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Nothing so ghoulish as cheering for death

This week marked the third anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war. Which means, of course, that for those of us who don't read conservative or "popular tabloid" newspapers, it has been a week of reading a parade of left-whingers talking about how right they were and how wrong the war was etc. etc. Sickening. Even more sickening, in fact, than the hollow triumphalism of the right three weeks after the beginning of the war when the statue of Saddam was toppled. Sickening for the simple reason that they are cheering the death of innocent civilians.

Whether you were pro-liberation or anti-invasion three years ago is largely irrelevant, and patting yourself on the back and feeling smug at how right you were is about as wholesome as masturbating over a terrorist attack. Even the bleating of "oh if only the warmongering neo-cons had been right" still contains undertones of "I told you so, and let's keep those deaths rolling to prove me right further." Does anyone else find it offensive that people are using Iraqi civilian deaths for cheap political point-scoring?

As for current anti-war protests, exactly what purpose do they serve? First of all, the war was over almost three years ago. The coalition forces are now an occupying force, with certain obligations. Anyone crying over international law being violated for it to start only practices self-serving hypocrisy if they now want international law to be violated for the forces to leave.

The other thing I will point out is that we only get the benefit of 20-20 hindsight from one of the possible options. Had there been weapons of mass destruction, and had they been deployed against the obvious target, would there have been chest thumping admonitions of "we were wrong" by the same commentators who were opposed to the war then and who are mixing their gloating with crocodile tears now? Don't be stupid. "Israel is a colonialist rogue state full of war criminals that deserves everything it gets" (Saddam on the other hand ran a blissful secular state where women were wonderfully liberated and there was joyous racial harmony). And who said only Irving plays revisionist historian?

So what should have happened? Ideally, Saddam should have been toppled 20-odd years ago after the first Iraqi war. Unfortunately, this didn't happen. Three years ago, I was having a discussion with a friend on the train, and he told me that war is never right. I have a racial memory of the number 6 million. When the phrase Never Again was written in blood and ash. Anyone who believes that war is never right believes that dictators should be free to do what they like as long as they try not to spill over borders. Believes that genocide is acceptable as long as we're not involved.

As an exercise for anyone who doesn't agree that there are times when an interventionist policy is acceptable, take a timeline of Germany and Europe starting from, say, 1933. Pick a role, say, England or France. Even America. Decide when you step in and become involved. Honestly. No peaking at the end. Just based on what has happened and what you think your intelligence agencies would have told you. If not before, I'm certainly in at the annexation of the Sudatenland, and I'm probably trying to get involved at the first sign of army build-up.

So, three years ago...I couldn't care less about WMD. They should get rid of Saddam because it is right. "Why Iraq? Why not..." (usually Zimbabwe). Because you've got to start somewhere. And after Iraq, stabilise it, move on. Zimbabwe, whereever. At the same time, I also said that they probably needed some of France, China or Russia. Why? Because as soon as you get some disorder, you do need to put it down. Sometimes with force. Sometimes the threat of force is enough. But they did the one wrong thing they could have done: they let things get out of hand. America didn't go in with the brutality to say, "don't do that again" and they didn't go in with the numbers or strength to say, "don't even think of it" and, as a last resort, they didn't have the diplomacy and friendliness to say "we're really here to make things better for you". Sure, the last is what they wanted to say, but they didn't. I think they needed the numbers (air strength doesn't count) to start with, and should have had a genuine post-war plan.

And you know what: I was right. There is no proof that I was. Each death adds nothing to my argument. No deaths don't prove me wrong. But I was right and it doesn't matter in the slightest. Basic sensible tactics suggest that the greater your strength the less likely you are to suffer casualties. Assuming that I was right, of course, means that, as well as those who initiated the war, some measure of fault lies with the anti-war lobby. Once the war began, and even moreso three weeks later once the "peace" began, talk of pulling out troops, stigmatising those who would otherwise enlist, and other such anti-military endeavours only served to help create the carnage.

As for what they should do now, I'm running low on ideas. Pulling out the troops is a stupid and counter-productive move. Leaving them in doesn't seem to be helping. Bringing in more seems like political suicide for anyone who does so. This looks like a job for the UN. Not likely. They are overly politicised and lack either resources or political will. My greatest source of optimism was when the first government was elected. This was the chance for the Iraqis to actually get rid of the occupation. At the time I thought that the Government would give a face-saving and carefully crafted "thank you for liberating us" speech, coupled with a polite invitation to non-coalition forces (why not France, for instance?) to provide specialist training or peace-keeping services, thereby defusing the potential for a game of "Bomb the Yank". And as France, or India, or Pakistan, or any one of a number of countries, brought in their troops and provided the services, the coalition forces could pull out.

And still people cheer over the vindication brought about by the loss of innocent life.


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