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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The loser tendency

Johann Hari has issued a self-serving, snivelling recantation of his support for the Iraq War in yesterday's Independent:
It is clear that the invasion of Iraq was motivated not by Enlightenment values, but by a desire to achieve US control over Middle East oil. Yet the only time people like Cohen mention oil is to mock the madness of the left for bringing it up. Is his explanation - that Rumsfeld and Cheney were suddenly gripped by Wilsonian idealism - more plausible?

The nuggets of important insight we on the pro-war left had - into Islamism, tyranny, multiculturalism, and the misguided reactions of the left to them - have been cluster-bombed and suicide-massacred to death in the killing fields of Mesopotamia. The few who have not recanted are tied in painful knots, and every tug cuts off a little more circulation to the brain. It is time for the signiatories of the Euston manifesto to make a confession. To rally the left to solidarity with the victims of Ba'athism and Islamism is an honourable cause; to do it with the weapon of neoconservatism was a catastrophic misjudgement.

Those on the pro-war left who ostentatiously claim Orwell's mantle have forgotten what made him great - the power to face inconvenient truths. Cohen and those like him simply avert their gaze from the burning vistas of Iraq that contradict their thesis, turning towards Galloway to give him another deserved - but increasingly irrelevant - spit in the face.

Hari presents no more evidence for the "all about oil" thesis than do its more eloquent exponents Tony Benn and George Galloway.  Instead he prefers to resort to his mind-reading skills (which we have previously discussed here) by pronouncing that the invasion of Iraq was not inspired by Enlightenment values.

For it is Johann Hari who is failing to face inconvenient truths, rather than his erstwhile colleagues in the Euston Tendency.  If the decision to invade Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein and Ba'athism was valid in 2003, it is valid now.  The fact that the war and its consequences have been incompetently handled and immeasurably more difficult than anticipated does not change that.  If Britain had been defeated ands subjugated in World War II it would not have altered the justification for fighting the war.  If Hari was immature to support the invasion of Iraq on such a basis, he is even more immature for seeking to abandon it now.

Oliver Kamm demolishes Hari's comic-book understanding of neoconservatism in a characteristically thorough post.  He also directs us to a still more devastating comment by another of Hari's targets, Christopher Hitchens:
Just look at the gang that strove to prevent the United Nations from enforcing its library of resolutions on Saddam Hussein. Where are they now? Gerhard Schroeder, ex-chancellor of Germany, has gone straight to work for a Russian oil-and-gas consortium. Vladimir Putin, master of such consortia and their manipulation, is undisguised in his thirst to re-establish a one-party state. Jacques Chirac, who only avoided prosecution for corruption by getting himself immunized by re-election (and who had Saddam's sons as his personal guests while in office, and built Saddam Hussein a nuclear reactor while knowing what he wanted it for), is now undergoing some unpleasant interviews with the Paris police. So is his cynical understudy Dominique de Villepin, once the glamour-boy of the "European" school of diplomacy without force. What a crew! Galloway is the most sordid of this group because he managed to be a pimp for, as well as a prostitute of, one of the foulest dictatorships of modern times. But the taint of collusion and corruption extends much further than his pathetic figure, and one day, slowly but surely, we shall find out the whole disgusting thing.
Johann Hari now finds himself tainted by the same collusion and corruption.  By repudiating his support for the war, he associates himself with the cynicism of those who ducked the issue.  However badly the war in Iraq has gone, it is not in Iraq that it is being lost.  Melanie Phillips comments:
We are losing in Washington and London where we are snatching defeat from the jaws of steady progress. Our military lions are being led by political donkeys.
Those who have abandoned their support for the war, whether on the left or elsewhere, are contributing to the defeat of the West and the betrayal of Enlightenment values.  The inconvenient truth is that the case for war was a moral one, and to shirk that war even in retrospect is moral cowardice of the worst kind.