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Is the Czar listening ?

February 27th, 2003

One of the great legends of Australian journalism concerns a provincial newspaper which began its editorial on the Russian Revolution with the sententious observation “This newspaper has often warned the Czar …”.

A few days ago, I undertook my own exercise in warning the Czar asking

If Bush supports democratic elections in a postwar Iraq, and intends to hold them after dealing with Saddam, why not say so now, unequivocally and publicly, at the same time as proposing his UN resolution ?

Now according to this WashPost report Bush has done pretty much what I suggested, including a commitment to a democratic Palestinian state.

I got this link via Ken Parish who correctly observes that this constitutes a clear rejection of the idea of some form of US-controlled government – my earlier post was responding to an earlier WP report quoting unnamed ‘officials’ as rejecting ‘democratization’. Whether this was kite-flying or misinformation, it’s now been repudiated.

Obviously, Bush’s speech strengthens the case for war, though it’s not, in itself decisive. If war is to be avoided,the Iraqi government must make rapid substantial progress on compliance and disarmament starting with the destruction of the Al Samoud (?) missiles.

While it may be bad news for the unconditional opponents of war, Bush’s long-overdue commitment to democracy is a vindication of those who have resisted a rush to war without a clear statement of the grounds for war and of explicit war aims. It’s a pity it wasn’t made six or twelve months ago, but better late than never.

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