On the real tragedy, but the retreat of the warhards is now like the retreat of the Iraqi army from Basra in the first gulf war, when tens of thousands were killed by Allied aircraft. This morning’s papers are full of commentators running full-pelt from the enemy. At the head of them is the Daily Telegraph — yes — that Daily Telegraph, which under Conrad Black was the most completely neoconned and -conning paper in the business.
Students of military history will know that this is the most dangerous moment of all for the retreating army. Better, surely, to mount a despairing bayonet charge towards the enemy, hoping to frighten them back to their lines. And so we must read Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail today.
Washington is buzzing with rumours that the US is considering inviting Iran and Syria to help restore order in Iraq and that the President is desperately looking at all suggestions for an early exit strategy. Almost every day brings out of the woodwork yet another Republican or military or intelligence type to intone the funeral rites over Iraq.
Well I’m going to stick my neck out and defy the received wisdom to say that all this is so much hooey. The biggest danger that we face — and it is fast being realised — is of talking ourselves into defeat.
… For sure, plenty of mistakes have been made and need to be corrected. But that does not mean the strategy of remaining in Iraq until the insurgency is defeated should change. The security of the region and the world depends on it.
Those of us who have always supported this war must concede that Iraq has indeed become a central hub of jihadi terrorism. But the idea that we would all have been safer had Saddam remained in power is wrong.
Saddam was a godfather of terror. If he had not been deposed, we might now be facing a major threat to our security from his nuclear programme — just like North Korea, whose own nuclear ambitions Saddam helped realise.
… for all the violence, Iraq represents an achievement of the first magnitude. Who would ever have imagined that its previously murderous rival factions of Shia, Sunni and Kurds would now be co-operating in running the country after being democratically elected?
The insurgency is actually failing in the first and most important of its objectives — to destroy this political settlement. For all the appalling carnage, Iraq’s government continues to function. Far from civil war, it has passed a new plan for peace and reconciliation backed by all factions pledging to act together.
In short, Iraq is holding up heroically. But the insurgency is well on the way to achieving its second objective — a collapse of nerve in the US and UK.
I would like to believe that she is the only person who believes that the way out of the present difficulties is to widen the war “One of the reasons for the continuing violence in Iraq, after all, is America’s spineless failure to hold Iran and Syria to account for their sponsorship of terror in Iraq and elsewhere.” But this is the logic of the neocon position and there may be others like her in Washington who think that they must rescue their position with a bombing campaign.
Next to her, by the way, is a British nationalist leader saying that the war is a disaster, and the British implicated in this catastrophe.
I quote Melanie Phillips at length because I don’t think she is just completely mad — though, of course, on the war, she is. The things that frighten her frighten me, too. But if her remedies are the only ones, then we really are all doomed.