The Moral Myth of War

George Monbiot parses the moral arguments trotted out to justify war in Iraq:
The key point, overlooked by all those who have made the moral case for war, is this: that a moral case is not the same as a moral reason. Whatever the argument for toppling Saddam on humanitarian grounds may have been, this is not why Bush and Blair went to war.

A superpower does not have moral imperatives. It has strategic imperatives. Its purpose is not to sustain the lives of other people, but to sustain itself. Concern for the rights and feelings of others is an impediment to the pursuit of its objectives. It can make the moral case, but that doesn't mean that it is motivated by the moral case.

...the White House is not a branch of Amnesty International. When it suits its purposes to append a moral justification to its actions, it will do so. When it is better served by supporting dictatorships like Uzbekistan's, expansionist governments like Ariel Sharon's and organisations which torture and mutilate and murder, like the Colombian army and (through it) the paramilitary AUC, it will do so.

It armed and funded Saddam when it needed to; it knocked him down when it needed to. In neither case did it act because it cared about the people of his country. It acted because it cared about its own interests. The US, like all superpowers, does have a consistent approach to international affairs. But it is not morally consistent; it is strategically consistent.

It is hard to see why we should expect anything else. All empires work according to the rules of practical advantage, rather than those of kindness and moral decency.
(Thanks, Tamara.)

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