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.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Ultra-right US politician on sanctions and Iraq

> > 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.
At the risk of being called an evil imperialist, I would suggest that it
is a gross oversimplification to call every act of interference in the
sovereignty of another country "colonial" guiding of poor "uncivilised"
non-westerners. The image of a world made of cosy, defined, "sovereign"
states is illusory. President Wilson had a vision of such a world for the
former Yugoslavia after world war one; the ethnic conflict over the past
century are a testament to how that vision failed. 

I do not disagree with the vision of the US as a terrorist state - it
seems an accurate assessment. However, I do not see that this implies we
should give up any notion of a world community. The ultimate ideal of the
UN was precisely to get beyond the idea of a world of sovereign nation
states where one country could dominate another - or oppress its own
people - by virtue of might. If you admit the absolute inviolability of
sovereign states you essentially throw away the right to any interference
in any "foreign" situation. On this analysis, UN election monitors in
Indonesia suddenly become evil imperialists bent on patronising
interference in a "sovereign state". The wish to interfere in the Rwandan
genocide becomes equally inadmissible. And Russia, of course, is allowed
to continue bombing Chechnya with impunity.

The ideal of a real and workable world community intervening against
massacre and invasion may be just an ideal. But I see it as implicitly
more desirable than a world of reified sovereign states. It is
unfortunately necessary to stress that this does not (of course) mean I
think that the US/UK have the right to bomb Iraq. It is a cause of regret
to me that so much time and energy is spent in questioning the
humanitarian and ethical credentials of those on our side. The accusation
of "liberal imperialism" is not necessarily without strength and it is for
this reason that it is far too easy to use it simplistically and

best wishes,

Abi Cox

This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
For removal from list, email
Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]