Hindsight can be a troublesome thing. I distinctly remember ranting on this very blog about Gaddafi’s barbaric treatment of his own people. I never went so far as to suggest that we should send in the gunboats, so to speak, but rest assured, I thought it. When I read David Cameron’s words to the Kuwaiti Parliament and then again in the UK Parliament, I felt reasurred that we should back the uprising on humanitarian grounds. A popular uprising against four decades of Gaddafi rule being violently quashed by a bloke who, to be frank, I never really liked.
Now, regime change is looking ever more likely in Libya as we try to get more involved but become more evasive about being involved. We’ve sent in ‘advisers’ to assist in organisational matters. Not ground troops. OK? Peter Brookes’ cartoon in The Times today was a good one. Soldiers marching on their hands, their legs facing the sky: “No boots on the ground…” Yes, very good Peter, I’ve definitely heard that somewhere before.
This is all relative to Biteback, we’re publishing War is a Lie by David Swanson. But on re-reading it last night in preparation for writing a blog to let you all know it was available, I read this:
“Imagine if war were really fought for strategic, principled, humanitarian goals… wouldn’t we count the foreign dead in order to make some sort of rough calculation of whether the good we were trying to do outweighed the damage?”
It goes without saying that not enough has been made of the death-toll in Libya. I’ve tried to find out and I still don’t know how many have died. But – in the understatement of the century – aerial bombardment isn’t the most accurate of strategies. In light of what’s going on in Libya each point in Swanson’s polemic is more urgent, more pertinent.
He argues that there is no such thing as an honest war, that every war ever fought has been sold to both sides as a fight between the forces of good and evil and that politicians are willing to tell any lie to ensure the public believe they are in the right and the enemy undeniably in the wrong.
David Swanson is an anti-war activist and in War is a Lie he deconstructs virtually every argument ever put forward in favour of war. Drawing on examples throughout history, including the Second World War and the Iraq War, he shows how politicians will use any excuse not simply to justify war but to continue it after the death toll has long since shown the utter futility of continuing with the bloodshed.
War is a Lie is as relevant now as it will ever be.
You can buy a copy now, priced £9.99