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Tuesday, October 31, 2006 

War all the time.

One of the curious things that war does to politicians and the media is the way that it imbues them with the absolute certainty that they, and only they, know what the troops need and or/want, what demoralises them and what builds them up. Hence we have the worst possible politician (Margaret Beckett) to lead the debate on the need for an inquiry into the Iraq war since Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich with "peace for our time", claiming that to vote for an inquiry now "would lead to very real consequences" for British troops. The Tories aren't any better. Liam Fox, never missing a chance to show what a opportunist right wing fundamentalist he is, spent the latter part of last week bashing the BBC wherever and whenever he could for screening an interview with a Taliban commander. That the reporter had risked his life to do so meant nothing to Fox, who seemed to regard it as close to treasonous when our troops are being murdered by Taliban supporters, an emotional piece of doublethink which must mean that when NATO air strikes kill numerous civilians, it isn't a mistake but an act of mass murder.

Those conceits however don't even come close to the man of the week's fantastical claims about the Iraqi insurgency. Dick Cheney, fresh from advocating the use of torture against terrorist suspects, says that the "insurgents" are stepping up attacks in order to influence the mid-term elections in America. Either that, or the simple fact that the redeploying of thousands more troops into Baghdad has made them more of a target, or simply that the horrible truth is that the violence is getting even worse. It no longer seems as if the politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are lying through their teeth to the media in order to hold their position; they genuinely seem to believe the bullshit which emerges from their mouths like a flood of verbal dysentery.

All the parties seem to ignore what the troops actually do seem to believe. The response to Richard Dannatt's interview with the Daily Mail showed how many of them believe that they are sitting ducks in Iraq, making the situation worse, not better, and only still there because of Tony Blair's undying allegiance to the Bush administration, for to withdraw them now would only just emphasise what a complete disaster the war has been, with the US army left surrounded by the sectarian violence that they have stirred up and created. It's obvious how the generals regard the war in Afghanistan as still winnable and worth doing, only for our politicians to have made that task next to impossible by moving on to Baghdad. Only a close to immediate exit from Iraq can turn the situation around, and no mainstream party has yet come to that conclusion, although the Lib Dems finally seem to be seeing the light.

The failure of the motion for an inquiry, by 25 votes, shows that the Labour whips can still do their job, however distasteful it is for anti-war Labour MPs to support a government that led us into war on lies and misconceptions, which has still not been held properly to account. That it was the first debate on Iraq since 2004 is even more of a disgrace. Once again Blair has got away with a let-off, whether the inquiry would have been another whitewash or not.

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happy halloween :)

Chamberlain won the no confidence debate in May 1940 by 81 votes. He resigned two days later. Let's hope ...



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