October 20, 2006

Reality Bites

Simon Jenkins in the UK Guardian:
Whether the figure of civilian deaths is 50,000 or ten times that number is immaterial; either is a horrific comment on the impotence of the occupation. The UNHCR estimates 365,000 internal refuges in Iraq this year alone. More are seeking asylum abroad than from any other nation.

A third of Iraq's professional class is reported to have fled to Jordan, a flight of skills worse than under Saddam. UN monitors now report 2,000 people a day are crossing the Syrian border. Over a hundred lecturers at Baghdad university alone have been murdered, mostly for teaching women. There are few places in Iraq where women can go about unattended or unveiled. Gunmen arrived earlier this month at a Baghdad television station and massacred a dozen of the staff, an incident barely thought worth reporting. The national museum is walled up. Electricity supply is down to four hours a day. No police uniform can be trusted. The arrival anywhere of an army unit can be prelude to a mass killing and makes a mockery of the American policy of "security transfer". All intelligence out of Iraq suggests this is no longer a functioning state...

Three years ago America went to war on a lie, a wing and a prayer. That war has clearly failed and consensus is disintegrating... America's debate on Iraq is now a grim, grinding encounter with reality.
But enough about the USA, what about Britain?
What is humiliating for Britons is that not a whisper of such lateral thinking can be heard from the government. Downing Street is intellectually numb, like a forgotten outpost of a crumbling Roman empire. It can see the barbarians at the gates yet it dare not respond as it knows it should because no new instructions have arrived from Rome. As for parliament, the opposition, academics, thinktanks and most of the media, a zombie-like inertia is all. Last week's row over controversial remarks by the army chief, Sir Richard Dannatt, was concerned not with what he said but whether he should have said it. Every one is waiting for the US to move.

Blair's last comment on Iraq was that any withdrawal would be "craven surrender" and would endanger British security. This is mad. Even Bush can admit to be "open to new ideas on Iraq". Blair has clearly not heard of Baker's report. Perhaps he should hurry to Washington for new instructions from the boss.
Substitute Howard and Australia into the above equation and you get the same thing: supine, mute inertia.


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