MD The Quality of removing Saddam Hussein from power.

From: Elizaphanian (
Date: Sat Feb 01 2003 - 12:39:57 GMT

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    Hello people,

    I've been awakened from my dogmatic slumbers by the recent 'some other
    controversial issue' thread. It's a political thread - there's never any
    agreement in political threads (or at least, there's much less potential for
    agreement) and so joining in is perhaps the essence of futility. Yet, yet,
    yet. I guess I've just been musing about it a bit recently, and writing
    something is the chance to get it off my chest. Even if it only produces
    more futile squabbling. Hey ho.

    So: does action to remove Hussein from his powers have Quality? (or does
    Quality have action..)

    Let's just review what Pirsig says, on a related topic: "The idea that
    biological crimes can be ended by intellect alone, that you can talk crime
    to death, doesn't work. Intellectual patterns cannot directly control
    biological patterns. Only social patterns can control biological patterns,
    and the instrument of conversation between society and biology is not words.
    The instrument of conversation between society and biology has always been a
    policeman or a soldier and his gun. All the laws of history, all the
    arguments, all the Constitutions and the Bills or Rights and Declarations of
    Independence are nothing more than instructions to the military and police.
    If the military and police can't or don't follow these instructions properly
    they might as well have never been written."

    OK, ritual obeisance to the holy text has been satisfied, what does this
    mean for our present context? (Before continuing, a nod towards the recent
    thread about determining what patterns are. I don't know. Perhaps my
    thinking on this is ultimately deeply confused, and I am reifying patterns
    into SOM thinking. Perhaps someone would be able to explain patterns to me
    in a way that is enlightening and agreeable. But that's a different thread.
    Let's get on with this one, leaving metaphysical interrogation to one side).

    I would argue the following: that social existence - the existence of a
    community which enables human flourishing - depends upon, ultimately, a
    willingness to use force in its defence. Where that willingness is lacking,
    that social existence is consumed by biological patterns of value. I would
    further argue that it is legitimate to consider the community of nations as
    a social pattern, analogous to the more obvious and traditional ones.

    What sort of pattern does Hussein represent? He is a fascist dictator -
    therefore the leader of a social pattern of value (the Iraqi nation); yet
    clearly his underlying motivation is biological, in quite a specific way:
    the preservation of the Takriti clan and their control of the resources of
    Iraq. So we have a social pattern controlled by biological values. Moreover,
    this particular pattern (the Hussein regime) has a history of biological, ie
    criminal, behaviour within the community of nations - a litany with which I
    am sure you are all familiar.

    So: to the present context. The United Nations has the formal (not often
    substantial) role of world policeman - the soldier with his gun on which the
    continued existence of the community of nations depends. The United Nations
    has indeed acted against the Hussein regime - first in 1990, then through
    the years since then, up to and including resolution 1441. After the
    ceasefire in 1991 the UN required the Hussein regime to dismantle its
    Weapons of Mass Destruction - the Sheriff telling the criminal to put down
    his weapons, otherwise he'll get shot. Resolution 1441 was 'put that down,
    I'm telling you, put it down! No more warnings!'

    Trouble is, modern nations being what they are, the commitment to this
    process weakened over time. That's because the maintenance of social order -
    the peaceful co-existence of different nations - requires effort and
    sacrifice. It means the loss of economic value after the imposition of
    sanctions for a start. So the sanctions start to break down. Not least
    because the sanctions aren't hurting the Hussein regime - they are hurting
    the people of Iraq, massively so, but that doesn't matter, because the
    Hussein regime doesn't depend upon the people of Iraq, it depends upon the
    Takriti clan. So over the last twelve years or so we have had a system of
    social control over biological values slowly breaking down - and clearly,
    such a system of 'soft' pressure is unsustainable.

    So the criminal is emboldened, and decides not to put down his gun. What're
    you gonna do Mr Sheriff?

    So the question becomes: which way do you go? Do you shoot the criminal, or
    do you set him free? Those are the alternatives left - the middle way
    options have been tried and found wanting; they will not continue, whatever
    else happens. (You can't talk crime to death).

    Imagine the Hussein regime re-admitted to the community of nations. The rule
    of law will have been weakened. The idea that 'non-proliferation' of WDM is
    an attainable goal is abandoned. The Hussein regime takes its time; builds
    up its forces; gains significant WDM - and then, when it is confident, five,
    ten years down the line, Hussein (say) takes over Kuwait. What, the US would
    come back in again, Hussein wouldn't dare? Right. Hussein makes public: if
    the US gets involved, the Saudi oilfields get nuked/chemoed/ bioed out of

    Ah! So it *is* about oil! Obviously it is - not in the puerile and
    simplistic sense that 'Bush wants control of Iraqi oil', but in the sense
    that, for better or worse, the world is fundamentally dependent on the safe
    and secure continuance of the oil trade - and that means that it has a
    strategic interest in ensuring that the countries of the gulf region are
    allowed to pursue their own interests (selling the oil) in a peaceable
    fashion. That seems to be a perfectly legitimate concern to me. (Sure, lets
    take some long term steps to reduce our dependence - but that's just it,
    they're long term. And if this is just the perfidious West, consider the
    dependence of China and the Far East on Middle Eastern oil. This is *not*
    just a Western strategic interest.)

    (Perhaps that wouldn't happen - perhaps Israel would stop it. Right. You're
    saying that's a *good* strategy???)

    So now imagine the Hussein regime removed, Iraq given a new constitution,
    readmitted to the community of nations. More Quality? I think so. I would go
    further: the quality of Iraq in five years time will be the direct evidence
    of the morality of removing the Hussein regime. There are various outcomes;
    I'm hoping for a Germany/Japan post-45 style outcome. Maybe that'll happen,
    maybe it won't, but there's room for hope.

    What about all the other arguments? Western hypocrisy (Rwanda, Nicaragua
    etc). New American Empire. Bush is a goon. Bush is a stooge of the oil
    industry. Blair is Bush's poodle. There's no link to Al-Quaeda. It'll
    inflame the 'Arab street'. It'll start World War Three.

    Whatever. Seems like so much obfuscatory whingeing to me.

    The position of the last decade or so has led to the premature deaths of
    half a million Iraqi children (UN figures). Continuing with that policy is -
    to my mind - profoundly immoral. (Sorry, wrong language - it evidences a
    severe absence of Quality).

    The choice is: do we let a biological pattern of values survive and
    flourish, or do we establish a rule of law? If that means an American
    empire, de jure or de facto, so be it. I happen to think that democracy,
    freedom and human rights are pretty good things for a ruling regime to be
    centred on. Maybe the conflict will get wider - if so, so be it. I happen to
    think that the establishment of the social level above the biological level
    (at the international scale) is something worth fighting for. Perhaps others
    disagree. We shall see.

    I never thought that I'd sound like a conservative columnist, but that seems
    to me the fundamental issue. I would say that the MoQ is pretty clear too.
    But maybe I've got the underlying facts wrong. Maybe I've got the MoQ wrong
    too - wouldn't be the first time.

    Back to my dogmatic slumbers.

    "A good objection helps one forward, a shallow objection, even if it is
    valid, is wearisome." Wittgenstein

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