March 9, 2010

DO WE REALLY NEED TO KNOW ANY MORE ABOUT THESE PEOPLE...:

Iraq has moved forward. It’s time we did too: Seven years on, these elections are a miracle. But the anti-war brigade is too blinded by prejudice to see it (David Aaronovitch, 3/09/10, Times of London)

We’re seven years after Saddam. Seven years in which, in this country at least, nothing seems to have shifted a millimetre. At the weekend, as Iraqis were about to vote, I found myself caught up in yet another Chilcot discussion. Seven years, I said, seven goddamned years of this stuff! Oh, said a woman writer whom I like and whom I want to like me back, but the Iraq war is the kind of thing that we should discuss for seven years.

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.

[T]he 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.

In the second, it means that we have had no discussions about what has been avoided in Iraq — the continuation of sanctions or their breakdown, the continuation of Saddam or his handing over to Uday and/or Qusay, what might have happened had there been a coup or an uprising. It means that our discussions have lacked realism.

In the third, it has obliterated our ability to think about the future. At enormous cost we have exchanged one of the most exemplary tyrants — an emblem of the triumph of political violence — for what now may be a functioning (if idiosyncratic) democracy. This could make a huge difference to other countries in the region, and we have to discuss how we might help.


...than that they hate Tony Blair and George Bush more than Saddam Hussein?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 9, 2010 7:02 AM
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