August 10th, 2003

Dark Tower

Doing Something

I can't find the article now, so excuse my obscurity: sometime last weekend one of the NYT columnists wrote about Tony Blair in the days before the Iraq war. Tony has been one of the most articulate people pushing for it, and the leader who has paid the most in terms of his own career because of it.

(well, it didn't do Saddam's career a great deal of good, now I come to think of it. Also a whole lot of soliders and civilians will not look back on it fondly, or at all...)

In a quiet moment, apparently addressing only a filing cabinet outside his office, Tony Blair reflected that many of his critics were calling on him to do something about all the other tyrants in the world today. I would if I could, he said, but we can do something about Saddam, so let's do it. He never made that argument public, instead pushing the 'sexed up' intelligence reports about the imminent threat Saddam posed to the West.

But it's a good point. There is a whole lot of crap in the world, and 'with great power comes great responsibility'. America has the power, more than any other force in human history, in both absolute and relative terms. If the UN wasn't going to act, and the US could, shouldn't it? Sure there is hypocracy involved... the US funded Saddam and Osama, but doesn't that give them more of a reason to clean up their mess?

Maybe. It didn't go very well (there was a city-wide riot against British troops overnight, I hear on the news), but it might yet prove a good thing. But I don't think they sold it, and without that, they will have even less chance to use their power in the places it's needed. Few people in America care about torture and oppression in Africa or wherever (hell, I don't care a great deal about Liberia, because I have little idea where it is or what is happening. But apparently the unrest has killed six times as many civilians as Saddam did, in relative terms, and most factions actually want peacekeepers to become involved).

Maybe America won't put its troops on the line without some sort of direct threat against it, even if it has to manufactor that threat itself -- which is rather difficult considering the military power they can defend themselves with. Maybe if they spent less on military power and more on home security, or paying their firemen, they'd have terrorism covered too, at least as much as it will ever be.

So with great power comes, well, not much really.