Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Iraq: Time for a Reckoning

This article of mine appears on the Guardian's Comment is Free website.

In his excellent Guardian Comment piece last week, John Gray lauded the end of liberal interventionism. But while liberal interventionism - and its close ideological ally, neoconservatism - are both highly discredited creeds, one problem remains. Despite the death and destruction their ideology has caused, and the lack of public support for their agenda, neoconservatives and liberal interventionists are still disproportionately represented in the corridors of power and in the media.
Both the prime minister and the leader of the opposition supported the Iraq war. So too did their front benches. Tony Blair may have gone, but warmongers still abound in the Palace of Westminster, with Iran next in their line of fire. And in the media, pro-war commentators such as Nick Cohen, Niall Ferguson and Melanie Phillips continue to impart their "wisdom" on international affairs as if the humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq had never happened.

The failure to hold the war lobby properly to account is a sad reflection on the state of democracy in modern Britain. But while moving Britain to a more peaceful foreign policy orientation requires moving away from the present turbo-capitalist economic system which makes wars of plunder like Iraq inevitable; in the short term, there's much we can do to rectify the situation. If your MP supported the Iraq war, write to them to ask if, in the light of events, he/she is ready to publicly recant and to pledge that he/she will support no more illegal attacks on sovereign states. If they refuse to do so, simply inform them that you won't vote for them at the next election. Find out too who the prospective candidates are from the other parties, and ask them if they are prepared to make the same pledge.

Regarding the leaders who took us into war, support the legal moves to prosecute Tony Blair for war crimes. In Scotland, the former SNP MP Jim Sillars has submitted to the Lord Advocate a request that she review the powers of "declaration" which rests with Scottish courts, to have Tony Blair arraigned as a murderer on the general charge that he has led an "aggressive war" in Iraq.
Let's not forget that the Nuremburg judgment held that to initiate a war of aggression was "not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole". Allowing Blair and his fellow warmongers to get off scot-free for the illegal, murderous attack on Iraq would put us - the British people - in the same moral category as the Germans who stood by and watched as Jews were herded on to trains bound for the concentration camps.

And next time you read a hawkish article by a pro-war journalist - arguing for "strong action" against Iran/Russia/Syria or whichever country has been designated the neo-con's baddie of the week - remind him/her of the claims he/she made on Iraq. I'm sure many pro-war journalists wish what they had written five years ago about the Iraqi "threat" could be erased from the public record forever; thanks to the wonders of Google, it never will be.

Until those who supported the assault on Iraq either publicly show remorse, or better still, do the honourable thing and leave public life for good, we must keep up the pressure. Of course, we will be accused by the "let's move on from Iraq" brigade of attempting to claim hollow moral victories. We shouldn't let that worry us. The arrogance of the pro-war brigade, pre-invasion, has been matched only by their arrogance to acknowledge they were wrong, post-invasion.

The issue is not, however, about trying to force arrogant people to show some humility.

It's about doing all we can to make sure that a disaster like Iraq never happens again.

1 comment:

The Exile said...

I am sticking my neck out here, but I think that the British are getting ready to leave Iraq.

If I am right then we had better get ready for the repercussions. The warmongers are going to need someone to blame.

I hope you are up for this fight -it's going to be fun!