My favourite local ideologue is Vanessa Bowden, editor of Opus (the Newcastle University student magazine). Since the beginning of this year, she's managed to turn the normally left-leaning magazine into a so-far-left-that-it's-fallen-off-the-cliff-and-we-had-to-send-a-search-party-after-it magazine. Just look at this editorial:
I was in a pub one night when two of my best friends gave me the shock of my life. Now that the war is ‘over’, they said the troops should stay there and clean up. Now, these people are pretty left wing. One of them has even been arrested at a forest blockade. I couldn’t believe it. What the hell was going on?
Heaven forbid that a leftist should hold a sensible position! I mean, keep the troops in Iraq to help maintain order and aid the reconstruction effort? That sounds terrifyingly reasonable!
More recently, I had a newer, and from what I’ve seen very keen and fantastic activist ask me how you can find out about what’s going on in Iraq but not get involved in the campaign because they weren’t sure if the troops should leave. So eventually, upon re-entering soberland, I realised that this must be what a lot of people are thinking. Things may have changed a bit with the recent revelations regarding torture, but I’m not sure... Personally, I think it’s pretty telling of where the media’s interest lies when they are so willing to show those photos but give so little effort reporting about those who have died, the privatisation of the healthcare service in Iraq (it used to be public),
One of the most despotic dictators of modern times deposed, one of the most ruthless regimes of the twentieth century consigned to the rubbish bins of history, and here is Vanessa worrying about the privatisation of Iraqi healthcare. Never mind the fact that one of Saddam's means of keeping control over his country was probably through making such vital resources as health and education public - privatisation is always bad!
What most people probably don’t know is that the Shiites and Sunnis actually have a long history of fighting against occupying forces, so the argument that the country will fall apart if the troops leave is actually false.
How does the second half of that sentence follow on from the first?
If you’re interested in reading more about that, check out the work of Tariq Ali. Anyway, it’s clear that they’re not fighting each other – they’re fighting us.
Yes. By chopping off the heads of (civilian) westerners and by bombing (civilian) Iraqis. Here I was thinking that they were remnants of the Baath party, desperate to maintain their grip on power, but what would I know? I'm just a nasty evil wicked hegemonic western oppressor type person.
And you know, I really hope they win.
It would mean a lot to all of us. That we can’t keep living the way we are and killing each other to source our gratuitous lifestyles. That we can’t impose particular economic systems on other countries through violence
Obviously, though, it's alright for those resisting us nasty westerners to use violence, chop off heads, etc, etc.
That we need to start thinking in different ways. We need to have more respect for our lives, others lives and the life of our planet. And we need to work together to find the solutions to the problems facing us – not in blocks that allow this process to continue.
If there is a coherent, rational leftist perspective on Iraq, this is not it. Perhaps this man could offer Vanessa some help...
UPDATE: That man is, of course, Christopher Hitchens, a Trotskyite who supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Alternatively, if you want a reasonable right-wing perspective on the war, you could do worse than pay a visit to his brother - a conservative who opposed the war.
Having carried out my threat to engage in the occasional rabid right-wing ratbag rant, this blog will now return to its regularly scheduled nonsense.
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