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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, April 10, 2003
    Seminal times
      "Saddam Hussein is a terrible person, he is a threat to his own people. I think his people would be better off with a different leader, but there is this sort of romantic notion that if Saddam Hussein got hit by a bus tomorrow, some Jeffersonian democrat is waiting in the wings to hold popular elections [laughter]. YouÕre going to getÑguess whatÑprobably another Saddam Hussein. It will take a little while for them to paint the pictures all over the walls againÑ[laughter]Ñbut there should be no illusions about the nature of that country or its society. And the American people and all of the people who second-guess us now would have been outraged if we had gone on to Baghdad and we found ourselves in Baghdad with American soldiers patrolling the streets two years later still looking for Jefferson [laughter]. "
    - Colin Powell, 1992, briefing journalists when Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Bush senior. (quoted in Tariq Ali - Re-Colonizing Iraq, New Left Review 21, May-June 2003)

    So it's not about bringing democracy then, Colin. As most of the Middle East already knows, convinced that the current illegal incursion in their region is motivated by pure economics (controlling oil) and cynical politics (advancing Israel's agenda).

    These are seminal times, and not for the reasons Bush Jr assumes. Recently he said, "They hate our freedoms". This rings as hollow as a rat up a Baghdad drainpipe tonight. Words like the following, from Franco Moretti in NLR20, ring truer:
      "Early March 2003, when these pages are being written, is ... a wonderfully paradoxical moment, when, after twenty years of unchallenged American hegemony, millions of people everywhere in the world have expressed their enormous distance from American politics. As human beings, this is cause to rejoice. As cultural historians, it is cause to reflect"
    - and to that last observation I would add, as theologians also.