Iraq: Who's Really to Blame?

On the anti- side of the Iraq debate we compromise ourselves sometimes by appearing not to have a grasp of the complexities of the situation over there--it isn't another Vietnam, people. And too often, because we are either ducking the complexities or we really don't understand them, we seem to be blaming our own side (if, as human beings, we can have a side) for everything. Other than as a result of their own paranoid monomania, it's the main reason why those on the side of Bush and Blair think we're a bunch of stinking radicals who want to overthrow the government and set up a kingdom of radical Islam.

Personally I would rather Church and State were separated whatever the church. George Bush proves how dangerous a politician can be if he thinks God is talking to him. I don't want a Christian government (though I'd be more in sympathy with it), and I don't want an Islamic government. Nor do I want anarchy. I may be inviting accusations that I've turned into a comfort-seeking old has-been, but there has to be some kind of organising principle in human society. There is too much of the savage in us to risk a state with no laws at all.

Today according to the radio dozens of Iraqi workers have been killed by a suicide bomber as they queued up looking for work. It wasn't a British or American soldier who did that. It wasn't Tony Blair or George Bush who did it either. It was another Iraqi. I'm sure if you'd caught him in the moment before he did the deed he would have come up with a thousand rationalisations for it, blaming everybody from the buffoon in the White House to Michael Jackson's pet monkey, but ultimately, he did it. And however his country has been violated by the imperialist aggression of Britain and the United States, nothing on this earth can justify his action.

What am I saying here? The invasion was wrong. No argument. The Occupation was a mistake; and they haven't even done it well. We have tortured and murdered so many innocent Iraqis since George Bush declared that the job had been done, the stains won't come off our hands for a hundred years--and it will take longer than that for the insult to fade from the race memory of Iraq. It is also agreed pretty near universally--except perhaps in the Oval Office and at 10 Downing Street--that the presence of British and American troops in Iraq makes a disastrous situation much worse. We should get out of there.

But those of us on the anti-Occupation side should not shrink from pointing the finger at the anarchists and radical Islamists within Iraq, and calling for them to lay down their guns and bombs and whatever other instruments of murder they are turning on their own people.I am for peace, but it's not an expectation I lay on my own government while excusing everybody else. The peace movement should be demanding the same moral conduct from all sides in the Iraq disaster. If we don't we just end up looking like nice well-meaning ineffectual Western hypocrites getting off on a sense of ourselves as radicals--reliving the Sixties, in some way-- while never really expecting to have a constructive impact on the horror that is unfolding over there day by day, hour by hour.

Knocking your own government, after all, has been a game for bourgeois Westerners to play at the dining table for so long, nobody can even remember when it started.