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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Seeing the Light?

This piece of mine appears on the Guardian's Comment is Free website.

Back in 2003, in the build-up to war with Iraq, the Independent's Johann Hari was one of the most vocal liberal/left-wing supporters of the invasion. "Every single anti-war protester should - on the basis of this evidence and similar material I have offered in previous columns about the real wishes of the Iraqi people - reconsider their view," he wrote in March 2003.

Four years on, it's Hari himself who is reconsidering his views. He is scathing about those who planned the invasion- and the "leftists" who thought Washington's neoconservatives could be an ally:

"It's painfully conspicuous that [Nick] Cohen's statements about neoconservatism consist solely of assertions, primarily about the personal niceness of Paul Wolfowitz. The overwhelming contrary evidence is simply ignored. A policy of systematic torture? The immediate imposition of mass privatisations, causing mass unemployment and sectarian unrest? The barricading of civilian men aged between 18 and 60 in Fallujah, a city the size of Baltimore, before attacking it with chemical weapons? Cohen does not say how these neoconservative tactics have been "fighting the Left's battles for them".

Hari goes on:
"The notion that neoconservatism is a vehicle for a global democratic revolution is a 1990s rhetorical creation. On the contrary, for most of its short intellectual life neoconservatism has been a force defending autocracy".

It's great to see that Hari is moving in the right direction. But he still has a little further to go on his journey towards the truth. Like the war in Iraq, the neocon-inspired war against Yugoslavia in 1999 - which Hari still defends - had nothing to do with "humanitarian concerns" or "spreading democracy" (Yugoslavia under Milosevic was a multi-party democracy, with a well-financed opposition media) but was purely and simply about extending Pax Americana and, to use Hari's own words the imposition of mass privatisations. In order to achieve their goal, the empire builders in Washington had to resort to deceit: in 2003, the Big Lie was that Iraq possessed WMDs, four years earlier, it was that Yugoslav forces were committing genocide in Kosovo.
Sadly, large sections of the liberal left believed the official version, and in 1999 backed the illegal war.

Messrs Perle, Wolfitowitz and Rumsfeld - all members of the executive of the Balkan Action Committee (which lobbied for US involvement on the side of the separatist leader Izetbegovic in Bosnia, and then for full scale war against Milosevic's rump Yugoslavia in 1999) would never have got the level of public support they did for their wars without the propagandising done for their cause by liberal-left writers like Nick Cohen, David Aaronovitch and Johann Hari - and of course, Christopher Hitchens.

Once the liberal-left wakes up to the fact that in Yugoslavia, as in Iraq, they were sold a pack of lies, it really is game over for the serial warmongers.

Over to you, Johann.


John said...

Hi, Im from Melbourne in the land of Oz.
You might also like to check out Monsters To Destroy by Ira Chernus. Its about the all consuming pyscho-pathology of the neo-barbarian world-view.

Nick said...

It seems to me Neil that you're trying still to fight a battle that is over (rather like many Serbs appear to have been doing for the past 600 years or so). Whatever these people's views were, what happened happened - and whether they've changed their views or not doesn't really matter too much since they're writers, not fighters. Slagging them off here seems to me to be neither constructive nor worthwhile.

Neil Clark said...

"What happened happened"
But it will happen again Nick, unless those who still believe the attack on Yugoslavia to have been inspired by "humanitarian concerns" don't start to see the bigger picture. The road to Baghdad began in Belgrade, but it won't end there until the serial warmongers are stopped. The very same people who egged on the attacks on Yugoslavia and Iraq are now planning further aggression- this time against Iran. Stopping them means being aware that the wars against Yugoslavia and Iraq were part of the same imperialist
process. In the words of EM Forster "Only connect!"

John said...

Hi its John again. I find this analysis of what happened in Yugoslavia quite compelling---even if its only half right. It is titled The Rational Destruction of Yugoslavia.

Neil Clark said...

Many thanks John. I'll check out both links.
All the very best,