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Saturday, September 18, 2004

The lesson of the "scrap of paper" Part II

My reader, after reading my previous post on this, emailed me the following. Again I will quote it, in full, but I have replied to one point mid-way through. I must apologise for getting onto my soapbox again.

Ahh, to the first and last I shall reply.

"From the last sentence I presume that my reader is comparing the Coalition attack on Iraq in March 2003 as equivalent to Hitler's attack on Poland on the 1st September 1939. If I am wrong in that I apologise, and s/he should email me again."

The comparison is to the apologists. Not to the aggressors. You are making great, unwarranted leaps. There is a difference that cannot be missed.


I presume here my reader compares me to the apologists of Hitler's attacks on Poland, that s/he referred to in my first point. I am confused about the possible difference. So, George Bush and Tony Blair are not Hitler and Himmel, but I am an Oswald Mosley or something? Or perhaps a Lord Haw-Haw? I am sorry but this is absolute rot, and a typical example of where those opposed to the initial war make a prime mistake - they end up comparing everyone to Nazis. It is one reason why, in general, I feel relatively little sympathy for the position.

"It is an evil which we fight in Iraq, and personally I have no qualms at giving the war my support."

The evil in Iraq was being addressed before the war. We had hundreds of United Nations inspectors in-country and could have flooded Iraq with thousands more.

Of course, that is not manly enough. Better we “go to war” and kill and maim. That is the answer we have historically used..

The Vietnam War. The Anglo-Boer war.

We have not learned the lesson yet.


The evil in Iraq before the war was Saddam Hussein himself. He was not being addressed. WMDs were an important issue, of that there is no doubt, but for me what made Saddam Hussein evil was not his possession of WMDs, but the track record of his own regieme. We will probably never know how many people Saddam Hussein killed during his time in power, but we do know that he perpetrated one of the most brutal, and yes evil, dictatorships in contemporary times. This evil continued despite inspectors, despite no-fly zones, and despite sanctions. Indeed, by trying to contain him we were only bringing more and more misery on the Iraqi people, due greatly because of the corruption endemic to the oil for food programme and the spinelessness of western leaders to see what was right in front of their eyes.

The possibility, in a post-9/11 world, of Islamic fundamentalists co-operating with Saddam Hussein was, I think, enough justification. Especially given what was commonly assumed then, by every major intelligence agency in the world, regarding Saddam's WMD capability. Inspectors had crawled over Iraq before, and he had just waited for a time of his choosing to expel them. I personally have no doubt that in the run-up to war Saddam Hussein was playing the greatest confidence trick of his entire career, but for once someone called his bluff.

In short, Saddam Hussein was as close to evil incarnate as is possible on this earth.

And my correspondent seems to have forgotten the lesson of Munich: one does not do deals with dictators. They are worthless, and have a habit of biting back. Neither should one let them hide behind corrupt institutions. The United Nations was created with high ideals. It has consistently fallen short.

And my reader should remember one thing about Vietnam - something even this ignorant Brit knows - the country under attack in the mid-60s was not North Vietnam. It was the south. The anti-war advocates of the late-60s and early-70s were their allies and willing fifth column of the North Vietnamese, of the aggressors in that nasty war.

And I stand by what I said. It is an evil which we fight in Iraq today, an evil that seeks to destroy the democratic aspirations of the people. Many of the recent attacks were against applicants for the Iraqi police. Al-Quaeda, or A-Q backed groups have claimed responsibility for much of the recent carnage. The war on terror is being fought on the streets of Baghdad, of Fallujah, and elsewhere in Iraq. Those people seek the destruction of our world. They will not respond to reason, for this is a war of mutual destruction. Unlike the Cold War, where the Russians and ourselves could see each other as being humans, our enemy does not acknowledge our common humanity. This is a war to the finish.

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