Iraq 10 Years On

#1
Telegraph has some interesting articles today:

Iraq War: 'we have to face the truth and admit we failed' - Telegraph

Iraq War: major new questions for Tony Blair - Telegraph

Iraq War: Sir Christopher Meyer: 'I'm with you whatever', Tony Blair told George Bush - Telegraph

What I would really like to know from Mr Blair is this. On the eve of the parliamentary vote on UK participation, GWB called Blair and in the course of that conversation offered THREE TIMES that UK troops didn't have to participate in the initial invasion. But Blair insisted that we would anyway. Basically he staked his premiership on this, when it would have been perfectly feasable to say "thanks, George, that gets me out of a right hole. You go ahead and invade and we'll help pick up the pieces afterwards". Why did he do this?
 
#2
Well, it certainly isn't Surrey...
 
#3
#4
3 out of 5 posts posts here are supposedly funny one liners just taking the piss.

I wonder if it's like nervous laughter when something bad is about to happen ? i.e. anyone involved in the 'liberation' or 'reconstruction' of Iraq is unable to discuss or admit the real outcome of their efforts. Apparently Bush is the same...

Or maybe just no one gives a **** anymore, simply cos it's not them.
10 years on, and I am still adopting the Nuremberg defence. I cannot be alone in having obeyed orders, done the job, but not had an ideological commitment to it. At the time, the DPRK was looking dangerous, and Zimbabwe looking like a basket case, and I would have volunteered or either of those: how things have changed (not).
 
#5
3 out of 5 posts posts here are supposedly funny one liners just taking the piss.

I wonder if it's like nervous laughter when something bad is about to happen ? i.e. anyone involved in the 'liberation' or 'reconstruction' of Iraq is unable to discuss or admit the real outcome of their efforts. Apparently Bush is the same...

Or maybe just no one gives a **** anymore, simply cos it's not them.
Last sentence, first clause; spot on!

It's a democratically elected government, dilligaf how strict their laws are?

Posted from the ARRSE Mobile app (iOS or Android)
 
#6
For me, Iraq is now a series of digital photographs on my computer hard drive and a few good memories tempered with a few bad ones.

Am I bothered that there are car bombings happening on a daily basis within Iraq?

No, not one iota, mainly because those bombings do not affect me, my family or my day to day business.

In the same vein, I'm quite sure that the Iraqis do not share any of my major worries at present, those being "will the weather this weekend allow me to enjoy some bass fishing?".
 
#8
Blair was so enamourged by Bill Clinton, the American Presidential system, and with George Dubya Bush Jnr after, when he was elected President of the USA. Blair, allegedly, wanted to be seen as a "War Leader2 in the way that Clinton and Bush were. It was rumoured that Blair even wanted tbe British government to pay for and convert a large jet airliner into a British equivalent of an "Air Force One" flying command and control. this ideas was peposterous and it was givne the nickname of "B'Liar Farce One", so it never happened.

Blair sufferers from delusions of grandeur, back then, and allegedy possibly still. he just cannot get his mind round the idea that people still dislike him. The Iraq Crisis was Blair's 'Suez Crises' in my opinion, and equally flawed in its preparation, planning and aftermath. Blair is still peddling himself around the World, amongst the 'Bilderburgers' and other Very Important Personages who run the World, because he wants to be dining up there at Top Table with them always.

"The most impenetrable question, however, is this. Who, in biblical terms, does Tony Blair think he is? Palpably there is a messianic complex at work, as evidenced by his stewardship of that

“Faith Foundation”, to go with the Narcissistic Personal Disorder. But which specific one?

What makes the diagnosis tricky is his habit of switching between the Testaments. In his final conference speech as Labour leader, for instance, he was Moses, fated to lead the Children of New Labour out of bondage, but destined to perish before entering the Promised Land. At other times – perhaps deliberately, more likely subconsciously – he has echoed Christ. In his memoir, he refers to Lord Mandelson as “my rock”, precisely as Jesus did with an earlier Peter"

"Tony Blair proves that God has a sense of humour"
By Matthew Norman
8:23PM BST 09 Sep 2011
 

Attachments

#9
What is even more disturbing is that we have waited ten years for this introspective analysis. I think it could be seen that it started off as a cake and arse party and degenerated into a total mess. Some countries positively need a dictator and they are worse off now without one. Tony Blair and his crew should be utterly ashamed of themselves. We took part in making this basket case and you can add Afghanistan to the list as well.
 
#10
What is even more disturbing is that we have waited ten years for this introspective analysis. I think it could be seen that it started off as a cake and arse party and degenerated into a total mess. Some countries positively need a dictator and they are worse off now without one. Tony Blair and his crew should be utterly ashamed of themselves. We took part in making this basket case and you can add Afghanistan to the list as well.
I'd agree that some nations need a dictatorship. I remember being involved in a discussion of where we went wrong in AFG. I think there was a general agreement that we failed when we didn't put the King back on the throne. Sadly, we have a population that generally don't have a ****ing clue how most parts of the world work and think that Mullah Buk Buk from the Village of Goat ****ing near the city of rampant child abuse thinks along the same lines as Mr Jones the Butcher in Ashby De la Zeuch.
 
#11
Having raced away from the wreckage in Iraq Barry and Dave are rather putting the the cherry on the shit pie we served the natives by supporting the rebels in Syria. That conflicts clearly reviving their civil war and the older one in Lebanon.

Apart from freeing the Iraqi Shia from a millenium of Sunni hegemony, no small thing and not our wisest move, helping tamp down that bloody mess was a worthwhile endeavor and not just because we created the conditions for it kicking off. Now we have all the makings of the worst case regional war we spent trillions of dollars and rather a lot of soldiers lives trying to avert.
 
#13
I can't see what the big fuss is all about, we were told to invade on the basis of WMD's. We won and then pulled out. Iraq was a shithole before we invaded, and it's a shithole now. No WMD's found, so I reckon it's a success.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#14
3 out of 5 posts posts here are supposedly funny one liners just taking the piss.

I wonder if it's like nervous laughter when something bad is about to happen ? i.e. anyone involved in the 'liberation' or 'reconstruction' of Iraq is unable to discuss or admit the real outcome of their efforts. Apparently Bush is the same...

Or maybe just no one gives a **** anymore, simply cos it's not them.
I'm quite happy to discuss the outcome of our efforts and have been since 2003 - sturm und drang with a twist of murderous mayhem - par for the course if it involved the two geo-political genii that were Bush and Blair.

That said, the Iraqis had the chance of something better, a chance that, like it or not, our intervention gave them, but they chose to stay mired in the dwang and they've been sweeping up body parts ever since. Why their choice should be my fault, as you seem to imply, I can't fathom, but I can't remember being noticeably reticent on the subject.

As far as taking the piss is concerned, the only funny thing about Iraq was the weather forecast - Sunni in parts but mainly Shi'ite.
 
#15
Iraq's capital hit by deadly car bombings - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Latest BBC reports 50 killed in Bagdad today, unfortunately our leaders are too busy fuelling conflict in Syria to comment.

BBC News - Iraq violence: Baghdad car bombs kill more than 57
If you're that concerned/bothered then move over there. The country's in turmoil not because we invaded but because of where it is and who lives there. It's a shithole which doesn't register on my bothered-o-meter one single iota.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#16
Apologies for the implication - of course it is not the military's fault. They were only following orders.

On the discussion topic, is Iraq today a better or worse place as a consequence of our action ?

My opinion is that Saddam was a ****, but a necessary **** - he kept a lid on the sectarian violence that democracy has failed to do. Some places need dictators.
Well actually it is the military's fault in parts - if only for agreeing to invade the place on the terms it did.

As for whether things are better or worse - it depends whether you think the state should have the monopoly on extra-judicial killing or whether everyone should be allowed to have a pop - if the latter, then Iraq is remarkably progressive.
 
#17
Well actually it is the military's fault in parts - if only for agreeing to invade the place on the terms it did.

As for whether things are better or worse - it depends whether you think the state should have the monopoly on extra-judicial killing or whether everyone should be allowed to have a pop - if the latter, then Iraq is remarkably progressive.
Equal opportunities and all that...
 
#18
Iraq 10 Years On? ... Yeh, they're still killing each other at a rate of 500 per day, but who gives a shit eh?

Just make sure that oil flows freely to the West and everything will be OK.
 
#19
Saddam was a murdering dictator but he did keep the population under control and after his kicking for invading Kuwait was relativly quite. My thinking is that if the people were`nt happy with him then they should have deposed him, it was not our buisness. We tried to bring democracy to a country and people who had no idea of it and it has failed. The same will happen in Afghanistan. Does it bother me that people die every day there ? no. people are killing each other all over the world. basta.
 
#20
On Crooked Timber Iraq 2003, looking back

RS's performance in the video is quite compelling. This is from Hansard.
...
Rory Stewart
(Penrith and The Border) (Con):
I thank the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) for securing this debate, and it is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Wrexham (Ian Lucas), who made an extremely moving speech.13 Jun 2013 : Column 546
I was not in the House for the 2003 vote, and I certainly do not want to focus on it today; I am far from sure that I would have made the right decision. In fact, I think I would have been on the wrong side in 2003. It was not until I was stuck in Iraq in 2003 that I saw what a mess it was. I want to reflect briefly, therefore, on the lessons we might be able to draw, not so much from the decision to intervene, but from the questions about how we got stuck there and why we find it so difficult to acknowledge our failure.
The starting point for any discussion of Iraq has to be an acknowledgment that it was a failure and a scandal. However we look at the costs and benefits of what happened there, it was probably the worst British foreign policy decision since the Boer war or the first Anglo-Afghan war of 1839. Never have the British Government made a worse decision. By that, I do not mean that had I been in the House I would have voted differently. In fact, I suspect that I would have voted in favour of the war, wrongly. I hope, however, that this is an opportunity to reflect on what Parliament is, what the Foreign Office is, what the military is and how Britain as a whole—or at least the British policy establishment—could get something so wrong.
This matters because there are many similarities between what we did in Iraq and what we are doing in Afghanistan, and many similarities between those things and what we occasionally think of doing in Mali or Syria. At the base of the problem is our refusal to acknowledge failure, to acknowledge just what a catastrophe it was, and the House’s refusal to acknowledge how bewildering it was, how little we know and how complicated countries such as Iraq are. Sitting in Iraq for 18 months from the middle of 2003 to 2005, I found myself facing, in a small provincial town called al-Amara, 52 new political parties, many of them swarming across the border from Iran and many of them armed.
Nobody in the Foreign Office or the military, and certainly nobody in the House, would have been able to distinguish between Hizb-e-Dawa, Harakat-Dawa, Majlis Ahla, Hezbollah—which turned out in the Iraqi context to consist of two men with a briefcase—or any of the other Shi’a Islamist groups that emerged. None of us in the British policy machine predicted in January 2005 that 90% of the votes in the south of Iraq would go to only three Shi’a Islamist parties. Everybody in the foreign policy machine then predicted that it would be different at the end of 2005, and we were all wrong again. Why were we wrong? We were wrong because we did not have the right relationship between politicians, diplomats, soldiers and the local reality of these countries. We have not got it right yet.
We have not got it right because it is not realistic today—as it was not realistic at the time of the Boer war or the first Anglo-Afghan war—to expect people in Parliament to be experts on the internal politics of Iraq. What really began to go wrong after the invasion, beyond the decision about WMD, was all to do with micro-relationships in Nasiriyah and al-Amara and in the relationships between the different grand ayatollahs in Najaf. These are not things that anyone in the Chamber, however well briefed, can pretend to understand or judge. Instead, we have to rely on the military, the Foreign Office and the intelligence agencies, and there the problem starts. The problem starts because the entire structure of our organisations—their incentives,

13 Jun 2013 : Column 547
their promotions, their recruitment, how they interact with policy makers, politicians and Ministers—does not help us ever to acknowledge failure. In fact, these institutions are designed to trap us in these countries.
Careers are made by people going out for short tours. I remind the House and those in the Foreign Office that the initial tours in Iraq were for six weeks, extended to three months, then to six months. The idea—that people living in heavily defended compounds, moving around in armoured vehicles, generally unable to speak a word of any local language, unable to interact with an Iraqi for more than half an hour or an hour at a time, except if surrounded by heavily armed men and operating through translators, could really get a sense of whether Iraq was stabilising or what, to use the Minister’s words, Iraq would be like in 10 years—was of course misleading. The advice and challenge that they could provide to the Government, therefore, was not good enough.
It is not good enough that not a single senior British diplomat formally recorded on paper their opposition to what was happening in Iraq. Many of those who were inside the system now say that they made private comments, that they were worried, but nobody, from the political director downwards, formally objected on paper to the Prime Minister.
Laura Sandys (South Thanet) (Con): Was that not compounded even further by the American Administration, where if someone questioned what was going on, either strategically or tactically, they were sent back to the states, their future career very much in question?
Rory Stewart: That is a very good point, and perhaps it is a way for me to wrap up my analysis of the Foreign Office. Of course, this is not a uniquely American problem. Within any British civil service Department, there is no great incentive to admit failure. When I look back at the reports I wrote stuck in al-Amara and Nasiriyah, I find it extraordinary how every week, I claimed great success. Every week, I would write, “We’ve hired another 300 people into the police. We’ve held a new sub-district election. I’ve just created 3,000 jobs. We’ve just refurbished another set of clinics and schools.” To read report after report, week after week, it looks as if the whole thing is getting better and better. In retrospect, I know differently, of course. When I began, I could go into the bazaar to get an ice cream, but by the end, I was stuck in my compound with 140 rocket and mortar-propelled grenades flying at the compound, and we had to abandon it and retreat back to a military base, essentially surrendering Nasiriyah, a city of 600,000 people, to the insurgents.
The situation is not helped by the way we talk about it in Britain today. We do not really think very much about Iraq. We do not think very much about what exactly Iraq is doing with Iran or Syria at the moment, why exactly Iraq got involved in dubious banking transactions to bust sanctions on behalf of the Iranian Government or why exactly our great ally, al-Maliki, appears to have been allowing trans-shipment of weapons from Iran into Syria. Why do we not think about these things? It is because we are not very serious. At some level, this country is no longer being as serious as it should be about foreign policy. Our newspapers are not

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writing enough about Iraq. The Foreign Office is not thinking enough about the failure. The military is not thinking enough about these things. Unless we acknowledge that something went wrong in Iraq and that something went deeply wrong in Afghanistan, we will get ourselves stuck again.
What do we do about it? We need to reform. It cannot be business as usual. We cannot just go around pretending it was all fine. We cannot simply blame Blair and Bush.
Pete Wishart: Is not the reason for us going to war in Iraq actually quite simple? Prime Minister Tony Blair had some perverse obligation to George Bush, and that is why we went in.
Rory Stewart: The hon. Gentleman has raised exactly the point that we need to talk about. We believe that somehow it is all the fault of Blair and Bush—this is the myth that has entered the national consciousness. My experience as someone inside the system is that we have to look much more deeply at ourselves. We need to look at the Foreign Office, the military, the intelligence services and Parliament. These people, Blair and Bush, do not operate in a vacuum; they operate in a culture that did not challenge and shape the debate sufficiently. It is not realistic for Blair or Bush to know deeply about these situations and it is simply a constitutional convention, of course, that the people who make the decision are the Blairs and the Bushes. However, if we look at what got us trapped on the ground in Iraq—at why, for example, the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown) found it difficult to get out of Iraq or why President Obama found it difficult to say no to the surge—it is because these people are part of a much bigger system.
The reform of that system is threefold. First, we need radically to reform the way in which the Foreign Office operates. The Foreign Secretary has begun; we need to go much further, thinking all the time about the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to focus on people with deep linguistic and cultural expertise. We need to ensure that we change all the bureaucratic mechanisms. The core competency framework for promotion in the Foreign Office needs to be changed. The amount that people are paid for learning languages in the Foreign Office needs to be changed. The posting lengths need to be changed. The security conditions for the Foreign Office need to be changed, because unless we begin to understand deeply and rigorously what is happening on the ground, it is difficult to challenge the Blairs and the Bushes.
Caroline Lucas: I thank the hon. Gentleman for making such a powerful speech, but when it comes to whether it is right or wrong to blame Bush and Blair, I think he is being a little too generous in his assessment of them. He is giving the impression that they were sitting waiting to hear what the evidence was, when it seems clear—certainly in the case of Bush and maybe in the case of Blair—that they had already made up their minds. They already had an agenda.
Rory Stewart: I am sure that much of that is true. I am not here to defend that decision—it was a terrible, catastrophic decision—but I think it is dangerous to put

13 Jun 2013 : Column 549
the whole blame simply on Blair and Bush, because the implication is that if we do not have Blair and Bush around, we will never get in these messes again. We will get in these messes again because we have not created the proper Government policy structures required to think these things through—not just to avoid the decision to invade, but above all to get out more rapidly once we have made a bad decision.
Military reforms—you have very kindly given me some time, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I do not have enough to talk about this today—involve accepting that the military have too much power in the policy debate. That is not the military’s fault: they are filling a vacuum. The military feel that the Foreign Office is not taking the lead and that somebody needs to do something. I saw that all the time on the ground in Iraq. I remember a major-general saying to me, “The diplomats and aid workers aren’t doing anything, so we”—the military—“need to take those things over,” but that is not the military’s job. It is extremely dangerous, because its puts generals in positions where they make optimistic predictions about their capacity to sort things out, albeit without a detailed understanding of the politics or the reality of those aspects of governance or diplomacy.
We in Parliament need to look at ourselves—it is on this that we need to conclude. The hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) was exactly right to ask us to look hard at how the Select Committee on Defence, the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Intelligence and Security Committee got this wrong. What reforms have we introduced to those Committees to ensure that we do not get it wrong again? How do we as Members of Parliament operate in a very complicated world? It is not realistic for any of us in this Chamber to understand exactly what the difference is between Harakat-Dawa, Hizb-e-Dawa and Hizb-e-Dawa Islamiya. Everybody is learning desperately from briefs, trying to sound plausible, but there are 200 nations in the world. Ministers are busy. Politicians are busy; they are worrying about their constituents. They are not deep experts on these issues. We therefore need to create a system that we can rely on in the Foreign Office, the military and the intelligence services. We in Parliament need to know how to question those people, how to listen to them and how to promote people who disagree with us. We need in Parliament to learn how to look at which civil servants got it wrong and hold them accountable, rather than promoting, as we did, almost everybody who was implicated in the Iraq decisions.
Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD) rose—
Rory Stewart: I am coming to the end.
Finally, we need above all to learn—I feel, as a new Member of Parliament, and with all deference to this House—a lesson of humility.
...
That block of bold is mine, I think he's right to point to systemic problems that really have not been addressed rather than lazily heap all blame on the leaders that stumbled towards Baghdad. If only because it's so easy to blithely make the same stupid mistakes again under the equally falible lot we have in charge now.

Even Bush was carried along by pre-existing policies and flawed institutions, mainly The Pentagon and its procurement based vision of future wars. Their are few more practical and experienced politicians than Dick Cheney but even he was at sea after 9-11. And Blair was filled with misguided missionary zeal, he still is.

Finally it's the Pentagon that has done real soul searching about what DC's role is in the world and become a great deal more realistic. They were highly skeptical about the dubious intervention in Libya and still are about Syria. While Paris and London often seem still filled with the same sort of emboldened stupidity that kicked off the Baghdad cakewalk.
 

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