Wednesday, 19 August 2009

My journey to Libertarianism: 5

(In which a young bear gentleman from darkest Peru watches with wide-eyed disbelief as the world’s most modern and enlightened progressives take Britain into a foolish war of aggression.)

For me, tyranny was always something so dreadful, that it was worth taking up arms to oppose it. I may abhor bloodshed, but I have never been a pacifist, and have never had much time for disarmament movements.

I have also generally taken the view that unprovoked aggression should not be allowed to succeed. Hence I supported Britain’s use of military force against Argentina in the Falklands war and against Iraq in the Gulf War.

In fact, I always seemed to be on the pro-war side.

So when the Iraq war in 2003 arrived, my gut instinct, through force of habit, was to support the war. But my head told me differently. And I passionately believe that one should listen to one’s head rather than one’s heart.

I had three major problems with Britain’s involvement in the invasion.

1. In the debate on March 18, 2003, which ended in Parliament voting to support an invasion, the heart of Tony Blair’s argument was that Iraq had not complied with UN Security Council Resolution 1441. The key phrase in the Government’s motion was that "This House . . . believes that the United Kingdom must uphold the authority of the United Nations as set out in Resolution 1441 and many Resolutions preceding it, and therefore supports the decision of Her Majesty's Government that the United Kingdom should use all means necessary to ensure the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.” In other words, it seemed to me that he was saying that Iraq must be invaded because it had defied UN resolutions. I cannot agree that upholding the authority of the United Nations is of such consequence that we should go to war over it. Nor to I believe that the UN has the authority to tell a sovereign nation to disarm.

2. I believed that the probability of a democratic, stable, free, pro-western Iraq emerging as a result of the war was about nil. (Did George W. Bush and Tony Blair really think otherwise?) There was, in other words, little chance that the invasion would be a success, except in the limited sense that it would eliminate the possibility of Saddam Hussein using any WMDs that he might have. To fight a war that would leave a complete mess in its wake seemed to me to be wrong.

3. Most fundamentally, we were the aggressors. Everyone could see that. In the first Gulf War, Iraq started it. This time we did.

The fact that I came down against the invasion did not, in itself, make me a libertarian, of course. But it did mean that I would be interested in opponents of the war who, like me, were not on the political left. And this was, in due time, to land me in the company of libertarians . . . .

(Part 4 is here, by the way)


JonnyN said...

I found myself in a similar position. My gut told me that I should be supporting the war just because of the sheer awfulness of a lot of the people opposing it. My head told me differently so I opposed it but.... hasn't done me much good with other people (usually from the left) who opposed the war because I was against it for the wrong reasons and don't sign up to the whole conspiracy theory about stealing Iraq's oil.

Young Mr. Brown said...

No, I was never convinced by the "it's all about the oil" theory. hasn't done me much good with other people (usually from the left)

But then it didn't do the left much good with me, because I thought that they were against it for the wrong reasons.