Sunday, May 13, 2007

Iraq - Stay or Go?

I was originally a supporter of the war which I felt was justified on moral grounds i.e. the eradication of a tyrant who had killed hundreds of thousands of his own citizens. I did not believe for one minute that Iraq had any WMD having seen the state of their armaments in various documentaries. I did believe however, that did not mean that Sadam Hussein would not attempt to obtain them at some point in the future unless he was stopped. I also believed that had the international community acted in concert to condemn the Iraqi regime and demand that it step down and go into exile or face other punitive measures including international arrest warrants, seizure of assets, ejection from all world bodies including the UN and a total ban on travel outside of Iraq, Saddam and his henchmen might well have decided that discretion was the better part of valour and lived out their lives in undeserved luxury in exile. That is what should have happened but clearly the self interest of certain countries who were dealing under the table with Saddam got the better of their morals and their backbones. Such is the nature of things in a corrupt world.

It is now clear that had Saddam Hussein gone of his own volition, it would not have changed the current situation very much, given the minority Sunni domination of power in the country. An almighty fracas would have ensued leading probably to the division of Iraq which is the most likely outcome now anyway; the only difference being that the lives of allied soldiers would not have been sacrificed and the blood of innocent Iraqis would not be on our hands.

To me it is clear that the war on terrorism should have been concentrated in Afghanistan not Iraq. Had we injected the same resources into Afghanistan and maybe more, I have little doubt that the Taliban and their terrorist allies would be severely on the back foot now.

It is the common view of the majority of politicians and UK citizens and much of the world that the execution of the post Saddam Hussein strategy has been so inept as to be farcical and it has gone from bad to worse ever since. The lack of post war planning is tribute only to the incompetence of the politicians and military planners responsible. They have embarrassed and weakened the West far more effectively than Bin Laden and his cohorts could ever have done on their own.

Lastly, it is the glee of the ordinary Iraqis (whom we liberated from their tyranny) at the death of our soldiers that has finally convinced me that we should withdraw. How can anyone ask soldiers to sacrifice their lives for people who dance and gloat over their deaths? To me this is a bridge too far, a return to the futility and mentality of the 19th century Charge of the Light Brigade. Two centuries on, it is as ludicrous now, as it was then.

As I have said, Iraq would have blown apart of it's own accord with or without our intervention. Nor did we need to kill tens of thousands of innocent people to prevent Saddam Hussein obtaining WMD. Good intelligence and a few well targeted air raids would have sufficed. The cost in innocent human lives has been too high to justify this war. Sadly, whether we stay or go, there will be many more lives lost before peace returns. At least it will not be our soldiers who are dying needlessly and thanklessy and perhaps, just perhaps, the Iraqi people might stop, think and sort it out, once there is no fallback position or "foreign invaders" to blame. They will have only themselves to blame.

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