Posted by: puebloman | November 29, 2009

Four years on

On the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, right-wing politicians are predictably queueing up to justify the war. Tony Blair in Madrid last week was briefing the Spanish press. Predictably, he sidestepped the “weapons of mass destruction” issue, declaring to El Pais that he was comfortable with the decision to “expel Saddam” – as though western democracies ever gave a damn about expelling dictators. The UK traditionally sets up and supports dictators – it doesn’t expel them.  The Chilcot enquiry opened last Tuesday. We all remember how keen Blair was on enquiries. He would appoint as chair, a pillar of the community whom he knew personally and who he was sure wouldn’t rock the boat and step outside of his remit. Blair was very aware that it was “loose cannons”, especially among the judiciary, that brought Nixon down. He would then sew up the enquiry like a kipper. Its remit would be so narrow that witnesses would come away feeling they had not been able to give their evidence. While a Blair enquiry gave all the signals and tokens of transparency, they were in effect gagging orders. Chilcot will be interesting because it will reveal whether or not the British ruling class feels that enough time has passed to make the truth ineffectual, and therefore whether it’s yet time to tell the truth.

While Blair was dealing with the Spanish press, ex Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar (Partida Popular) of Spain was in Australia arguing that his defeat in the election following the Madrid bombings was a “victory for terrorism”. The temptation for Spain’s political right to hook itself onto the coat tails of the American Imperialist right are easy to see. This was the first multinational military expedition that Spain had undertaken since the battle of Lepanto. Readers will recollect that Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, fought at that battle and he was a contemporary of Shakespeare.

The difference between Spain and the UK in this respect is that in Spain the voice of democracy has been heard. Not so in the UK.

Since this is its fourth anniversary, let’s pause to consider the cost of this war. Three thousand five hundred western troops have lost their lives. This doesn’t count the maimed and disfigured, and it doesn’t count those psychologically maimed traumatised and dehumanised by being caught up in sanctified mass killing, including the killing of women and children. These service men and women are among the best people our countries can produce. Had they been allowed to live or remain whole, they would have undoubtably contributed greatly to society as responsible citizens concerned for the welfare of others and for the betterment of their communities. Many of those killed and maimed were teenagers or in their early twenties. Those of us who are parents feel each of their deaths with empathy and horror. There can be nothing worse than to lose a child in the flower of its youth and on the very threshold of adult life.

As for the Iraqi dead, who gives a damn about them? The UK and the Americans, disgracefully, haven’t even bothered to count them. There are six hundred and fifty thousand dead, not counting the maimed disfigured and destroyed, and not counting two million refugees. These are not necessarily the best of their society because their deaths have been utterly arbitrary. However someone, of course, suffers for and mourns each single one of them.

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