Urbin Report

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Norman Geras blogs eloquently on the War in Iraq.

Here are some hightlights:

Something similar has now been repeated over the war in Iraq. I could just about have 'got inside' the view - though it wasn't my view - that the war to remove Saddam Hussein's regime should not be supported. Neither Washington nor Baghdad - maybe. But opposition to the war - the marching, the petition-signing, the oh-so-knowing derision of George Bush and so forth - meant one thing very clearly. Had this campaign succeeded in its goal and actually prevented the war it was opposed to, the life of the Baathist regime would have been prolonged, with all that that entailed: years more (how many years more?) of the rape rooms, the torture chambers, the children's jails, and the mass graves recently uncovered.

This was the result which hundreds of thousands of people marched to secure. Well, speaking for myself, comrades, there I draw the line. Not one step.

It is, in any event, such realities - the brutalizing and murder by the Baathist regime of its own nationals to the tune of tens upon tens, upon more tens, of thousands of deaths - that the recent war has brought to an end. It should have been supported for this reason, irrespective of the reasons (concerning WMD) that George Bush and Tony Blair put up front themselves; though it is disingenuous of the war's critics to speak now as if the humanitarian case for war formed no part of the public rationale of the Coalition, since it was clearly articulated by both Bush and Blair more than once.

According to Human Rights Watch, during 23 years of Saddam's rule some 290,000 Iraqis disappeared into the regime's deadly maw, the majority of these reckoned to be now dead. Rounding this number down by as much as 60,000 to compensate for the 'thought to be', that is 230,000. It is 10,000 a year. It is 200 people every week. And I'll refrain from embellishing with details, which you should all know, as to exactly how a lot of these people died.

The crassest are the statements by supposedly mature people - one of these Clare Short, another the novelist Julian Barnes - that this war was not worth the loss of a single life. Not one, hey? So much for the victims of the rape rooms and the industrial shredders, for the children tortured and murdered in front of their parents, and for those parents. So much for those Human Rights Watch estimates and for the future flow of the regime's victims had it been left in place.

You have to go back to the apologias for, and fellow-travelling with, the crimes of Stalinism to find as shameful a moral failure of liberal and left opinion as in the wrong-headed - and too often, in the circumstances, sickeningly smug - opposition to the freeing of the Iraqi people from one of the foulest regimes on the planet.