Published Sun 5th November
Brian Wilson fails in last weeks column [‘Troops out’ will not end Basra’s misery] to mention any of the reasons he and his New Labour colleagues gave for invading Iraq in the first place. And I am not surprised.
Let’s briefly remind ourselves what Brian said in 2003 to justify this illegal war; Saddam was a threat to this country, Saddam was a threat to his neighbours, Saddam was responsible for 9/11, he had links with Bin Laden and Al Queada, he had weapons of mass destruction [remember that one!]. All were proven to be spurious and the invasion of a sovereign country was declared illegal under international law and it has proved to be just as heinous in its conduct.
Now Brian Wilson and his New Labour colleagues, as at Westminster this week, argue that their purpose after all was to ‘bring peace, stability and democracy to Iraq.’! I kid you not, this mindless mantra was hummed repeatedly, on all networks all day Tuesday by the likes of David Cairns MP, Des Browne the Defence Secretary –before his gaffe on the enquiry- and Adam Ingram MP.
Peace? Where is the peace, I don’t see it. More than 650,000 Iraqis have died so far and the sectarian killing according to the UN runs at 100 per day. That 36,500 or the equivalent of ten 9/11’s per year.
Stability? The country has disintegrated into ethnic warfare and anarchy and surely must be the least stable country on the planet. The Kurds are completely detached in the north, Sunni and Shia militia are butchering each other with abandon, Al Quaida have control of entire Iraqi provinces, ceded to them by the US Army and the Iraqi police and army are implicated in all the blood letting. On top of that there is no electricity of clean waters for huge sections of the population in an oil rich country.
For British troops in Basra the stability is just as illusive. John Humphries reporting from Basra last week revealed that the British military high command have not been able to leave their Basra Palace HQ in four months.
And democracy? New Labour lectures us on democracy without a hint of shame. This is just too difficult to take. This is the party which justified ‘regime change’ in Iraq, not by the only people morally entitled to do it, that is the Iraqi’s themselves, but rather by two alien invading western armies.
And to my mind anyone who rejects the clear wishes of the Iraq people who by ten to one want the troops withdrawn is in no position to lecture us about democracy.
This debate needs an honest answer to one question. Is the continued presence of British and American troops in Iraq part of the solution or are they now part of the problem? I know where I stand and its not beside Brian Wilson who says ‘There is no ethical case to justify the imminent departure of British troops from Iraq’.
On the contrary the continued presence of invading armies hated by the population means more deaths of young British and American troops as well as one hundred times as many innocent Iraqis. The case for immediate withdrawal is to bring to an end a hideous and disastrous chapter in this nations history.
Colin Fox, MSP
National Convenor Scottish Socialist Party