Friday, 1 May 2009

Rewriting The Iraq War

Gordon Brown yesterday called it a 'success story' while John Hutton, the Defence Secretary, said that we should feel proud of the legacy we leave behind. Hilary Benn went onto Question Time last night to say that 'we leave Iraq a better place'.
In another glorious piece of rewriting history, The Sun newspaper stated that 'the fight to topple Saddam Hussein and defeat insurgent fanatics is over.'
With the British involvement lasting just over 6 years, there has been enough distance from the origins of the invasion for the truth to be warped and twisted by those who supported the war at the time and would rather paste over the unsavoury parts of which there have been many.
In 2003, Tony Blair was very much the junior partner in the decision making that is still being felt across the globe. He had to sell the invasion of Iraq to his Party, the House of Commons and the British Public and despite what The Sun claims, he never made it about removing the brutal Saddam. Bush and Blair actually offered to leave him in power if he handed over his Weapons of Mass Destruction so they were happy enough to leave him to carry on doing whatever it was he was doing. It was never about defeating terrorists, the simple truth is that Iraq was an Al-Queada free zone prior to the invasion. The country was filled by the suicide squads and mine layers afterwards.
The premise upon which Blair sold it with was WMD's. Despite the UN's Weapons Inspectors covering the country and coming up empty handed, Blair insisted Saddam had Nuclear, Biological and Chemical weapons and was in a position to use them with as little as 45 minutes notice. The lies unravelled and the truth came out that Saddam had no WMD's but by then the tanks and Tornadoes had gone in and we were committed.
Fast forward six years on from that false pretext and a roll call of achievements including a million dead Iraqis, 4 million refugees and 200 dead British soldiers. The country suffered an orgy of devastating ethnic cleansing, the destruction of its infrastructure that still remains inadequate today and an influx of terrorists to add to the murder and mayhem. The damage to our reputation through the massacres, use of torture and aligning ourselves with the most unpopular, right wing and war hungry US Government for generations has been immeasurable.
How we did it, why we did it and what we did during it, shouldn't be a cause for celebration. We leave it broken, scarred and devastated which nobody should be proud of as a legacy and as for the claim that we leave Iraq a better place, Hilary Benn should hang his head in shame and embarrassment.
No amount of whitewash, however liberally applied, will cover the rotten stench of what we did back then and how we are now going to leave the Iraq citizens to the whims and truck bombs of the terrorists.


BlairSupporter said...

What absolute rubbish.


Sorry to be rude but this is such BBC biased brainwashed nonsense.

We should be proud of liberating the Iraqi people. We should be proud of Tony Blair. Proud of our soldiers. Proud that we in Britain had the necessaries to stand up against an evil dictatorship.

Watch Iraq in years to come - wiser people than you and me will put this down as one of the greatest interventions of modern times.

Lucy said...

What part is rubbish Blair supporter?
The facts are the man you so revere took us to war on the basis that Saddam had WMD's, not to remove an evil dictator or to liberate the Iraqi people.
Saddam never had WMD's and if the Weapons Inspectors had not been pulled out by Bush and Blair, they could have told us that without the need for anybody to die.
Despite threats and cajoling, the countries at the UN didn't buy the argument so as hard as it may be for you to accept, your man dragged his own country down, devastated Iraq and unleashed a firestorm of death and destruction on the Iraqi people that continues today. If you cannot see that and continue to cling blindly to the propaganda spewed from the Party responsible for it, then i suggest you haven't been paying close enough attention over the past 6 years.

BlairSupporter said...

Lucy - so much of it is rubbish I hardly know where to start.

I have responded to your comment at my blog, btw

So where to start - I suppose it needs the usual back-and-forth nitpicking approach, since that seems to be the modus operandi of people who take your position.

The question of Al Qaeda's operating in Iraq prior to the invasion.

See here:

Who knows exactly if it was called AQ - or something else? It was part of the same loosely-grouped anti-west organisation of jihadists - the same people that Blair referred to in his recent Chicago speech.

Which reminds me - Blair made his Chicago International Doctrine speech Part 1 in 1999 before Bush was president. His thinking in 2003was not based on blindly following Bush, but on his own conviction that we should, where we can, intervene to help others against dictatorships.

WMDs: As I said at my site the LIES were only LIES if all other countries AND the UN were also lying.

As to leaving Saddam in power if he handed over his WMDs - REALPOLITIK. That would have meant that we had an ally in the region willing to work with us. Never likely, of course, but that's what international diplomacy is about. Avoiding a worst case scenario.


All your accusations are so misdirected. It wasn't the "invaders" who ethnically cleansed. Just as it wasn't the invaders who ethnically cleansed Kosovo of its Muslims (until WE out a stop to that).

Do you always find that adding up 2 & 2 gives you 5?

Our reputation has NOT suffered because of Iraq, surprise, surprise!

Blair is lauded worldwide as a man of integrity and political nous. His waiting list for speeches is two years. Worldwide.

And here at home some of us wonder why we allowed him to be shifted from the job he so naturally mastered.

Iraq will be seen quite differently from YOUR distorted views by historians. It will be a centre for democracy in the Middle East, thanks to us and America.

Hard for you to deal with, but that will be that case, I am convinced.

Lucy said...

I won't go in for the usual nitpicking because that is a favourite tactic used by those with a very weak arguement who want to bog down the discussion.
Let us stick to the broader aspects of which you take a very strange interpretation of.

The long ago discredited claim that Saddam and Al Queada were in cahoots,

You can continue to say it long as you want but it doesn't change the fact that it was wrong and a poor attempt by the US administration to tie Saddam to Bin Laden and 9/11 and justify the invasion. Al Queada were not in Iraq or working with Saddam prior to the invasion.

The Blair lies i find laughable that you can even begin to defend.
The ethnic cleansing, like Al Queada, came after the invasion and was as a direct result of our actions. We set the circumstances to bring it about despite warnings from all quarters, and dismissed by blair, that it was exactly what would happen.

You must have been living under a rock to not see the damage done to reputation at home and around the globe. I know Blair is a big hit in the USA on the lecture circuit, ask yourself why he had to go there and to my knowledge, he isn't hurrying back to make speeches here or elsewhere in Europe.

I hope Iraq does become a shining beacon of the Middle East but it will be despite our best efforts and not because of them.

Last thing, i give you credit for allowing my comment onto your blog, when i saw the comment was to be moderated i thought that was the last time i would ever see it as usually happens when comments are screened.
You may have a deluded and worringly ingenuous view of Mr Blair and events in Iraq but well done for that.

Kvatch said...

Watch Iraq in years to come - wiser people than you and me will put this down as one of the greatest interventions of modern times....with some of the worst outcomes, all of which could have been anticipated and avoided if George-f*cking-Bush had pulled his head from his ass.

effay said...

So, I don't really see where that CRS report shows the Saddam-Al-Qaeda link. It just says the Bush Administration argued that to support the invasion and now no one believes it, which everyone already knows. It does nothing to discredit all the reports that there was no Saddam-Al-Qaeda link, and that bin Laden actually really hated Saddam (who really hated Iran). In fact, I'm not really familiar with any current, reputable report that argues there was a link.

I'm going to have to disagree with you, Lucy, on the genocide thing though. It's pretty well accepted that Saddam engaged in genocide against the Kurds and others. Of course, there are tons of places on Earth where genocide is going on and we don't invade them. So BlairSupporter (can I call you "BS" for short?), we've got a lot of invading to do if were gonna take the position of invading everywere that there's genocide. Plus, it's not like we were very effective at ending ethnic killing in Iraq, we just shifted the victims.

Lucy said...

I'm going to have to try and find the genicide part you refer to effay.
I mentioned the ethnic cleansing and revenge attacks of Shias against Sunnis after the invasion in response to Blair Supporter absolving the blame from the invading forces.

effay said...

Oh, I thought you were talking about ethnic cleansing generally in Iraq, not just the stuff that is happening after the invasion. Never mind then.

I thought, in addition to saying we weren't engaging in genocide, BS was also trying to justify the war by saying that even if there were no WMDs or Al-Qaeda, it's still justified to stop the genocide that Saddam was fond of. That's what my previous comment was about. I think that position (the stopping genocide justification) is at least debatable (unlike the Al-Qaeda and WMD justifications). But, as I said, I don't agree with that justification.

Stan said...

I'm with Blair Supporter on this one. Like many on the left, Lucy, you have fallen for the lies on this issue.

The war was about Saddam not complying with UN resolutions requiring him to DEMONSTRATE that he no longer had WMD, NOT about whether he actually had them. As Blair Supporter says every intelligence agency in the world believed that Saddam still had these weapons and Saddam is on record as saying that is exactly what he wanted everyone to believe - for deterrent purposes. You can hardly blame Blair for taking him at face value.

I say more about this and the other lies about the war in articles I have done for the Labour group, Progress, which can be accessed at or from my repy to your comments at the Blair Supporter site. In that reply, Lucy, I have challenged you to answer the points made. If you are so sure of your ground no doubt you will have no problem about responding?

Cheezy said...

Tony Blair's Mum had so many fantastic one-liners on this thread, but I think this one is my favourite:

"Blair is lauded worldwide as a man of integrity and political nous." Have you thought of turning professional, Mrs Blair?

Lucy said...

I look forward to it Stan and also look forward to seeing if any of my otherwise ignored questions have been answered.

Chris said...

I know that as an animal lover you are always kind to dumb animals Lucy but what i read on the bLIARs lovers blog, he isn't so much dumb as brain dead. Maybe his mum dropped him on his head when he was a child.

Stan said...

All your questions have been answered, Lucy, in this piece I did for Progressonline. It's as true today as it ever was so I see no reason to update it. I look forward to your response - if you're up to it.


Nick Cohen's controversial polemic What's Left: How Liberals Lost Their Way has reignited the debate about the rights and the wrongs of the Iraq war. In an earlier post I exposed ten lies about the conflict which have shaped anti-war sentiment. I now go further and set out a more comprehensive point-by point case for the war which to my knowledge is fairly unique amongst all the material that's been produced on this issue. I do so because the self-righteous opponents of the war continue to insist that there can be no good argument for the war. Also I believe that the full weight of the pro-war argument has largely gone by default.

Such has been the success of the anti-war lobby in claiming the moral high ground for their views that there are now few on the left who are prepared to challenge them over the whole range of their propoganda. Even Nick Cohen provides only a very narrow justification for the war (the desirability of over-throwing an evil dictator and standing by the Iraqi victims of the insurgency), thereby conceding much valuable territory regarding the other equally valid reasons for the war.

Here then, in chronological order, are no less than 22 reasons why progressives should stand up against the prevailing opinion of the liberal-left on this issue, particularly at a time when their mindset threatens to undermine the chances of Labour winning the next election.

1. The second Gulf war of 2003 followed the first Gulf war of 1991 which resulted directly from Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

2. Instead of over-throwing Saddam at that time, the allies gave way to liberal sentiment and left him in power on the basis that he would never be in a position to threaten neighbouring countries again.

3. The terms of the 1991 cease-fire (not a peace settlement, by the way) forbade Iraq from developing WMD.

4. To that end a UN inspection regime was imposed by resolution 687 and several related resolutions, non-compliance with which would represent a breach of the cease-fire.

5. Several years passed during which UN inspections were continually being thwarted.

6. In 1998 Iraq ceased all cooperation with the United Nations and economic sanctions and no-fly zones were imposed.

7. Then came 9/11 which underlined the world-wide terrorist threat and highlighted how failing anti-West states could be used as sanctuaries and attack bases for jihadists.

8. 9/11 also pointed up the dangers of UNDER-reacting to intelligence information.

9 The intelligence was showing that Saddam still possessed WMD and was continuing with his WMD programme, despite the terms of the cease-fire and related UN resolutions.

10. The UN inspectors, most governments, every intelligence agency in the world, and even Saddam's own generals were convinced that these weapons still existed and represented a threat, either directly through Saddam or indirectly if they were to fall into the hands of Al-qaeda. In a post-war interview with the Iraq Survey Group Saddam admitted that he was trying to give the impression that he had WMD for deterrent purposes.

11. If there were any doubts about the intelligence the feeling after 9/11 was probably that it was safer not to take any chances and that anyway why should a tyrant like Saddam be given the benefit of that doubt, particularly if it provided a legitimate reason for getting rid of him?

12. After being given every opportunity to comply with the UN resolutions (over a considerable period) Saddam rejected the final demand under resolution 1441 (passed unanimously in November 2002) which called for "an accurate, full and final disclosure of Iraq's WMD's and of all aspects of its WMD programme", and which encompassed presenting evidence that WMD stocks had been destroyed. Opinions differed amongst eminent international lawyers on whether a second resolution was needed for military action. Such differences are quite common in international law since very little is clear-cut in this fairly new and arcane area of the law.

14 To argue that the war was DEFINITELY illegal is not therefore defensible whereas the Prime Minister's parliamentary answer (March 17, 2003) putting the legal case for the war is legally defensible.

15. The ensuing invasion presented an opportunity for (a) finally dealing with the WMD threat perceived at that time (b) removing a tyrannical dictator (c) neutralising Iraq as a potential base for world-wide terrorism (d) demonstrating that the international community could not be defied on such vital issues (e) allowing US troops to be withdrawn from Saudi Arabia and its holy places (which up to that point was one of AL-qaeda's main recruiting causes) and (f) allowing progress to be made towards a Middle East settlement (Saddam was offering 50,000 dollars for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers!).

16. Blair's dilemma was, therefore, this. To go into Iraq meant war with all its terrible consequences. But not going into Iraq meant Saddam defying the international community and literally getting away with murder thus setting an example to other dictators and enemies of democracy. It also meant Saddam proceeding with his WMD programme to a point where he might become invulnerable, possibly passing WMD on to the jihadists, continuing his repression of his muslim population, and continuing to undermine a Middle East peace settlement. Finally the need to keep US troops in Saudi Arabia would continueto give AL-qaeda a cause-celebre regarding the holy places. In other words he was damned if he did and damned if he didn't.

17 In coming down in favour of the war Blair probably saw this as the lesser of the evils and as the chance to act as a restraining influence on Bush in a way that those opposing the war were not able to do..

18 Far from the invasion being anti-Islamic, the (Islamic) Kurds, anti-Saddam Sunnis and the Shias rejoiced at being liberated from Saddam's tyranny (even now despite the post-war mayhem a recent poll has shown that over 60% of the population believe that overthrowing Saddam was worth the hardship entailed, 75% of the Shias and 81% of the Kurds).

19. Yes, terrible mistakes were made in the post-war period (as in any war). Amongst these was underestimating the sheer depravity of an enemy which seems to be prepared to destroy the country and slaughter its people rather than to see it progress under a democratically elected government.

20 Iraq is NOT under occupation. The occupation was ended in 2004 under UN Security Council Resolution 1546 when the interim Iraqi government took power. Coalition troops have been mandated by the UN to keep the peace. The US government is pledged to comply with a UN resolution requiring them to leave if requested by the Iraqi government.

21. Millions of Iraqis risked death to elect their government. Their government therefore has a greater legitimacy than almost any other government in the world!

22. That government wants our troops to stay as long as it takes to do the job. To cut and run now would be one of the most ignoble acts in our history.

From this perspective then there is no betrayal of what the Labour Party and the liberal-left are supposed to stand for. Quite the opposite. Here we have a courageous Labour leader trying, against all the odds, to uphold the principles of democracy, social justice, humanitarianism, and international solidarity which the Labour Party was founded to promote. To be sure, there is a downside. But those who constantly dwell on these negative aspects without putting them into the above context are simply giving comfort to one of the most despicable enemies we have faced, thereby stiffening their resistance in the belief that western public opinion does not have the stomach for the fight and that one more spate of high-profile suicide bombings will precipitate demands to bring home the troops and thus bring them victory.

Over to you