Iraq has moved *forward*

From the Times online:

Imagine for a moment that you’ve woken up to the election results from North Korea. Or Syria. Or even China. The turnout is above 62 per cent, and millions of votes have been cast throughout the country for an exhaustingly wide range of candidates from all sorts of political parties and groups. No group will have a majority, so soon negotiations about forming a government will begin.

You’d think it was a bloody miracle. And so it is, and it happened in Iraq at the weekend.

You’d think it would be a cause of celebration for the entire western world, seeing a country take such massive steps towards freedom.

Unfortunately, we have people called “anti-war activists” who prefer people to die under tyrants.

What, so that we can hear the same stock phrases, the same conventional wisdoms that now pass from brain to lip without encountering thought along the way? The war was illegal, immoral, the greatest foreign policy blunder since Suez or since Pharaoh spurred his chariot into the Red Sea, Blair lied or dissimulated, was Bush’s poodle, was driven crazy by his own messianism, didn’t tell the Cabinet anything, didn’t listen to the country’s clear opposition — all the sentiments that led to the bizarre spectacle of Clare Short being applauded at the end of her woeful evidence at the inquiry.

It was interesting to read about Tony Blair’s hesitant start. He seemed to relise as his testmony went on that those opposing him were simply people who’d repeated the same stock (not to mention nonsense) phrases time after time and thought that was intellectual reasoning.

Seven years in which (I say it not because it’s important, but because it illustrates something) those who supported military action to remove Saddam have had this support treated as if it were the only thing they did.

Indeed. Idiot at NRT keeps reminding us just how much he personally hates, loathes and despises Blair for giving Iraq the vote.

We rightly make much of our violent shortcomings, as with the death of Baha Musa in 2003 at the hands of our troops. As The Times reported yesterday, his family may have received up to £3 million in compensation. It is true, but difficult to say, that had Musa been a victim of Saddam Hussein, not only would there have been no inquiries, no money, no apologies, but that anyone even whispering such things would have quickly ended up murdered. And yes, that difference matters greatly.

A point equally ignored by the left.

t is (I am told) “understandable” that many sensitive Britons feel “wounded” by the circumstances of the war. Well, it certainly was understandable, but it isn’t any longer. Seven years on, it’s gone well beyond the original wound, and we’re at the stage where many folk twist the knife in their own scar to keep it bleeding. They want to stay wounded — they enjoy their wounds. And I’m not even talking about that corrupted part of our body politic that took sides with the murderous insurgents and described them as liberators.

…and blamed the murders they perpetuated on the allied forces. That’s sort of blaming the Bain murders on the Dunedin Police.

But the biggest reason for lamenting seven years of obsessive Shortism is not that it’s been horrid, but that there has been an intellectual and strategic cost to it. In the first place it has made it almost impossible to discuss the Iraqis themselves, to consult them or listen to them. They have become ghosts, invoked as (implausible) casualty figures, or seen on TV briefly lamenting a death or maiming. The Hurt Locker, however worthy of an Oscar it might be, is not a film about Iraq. It is a film about Americans. There has been no popular film yet made about Iraq.

Well said.

My specific concern is that there is huge pressure from the re-wounders, the knife-twisters, for Chilcot and his committee not to learn the long-term lessons of Iraq but to emerge with a conclusion that would effectively hobble future governments in taking action abroad. I note the pressure that Shortists of both Left and Right have put on the historians, Lawrence Freedman and Martin Gilbert, because they haven’t grandstanded, cross-examined like barristers or got all arsey and sarcastic with Messrs Brown, Blair and Miliband.

We know what the Shortists want. They want Chilcot to say, in effect, that it shouldn’t have happened and mustn’t happen again. Some explicitly want Britain to turn away from the troublous world and its bleeding peoples, and to isolate ourselves, leaving tyrants alone and hoping the resulting refugees can be stopped at Calais.

It’s ignoring festering sores and “death to the west” speeches outside our shores that allowed 9/11 to happen. With modern technology, the distance between motivation and an actual attack is ever shorter.

Saddam might not have had Weapons of Mass Destruction ready to deploy. But that wasn’t the only reason to go to Iraq.

See also Kuwait, Marsh Arabs.

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