Political, ethical and pragmatic arguments against invading Iraq have been made familiar. But the fearful and uncertain atmosphere created by the information warriors makes them sound worn out. We have to struggle to restore their meaning and to invest dissent with moral and cultural authority especially now that attempts are being made in England to popularise the war by linking the theme of terrorism to a nativist hatred of asylum seekers - the latest ‘enemy within’.
I reject the voices in favour of war which have recently suggested that the measurable good involved in having resurgent US imperial power obliterate the tyranny of Saddam Hussein can somehow be offset against the problems involved in an endorsement of the Bush junta's imperial project. The same pretend wisdom would have us believe that Blair has been supremely skilful in counselling restraint to George and Condi. My hunch is not only that they can do without his fig leaf, but that their long-term plans will require them to remove it with an assertive flourish.
Not long ago, I heard Blair's advisor Mark Leonard wonking away on the radio. He argued that these days a reliable measure of political maturity was a preparedness to accept the notion that all of Europe's best and benign hopes - for peace, security and enhanced democracy - rested entirely upon the simplifying global force of US military power. Fantasy projects of pre-emptive and proactive aggression inflated by the unchallenged power of all the old Project for a New American Century (PNAC) warriors and orchestrated as redemption and invulnerability by the technocratic offices of worthy folk like Admiral Poindexter are now the absolute guarantors of Britain's moral aspirations towards a better planet. God Save The Queen!
Originally published as part of a debate on 12 January 2003 Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. 1.