The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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To support the aims of sanctions but to dislike its effects is contradictory. It is the same, to use your apt analogy, as supporting the idea of imperialism but not liking the consequences which imperialism wreaks upon the majority of humanity. This is not a defensible position. It is, however, a near-perfect definition of liberalism. It is 'futile', as I said in my original posting, for anti-sanctions campaigners to slip into using "sanctions are counter-productive"-type arguments because they implicitly accept the aims of those advocating sanctions, they implicitly accept their right to intervene, their right to violate Iraq's national sovereignty. They don't challenge, but on the contrary make unacceptable concessions to the pretexts ("the will of the international community" etc.) which disguise the real content and intent of these policies.
The sad fact is John, that many people (including members of CASI) basically beleive "we have the right to intervene" and "the right to violate national sovereignty". After all the carnage waged in Iraq they still feel the US is basically benevelent in its actions, even though it may be "foolish" sometimes or even "mistaken" in its policies, it is never, in their minds, acting as a terrorist state, using its military and econmic might to win further gains in whichever region its bloody hands are in.
I would also suggest that many people (even those who descibe themselves as "liberal") hold a deeply entrenched sense of superoirity over the "savage peoples" of the world (Middle East) and that the colonial instinct still survives in these people as a "god-given" right to intervene and "guide" these poor "uncivilised" non-westerners.
As for Patrick Buchanan, the idea that a change of President could have an such a dramatic effect over US foreign policy cannot really be demonstrated. A cursory look at the last 70-80 years of US history shows us that US domestic and foreign policy has remained a virtual constant while administrations have come and gone. Perhaps the only noticable effect some Presidents (Reagan) have had is to accelerate the attacks on working people across the globe. The Government is a servant of the military/business elite.
Ken Freeland talks about Buchanans assertion that 'We (the US) have no business there, or anywhere else in the world really: our only business is to defend our own shores, unless it can be shown that some ultimate threat to our sovereignty is imminent --essentially, the politics of isolationism.' What must be understood, and can be demostrated by history is an ultimate threat to US sovereignty (or rather US business and the structures of capitalism) does and can include a revolution in Cuba, indigineous nationalim in the Middle East (Iran), democratizing forces in Central and Latin America (Sandinistas) and so on and so on. US sovereignty apparently extends across the globe. This is what Buchanan considers US "business", the threat of "the good example".Finally many of those who oppose sanctions, also support imperilism (though they may prefer to call it capitalism). For example, they understand that to maintain our domination of the Middle East petroleum wealth we must exert force over the "restless arabs" from time to time. Perhaps not so harshly as to enrage the international community but enough to keep the arabs in their place. The conflict arises in them from a concern over images of "poor women and children" but their ultimate aims and goals and those of US policy are one and the same.