On Iraq: no scenario encourages me much

20 Nov

John Howard is still holding the line (in Hanoi of all places), despite the much-publicised “admission” by Tony Blair that Iraq is a disaster: I put the quotes around that because I do not think Blair’s Freudian slip in the David Frost interview amounted to an admission, though that may in fact be what Blair really believes, and who could blame him? Not much has changed since I wrote When obstinacy becomes reality deficit, who is ‘weak and gutless’? a month ago. Do look at the links there.

Getting into Iraq in the first place was a big mistake, pretty much for the reasons that evangelical Christian Jim Wallis gave as far back as 2002:

The United States has the biggest and best hammers in the world. But they are the only weapons we seem to know how to use. And all we seem able to do is look for nails to pound. Iraq is the nail the U.S. government desperately wants to strike right now. By pounding the nail of Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration says a blow will be struck against terrorism. The trouble is that virtually nobody else in the world believes that. In fact, most credible international analysts believe that a war with Iraq could make everything worse – by inflaming the whole region, potentially causing enormous human casualties, possibly unleashing the very weapons of mass destruction the world is most concerned about Iraq possessing, further diminishing the chances for an Israeli-Palestinian peace, and greatly intensifying hatred for the U.S. and the West, which will inevitably recruit more terrorists. The threat of Hussein must be handled in other ways.

Being in Britain for two weeks creates a very different perspective on a war with Iraq than one hears in the United States. Virtually everybody here is against the idea, across the entire political spectrum. In fact, I haven’t heard anyone in Britain speak in favor of going to war. Both Labor and Tory Ministers of Parliament I’ve spoken with or listened to are opposed, as are all the government ministers who have spoken on the subject, church leaders of all stripes, and the newspapers and other media, again, of all political persuasions. People honestly can’t figure out what George Bush is thinking…

But even though British public opinion is so united against a war with Iraq, the most important voice will be Tony Blair’s. And Blair may be the only one who has yet to really publicly voice his opinion. If he ends up supporting his friend George Bush, and the war goes badly, many people here believe it could cost him the next election. So, I told my British friends that they must tell their prime minister to just say no to President Bush…

But the solution — now the mess has been made — is far from easy. I would agree that unilateral withdrawal would make things worse than they already are. So what to do? I would not be surprised if we do find Iran and Syria becoming involved in some kind of compromise, as some have suggested, but the whole thing has been a boon for terrorists and their supporters.

Kim Beazley’s “senior moments”, such as the gaffe confusing Karl Rove with Rove McManus, are not heartening either, are they?

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Posted by on November 20, 2006 in Current affairs, News and Current Affairs


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