Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Iraq Inquiry Is A Waste Of Time.

I want to express my complete dismay with Britain's Iraq  Inquiry.  Rather than being an exercise in self-examination, the whole thing seems to have descended into a finger-pointing and blame-game charade, where most of the fingers get pointed at Blair and Bush, and Jack Straw too, to boot.  Yawn.  We have heard it all before.  To my knowledge, there has not been one new piece of vital evidence submitted to this commission.  We have seen the brouhaha surrounding Straw, Freedman, Chilcott, et al, submissions of oral and written testimony (are these people actually on trial - at least, in the legal sense?).  How are we meant to be left feeling?  Still empty.  Still frustrated.  Will anything change as a result of this inquiry?  Or will wars still be waged by others on behalf of our own common good and the well-being of Western democracies?

Allow me to put it all in a nut-shell:

Yes, the United States and Britain (the two major players in all this, yes, yes, we know) made substantive errors of judgement in regards to analysis of intelligence relating to Saddam's 'supposed' arsenal of WMDs.

Yes, the United States and Britain made significant errors in correlating their intelligence in regards to Iraq's involvement with terror cells, especially as related to al Qaeda and 9/11.

And yes, the US (particularly) was certainly in error for presenting flawed data and intelligence to the UN to justify military action against Iraq.


There is still a very pertinent argument for the invasion that I think a lot of people seem to forget in the whole "We Hate George Bush/No Blood For Oil/Blair Is A Puppet/War Is Wrong" haze, and that is (again, in a nut-shell) - SADDAM HUSSEIN WAS FUCKING EVIL! 

Of course, we all know about some of the sickening and deprived acts perpretrated on his own caste, and the peoples of the North of Iraq, and too against the Iranians, and let's not forget his affiliation with the PLO and Abu Nidal at a time when they were at their violent peak during the '80's - they are in fact legion - but there is one thing that pisses me off more than anything in regards to Hussein's actions leading up to the war.  Saddam Hussein was gambling with everything in this, the biggest of modern pissing contests:  his own honour (as seen by his fellow Mid-East leaders), his local power-base within Iraq, his prestige amongst his pathetic and cowardly military, and his credibility as seen by past and possible future allies.  He was so willing to put it all on the line in this strange game of brinkmanship.  A testament to his insanity, perhaps?

Another aspect to this debacle unfolding in London at the moment that gets to me, and that seems to have been conveniently forgotten by all involved, is the fact THE ENTIRE WORLD WAS AGAINST SADDAM.  Yes people, the whole of the Middle East, the Russians and the Chinese were dead against Mr Hussein too.  I have not heard any mention of UN Resolution 660 in this Iraq Inquiry.  Nor of resolution 661.  You can add to that resolutions 678, 686, 687, 688, 707, 715, 986 and 1284.  No mention of any of the direct orders of Iraq's compliance with UN directives to allow weapons inspectors to do their job, that is, the job of determining Hussein's veracity in regards to the denial of possessing and manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, to compensate Kuwait for the 1991 invasion,  and to cease importing weapons from third parties.  All that this guy had to do was open the door to these United Nations inspectors, not corral them as he did time after time, and the issue would never have developed as it did.

Of course, we have heard of Resolution 1441, that UN directive that pretty much made it all legal for a military response to Saddam's prevarication.  I would remind you, dear reader, that this resolution was passed unanimously by the UN.  That word again:  unanimously.  That shit just doesn't happen at the 'United' Nations!

I was disappointed with Hans Blix's distasteful comments in the media regarding the actions of the Coalition governments in the lead-up to the invasion.  I remember at the time that he was a vocal opponent of military action, but I seem to remember that he was also quite vocal in venting his frustration with the Iraqi regime's tactics of the day.  Why bring up the same old I-told-you-so antics?

Anyone that has any doubts about the decision-makers involved in the invasion should read Sharon de Young's excellent biography of Colin Powell (Soldier:  The Life Of Colin Powell, Vintage, 2006).  De Young reveals a great deal of the politics involved between the Departments of State and Defence, as well as the influence of Cheney on Bush.  Rather than being the lynch-pin in the US's deceptive justifications for war, Powell is revealed more as the lonely voice of reason, and perhaps as a bit of a patsy for that adminstration.  Where the hounds of the adminstration were pushing for invasion and subjugation, the General was calling for restraint and caution, a well-planned and gradual build-up to action rather than the hacked-together rush for intervention.  Read the book.  Case closed.

I just can't help but feel that the British Iraq Inquiry is perhaps a well-meaning exercise, but one that is poorly executed.  Britain needs an inquiry far less than the United States.  This commission has no teeth.  No one can be indicted for war crimes as a result of this, there can be no formal amendment to British law.  What is the point?  Why should the Inquiry limit itself to examining the 2003 war?  Why not have a look at the 1991 conflict, too?  Surely that action is worthy of another look, in the context of how it all played out up till March 20, 2003?  What?  Too hard?  Not worth getting Lady Thatcher and Mr Major up for a grilling?

We in the West have to ask ourselves two questions (we have this luxury, living in affluent, stable  democracies as we do).  Firstly, is the world better off without Saddam Hussein?  Secondly, is Iraq better off without Saddam Hussein?   Despite what our governments would like us to believe, there are no simple answers to this, but being situated as I am in this affluent, stable and distant Western democracy, I wonder if my answers would be vastly different to those of my Iraqi brothers and sisters.


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