Justice delayed is Justice denied

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Who knew that the morale of our troops in Iraq was in such a
parlous state? Despite our boys being, as Tony Blair said last
month, 'the finest, the best, the bravest, any nation could hope
for', the Government, it seems, is extremely concerned that the
lads are close to breaking point.

The reason the Government has dug its heels in and refused this
week to hold a public inquiry into the Iraq war is because it
would 'undermine' our troops, the poor, fragile things.

Here we have ranks of men, trained to fight, to kill and,
sometimes, be killed. Hard men, in other words. And yet we're
expected to believe that an inquiry into the events that sent
them there will destroy their morale. Clearly the British army is
collectively on the point of mental collapse, needing only one
more setback to reduce it to a parade of blubbing nancy boys.

Put yourself in the place of a squaddie finding himself returning
fire on a militia mortar attack. Of course, your aim's going to
be off while you dwell on the outcome of an inquiry back home,
isn't it? As the shells explode around you, it stands to reason
that consideration of your own life and the lives of your
comrades are going to be secondary to that. 'Sorry Sarge, I
really tried to slot that sniper but I just can't stop thinking
about what those senior MPs are up to.'

No, a good soldier is a happy soldier, apparently. You would
think though that the opposite would be true: if you want a man
to rain white hot and merciless death down on an enemy, surely
having him good and pissed off would be better. In that respect,
if the troops are as easily upset as the Government says they
are, an inquiry would be just the ticket. 'A public inquiry is
attempting to ascertain the reasons for the war? The bastards!'
our commandos would scream before bayoneting their prey with
extra gusto. It'd be better than those drugs given to the
soldiers to make them aggressively mental in the film 'Jacob's

You can see how the Government would consider the well-being of
our lads as paramount, having done so much to maintain morale in
the ranks up until now. Whether it be sending them out to Iraq
without enough body armour, wheeling them out in poorly-armoured
'snatch' Land Rovers (you're buggered if somebody fires anything
bigger than a bullet at one), delaying the inquests into
soldiers' deaths for up to three years and failing to visit
injured troops in hospital, it's clear just how highly Labour
value troop morale.

But not only would a public inquiry into the war sap the morale
of our troops, say the master tacticians who made Iraq the
country it is today, it would also give succour to our enemies.
If an inquiry had been called 'it would have heartened all those
that are fighting us in Iraq' said Tony Blair this week. Shut up
and stop asking questions is the message; it's careless talk, not
careless prime ministers, that costs lives. (It's the same kind
of gutless smear, borne of intellectual poverty and desperation,
that saw George Bush say this week, in a sweaty attempt to
salvage next week's mid-term elections, 'However they put it, the
Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: the terrorists win
and America loses'.)

You see, the militias currently running amok in Iraq are only
doing it in a sort of half-hearted fashion. The terrorists who've
just had one of their bloodiest months since the war began (100
US soldiers killed in October alone) really are a lacklustre
bunch, aren't they? The lazy sods. What they need, to really put
some fire in their bellies, is an inquiry held two thousand miles
away. Again, picture the scene.

'You know, Osama, I really didn't feel like rocketing that
British garrison this morning,' one militia will turn and say to
his fellow fighter, 'but there's nothing quite like hearing Tony
Blair sent his troops here on a false prospectus to really make
me want to up my game. Let us away.'

'Yes, Mousab,' his comrade will reply, 'I had believed their
soldiers being poorly-equipped and their willingness to turn a
blind eye to encroaching violent sectarianism in Southern Iraq to
be their greatest weaknesses. But now I see it is their craven
need to examine their mistakes in order to prevent such things
from happening again that brings them low like dogs. Their spirit
is broken. Basra is ours!'

'Those forces of evil [...] will recognise an opportunity when
they see it. They will see an opportunity to carry out more
attacks, take more innocent lives and create a breach in our
resolve,' as Defence Minister Adam Ingram put it, understatedly,
in an expression of the kind of wilful stupidity shamelessly
posing as concrete logic that has made his Government worthy of
the esteem in which it is held around the world. By 'create a
breach in our resolve' he probably means the resolve of
government ministers not to resign in disgrace.

There are reasons for and against holding an inquiry right now.
The main reason against only really seems to be that the war
isn't finished yet. There could be years of it left. Although,
taking the example of the inquiry into the 1972 Bloody Sunday
shootings in Northern Ireland which, having run for nine years
already risks taking longer than the actual Troubles, we could
kick off an Iraq inquiry now and have only just caught up by the
time the troops are ready to leave.

The main reason for having an inquiry, apart from all that
tedious stuff about preventing, in future 'humanitarian'
interventions, the deaths of half a million people and handing an
entire country to terrorists and fundamentalist headbangers, is
to ram home to Blair the enormity of what's he's done. It should
be a ferocious exercise in public humiliation matching only
'Strictly Come Dancing' in its capacity to make you wince. When
he says we're going to see Iraq right through to the end, you
wonder what 'end' he's talking about. Probably the end of his
government and what's left of his and its blood- and shit-
spattered reputations.

It remains to be seen if there's much new to come out about how
we got where we are. What we do know, however, a public inquiry
should collect in one place in order to appal future generations.
There's already so much information out there it would, you
suspect, form a volume large and heavy enough to choke even John

If it's big and thick enough we could even bomb Iraqi insurgents
with copies of it. Instead of the inquiry giving them heart,
imagine the terror a plume of heavy reports falling from 35,000
would strike into the terrorists' hearts. Although equally
deadly, the report wouldn't give anybody cancer or cause birth
defects like the depleted uranium weapons we're using out there,
or lie around unexploded for children to find like the cluster
bombs we're so fond of.

In fact, there's only one face it would explode in. And you can
just imagine it making a satisfying *boof* sound as you thumped
Tony Blair around the head with it.
Splendid, OldRedCap.

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