Wednesday, 28 August 2013
Whoopee we're all gonna die!
I'm not one of those there pacifist sorts. There are times when main force is the only way. Times when other people threaten us and our peace. Then we fight.
But I am at a loss to see why we construct artificial triggers for violence - 'red lines' and so forth. It seems to me that, however tempting it is to steam in waving our swords of righteous humanitarian rage, most of the time this is a pretty stupid idea.
And we're so choosy. We (or rather the Americans and Australians) got embroiled in a unwinnable, depressing and ultimately failing war in Vietnam - initially a few troops, some kit and 'advisors' but soon bulging into an ill-trained, unenthused conscript army. And that army lost and with it went the myth of American invincibility.
Yet. In Indonesia round the same time some half million or so ethnic Chinese died or were forced to leave because (as we all know) all Chinamen are commies. I recall my politics lecturer at Hull University, Oey Hong Lee, describing how his family escaped from Java under seats, in crates and at enormous risk. Yet we didn't intervene as they were Communists (in so far as Chinese and Communist are synonyms).
I could talk more. About the Khmer Rouge - who slaughtered a third of their countrymen (and all the Chinese minority). About Ne Win, designer of "The Burmese Road to Socialism", who took against muslims (and many others) and hounded them near to extinction. We didn't intervene.
We could discuss Irian Jaya or East Timor - more ethnic cleansing, more oppression and again, no intervention. Or perhaps the burning of churches in Sulawesi and Ambon? Does that not merit moral outrage.
So go on, climb onto the mound of bodies labelled "humanitarian crisis" and attack Syria. But do it without my support - I've talked of a few South-East Asian examples because I'm a little bit of an expert but there are many other atrocities, slaughters, rapes, pillages and aspects of mankind's worst traits across the world.
But in making these choices, can we remember that it ends with young men clutching guns, walking scared and worried down streets in a foreign places or skulking in jungles craving some junk or grass to take away the fear and stress.
Is that what you want?