Iraq inquiry: a case for waiting

March 27, 2008 at 10:47 am | Posted in British Politics, Iraq War | Leave a comment
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Perhaps someone can put in an argument to the contrary, but I’m starting to wonder whether the recent clashes in Basra actually weaken the case for an immediate inquiry into Britain’s handling of the Iraq war. On the one hand, the government’s insistence that an inquiry might be damaging for the troops is pathetic Bush-esque bullshit, and the continuing turmoil, however much it may have been stabilised by Gen. Petraeus, show that it’s necessary to learn all the lessons of our misadventure.

On the other hand, should we really want an immediate inquiry into all aspects of our involvement when it’s not yet possible to determine them? It’s been barely over three months since we handed control of Basra to the Iraqis and the full consequences of our withdrawal are still being felt. Will we really be happy with the results of this proposed post-mortem if we try carry it out before our involvement has ended?

There’s much we already know about the war without needing another inquiry to confirm it. We know that much of the faulty intelligence about WMD was publicised over good intelligence which casted doubts on these claims. We know that Britain had limited influence over plans to ‘win the peace’ and that the Americans put little thought into it. And we know that there were many strategic mistakes made immediately after the fall of Saddam’s regime and that the coalition was too slow to correct or even notice its errors.

What we don’t know much about but is probably most useful to both advocates & opponents of the war is a full account & analysis of the coalition’s military execution of it. It’s from this where we can best draw conclusions about whether it was ever possible to stage a successful liberation or not, and those are the conclusions that will probably have the most lasting consequences on foreign policy debates on both sides of the Atlantic.


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