Before I start, yes I remember how rabidly against the war I was. But a few conversations with a few people wiser than myself at least gave me the chance to think a little critically about my own standpoint.
But now it's just so common to be 'against the war' – that it's not a critical standpoint at all; far more something that people just drift into. A counter-war standpoint is the Robbie Williams of politics… and given that politics is the Jamiroquai of thought… well lets just say that being against the war is seriously uncool.
As always, the sexiest position is that of the shrug. The I don't really care either way. It was good that they got rid of the most murderous man alive, and now they should probably leave Iraq as soon as possible. Perhaps they should also tackle Saudi, Syria and Iran before they become too much trouble.
The truth is that 'our' way of life is good. I think it is better (perhaps this is the attitude that made me an abysmal anthropologist) than the way of life of poor people in China, Iran or India. I think that most of the poor people would probably say something like, "Yes, Tom. Your way of life is far more comfortable than ours. You are much less likely to die at the age of forty five. You have a varied diet, fresh, clean water – just for showering in, fruits and vegetables from all around the world. You have a television, a DVD player and a computer with which you can access the internet. You have a flat, furniture, rooms and amenities just for your and your girlfriend's use. You have a benign oligarchy running things in your country, perhaps skimming a little off the top now and again, but generally managing finance, industry and society as well as it can. You have a police force genuinely interested in your protection. You have street lighting, integrated public transport, an office job, a loving family (none of whom are starving or 'missing'), travel, bars, hospitals, trade unions, elections, freedoms, people who clean the pavements, firemen, electricity, gas, compact discs, and many other things besides. You know, Tom, just because we live in a different country, and just because we have religion or 'traditional beliefs', it doesn't mean we don't want to have a way of life like yours."
Perhaps the mission to take liberal democracy to the middle east is politically difficult to justify. Morally, it seems the only thing to do. A global philanthropy, whereby we help our brothers and sisters in other lands start to lead lives like ours, is quite a good idea. It will remove from power brutal dictators, murderers, genocides and extremist 'clerics' who do nothing but punish their charges, like Saddam Hussein, the Ayatollah and even Fidel Castro.
I don't like Bush either. But he's no Saddam, and he's not Hitler. Let's put things back in proportion.