There are 56 days until Jan. 20, 2009.
The errors of
by Simon Jenkins
Wednesday November 19 2008
This has to be the beginning of the end. The UN mandate for the western occupation of
With radical Mahdists demanding an immediate withdrawal, the treaty will hold only if honoured.
Accordingly, it plans an end to ground operations next year, when British troops will anyway be leaving.
Barack Obama is most unlikely to backtrack on the timetable.
Britain and now the US are both led by men whose heart was never in this war, and want only to get out with some dignity intact. The much oversold "surge" has offered such a screen. War fever has given way to war weariness. Nobody has a clue what will happen next in
The wreckage will probably be the same patchwork of feuding provinces and sheikhdoms as was always going to follow Saddam Hussein's downfall, with each arguing over the spoils of the country's phenomenal oil wealth.
Iraq will be divided between the Kurdish north, the Sunni west and the Shia and pro-Iranian rest, the lines of confederation being decided by the resolution of militia power on the ground. The country will not be pro-democracy, pro-western, pro-Israeli or whatever fantasy seized the American (and British) neocons in the moment of madness that sparked this whole ideological escapade. Only when the west has gone will locally initiated reconstruction be secure. But the scars of 2005-07, when
Never in recent history has a western intervention been so misguided and so bungled. On Monday the former lord chief justice Lord Bingham savaged the British government's decision to join the invasion as "a serious violation of international law", so much so as "passes belief". He castigated its failure to curb its own and the American abuse of human rights during the occupation.
He might have added such outrages as the driving of 2 million Iraqis into exile, the abandonment of Iraqi collaborators, the failure to restore public services to their condition even under Saddam, the continued "cleansing" of Christians, and the desecration of heritage sites.
After five years of occupation and #7bn of public money,
The occupation has vindicated TE
As things stand there is still no inquiry into the legality of the invasion and no response from the former attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, to Lord Bingham's accusation, other than that it all seemed all right on the night. There is no audit of the billions the war has cost
The reason not to let
That lesson could not be more relevant, as the identical error is being made in
The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has grown increasingly exasperated with the blatant failure of Nato to bring security to his country. He is no fantasist. He knows that he is powerless outside his capital, except where a genius for wheeler dealing can keep the drug lords in funds and the Taliban at bay.
The Taliban are gaining ground and he is running out of time to negotiate with their leaders with leverage behind him.
Hence last week's outburst, in which Karzai indicated his determination to talk with the Taliban and offer safe protection to
Meanwhile, a private war is being fought by US special forces against anyone with a gun in the east of the country, the bombing of Pakistani villages so capricious and counter-productive as to suggest a lack of all tactical control. In the south the British have no strategy except to re-enact the Zulu wars at exorbitant cost in money and lives. The
Publicists are being hired to assert that
Throughout history this land has been the theatre of defeat.
Last month Taliban operating out of
The error of
The awful prospect is that Obama and Brown may feel too weak to learn from
Donations can be sent to the
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs