Saturday, 30 January 2010

Blair's Wars

A simple summary of Blair's reasons for going to war with Iraq could be that

+ chemical weapons
+ international terrorists
= a serious threat to British Citizens and our allies.

As Prime Minister, it was Blair's responsibility to protect us.
I don't want to get into re-examining Blair's rational, his estimation of the likely confluence of these factors or the downside risks involved. Instead, I want to ask the question - does a Prime Minister's duty to the British People skew his judgment; by analogy, do people accept more risks themselves than they would allow their children to take?
And another question: is it morally right to calculate the risks and duties to your own electorate at the expense of humanity abroad?
Thirdly, can Interactive Democracy help?
What ID does is allow everyone to input their own answer, balancing the calculus of probability, risk and reward and their own moral view. It allows each voter to take a personal view and not be skewed by the worry of how history would judge them. Imagine Tony, worrying about this sort of historical epitaph: "Blair, the leader who failed to protect his people, wallowing in weakness and indecision". My point is that leaders may be driven to make decisions by pressures that the average man in the street does not feel.
The problem comes when the key pieces of information are so secret that only our leaders are privy to them. But, even then, the Government's presentation of their rational would be debated by a broad spectrum of individuals, involving many military analysts, who may have cast doubt on the 45 minute claim almost as soon as it was made; or terrorism experts who may have questioned the link with Al Quaida. In such a way, ID may not only enhance the breadth of the debate, but it's quality, too.
But it's not all about the war decision, it's also about how best to proceed. Interactive Democracy provides a channel for creative ideas about solving problems. Limited wars to protect the Marsh Arabs and the Kurds, or offering Saddam and his family a luxury sanctuary, may have been among a plethora of suggestions for Parliament to debate. Perhaps, if we'd had ID, such ideas would have emerged at a much earlier juncture.

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