Sunday, January 04, 2009

I usually read what Christopher Booker has to write in the Sunday Telegraph. Don't always agree, but reckon there's always at least a grain of truth there. But today I was quite shocked by what he'd written under the heading 'Our Army failed its test in Iraq'.

I've long felt a bit vulnerable in debate whenever the subject of the Iraq War comes up. When our Prime Minister, Tony Blair told us that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the security of the United Kingdom, I supported his decision to send our armed forces to join the invasion of Iraq. Its only now that there looks a chance that history will judge this a justified action. The last year has transformed the position. Personally, I reckon that the international politician of the year was Nuri al-Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq, who seems to have created Government where there was chaos - rather than Barak Obama, who so far has only won an election.

But back to Christopher Booker. I knew that Michael Portillo had written something along the same lines before Christmas, but didn't read it. But I didn't approve. I find it very difficult to criticise our armed forces, young people from amongst us who put their lives on the line in the service of our security. I sometimes ask myself whether its a blind spot - or blind loyalty to our own team. Whatever, its shocking to read an article in the Telegraph by one of my regular reads, which describes the contribution by our armed forces in such a negative way. I shall read it again tomorrow, so that I can take it in properly. I'll never read Christopher Booker in quite the same way again.


Anonymous said...

I supported his decision to send our armed forces to join the invasion of Iraq.

Glyn, don't you realise how pompous that sounds? You were only a Welsh Assembly member, I think, when the Iraq invasion began. Can't you adopt a less big-headed tone?

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - Thats a silly comment to make. The Prime Minister acts in all of our names, and every person has the right to an opinion, irrespective of what they do. If you don't like people having opinions (except some undefined elite) why read blogs?

Steffan said...

This Booker article is only one of several (like the Portillo one you mention) which have appeared in the London press in the last twelve months giving a fuller perspective on the British role in Iraq. Aside from those who are writing on behalf of the government (ministers and generals etc.) they mostly see the British role as a disastrous (and pretty shameful) failure and, to me, their arguments seem convincing.

To be fair to these commentators, although many wrote some insightful pieces earlier, they didn’t openly criticise until the army had conceded defeat, given up any pretence of a role and retreated to its airport base outside of Basra.

It may seem unpatriotic in a way but surely it’s better to be honest about these things, admit shortcomings and worse – if only that, hopefully, it may make it less likely to happen again.

This whole tawdry adventure, with the exception of individual acts of bravery and honesty, has been a disgraceful episode for British politics and arms. The deaths of tens (hundreds ?) of thousands of innocent people and the ‘displacement’ of over a million surely demands some accounting even when we find the answers uncomfortable.

Savonarola said...

The criticism from Messrs Booker and Portillo is not directed at men under arms in the field but more at MOD, politicians and some of the top brass such as the politicised General Jackson. Jackson went from being as soldier's soldier to being seduced by Blair and thus losing his military judgement in favour of taking the political angle.

Glyn Davies said...

Steffan - I still think that there is a chance that history may look back on the Iraq war as a sensible strategic decision - as unlikely as it seems today. But you are right in that its usually best to face up to things openly and honestly - even if there are many people like me who find it almost impossible to criticise our armed forces.

Savonarola - I met Geneal Mike Jackson once, when he 'presented' in Cardiff. He is a man of great presence, and I was much impressed - less so now.