Here's a revised, updated version of a piece I wrote last year for The New Statesman, on the case for sending a brigade of pro-war writers and journalists out to patrol the streets of Iraq.
Surely those who were so keen for the conflict to occur can have no problems with doing 'their bit for the war effort? I realise of course that positions need to be found for David Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen and the bloggers at Harry's Place at the front. Any suggestions?
Despite what the Prime Minister says, the chances of Britain sending further reinforcements to Iraq must be high. So who should go? I propose a new division, made up of those journalists and writers who were so keen that we go to war and who so faithfully echoed the propaganda of the warmongers in Washington and Westminster.
The first laptop bombardier should be William Shawcross who, in the lead-up to invasion, could be seen perched on every television sofa in the country explaining why Iraq posed such a deadly threat. The author of such gems as "Why Saddam will never disarm" was not long ago photographed at a swish London party held by his brother-in-law, Sir Rocco Forte. Surely, Shawcross would be better employed helping the British forces search for those weapons of mass destruction which, he assured us, Iraq possessed.
Next up, Andrew Roberts--cheerleader of the fanatically pro-American Atlantic Partnership and a man who advocated using nuclear weapons against Yugoslavia in 1999. Being one of Britain's "most talented historians", he argued that we could equate Iraq, a developing world country--with its Dad's Army and non-existent air force--with Nazi Germany at its peak.
Then there's Tim Hames, tireless advocate of the pre-emptive strike. When Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003, Hames proclaimed "the war is over". If that is the case, then Hames could have no possible worries about a spot of military service in Najaf. The ubiquitous neo-conservative scribbler Stephen Pollard can accompany him. In 2002, Pollard wanted to send George Galloway a one-way ticket to Baghdad. Now that Iraq has been "liberated", and Pollard's beloved US is in control, it is surely time to send the ticket to Pollard. Patrolling the streets of Fallujah has to be more exciting than trying to flog a biography of David Blunkett.
Our recruitment procedure should not discriminate on grounds of sex or age. The Daily Mail's resident moralist Melanie Phillips, who condemns teenaged youths smashing up bus shelters, but not coalition forces smashing up Iraq, would have to be found a position. Ditto Anne McElvoy of the London Evening Standard, who believes the war, which has cost at least 100,000 lives, to have been "both morally and practically right". And we must not forget to post call-up papers to the Sunday Times’ Janet Daley, who labelled the moral case against war "at best naive, at worst idiotic". Daley believed the existence of WMDs to have been established by Blair's dossier. Nice call, Janet.
Leading the laptop bombardiers' youth brigade, we can have the Independent's boy wonder Johann Hari. "Sometimes, the only way to spread peace is at the barrel of a gun," Hari declared in the lead-up to the war. Well, Johann, now is the perfect opportunity for you to do some spreading.
Finally, let's not forget the Sunday Telegraph's "Neo" Con Coughlin, who regaled us with tales of Iraqi superguns and Saddam Hussein's plans to take over the planet. The author of 'Saddam: the secret life' was agitated lest the Iraqi leader's acquiescence to UN inspections "could stop regime change for good". In the end, he had no grounds for concern.
Alas, in real life, these people will continue to draw their lucrative salaries, sign their book contracts and attend their parties in London, unperturbed by the increasingly perilous developments of a conflict they could not wait to see started. That is just one of the many injustices of the war in Iraq.
Copyright Neil Clark/ New Statesman, Ltd.