Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Iraq War Blogswarm: Defenders of the War

Five years on, it seems clear that the war on Iraq and subsequent occupation has represented a disaster in almost every way, of such a scale that it could reasonably be said to be the greatest foreign policy blunder of the past 60 years. At least 100,000 people have been killed in Iraq in the five years since the start of the US-led invasion. Iraq five years on remains in humanitarian crisis. Sectarian violence is rife in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq.

Despite all of this, a significant group of left-wing commentators and bloggers continue to defend the Iraq War. Several of them consider themselves part of the 'Decent Left' (originating from the title of this essay) and typically defend the war as having been necessary to topple a "psychopathic despot" whose Ba'ath party was involved with a "whole nexus" of Islamist terror groups.

Some of them, including Oliver Kamm and Norman Geras, have claimed that the chaotic disaster that the War so clearly had become by 2006 was not foreseen as a likely outcome of the invasion of a large, multi-ethnic nation led by the Bush-administered United States. With one significant exception, this is as much of an admission of having been wrong about the war as we have seen from the so-called Decents.

Many of the blogging Decents are signatories of the Euston Manifesto, a document drawn up in a pub on Euston Road (hence the name) which purports to be a re-affirmation of the values of the democratic left. In practice, it incorporates an implicit support for neo-conservative foreign policy that has either went un-noticed or (with some exceptions) wasn't considered worth objecting to.

The aim of deposing the tyrant that was Saddam Hussein and bringing about democracy in Iraq was at first sight a laudable one. It's a pity that the thinking of some on this most important of issues doesn't seem to have gone much deeper than that. The doubts seem to have been pushed to one side - The likely less-than-humanitarian motivations of the invaders; the lies and misdirection (e.g. those regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction) ahead of the invasion; and the utter failure of what obviously inadequate plans there were for the rebuilding of the shattered nation after the removal of the Ba'athists from power - all considered secondary to the accepted Decentist line.

The ends don't justify the means, particularly when the means are as horrendously ill-thought out and ill-executed as the invasion of Iraq.


Anonymous said...

Hello, we spoke in the pub after the Anon demo. I've had a bit of a job finding you as's just transferred to a new server and I had trouble logging in. Anyway, it was nice to meet you, maybe see you at the next raid

Oranjepan said...

On the Euston manifesto group - they 'make no apology for tyranny' and are 'for democracy', but they only apologise for the tyrannical means to try (and fail) to bring about democracy.

They are 'for human rights for all', except if you happen to be the scapegoat they want to make an example of.

It'd make me laugh, if it didn't make thousands bleed.

It's a shame they clearly haven't read enough political history to be able to acknowledge the Oxford manifesto, which is somewhat deeper and more-rounded.

QT said...

Thanks for looking me up, anon!

oranjepan: Agreed.