I haven’t written about the war in Iraq for a while. I’ve talked with friends, both on- and offline, but even though this is a fairly formal, easy-going blog, my intention is to fill the entries with at least partly-considered thoughts. And although my position regarding the war is still pretty much the same as it was a month ago, I’m having more and more trouble saying anything beyond an exasperated “fffbbgghww… oh, I dunno”. Here’s a couple of thoughts, though…
Paul Krugman’s article on patriotism is great. Here in the UK, I (and many others) have been observing with bewilderment the fundamentalist view of national loyalty that seems to be developing in the US. However, it’s building up over here. With the Sun leading the way, MPs George Galloway and Tam Dalyell have been the subjects of yet more indignant chest-beating from the populist right-wing press.
This all points to a worrying popularisation in the British press of that word… “patriotism”. I wish this word could be erased from our dictionaries. It’s a nasty, simplistic, one-dimensional little word which says more about its users than about the people whose moral standards are judged by this bogus benchmark. It’s such a restrictive concept… I love the way a lot of Britain looks, I like several personality traits found in many British people and I’d be crazy not to appreciate that we enjoy luxuries unimaginable to a third of the world’s population. But if our government (employees of me and my fellow voters) do things I disagree with, even during a war against some supposed “power of evil”, I shall act upon my right to criticise them, openly and forcefully. And so should you.
There’s been a lot of accidental deaths among the thousands of journalists in Iraq. A Pentagon spokeswoman pointed out (quite reasonably, I think) that news organisations have repeatedly been warned of the dangers of being in a war zone. Fine. But, referring partly back to the “patriotism” subject, I find this “official” stance somewhat at odds with the idea that we should unquestioningly “support our boys”. Just like the journalists, these soldiers, sailors and airmen have willingly decided to do jobs which carry the risk of armed combat. I’ll only *support* their actions if I feel that what they’re doing is justified. I will, however, always wish them a safe and unscathed return to their homes and families, something I’ll wish for every person involved in this war.
[Edited slightly the next morning... my grammar gets a little rough late at night]