Monday, January 12, 2004

War is stupid/And people are stupid... 

Brendan O'Neill, who was against invading Iraq, takes on the people who declare supporters of the Iraq war as stupid:

The left's focus on the power of propaganda also represents the worst of the "Not in My Name" approach to opposing war, in which critics throw their hands in the air at what is happening around them rather than trying to challenge the drift of events and make an impact for the better. Instead of putting forth convincing, popular arguments against American and British intervention abroad, too many opponents of the war, especially on the left, despaired over the apparently insurmountable combination of propaganda and the gullibility of the masses. If they really want to know why Bush and Blair got away with their lame war stories, maybe they should look a little closer to home.

Of course propaganda can be persuasive, sometimes even decisive, for individuals making up their minds over whether to support a war, a political party, or whatever. But the influence of propaganda is determined by the broader political climate and by the general level of public debate. In a healthy, critical climate, it is likely that Bush and Blair would have received even more ridicule for their Iraqi propaganda. But at a time when serious political debate is hard to find, our leaders can offer dodgy dossiers and half-cocked claims as if they were good coin. In short, it is often the weakness of the opposition that allows leaders to take their chances with paltry propaganda.

Liberals and the left must shoulder their fair share of the responsibility for the degraded discussion over Iraq and for the opinion polls that suggest a majority of Americans and Britons supported the war. If those who are anti-war spent less time wringing their hands over Big Bad Bush and the fickle people, and more time developing a coherent case against war, then maybe we wouldn't be in the mess we are in now. Surely the pro-war lobby is best challenged by being shouted at, rather than shouted about.
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