Friday, July 08, 2016

A quick note on Chilcot and New Zealand

John Chilcot summed up his Proustian report into the Iraq disaster in a few terse and acidic sentences, as he found Tony Blair guilty of using dodgy intelligence to justify a war of choice. It is easy to forget now that an influential coterie of centre-left journalists, intellectuals, and political activists supported the invasion of Iraq, providing Blair and Bush with a progressive gloss for their neo-imperialism. 

Back in 2004, when I was an earnest graduate student, I wrote an overlong academic paper about the pro-war left, or the 'decent left', as they often preferred to call themselves.Despite the fiasco in Iraq, the veterans of the pro-war left remain a force inside the British Labour Party and the British media, and have been enthusiastic participants in the attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn. 

Here in New Zealand some of the people trying to drag Labour to the right are very close to the pro-war left. Josie Pagani has been a serial critic of Labour in recent years, accusing the party's leaders of being excessively left-wing and insufficiently appreciative of Tony Blair. Pagani is a friend of John McTernan, a former advisor to Blair and one of the last unrepentant supporters of the Iraq war. 

Pagani and McTernan are united by the view that Western capitalism is fundamentally progressive, and that the left needs to support the broad thrust of Western foreign and economic policies whilst seeking to influence the implementation of those policies. They think that military interventions in the Middle East and trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement can be made into good things if only the left influences them for the better. Iraq shows what a dangerous argument that is. The left-wingers who supported Blair and Bush's war were like mice clinging to the backs of a demented stampeding bull.

[Posted by Scott Hamilton]


Blogger Richard said...

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, if they had anything to do with terrorism: in fact have increased the incidents of terrorism: killed hundreds of thousands of people in those lands, and achieved nothing.

The report is mealy mouthed (Proustian? In length I suppose you mean, Proustian dignifies is a great novel).

Bush, Blair and his ilk should be put on trial for war crimes. And the journanlists how misreported or distorted the invasion. Perhaps the only courageous, almost-honest one was the NZ-born Pulitzer winning journalist Peter Arnett, who, alone, stayed in Iraq as the US bombs rained down.

US policy, in a nation one unkind person described as a "nation of psychotics", is to bomb any one who disagrees with them or who have resources or a stategic area of use: or who are just not "American". "We bomb anything or anyone that moves one US General quipped about the devesatation of Tokyo. It's good for them."

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