Tony and Cherie celebrate the Year of the Snake
Last night's Iraq War debate at Goldsmith's — sponsored by Huffington Post and featuring Claire Short, Owen Jones, Mehdi Hassan and David Aaronovitch among others — asked "Was it worth it"", generating many outraged tweets and some interesting debate.
Tweeted quotes include:
Mehdi Hassan — "I approached 60 well known hawks and invited them to participate and a lot of hair was being washed tonight. They've worked out that here is not much to defend in the bloody war." and "What we are directly responsible for is the hundreds of thousands of people that have lost their lives."
Shiraz Maher says
"Yes human rights abuses still exist and yes the infrastructure is devastated, and if it means I don't have electricity 24 hours a day to replace Saddam, I think it's a small price to pay."
20:40 – 7/02/2013
Owen Jones closes to loud applause
"Iraq is 150th in the world freedom index and one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.
"They were wrong about the WMDs, they were wrong about the human cost. And they were wrong about Iraq becoming a flourishing democracy
"Only 30% of Iraqis say they're better off.
"Tens of thousands of Iraqis died, 4,500 US soldiers - for what, to disarm a country that had already been disarmed?
"Ten years on I will say this: We have to learn the lessons and we have to make sure this will never happen again."
20:25 – 7/02/2013
Aaronovitch is quoting the late Dr David Kelly about his comments on weapons on mass destruction in Iraq.
He's interjected by Mehdi Hasan who goes back to a quote Aaronovitch said at the time: "If nothing is eventually found, I... will never believe another thing that I am told by our government"
David says he later admitted that wasn't the right thing to say.
Today, Sam Parker writes at the Huffpo "How Tony Blair and Iraq robbed a generation of their faith in politics":
Up until 2001, I think most of my generation still believed, in an abstract way, that Tony Blair was a decent man. ... But now suddenly, Blair was siding with Bush at every turn. When the president launched his War On Terror, Blair said he'd back it. When the president said he believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, Blair said he believed it too. The press presented him as Bush's poodle, and we winced in acknowledgement.
Then came Resolution 1441 and Hans Blix. Blix swept into the darkening saga like a comforting beam from a lighthouse. The arrival of the peaceful Swede, with his glasses and nervous smile, seemed to my young mind like democracy at work. All Iraq had to do was open to doors to the weapon inspectors, show they had nothing to hide and war would be avoided. Like Piggy from Lord Of The Flies, Blix was supposed to be the rational voice of intelligence. But like Piggy he was taken out of action by an unstoppable boulder: an American government that had made its mind up to go to war long ago.
Blix didn't find a thing, because there were no WMDs to find. By 31 December 2002, his team had reached the same conclusion as an Iraqi dossier presented to the UN during the same period: they were in the clear. It should have ended right there. Instead, two years later, Blix would tell the BBC what by then we all already knew - Bush and Blair ignored him and dramatised a threat in order to start a war. ...
... Guardian/ICM polls at the time put support for the war at just 29% of the public, with 52% opposing. But Blair heard about polls all day long. Naively, I thought a million people marching past his window would be impossible to ignore.
A little over a month later, at 9.34pm on Wednesday 19 March, we watched on television as the first bomb fell on Baghdad. 28 British soldiers would die before the month was out. ...
... The worst legacies of the Iraq War belong to the families of the soldiers and civilians from Iraq, Britain, America and everywhere else forced to make sacrifices for an illegal occupation. But another legacy, one harder to measure than body bags, is the way Tony Blair's hubris robbed a generation of their faith in politics.
In the latest New Statesman, Laurie Penny writes similarly of her generation's betrayal over the Iraq war, not only by Blair's government, but by infighting within the left leadership that squandered the chance to harness the energy of between 1 and 2 million people who attended the mega-march against the war in February 2003.
"It was the first time I remember being part of something larger than myself. It was ony later, after the war and the next six years of progressive assault on cilvil liberties had broken any faith I or my schoolmates might have had in the Labour Party, that I learned about the endless arguments that went on behind the scenes. At the time I had no idea of the factional squabbling that prevented the march from becoming the powerful people's movement it might have been. ... My generation's lack of faith in the political process has often been mistaken for apathy. It is only now, with ordinary people across the world putting their energies into movements that bypass mainstream politics, that the betrayal of Bush and Blair's war is beginning to be understood. We have kn own since we were at school that it's not enough simply to have our voices heard. We have to make sure that we are listened to — and we're still working out how to do that."
It is tragic and positively criminal to see what Bush and Blair did to our democracy and to this generation in particular. But the left's dereliction in abandoning them to a political vacuum while they play at toytown bolshevism is positively revolting and not in the desired meaning of the word.
The SWP (and this includes the leaders of the Counterfire splinter who were part of this themselves) and their dehumanising style of politics is doing more harm than good and is closer to the Morlocks in The Time Machine herding the Eloi underground to be eaten than any serious bid to make a better world. The world burns, the left fiddles and the rest is ashes.
How the left squanders its good will: A Bad Case of the Trots.