2003 10 29
[Support for dictators]
This piece in the Guardian is highly recommended.
The author writes of the very low standards which Blair and Bush apply to allies like Uzbekistan, after resting the case for war against Iraq partly on humanitarian grounds. This lack of consistency is both wrongheaded (support for dictators hasn’t proven a particularly useful strategy in the past, has it?) and corrupting.
In Bush’s case, I suppose you might argue that he’s hardly aware that such a country exists. So perhaps the piece only directly challenges the moral coherence of his position, rather than the sincerity with which he holds it (this is not exculpatory, nor am I taking a position on whether he is in fact sincere). In Blair’s case, it’s obvious that he knows exactly what the score is, but he simply does not care. The piece shreds the moral coherence of Blair’s position and his claim to be genuinely concerned about human rights.
And don’t tell me that this policy of sucking up to dictators is part of the cost of the war on terror, or that in the real world we’re forced to make difficult trade-offs. No administration that squanders as many lives and as much credibility and influence as this one has in Iraq deserves to lecture me about the costs of my policy prescriptions. And neither do any of its apologists.