lenin | 30.03.2004 18:25 | Anti-militarism
Clwyd leaves a lot to implication but if we leave that aside, the structure of her argument is obvious enough. She suggests that the 270 mass graves USAID claims to have discovered in Iraq provide vindication enough for the invasion of that country. USAID is not a non-governmental organisation, but a body of the US government, so perhaps we might treat those claims with some scepticism. Nevertheless, the suggestion merits consideration on its own terms - because it is, in fact, a perfect non sequitur. Presumably Clwyd would allow that there are important questions of agency, of motive, of means and method, and of the alternatives. These have all been outlined in ample detail by critics of the war, and I won’t repeat this beyond suggesting that one way to stop the suffering of Iraqis would have been to stop contributing to it. An end to the sanctions may well have given the Iraqis enough medication, food and comfort to develop and nurture their own civil society opposition to the regime. Human Rights Watch has suggested that there was a steady and marked decline in the level of internal repression in Iraq through the Nineties which disqualified, in their view, any contention that the bombing of Iraq was a humanitarian war. And, why not, the withdrawal of sanctions and the release of aid could have been tied to democratic reforms, just as human rights improvements are tied to EU entry for Turkey. No. Of course not. We can never negotiate with dictators (except when we do) and anyone who says otherwise is an appeaser. One might also note in passing the curious logic that says the discovery of crimes committed in the past with ample support from the West may retroactively legitimise an invasion by the West.
"Most Iraqis now see the moral and political imperative for the war as overwhelming", Clwyd avers. This is an interesting fabrication, since it suggests that even if Iraqis were never consulted, their concerns never actually discussed in the Pentagon and the War Room, the idea that they "now see" the justice of it validates imperialist aggression. Perhaps Clwyd will also make similarly imaginative use of those same polls to suggest that “most Iraqis now see that the Zionist Crusader alliance is a corrupt alien occuper whose main candidate for President has less credibility than Saddam Hussein”. Of course, “most Iraqis” have never communicated anything of the sort that Clwyd suggests. The much-touted poll for the BBC showed the Iraqi public evenly split on whether the invasion had been a humiliation or a liberation. And of the 48% who said that overall the invasion had been worth it, half said the invasion was "somewhat right" and the other half said it had been "completely right". Not exactly "overwhelming", then.
Clwyd is most entertaining when playing ventriloquist. "The Kurds remind us" that WMDs were a conventional tool of repression for Saddam, which he had used more than 200 times and they had "every expectation" that they would be used again. I wonder if these expectations developed before or after Jalal Talabani kissed Saddam Hussein on the cheek? Before or after Massoud Barzani invited Saddam into his turf to kill his opponents in the PUK? And where are these WMDs now that we’re on the subject? Whatever happened to that "human shredder" , Ann? (Interestingly, Ann checked that latter story with Paul Wolfowitz and was told it was a "spot-on piece". She was even invited to go talk to him about it, which she did)...
Read the rest here: