Thursday, March 09, 2006

Neo-Con Blues

Firstly, apologies for the light posting recently, for any of you who come here regularly (I wish!). Now down to business...

The Independent today points out the large number of neo-conservative thinkers who have since backtracked from their original hawishness and admitted the handling of the aftermath of toppling Saddam has been handled badly. The implication, of course, is that the war was wrong in the first place - a point exceptionally unsubtly made in the opinion section by Adrian Hamilton, who says you cannot separate criticism of the handling of the aftermath from criticism of the war in general.

Hogwash. I accept that the aftermath has been handled badly; that it has prevented many of the real aims of the war from becoming reality - especially spreading democracy in the Middle East (which Timothy Garton Ash identifies as a key priority in handling Iran). Indeed, I can't remember many pieces that opposed the invasion of Iraq from criticising this idea of spreading on its own terms (although I'm happy to be proved wrong here) - instead, it was to do with questions of international law. However important those are, I have not seen from the anti-war side a coherent argument of how to develop democracy in the Middle East. I'm sold on the fact you can't force democracy at the barrel of a gun, but I'd like to see this as a question taken more seriously, rather than a gloating "told-you-so" approach.

In any case, the biggest mistake in war preparation that was made by Bush and Blair was messing around for months on end trying to find a specious justification for the war that would be accepted by the UN Security Council. Only an idiot believed war with Iraq could be averted. Once Bush had stated his aim of regime change, Iraq was going to be invaded. One group of people who most certainly aren't idiots are the insurgents now causing all kinds of chaos. Morally repugnant, maybe, but organisationally they know what they are doing. We gave them every chance to plan this insurgency by waiting so long before Iraq was invaded. That was the huge mistake - not going to war.

It is possible to separate the war from the aftermath; it is perfectly possible to say one was right and the other was wrong. And if Blair hadn't spent so much time in his grubby pandering to backbenchers, then the aftermath might have looked quite different.