21 Mar

Yesterday I did something a bit out of character, I applauded an act of war by US-led forces against a country in the Middle-East.

I’ve long been opposed to the Iraq War respectfully disagreeing with some that it was anything other than a resource grab and an exercise is maintaining and extending hegemony in the region. I haven’t changed my mind about that. Still to those Iraq War supporters who point out that Saddam Hussein is dead and gone because of the war I can only say, yes. And to anyone who asks how else could you rid the world of such an belligerent arsehole I have no suggestions.

I’ve been critical of the Obama administration for not stepping right in, right away and supporting the various revolutions in the Middle-East from the start. Obama chose standard realpolitik caution. Word has it that the US Secretary of State has even given clandestine support to the Saudi initiatives to crush the move for democracy in Bahrain. Shameful.

But when an obvious sultanic nutbag like Gaddafi starts bombing his own people it seems pretty clear that the request to the world to impose a no-fly zone around Libya to stop this, to at least let the Libyan people have a chance, should be granted. Over the week-end, finally, it was. According to Kevin Rudd the United Nations Security Council took a month to make the decision finally. His tone says it, and I agree, that that is far too slow a response. But at least there was a response and now Gaddafi’s days are numbered.


After the neoconservative policies deployed by the Bush administration the balance of power in the Middle East has been, well, unbalanced. Obama’s more urbane, conciliatory style came as a relief to the intelligentsia of the world but his policies could not waver much from Bush’s. After three years under Obama US forces are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. He can’t get out. He must stay and fight. The courtiers in the Bush administration, those who truly designed and pushed that government’s foreign policy, knew that whomsoever replaced them would be forced to carry on their policies regardless their inclinations. It was just too hard not to.

I don’t like any of this. But, unpleasant as it is, I have to face certain facts. Authoritarian regimes are hard to get rid of peacefully. The relatively ordered transference of power in Cairo and Tunis is exceptional. Other uprisings in the region are more likely to be met with the iron fist response we have seen in Libya and Bahrain. And so when it happened I found myself willing the Obama administration to join in, to pursue the neoconservative policy of spreading democracy by force and glad when he finally did so.

Funny old world innit.



  1. John H. March 21, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    And so when it happened I found myself willing the Obama administration to join in, to pursue the neoconservative policy of spreading democracy by force and glad when he finally did so.

    Afghanistan is hardly a model of success.
    Iraq is struggling, still no clear signs of sustained stability emerging.
    Libya is like Afghanistan, more a coalition of tribes than a country.

    Yes, go in and have a go but be realistic. To date the best hopes are Egypt and Tunisia, not Afghanistan, Iraq, or Libya.

  2. AC Stewart March 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    Don;t get me wrong John, I still think Afghanistan was the biggest mistake of all. I merely speculate that perhaps some good might come of the whole mess.

  3. Peter Patton March 23, 2011 at 2:40 am #


    I get the impression you can take some well-meant “tough love” from a friend, so here goes. The question is not “were the neocons right after all”? The question is, “was Adrien always a neocon after all”? 😉

  4. AC Stewart March 23, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    Emphatically not.

    Everyone’s wrong, no-one’s right
    We all have our parts to play.
    Play them true, s’what I say.
    And on occasion it just might…

  5. John H. March 23, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    Funny how we never hear about Iraq anymore. Two weeks ago an oil refinery was blown up and now …

    19 killed in Iraq’s ‘Day of Rage’ protests

  6. AC Stewart March 23, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    Funny how we never hear about Iraq anymore.

    Scary is what it is. A few decades ago we would be hearing about it. But because of media concentration the government can effectively silence inconvenient reportage.

  7. John H. March 23, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    I remember a distinct conversation with a v. smart old friend of mine, one of the many that have drifted away throughout my life. He was doing his Ph. D. in media studies at Griffith Uni. He mentioned to me that one thing he was encountering in the literature was the idea of the “dumbing down” of the populace through various means. At the time I thought it was bunkum. As you know I’m no fan of post modernist stuff but they sure seem to have got that right. There are a number of studies now coming out pointing to widespread declines in cognitive ability. Most commentators see this solely in terms of the education system but it can’t be that and too often that avenue is explored simply to abuse governments and the humanities. It is more than that, I can’t quite get a handle on it. I can feel it not see it. There are wider cultural issues at play here. Put simply, I label it the calculator effect. As a friend of mine said tonight, he was watching this program on how wolves and domesticated dogs attempt to solve problems. The wolves kept trying, the dogs simply started looking to their master for help. Gadgetry is making us stupid. Modern culture is not encouraging people to think, it is encouraging them to dance.

    A few days ago, after staying up all night trying to get a better idea of what is going on, I sent off a long email to various friends raising the above issue. The issue is very complicated and difficult to get a handle on, if only because the raw data needed to carefully delineate just where the cognitive declines are occurring within the population and across nations, is very difficult to get hold of. By way of example though, I’m not sure that the types of people exemplified by a program like Jersey Shores is something we should laugh at or be very concerned about.

    The mass media is certainly a big part of the problem. They do not exist to inform us, they exist to … I’m not sure anymore. I hate to be that cynical as to assert to simply push agendas but it is certainly becoming much more like that. Here’s a recent example. The other day, Andrew Bolt, citing Coulter, was trying to run the line that a little radiation is good for you. Now there are studies that suggest that but anyone with a modicum of understanding about this current nuclear incident and the potential effects of even lose dose radiation exposure impact on cellular physiology knows damn well it is a very stupid argument. Yet people are taking it seriously, mostly people who know sweet FA about cellular biology.

    So as I sit here now with sun rising and awaiting an email from an overseas student seeking my opinion on things neuro, I wonder just how stupid human beings are becoming and to what extent modern means of communication are contributing to that.

    Adrien there is something strange going on in our culture and culture is like your thing dude, I prefer molecules and stuff. But if you find the time and inclination I would love to see you put up a post expressing your views about some of these issues.

  8. AC Stewart March 23, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    I think I shall. As a graduate of the media school at GU I can tell you that those aspects of post-modernism that get (rightly) criticized don’t apply (mostly) there. It’s pretty tough.

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