Some Opinions

The war is in its 11th day, and it’s clear that the cheery expectation of a Blitzkrieg was ill-founded. Apparently shock and awe have succeeded only in turning Saddam Hussein from a hated tyrant to an admired resister of the invaders, a result fraught with horrible implications for the future, including the future of Tony Blair. It is a profoundly dispiriting thought that this war could well end up entrenching the ignorant callous provincial talentless Bush more firmly in power than ever while it undoes the vastly more worthwhile Blair. Jonathan Freedland comments here on Blair’s backbreaking efforts with the UN and Bush’s smug indifference to the whole matter. There is something intensely degrading about watching a person of Bush’s calibre lording it over someone of Blair’s. (That’s why I don’t watch it.)

Abdel Bari Atwan here describes the reversal of fortune Saddam Hussein’s reputation has undergone at the hands of the US president.

President George Bush has at least one achievement to his credit in his war against Saddam Hussein. He has transformed Saddam into a heroic champion in the eyes of many in the region and might elevate his status into that of a mythological figure if he succeeds in killing or capturing more British and American soldiers and in turning Baghdad into an Arab and Islamic Stalingrad…The allies committed a dangerous mistake when they relied on information supplied by the Iraqi opposition regarding the state of affairs within Iraq. They made an even bigger mistake when they spoke of installing a US military governor over Iraq, as this will serve only to stir up patriotic feelings among Iraqis and encourage them to bury their differences with Saddam and unite forces to repel an American occupation.

Depressing enough. After that perhaps a touch of wit would be refreshing, so try Alexei Sayle’s piece on Bush. There is plenty of sober truth along with the wit though. I was particularly struck by the observation that Bush is a ‘dry drunk,’ because a friend of mine has been fulminating about that (along with the more usual complaints) since long before the election. She is a judge who has decided a great many domestic abuse cases, so she knows what she’s talking about. Sayle tells us the dry drunk is one who has forcibly wrenched himself off alcohol without dealing with whatever caused the alcoholism to begin with, so is forever in pursuit of other outside fixes, such as shopping, religiosity, or military adventures.

If we look at the nation that President Bush leads, it also behaves in many ways like an addict. The United States is a gigantic John Candy of a country, straining its oversized elasticated pants from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The country is addicted to more or less everything, constantly craving greater and greater quantities of petrol, electricity, pointless sports, empty patriotism, fatty hormone-crammed meat, gigantic pedestrian-crushing four-wheel drive trucks, ever more baseball caps with nonsense written on them and unquestioning obedience from every nation on the planet.

And finally there is this one about the bottomless horribleness of US hard right politics and the tragedy of Blair’s alliance with it. I know the idea is that Blair has restrained Bush and made him that little bit less dangerous than he would have been otherwise. But surely he has also provided him with a tiny veneer of respectability that he wouldn’t have had otherwise, has enabled him to look that little bit less unilateral than he in fact is. Maybe it will prove to be for the good in the end, but I must say, I’m not very optimistic.

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