Azara Blog: John Lloyd of the Financial Times rewrites history

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Date published: 2005/10/01

John Lloyd of the Financial Times spends most of his columns excoriating the press. In today's offering (subscription service) in the FT he turns to "liberals" generally. Apparently "liberals" have spent the last few decades demanding that "something must be done" about the world's tyrants, yet took exactly the opposite view over Iraq:

It is a sad spectacle. Liberals and leftists who spent decades demanding that something must be done to end all sorts of repressions and foreign horrors, and denouncing theirs and other governments for refusing to end them, now denounce the British and US governments for having removed one of the great monsters of the late 20th century because blood was shed (and is still being shed) in the course of it. This isn”t debate about the manner of waging war: it is a smug, I-told-you-so (or I didn”t tell you but I am now) blast against apparent failure - usually oblivious to the consequences of that failure, especially on the ideals and practice that liberals and leftists claim to have espoused.

It's amazing how the war's supporters continue to misrepresent the history of the war against Iraq, obviously hoping to obliterate the record of what really happened. Firstly, you won't find many "liberals" with the line "I didn”t tell you but I am now" about the Iraq war. Most "liberals" have always been against the war, and vocally so. Remember, there were between one and two million people on the streets of London on 15 February 2003 protesting against the forthcoming invasion. The few "liberals" who were for the war pretty much all still support the war. Indeed, you will be hard put to find a single person who supported the war who is now willing to admit it was all a disaster and never should have happened. Instead we have countless post-hoc justifications of why the war was started, the favourite one being that it was done in order to remove a horrible dictator.

Funnily enough that is not what most of these very same people were saying before the war. Instead, the main reason given for the invasion was because Iraq was a threat to the US and Britain. This is certainly what Blair told the House of Commons in order to win the vote to go to war. (Not to mention Colin Powell's ridiculous propaganda show at the UN.) Of course this alleged threat was not the real reason either. The real reason was that Bush and his advisors thought this was an easy touchdown from the two yard line and would increase his political stature, and that of the Republican Party, at the expense of the Democrats. Many people on the streets of London on 15 February 2003 knew this (others thought the war was mainly about oil), but funnily enough, Blair (and it seems John Lloyd) did not.

This can be demonstrated in several ways. Before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait the US was more than happy to do business with Saddam Hussein. Who cares if he killed a few million people as long as some of those people were Iranian. But then Hussein got a bit uppity and tried to steal control of Kuwait from under the noses of the US, and of course that could not be allowed. Who did that uppity Arab think he was. That is what irritated the US, not the killing of the Kurds.

Then the drumbeat to war conveniently started just in time for the midterm elections in 2002. And this helped the Republicans to do better than they should have. The entire Republican slime machine sent out the message "If you don't support us on Iraq you are a terrorist and a traitor". The Republicans purposely conflated the issue of Iraq and 9/11 (something Blair does these days as well as part of his post-hoc justification for the invasion). After the overthrow of Baghdad, Bush staged a totally theatrical party political exercise with his "mission accomplished" stunt on an aircraft carrier specifically kept at sea so he could fly out to it. Hardly the actions of a statesman concerned first and foremost about human rights, and not just playing party politics.

Sure, if Bush and Blair had really gone to war to remove a horrible dictator most (or many) "liberals" might well have supported them. But that is not why they went to war. There is no point John Lloyd trying to rewrite history while most people who took part are still alive, because they know full well he is just writing rubbish.

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