Wednesday, November 17, 2004


I can’t believe what’s going on in Iraq. It’s really teetering on the precipice. I don’t mean about the marine shooting the guy in the mosque. That’s the sort of thing you have to expect in war. It’s always happened, because lets face it – they’re soldiers and they’re trying to kill each other. Name of the game really.

Obviously not good to break the ‘rules’ of engagement, but it’s clearly not only the Americans who are playing dirty. The problem is that they’re expected to adhere to a higher standard of behaviour than a bunch of semi organised militant ‘freedom fighters/terrorists’, and they should too. So: not good, obviously; very bad in fact, and a disaster for the US in PR terms, but also no surprise to anyone but the wilfully disingenuous (aka certain Islamic and anti-war commentators) in this or any other war. When you’re fighting block to block, house to house day by days, shit happens. If the roles had been reversed you know the same thing would have happened. And even if prisoners had been taken – so what? The Americans would have ended up in orange jump suits being executed on TV and the Iraqis would have ended up in orange jump suits locked up forever in Guantanamo Bay.

The really sinister development is the murder of the Care worker Mrs Margaret Hassan. Apart from the obviously insane and evil actions in kidnapping and killing someone who was so obviously only interested in defending and helping ordinary Iraqi’s, who are of course outraged at her murder, and was not in any way political or connected with western economic interests it bodes really badly for the future safety and stability of Iraq. Terrorists who are willing to carry out this sort of murder are clearly not interested in the normal political process. They are not really interested in using ‘terror’ to achieve their aims. Clearly their demands (the withdrawal of British Troops) were never going to be met, so why continue with the action?

The answer is to cause the withdrawal of individuals from Iraq – to effectively Balkanise the region. Again you might ask why, and the answers are simple – the US are probably not going to be in Iraw forever, even at the behest of whichever slightly dodgy party wins the fabled elections, and when they leave it’s all to play for politically. The purpose of these horror attacks is to reduce concepts of rationality and induce fear and isolationism within the Iraqi population. A population that regularly sees foreign nationals on it’s streets engaged in business, in charity work, in leisure is less likely to feel abandoned by the west, to feel trapped by extremists, and will be much more likely to retain and uphold the hospitable and humane values that the Persian Gulf used to be famous for.

This vile murder is actually an attack on the general population of the region, attempting to move them into an isolated position where they feel they have no choice but to bend to the will of the terrorists. We know form our experience in Northern Ireland that it actually only takes a very few (possibly as small as a few dozen) actual violent activists to seriously distort the political landscape, and these people are very hard to flush out. This murder is an opening shot in a war about the future of Iraq post America – whether it will be ruled by democratic or even non democratic but popular means or whether it will be ruled by militant fanatics in the manner of the Taliban. Without the willingness of the Iraqi population to stand up for their moderate views, and without the willingness of Western, Asian, and African nations and individuals to continue to operate in Iraq, rule by lunatic is inevitable.

Anyone who reads this blog knows I’m no fan of the war or American foreign policy, but Networks such as Aljazeera are not actually doing the Iraqi people (and neighbouring states) any favours by concentrating so heavily on the Marine shooting incident at the expense of proper reporting of the murder of Mrs Hassan. One is an unfortunate but inevitable outcome of violent conflict which may slightly hasten or lengthen America’s stay in Iraq and may (again depending on the degree of spin put on the reportage) decrease the public’s opinion of US forces and the US in general. The other is a clear warning that once the deep freeze of occupation is over all hell is going to break loose and Iraq will be left looking down the barrel of a violent, endless, civilian targeting civil war which will make the American invasion and occupation look like a brief interlude of calm before the storm.

No comments: