Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Means corrupting the ends

The Sock Thief's reaction to that Monbiot article is that it "epitomises the moral bankruptcy of the Left":

What they are saying is that if the US gets heavy with dictatorial regimes, eg North Korea, Syria, Iran and the ex-Hussein then that is wrong. And then if the US in any way is seen to be going soft on dictatorial regimes then that is wrong too.

No. What we are saying is that fighting one monster by supporting another is not the right way to do things. It's not only a pragmatic mistake (the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" logic which led the West to support Saddam against Iran and Islamic fundamentalists against Communism is what got us into this mess in the first place), it's also a moral one. It's a perfect example of the means corrupting and destroying the ends which we wish to achieve, an international version of destroying the village in order to save it. Ending the Taliaban regime in Afghanistan is a good thing, but at the cost of perpetuating and actively supporting torture in Uzbekistan? Come off it!

There's a secondary argument as well: Bush and Blair's support for Uzbekistan clearly shows they don't take their high-sounding human rights rhetoric seriously, and are simply using it as a cynical tool to sway public opinion. Under these circumstances I think it's fair enough to call them on it, point out that they're arguing in bad faith, and throw them to the electorate.