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City of Brass

Iraq War retrospective: the Bali bombings #iraq10

The following post was written shortly after the Bali resort bombings, which killed over 200 people, of which 88 were Australian tourists, 38 Indonesians, and 27 citizens of UK. At the time, the case for war against Iraq was in full swing. As the post below shows, that case had almost been successful in convincing me for the war in Iraq, but the Bali bombing opened my eyes to the bigger picture.

from an op-ed in the New York Times, “The Wrong War at the Wrong Time

The atrocity in Bali last Saturday is a grim reminder that we are in a long war. It is a war that pits a few thousand unidentified individuals against most of humankind, from the beaches of Bali to lower Manhattan. A year ago President Bush named this conflict the “war on terror” and committed the United States to fighting it. Today many people outside America believe that Washington has lost interest in this war, except as rhetorical cover for a retreat to more familiar territory: an old-fashioned battle against an old-fashioned kind of enemy in Iraq. We are seeking a fight we can win instead of concentrating on the war that we must win.

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I confess that just prior to the Bali bombing, I was going to post an entry, “Why I support war with Iraq.” That entry had been the result of long debates via email with bloggers, essays and opinion pieces, and good old-fashioned research using Google and CNN.

I’ve tabled that essay for now – it may be that I do support an Iraq war again – but since the Bali bombing, my perspectives have changed – in that nothing has really changed after all. Given the numerous links of the Bali blast to Al-Qaeda, it is obvious that our year+ long “war on terrorism” has been nothing more than a re-entrenchment of Cold-War foreign policy.

One of the arguments often presented by pro-war types was that America has to ACT to maintain its image as The Great Beast. Porphyrogenitus gave me long pieces about how Somalia proved that we lacked the commitment to follow through, and that cost us. Yet what signal is the Bush administration sending by focusing on the “guy who tried to kill my dad” ?

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9-11 should never have happened again. But it did happen again, this time in Australia. Not with nuclear weapons or anthrax, but with a car bomb, the kind we have seen since well before Clinton came to power to accept blame for all the evils of the world.

That’s TWO strikes against Western Civilization, people – you know, the one you are signing manifestos about? And yet while we focus on Iraq to exclusion of all else, Afghanistan falls further apart, Pakistan continues its transformation into Taliban II, and now this, in Australia?

And while all sorts of examples about what a threat Saddam will be to Israel and America are put forth, little mention of the threat posed to S. Korea by the much more aggressive, much more advanced, AND ballistic-missile-possessing N. Korea? Saddam will have to ship his nuke to us in secret, the DPRK can send theirs flying across the Pacific.

We will be paying for the shortsightedness of this Administration for decades to come.

Original post, dated 20th October 2002: “opinions buffeted by events“.

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