunday, August 14, 2005 8:29:00 pm  

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