It’s the Balkans all over again, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Chechnya.
Our world leaders — the people whose priority is supposed to be to look out for our welfare — once again think the best way to solve their problems and get what they want is by raining bombs and destroying lives. When I marched in protest against the invasion of Iraq a few years ago, I did so partly because I felt the so-called war on terror was sure to spread more terror. And so it has.
Whatever moral authority the US might have had since the Cold War ended was squandered long ago when US president George W Bush sent his troops into Afghanistan and Iraq. Now he lectures the Chinese on human rights. While he has a good point, the Chinese government can simply wink and nod knowingly: “Sure thing, Bush, human rights. Guantanamo Bay and the Patriot Act.”
Bush’s ambassador chides the Russians for ‘over-reaching’ themselves in Georgia and accuses them of wanting regime change.
“Right you are,” Russian diplomats might well respond. “Regime change just like Nicaragua long ago and Afghanistan and Iraq today.” Again, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. The Russians too are world-class hypocrites, demanding that Georgia grant to South Ossetia the same thing that they pounded the Chechens into the ground for daring to seek. We can trace this line of thinking back at least to the First World War, supposedly fought for the rights of small nations, but actually for commerce, power and greed.
Putin is another disgrace, just like Bush or Blair. I’d be out marching in protest at the Russian actions in Georgia if I thought it would do any good. But my feeling is that a sense of despair pervades the world. The leaders of the world’s most powerful countries can continue as they please, ruining this beautiful planet with their stupidity while the rest of us look on helplessly.