And thanks too to those who wrote in to express disagreement with my arguments- and in particular my conclusion. Not all of those who disagreed with the article were pro-war fascists, like the crowd of serial war-mongers at Harry's Place (I think the word 'fascist' is entirely appropriate when referring to a website whose raison d'etre seems to be to propagandise for illegal wars of aggression against sovereign states).
I think the reaction to the piece has highlighted two or three things, which I'd like to comment on.
1. The fascistic, bullying nature of the pro-war 'left'(the Harry's Place blogger 'Brownie' a man who still thinks that the Iraq war, which to date has cost the lives of nearly a million people, was a good thing, has written to the Guardian urging that the 'shameful' Neil Clark be barred from its pages). I must say that I regard being labelled 'shameful' by an apologist for militarist aggression like 'Brownie' is a badge of honour.
2. The muddled- and illogical thinking of some who call themselves 'anti-war'.
As commenter John Hockey says:
"These people say: "Yes the war was wrong, illegal and immoral. We hate the war already!!! We hate the war!!! And yet...and yet....on another level they buy the neo-con line that "we" are now the good guys striving to fix the mess and also accept on some level that those resisting occupation in Iraq are nihilstically bad".
Looking at the reaction of some of the so-called 'anti-war' voices, it's hard to not to share the opinion of 'Arabella' who writes:
" I'm wondering how 'anti-war' Pickled Politics et al really are? Do the people behind these blogs come on the marches or speak at meetings? I certainly don't recognise any of their names."One of their number, Conor Foley, a man who thinks that I should be arrested and charged for inciting war crimes for saying that people whose country is illegally invaded have a right to resist the occupiers, and that it's understandable that many Iraqis have feeling of animosity towards those who collaborate, takes me to task for another recent article I wrote calling for those who supported the Iraq war to publicly apologise for the disaster they have caused. Foley presumably thinks it's ok for the warmongers to stay in the corridors of power and carry on contributing to the public discourse as if the humanitarian catastrophe that is Iraq never happened.
The glorification of the Iraqi interpreters is another sign of muddled thinking: as I said in my piece, if all Iraqis had followed the interpreters example, and supported the illegal occupation, the cities of Syria and Iran would now be in rubble. That is of course exactly what the neo-cons want- but is it really what those who call themselves 'anti-war' want? The line "I was against the Iraq war, but now that it's started let's hope the illegal invaders win easily and no one fights back" is as absurd as saying '" don't really agree with the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union, but let's hope Hitler gets to Moscow before the winter and finishes the job quickly'. In the 1940s the Nazis HAD to be defeated. And today's neo-con war juggernaut has to be derailed too: that is the most urgent priority of our times.
3. The racism which underpinned many comments.
It's a form of racism which seems to say that countries have the right to resist illegal foreign invaders, so long as the people in question don't have dark skins and the occupiers aren't British and American. In this racist version, the 'whites' are the civilising force, bringing democracy and human rights (let's not mention Abu Ghraib or Falluja, or anything seedy like grabbing Iraq's oil wealth and plundering its assets); the 'darkies' who oppose are primeaval barbarians. Unlike the pro-war lobby, I have never condoned indiscriminate violence, the targeting of civilians, the bombing of market places etc, but, as John Pilger pointed out in a recent article, the majority of attacks in Iraq are directed not at civilians, but at military targets. For the record, I do not wish to see ANYONE killed in Iraq, (that's why I opposed the war in the first place and the genocidal sanctions that were then in place); but the best way we can bring peace to the country is to focus on the cause of the instabilility: the presence of British and US troops. British troops should be out of harm's way and withdrawn from Iraq without further delay. If neo-cons want to occupy Iraq, let them do it themselves: patrolling the streets of Basra has got to be more exciting that sitting in front of computers in London offices urging 'pre-emptive' strikes on Iran or calling for a new 'Cold War' against Russia.
What provoked me to write my article was my utter disgust with the phoney humanitarianism of pro-war bloggers such as Harry's Place and the obnoxious uber neo-con Stephen Pollard, who cheered on a war which has caused mass loss of life and a humanitarian catastrophe on a massive scale, and who now profess to show a concern over the fates of 91 Iraqi interpreters.
These pro-war bloggers have shown next to no concern for the Iraqis whose lives have been destroyed by the brutal act of international banditry they championed, or showed no remorse for the part they played in propagandising for what the Nuremburg judgment decreed was 'the supreme international crime'- the launching of an illegal war of aggression. The double standards are glaring.
As commenter 'blowback' says
"Any of you who think that we should take in these "quislings" because they fear for their lives, then surely you should also accept that we should take in all the refugees who have fled Iraq already in fear of their lives and the internally displaced who continue to live in fear for their lives as well until they can return to their country. Having not worked for the British occupation forces they are surely more innocent than the "quislings".
Blowback is right, but the blog campaign is not for all Iraqis whose lives have been destroyed by the war to be able to come to Britain, only those who co-operated with the occupying forces.
Having read through all the comments to my piece I do believe there could be a better solution to the problem of the Iraqi interpreters, and indeed the problem of other Iraqis seeking to flee from the inferno that is 'liberated' Iraq, than the one I suggested yesterday.
commenter 'frizzled' writes:
" I agree with what you're saying. However, I disagree with your conclusion. Of all the countries that can be moralistic about the Iraqi quislings, Britain and American are not included. We do have a moral obligation to protect those Iraqis who collaborated with us from harm. Of course we also had a moral obligation not to start aggressive wars and kill a million people, so it's unlikely we'll help these people anyway.
In fact, I'd draw the opposite conclusion to you: everyone in the US and UK who supported the war should be supporting the millions of Iraq refugees their crime has created. Perhaps they could pay a special tax, or have their houses given to an Iraqi refugee family. In fact, we could settle millions of Iraqi refugees in upmarket Labour strongholds and the Republican States."
frizzled's suggestion, also draws support from commenters arabella and inayat.
The idea that the British people, the majority of whom did not want the Iraq war, should have to pay the price for it, not only in terms of the billions of pounds already spent, but also in the terms of the extra-cost of resettling Iraqi refugees fleeing the hell-hole the policies of the warmongers have created, is outrageous.
So, as frizzled suggests, how about those who supported the war, paying a special 'War Tax' to help pay for the social consequences that their crime has created?
In addition to paying the tax, they would be compelled to either give or share their house to an Iraqi refugee family.
The more I think of frizzled's idea, the more I like it. It is wrong in principle that those who wanted no part of the illegal, murderous assault on Iraq should have to pay for it and its consequences- there has never been a better argument for hypothecated taxes. Let the 'Brownies', the Stephen Pollards, the Andrew Roberts, the Melanie Phillips, the Nick Cohens, the Oliver Kamms, the Niall Fergusons, the David Aaronovtiches and the 'David T's of this world - as well as the politicians who supported the conflict- pay a special 'War Tax' and agree to take personal responsibility for the welfare of individual refugees.
So, by all means allow into Britain, the Iraqis whose lives are in danger due to the illegal intervention. But let's make sure the cost of the war- and all its consequences- is paid by those who caused it.
And in the meantime, we can see just how 'compassionate' and 'humanitarian' the pro-war lobby really is.