Tuesday, March 14, 2006

World: Iraq and ethical minefields

Bush invaded Iraq without international approval. Motivation? Pick one:
- weapons of mass destruction: not found; evidence was always dodgy
- terrorism: only very minor links found; no links to the world trade centre attacks
- get rid of Saddam Hussein: problematic; see below. Unlikely to be a direct motivation
- vengeance: wanted to attack someone: tenuous
- secure oil supply: far and away most consistent with Bush’s past stated aims.

Invasion to secure energy supplies is clearly not ethical.

Abu Ghraib, Guantanemo Bay, and the practice of “rendition” are probably in large part a direct response to the World Trade Centre attacks. Understandable in the context of a small child’s reprisals, but certainly not the hallmarks of an ethical administration, or leader.

I suspect that there’s an inherent difficulty in maintaining ethics as a world power. I suspect it would be quite difficult applying personal ethical standards to world politics. However, I'd say some are better at it than others. Scandinavian countries, for example.

What do you think of the ethics of the European Union? In toto, are they significantly better than the US? Discuss.

I also suspect that using power unethically will only, in the long run, exacerbate problems.

Bush is not ethical. Are you? Did you want to get rid of Saddam? Well, of course. He was a butcher. But world politics doesn’t work that way – otherwise we’d all be invading each other on the slightest pretext. So, what would have been the most ethical thing to do in Iraq?

More difficult: what's the best thing to do, now that we're in the current situation? Leave? Then by default leave things to the Sunni 'insurgents'? They were, after all, funded by the billions looted in the immediate aftermath of the invasion, before the US decided to try to exert some control.

Murdering thousands of innocents, and brutalising a whole populace, is certainly about the lowest you can get. And I'm talking about these 'insurgents', never mind what the US is doing.

And what ethical yardsticks should we apply to nations as a whole? Should different standards apply to world powers? In my heart, I'd say we should all purvey the same standards, but I get the feeling this is not really possible. In practice, I think smaller players in world diplomacy - Scandinavia, EU, UN - tend to try for more achievable goals rather than absolutes.

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