Now it's time for the war critics to move on

Discussion in 'U.K.' started by matthew, Feb 1, 2005.

  1. matthew

    matthew Almost sexy

    David Aaronovitch
    Tuesday February 1, 2005
    The Guardian

    "The thing is, David," said the anti-war Labour politician in the hospitality room after the programme we had both just appeared on, "you're on a hook, and you can't get off."

    The "hook" was the logic of having supported the invasion of Iraq. You back the invasion to get rid of Saddam, so you must support an occupation, so - when it goes wrong - you must then endorse measures taken to suppress "resistance", and must go on to apologise for or excuse atrocities committed by allied forces ... and so on.

    And, to an extent, it's true. The worst and most stupid thing I have written in my time at the Guardian was a piece playing down the significance of the looting and lawlessness that followed the fall of Baghdad. You find yourself attempting to minimise every negative and emphasise every positive, until you are in danger of losing all sight of the truth.

    The funny thing, though, was that I knew about my hook. I wriggle on it all the time, and it hurts. The politician, however, was completely, almost beatifically, unaware of hers. Unaware of how, inexorably, opposition to the actions of Bush and Blair had become a tolerance of the inhumanity of the insurgency and an utter failure to identify with those extraordinarily brave and determined Iraqis who are fighting for democracy. She just couldn't see them or hear them any longer. Every time they spoke, her mind was full of Blair or neocons. Battles between various shades of lefties in Britain are not of much account, really; it is mostly so much bombast and self-justification. Asked yesterday on the BBC whether the election "vindicated" Blair, I said I didn't much care. How can so many people suffer and one feel vindicated? No, all that really counted was whether it could help bring about a decent outcome for the long, long, long-suffering people of Iraq.

    The hook matters, though, because it could make us take the wrong decisions. Consider the joint statement issued by Robin Cook, Menzies Campbell and Lord Hurd last weekend. Britain and the US could not, they initially conceded, ignore the "mess" they had created in Iraq.

    Mess is right, and Robin and Douglas know whereof they speak. The former (a hero of mine), as foreign secretary, believed that Saddam had significant WMD, but reckoned it better to "contain" him with bombing and sanctions. Was that strategy not part of the mess? The latter was part of a government that sold him weapons, then - when he used them in Kuwait - bombed his country back to the ziggurat age, and subsequently failed to support the rising against him by Kurds and the Shia. Were those not the origins of the mess?

    The third, lovely old Ming Campbell, has never had the chance to create a mess, but an interview he gave on Sunday night indicated that he would be more than equal to the task. It was the casual sophistry of the performance that was so infuriating. Not only did he wrongly adduce Guantánamo and Belmarsh to the list of malign consequences of the invasion, but he then went on to give the reasons why Britain and America should bring home the troops as soon as possible. His reasons were entirely to do with money expended and British loss of life. It was, if you like, an electoral pitch aimed entirely at the domestic audience, and it had nothing to do with what Iraqis might want or need.

    So the demand that Britain and America set a date a year from now for the removal of their troops had nothing to do with the Iraqis themselves. There was no sign that any of the statement-signing troika had so much as lifted a telephone to talk to Barham Salih, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, or to anyone from the People's Union. These wise men had decided what was needed. "Our troops," they wrote, "cannot be expected to police relations between the majority and a rejectionist minority. British and American troops are no substitute for a political process."

    Doh! And everybody else, of course, thought they were. The three wise men do, of course, have some sound arguments about withdrawal, but that isn't the point. The point is, who judges? Do we listen to and consult with the elected Iraqis, or do we just ignore them? Never mind the men and women of Mesopotamia, do we take democracy seriously? Don't the politicians of Iraq, who have refused to be drawn into ethnic or religious conflict despite the most agonising provocations, deserve such consideration?

    A unilateral decision about troop withdrawal would be a fit continuation of the west's record of amorality and error in Iraq. But, after Sunday, we have no more excuses. The elections, so vilified in some quarters, were a revelation. Those anti-war people who could escape their hooks saw millions of ordinary people delighting in the process of voting, and many thousands risking everything (where we would risk nothing) to cast their ballot. That, now, is all that matters. Not whether you were for or against the war, for or against Blair, for or against Bush. Are you for or against democracy in Iraq? The rest is air.

    Special reports
    The anti-war movement
    Iraq and the media

    He puts it better than myself .. i agree with the sentiment and especialy what i have highlighted ...
  2. Koolaid

    Koolaid Member

    An American sponsored democracy or a true democracy are we talking here?
  3. DoktorAtomik

    DoktorAtomik Closed For Business

    There's a lot of bullshit talked here. Especially offensive is the assumption that anyone opposed to the occupation of Iraq is therefore disinterested in the process of democracy. What's particularly irksome is that many of us were well aware of the human rights abuses in Iraq long before the Americans took an interest. And speaking of oppressive regimes which us lefties supposedly endorse, I actually had family friends that died in the Islamic revolution in Iran, so I take extra offense at these anal stereotypes that assume that I and my ilk are somehow more interested in wooly leftie ideals than genuine freedom. The problem for many of us is that we're simply deeply suspicious of the political structures that are being put in place in Iraq. Have you any idea how much money the Americans have spent on this war now? 280 BILLION dollars. Many of us consider it rather unlikely that this kind of cash is being spent simply to secure an honest and open democracy.
    This is facile, simplistic bullshit. Wouldn't the world be lovely if we could reduce everything to such black and white reasoning? The questions that still remain are what kind of democracy is being created, and whether Iraq will be able to survive as one geographic entity in the medium to long term. A few cheering crowds don't make those issues vanish. And while there are certainly those who'd like us to move on and forget about the rights and wrongs of the war, it's impossible to look to the future without learning the lessons of the past. Don't you think that it's worth asking whether the price of democracy in Iraq was worth paying? Don't you think that it's worth asking if it could have been achieve through other means? Don't you think it's worth asking if Iraq will survive in one piece? Don't you think it's worth asking what form this democracy will take? Whatever side of the debate you're on, these are questions that should be respected. I'd be deeply suspicious of anyone who tries to stifle them.
  4. Peace-Phoenix

    Peace-Phoenix Senior Member

    David Aaronovitch bores me. He supported the war from the beginning, and he's just clutching at straws now.

    Matthew, in answer to your earlier questions on my logic in opposing this war, but not WW2, why is it so irrational to find the arguments behind certain wars to be less convincing than others? I made the point that I don't think there is such a thing as a moral war, because I don't think killing can ever be moral. But I do think that sometimes, and very occassionally, war can be the least bad of two options. In the case of WW2, I think that war was better than allowing Hitler to spread his evil across Europe. I don't think, given the evidence of history, that going to war in Iraq was at all justified. I fail to see why it is hypocrisy to argue against some wars, but not others. Every situation is different, and none of them are black and white....
  5. matthew

    matthew Almost sexy

    I don't find it irrational as long as i realise that you hold the opinion you have just expressed.. i would only question why go on such things that are on the other thread you started ? The principles of groups like CND is quite clear they see all war as wrong.. If your apposing certain wars or actions but also going to these types of events this just seems strange.. I think i understand that you can go along with the notion that the iraq was was wrong .. but imho CND would never see this war as justified.. i am trying to seperate people into individual entities its just difficult when you keep saying your going and have been on these kind of events..

    Surely opposition by anti war protestors should go on .. but people thinking the way you do , should move on and leave groups like CND too it ..

    I am not sure , but i don't think 'war' was scrutinised so intimatly as now.. every (well most) action/death/speach or event is srutinised ...

    I personaly think if we were all around at the time and the level of accountability and scrutiny was in place, would have altered the way the war was percieved .. i think we as citizens just had either newsreels and the radio .. not global live 24 hour news coverage . I am sure groups like CND could have made valid arguements why WW2 was illegal (i read that it was , from pressed rat ?).

    And the obsesion some have for every soldier and civilian that has died , would truly pale into nothing compared with what must have gone on on a daily basis..lots of wich we only became aware of later..

    So yeah we can sit back now and see the benefits and possibly scrutinise WW2.. and say it was worth it, can you say that you would have the same conclusion if the same circumstances happened now ?...under the same level of public awareness and communication.

  6. matthew

    matthew Almost sexy

    i don't wish to pigeon hole you in anyway..and i do respect that you have a individual point of view.. I was just sharing mine via the 'better' writing than myself.. 'i could not have put it better myself' i think i mean.

    yeah i do think all the questions you mention should be talked about.. this would be 'moving on' ..
  7. DoktorAtomik

    DoktorAtomik Closed For Business

    You wanna be careful there, matthew. Sounds like we're in agreement! :p
  8. matthew

    matthew Almost sexy

    stranger things have happened ?.:&
  9. DoktorAtomik

    DoktorAtomik Closed For Business

    You're doing that thing with the question marks again. Watch out, or Showmet will getcha ;)
  10. COBALT_Blue

    COBALT_Blue Member

    Steady on you two, why break the habits of a lifetime. You can't start agreeing with each other now.

    Twice I have come here trying to decide which side of the fence I should come down from but I can't. The above quote from the article Matthew commented on is perhaps the most important single factor in trying to establish any reason or logic behind the process of politics and war.

    I have to concede that I really do not know enough about what is actually going on. By that I don't mean the press or TV or the well recorded events and facts. I mean that I do not and cannot envisage what it really means from an Iraqi point of view. This is compounded by the fact that there are so many different Iraqi views and a number of issues that an outsider can only observe and draw their own, often misguided conclusions. I think those living the situation can best comment and are best qualified.

    Now was that a cop out or what? After breezing into the Tracey Emin thread and putting my big foot in it this is my attempt at being a tad more diplomatic. Thats my excuse - and I am sticking to it.

  11. matthew

    matthew Almost sexy

    hhahahaha shit yeah..... oops

    I personaly think people where ever (take your example, iraq) are prejudiced, close minded, free thinkers, idiots, peaceful and all the other atributes of human beings .. yeah living threw something as terrible as this would give me a reality check and i may see things diffrently .. but still my opinion would be diffrent than another countryman.. We all have diffrent opinions (doh matthew, no shit sherlock :p ). So whatever i think i, as long as i am honest .. people have the right to agree or disagree. I can't say i know everything in great detail either .. Neither may some/most iraqis, not being given access to sources of information or just not wishing to see past their noses.. With me it was just a clear lack of intrest.. this has changed over the last couple of years.. (so i have some catching up to do).. i still hope i make some good points (however i may feel they get interpreted ).

    Yes and No .. imho. their is a widespread opinion over their.. just i think our media pick on the ones that best suit the agenda (our agenda) at the time of reporting .
  12. DoktorAtomik

    DoktorAtomik Closed For Business

    I agree with much of that, Cobalt. With regards to the quote, the problem becomes which Iraqis do we listen to? It's like saying 'we should listen to what the Irish want for Ireland'.

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