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They think we're mad

Judging from the front page of the Guardian's website, someone thinks it's relatively big news that the United Kingdom's foreign secretary, Jack Straw, said that Britain would have "nothing whatever" to do with military action against Syria or Iran.

And, in a way, it is. Never mind the Guardian's politics; that Straw even bothered to say it is significant. He's preemptively distancing Britain from a policy that, so far as anyone knows, doesn't yet exist and hasn't even been discussed. Pundits do this all the time, of course (and some of them even do it very well), but diplomats? In general, it's better for them to simply not comment, one way or the other; fixing your stance before you even know what the actual policy question is isn't generally considered good diplomacy (unless of course you work for the Bush administration).

Straw's remark doesn't necessarily mean Britain truly believes we're going after Syria and Iran; it might just mean that he realizes the rest of the world thinks so, and he wants to reassure them of Britain's own intentions. But it does mean that either he has no faith that Britain could get the United States to make a similar such promise, or he believes that, even if it could, no one else would take America's word for it. What Jack Straw is doing, one way or another, is telling the rest of the world, We're not like them. He's saying, after Iraq, America's on its own.

So, to sum up: The world thinks we're on the war path, and even our only real ally apparently thinks it's no longer worth trying to reason with us (and is saying as much).

This isn't pretty.

April 2, 2003 3:36 PM

Comments (and TrackBacks)

That's pretty much my perception in the UK, and we're the closest country in the world to being "with" you by a long shot. It appears (to many) that you have a rogue administration, bent on destabilising the entire world order for unknown purposes. I fervently hope this is not the case, but all bets are off for now.

Posted by dan on April 3, 2003 11:31 AM

To elaborate further on this theme, it's basically a trust issue. The actions of the US (and Britain) could be seen to be actions of high moral integrity, based on knowledge which cannot be shared publically. But to believe that would be to put your trust in politicians. Further, it would be to put one's trust in politicians whom one knows have an abusive relationship with the truth.

Not pretty, indeed.

Posted by dan on April 3, 2003 11:41 AM

There is at least one too few "one"s in my previous comment. Just adjusting ...

Posted by dan on April 3, 2003 11:46 AM

Further, it would be to put one's trust in politicians whom one knows have an abusive relationship with the truth.

This is indeed a problem. What was it Bush said? "Fool me once ... shame on ... shame on you ... fool me ... can't get fooled again"?

Posted by M on April 3, 2003 12:38 PM

Truth aint established by polling numbers, quotes, majorities, or Mr Anti-Cannabis Straw (hey, anyone buy hash from his son lately?).

I can easily imagine a world in which Europa, NAmerica and Russia witness ever increasing domestic terrorism, of ever increasing magnitude and severity, and ever deminishing wealth and influence, with the likes of the Hause of Saud, The Mubarak Crew-o-Thugs, and the Baathist fascists of Syria and Iraq running the MidEast.

The average American and Britain (and German and French) think the current status of stability (no matter how many cracks newly present) is sustainable given currents methods of operation. This is like the executives of IBM circa 1990 trying to get their heads around the idea of the web. Good luck.

That world is gone and over forever, no matter how much the consumerist hordes lament its loss.

I sat in Finsbury Park last weekend and watched white-middle-class uni-studying consumerists march hand-in-hand with Baathist sympathisers, all the while oblivious to the real aims of their pan-Arab nationalist "allies".

The average Arab nationalist watches all of our demo's and thinks "What a bunch of schmucks, wait till we get ahold of their throats."

Our prosperity, and the notions upon which our market-civilizations are based demand that we deal, head on if need be, with evil in our house.

And the MidEast is definitely our collective, shared House. And clean it shall be, no matter the sin of the majority. Let 'em march, obliviously.

.rob adams

Posted by rob adams on April 3, 2003 1:02 PM

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