Skip to comments.Mark Steyn: Sometimes it is worth going to war
Posted on 10/17/2005 4:42:21 PM PDT by Pokey78
I yield to no one in my disdain for the United Nations and all its works, but I did find myself warming up to Unicef the other day. Last week, on Belgian television, the UN children's agency premiered the first adult movie featuring the Smurfs. By "adult", I don't mean it was a blue movie. Only the characters were blue. But it was an adult movie in the sense that the Smurfs were massacred during an air strike on their village, until, in the final scene, only Baby Smurf is left, weeping alone surrounded by wall-to-wall Smurf corpses. It's the first Smurf snurf movie.
Well, I thought, say what you like about the UN, but any organisation that wants to bomb the Smurfs can't be all bad. Instead of those wimps at Dudley council banning Piglet like a bunch of nancy boys, why couldn't they make some blockbuster video nuking the Hundred-Acre Wood and leaving Pooh to die in a radioactive Heffalump pit?
My mistake. Apparently Unicef made the short film as a fundraiser to highlight how children are the principal victims of war. As Baby Smurf wails amid the shattered ruins, we see the words: "Don't let war affect the lives of children."
Oh, well. It's not clear from the Smurf carnage whether their village is a sovereign jurisdiction - the ultimate blue state - or whether they're merely some hapless minority within a multi-ethnic nation, the Kosovars to Elmo's Slobodan. But either way the warplanes come and blue body parts are exploding all over the village.
Good luck to Unicef and all. But I can't help thinking that, if you are that concerned for children in war zones, you might have done something closer to what real conflict is like in those places. In Rwanda, Sudan and a big chunk of west Africa, air strikes are few and far between. Instead, millions get hacked to death by machetes. Even on the very borders of Eutopia, hundreds of thousands died in the Balkans in mostly low-tech, non-state-of-the-art ways.
In 2003, Charles Onyango-Obbo wrote a fascinating column in the East African musing on the resurgence of cannibalism, after reports that Ugandan-backed rebels in the Congo were making surviving members of their victims' families eat the body parts of their loved ones.
"While colonialism is bad," he said, "the coloniser who arrives by plane, vehicle or ship is better - because he will have to build an airport, road or harbour - than the one who, like the Ugandan army, arrived and withdrew from most of eastern Congo on foot." Just so. If you're going to be attacked, it's best to be attacked by a relatively advanced enemy. Compared to being force-fed Grandfather Smurf's genitals, having his village strafed in some clinical air strike is about the least worst option for Baby Smurf.
Why would Unicef show such an implausible form of Smurficide ? Well, whether intentionally or not, they are evoking the war that most of their audience - in Belgium and beyond - is opposed to: the Iraq war, where the invader did indeed have an air force. That's how the average Western "progressive" still conceives of warfare, as something the big bullying Pentagon does to weak victims.
But this week is a week to remember that there are worse things than war that "affect the lives of children". If I were Papa Smurf, I wouldn't want Baby Smurf to grow up in Saddam's Iraq. I don't mean just because we'd be the beleaguered minority of Smurfistan, to be gassed and shovelled into mass graves.
Even if we were part of Saddam's own approved class living in the Smurfi Triangle, it's still a life permanently fixed between terror and resignation, in which all a parent's hopes for his children are subordinate to the whims of a psycho state.
That Iraq is gone now - not because of Unicef and the other transnational institutions that confer respectability on dictatorships, but because America, Britain and a few others were prepared to go to war. As the Guardian harrumphed on Saturday: "People who opposed the war in Iraq will find it hard to stomach attempts to present the referendum as a triumph."
Fair enough. For my part, I find it hard to stomach the degrees of support offered to the "insurgency" by George Galloway, John Pilger, Tariq Ali and Michael Moore. But it's not about what I or the Guardian find hard to stomach. Peripheral though they may be to the concerns of the "peace" crowd, it is in the end about the Iraqi people, and, as with all the previous will-they-won't-they deadlines, at the eleventh hour they managed to rouse themselves and pull it off.
Sixteen out of Iraq's 18 provinces - including Sunni-majority ones - voted for the most liberal, democratic, federal and pluralist constitution in the Middle East. Sorry to make the Guardian throw up, but that is indeed a "triumph".
Whatever the Americans got wrong, they got one big thing right - that, if you persevered, Iraq had the potential to function as a free society in a part of the world where no such thing has ever existed.
That was a long shot, and much sneered at, not least by British "conservatives". But Washington judged correctly: given the radicalisation of the Arab world, and the Arabification of the Islamic world, and the Islamification of much of the rest of the world, in the end you have to fix the problem at source.
In his book The Clash Of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington has a section on "Islam's Bloody Borders". "The overwhelming majority of fault line conflicts," he writes, "have taken place along the boundary looping across Eurasia and Africa that separates Muslims from non-Muslims."
That looping boundary is never not in the news. Last week, it was Nalchik in the Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, where the Islamists killed more than 60 people. The week before, it was Bali, again. Different regimes on the looping boundary try different strategies: in Indonesia, appeasement; in Chechnya, the Russians have reduced Grozny to rubble and still not got anywhere. Pushing back the Islamists on their ever expanding margins will never work. Reforming the heart of the Muslim world just might.
Sometimes war is worth it. And, if you don't think so, look at the opening scenes of that Unicef video - Smurfs singing, dancing, gambolling merrily - and try to imagine living in a Smurf enclave in a province that wants to introduce Sharia.
I bow before the awesome wordsmithing that is Mark Steyn.
I admire this guy.
When are we gonna MOAB those damn Teletubbies?
Osmurfa bin Laden?
I fully support Smurf strafing. I also want a Barney J-Dam action. I haven't formed an opinion on the TeleTubbies, but I am open to opinions from those that know them best.
The UN is useless.
Mark is brilliant.
And they pray to Gargamallah.
The telebubies is a brain-washing program for children, promoting Big Brother and mind control, don't you know!
I think I can safely claim that that particular combination of nouns and verbs has never before been placed together in the English language.
In Iraq the U.S. approach has resulted in an elective government that nominally (jury's still out) respects human rights. Darfur and Rwanda, where the high-minded moralistic UN approach has held sway, are graveyards. The only ones who fail to notice this at this late date are those with their eyes firmly shut.
I'm really a mark for retro-usage of the word 'blue!' ;-)
Do what you will with the smurfs, teletubbies, and others. However, no one touches Sponge Bob Square Pants!
Blockbuster Mark Steyn, Dead Smurfs, Much Carnage, Children and Minorities, Unicef to the rescue; don't miss it.
So well said. Bravo, Steyn!
He is absolutely the most engaging commentators on earth. And he's one of US!