- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Should we do less, or more?

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( EFZ, MA, USA ) on April 27, 1999 at 10:02:47:

In Reply to: What about Suharto? Or Pol Pot? Or Idi Amin? Or Saddam Hussein? posted by Gideon Hallett on April 26, 1999 at 13:03:11:

: : You must all realize that NATO had to choose the best of two evils. Should they let the horrible "ethnic cleansing" continue, or try to stop it? Yes it is true innocent people are being killed because of the bombs, and we are facing another refuge crisis, but would you rather have all of those people dead? Do you remember the last time we turned a "blind eye" to "ethnic cleansing"? Does the name Hitler ring a bell??
: : The fact of the matter is there are carzy people in this world, some are teen-agers, others are presidents. When the daily news gets me down, I read Alice in Wonderland again, and realize, nothing is new.

: Actually, if you look at the evidence, WWII Germany certainly wasn't the last time we saw "ethnic cleansing" (I prefer the simple term "genocide") used.

I don't get your point. just because the US had done wroing in teh past, why shoudl that prevent us from doing the right thing now. Are you arguing that the US should not ahve supported Suharto and Pinochet? If so, then I totally agree. But why does that imply that today we should not try and prevent ethnic cleansing in Kosovo?

: First off, how about President Suharto of Indonesia? Since East Timor was invaded, a third of a million native Timorese have been killed by the Indonesians. Which countries helped Suharto to do that? Why, the USA and the UK and Australia; the Timorese were Commies, so we had to wipe them all out...

That's quite true, you might also add that Suharto annexed Irian Jaya as well as East Timor, murdered a million communists and plenty of ethnic Chinese, took control of natural resources from teh native peoples and gave it to multinationals, and pioneered a policy by which local people in borneo, New Guinea, and other islands were summarily kicked off their land to make way for Javanese settlers- called the "transmigration" policy.

: Then, how about Cambodia. Same story; the killing fields of Cambodia saw the US supporting genocide on a scale that makes Kosovo seem like small beer.

This is ridiculous. The right blames Pol Pot on the left, the left blames him on the right. Both sides have a point, but why is it necessary to put the blame on a cause or a country? Pol Pot was a fanatical character who could arise pretty much anywhere. The fact taht he refrred to some bastardized leftist ideology doesn't amke hima leftist, nor does the fact that he came to power after the Americans bombed Cambodia make him an American stooge. If balme must be placed anywhere, then we should probably direct it neither at the US nor at "Communism", but specifically at the deeply fucked up model of maoist China, which Pol Pot claimed to be trying to emulate, and which backed him for years. The US client in Cambodia was Lon Nol, NOT Pol Pot, who overthrew him. The US connection to teh Cambodin genocide is tenuous at best. Are you arguing taht we should not ahve supported Lon Nol? If so, then how do you know Pol Pot wouldn't ahve come to power even sooner?
It's worth pointing out (speaking as a left-winger) that the only defenders of Pol Pot I've seen are a leftist faction, the Maoist Internationalist Movement.

: Next stop; Iraq. We were quite happy to supply them with weapons during the 1980's, despite the knowledge that they were being used on Iraq's civilian populations, ethnic minorities and religious minorities. We (the USA and UK and Europe) only stopped supplying them with weapons when it became obvious that an invasion of Kuwait was inevitable; in July 1990.

Again, just because we disliked Iran even more, does not mean taht Iraq was a favored client of ours. I agree supplying them with weapons was wrong, but Iraq was never a friendly state in teh sense taht you suggets, not like Israel.

: On to Chile; where the US and UK supplied the arms and training that enabled Pinochet to seize power and kill thousands of people. Again, since they were Commies, they weren't really people, so it doesn't count...

Yes, that's a good example, US conduct tehre was indefensible...

: How about Uganda; where Idi Amin had a field day disposing of his political enemies; he had a large number of very well-fed crocodiles; he would show them off to visitors...supported by the US and the UK and France.

This is again, blown way out of context. If anything, Uganda's greatest ally and protector was Libya, who kept funding his military. What possible dreason did the US ahve to support him? Quite honestly, i don't think teh US cared much one way or teh otehr about who ruled Uganda. We did give a fair amount of economic aid to the man who eventually liberated Uganda, Julius Nyerer of Tanzania, so arguably we helped bring down Amin- although I wouldn't seriously argue taht. Uganda was oppressed by a Libyan client and was liberated by the forces of Yanzanian socialism. The US role there was MARGINAL at best.

: Next stop; Turkey. The Turkish state invaded Cyprus in 1974, carrying out ethnic cleansing on half of the island; resulting in the divided island we see nowadays. Since then, they have also been carrying out a policy of suppression and extermination against the Kurds; a fact the US and UK conveniently forget when we need to use the airbase at Incirlik to bomb Iraq.

The Kurdish repression, obviously, si wrong. However, it's worth remembering that Turkey invaded Cyprus only after a n attempt to annex Cyprus to Greece.

: How about Guatemala for our next stop? Another US-sponsored killing field for much of the last 20 years; yet another load of dead leftwingers and Catholics, so no-one cares.

No argument here.

: And finally China, which famously invaded Tibet in 1959 and has done their best to eradicate every last trace of the Tibetan race and Tibetan culture. I don't see the US mounting bombing raids on China; I wonder why, as they're obviously guilty of genocide and they're even Commies too!

Um, actually, the US was an enemy of China for twenty-two years. We tried opposing China it doidn't work too well. What do you recommend we do? If we took an oppositional stance towards China, I'm sure that the US would imediately be criticized fro ebing "culturally imperialist" or 'anticommunist" or whatever.

: Gotten the point yet? The US and Europe and the UK have been complicit in, or have supported genocide in some country nearly every year since World War II. What makes us any better than the Serbs?

Because we haven't committed the genocide ourselves, not since the extermination of teh Native Americans which ended in 1898. True, we've had our share of war criminals- Caqlley, Nixon, etc.- but at leats we dealt with them. Calley, it's worth pointing out, was sentenced by an American court, not by anotehr country. There is a legal and a moral difference between supproting someone who kills peopel and doing the killing yourself. We didn't kill a million communists inside America, and even if one of our clsoest allies did, there's still ad difference. Generally the US has been more of an accessory to murder than an actual murderer, at least since 1898.

: In fact, it might be worth pointing out that US- and UK-sponsored genocide has killed more people since 1945 than the Nazis ever did. Why are we acting so fucking holy all of a sudden?

Relative to Serbia, our human rights record is good. We have a high degree of free speech, civil liberities, and legal safeguards in thsi country. We are ideologically, if not always in practice, committed to political and legal equality. We have at least a partial welfare state, more than many other countries. Racial tolerance, imperfect though it is, is still higher than in most of Europe. That's what makes us "holier" than Serbia.

: When has bombing ever solved any problems? All that bombing has ever achieved is to pull a fractious community together against an external threat; before these raids there was an active opposition to Milosevic. Since these raids started, the opposition to him has died completely; in fact, one of the leading dissenters was shot by Yugoslav police; Milosevic has never been more admired by his people. It's called "Blitz spirit"; Serbs are wearing targets and placing themselves on strategic targets as a gesture of defiance. You don't unseat a leader by external pressure, as the West is now learning.

Idi Amin was deposed by a Tanzanian invasion. Pol Pot was deposed by a Vietnamese invasion. Bangladesh was liberated by an Indian invasion. Bernard Coard was deposed by a US invasion (that was admittedly pretty farcical, but still...) Japan was defeated by US bombing, and would very likely have surrendered just due to convetnional firebombing.
South Korean independence was restored by an American invasion. Angola was liberated, largely, by a Cuban invasion. You want more examples? Invasion does sometimes get rid of bad leaders.

: But if you still maintain that genocide is bad (which it is) and that bombing is the only way (which it isn't), then when are you going to bomb Chile, Turkey, China, Indonesia, Uganda, Gautemala, Rwanda, Northern Cyprus, Israel, Egypt or the US itself?

: (When will war ever end war; when there's no-one left to do the fighting...)

: Gideon.

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