Here we go again: the drumbeat for sending troops back to Iraq has begun

Thought ‘humanitarian intervention’ was dead and buried? No such luck. It’s taking pride of place in the American election

29 August 2015

9:00 AM

29 August 2015

9:00 AM

Is it going to happen again? Will the next 12 months really see western armies return to Iraq?

Last year was meant to signal an end to wars of intervention that dominated the world stage at the turn of the 21st century, attacks by powerful western states mostly against weak Muslim ones. It was assumed that Washington and London would draw a curtain over the most shambolic foreign policy adventures of modern times. The West would stop trying to reconfigure political Islam. Troops would return to base. Barack Obama and David Cameron were emphatic: ‘No more boots on foreign soil.’ As Cameron told Parliament last year after being stopped from intervening in Syria, ‘I get it.’

Yet the old tic, the twitch to intervene, has not gone away. Last October, despite his Commons rebuff, Cameron told his party conference that Islamic State was ‘a danger to Europe’ which he could not ignore. ‘There is no walk-on-by option,’ he said, though he did then walk on by. Since then he has plundered the lexicon for adjectives to hurl at Isis: vile, loathsome, evil, inhuman, odious. Like Tony Blair and George Bush, he sees terrorism as an ideology rather than a form of coercion. To him the Tunisian beach murders last June were said oddly to pose ‘an existential threat to Britain’.

Following his spring election victory, Cameron let it be known that he wanted Parliament to reverse its vote on Syria. It was then revealed that British pilots had been secretly involved in bombing Syria all along, in defiance of Parliament. Cameron was unrepentant. Like Blair, he craves covert liaison with Washington in matters of war and peace.

Britain’s leaders are at least consistent in their military adventurism. America is whimsical. It is hard now to recall Bush’s 2000 election rhetoric against what he and his aide Condoleezza Rice dismissed as wimpish ‘humanitarianism’ and ‘nation-building’. Blair was ridiculed for his interventionism. The world was not America’s business. The Somalia fiasco of 1993 was enough. There would be no more of the ‘101st Airborne leading kids to school’.

September 11 reversed all that. Bush became a born-again crusader and initiated an era of shock and awe which, by 2014, had engulfed the Muslim world from Pakistan to the Sahara. Governments were undermined or toppled, fuelling a fierce Islamist backlash, leading in turn to a refugee flood on a scale not seen since the 1940s.

By the time Bush left office, the Iraq and Afghanistan expeditions were widely discredited. I have counted some 200 books on them, barely one of which rates them with favour. The end was signalled by Obama’s 2008 election and his popular promise to bring troops home. Even the growth of Sunni militancy under Isis did not see an interventionist revival. Over the course of 2014 polls showed a solid 55 per cent of Americans against ‘boots on the ground’. Muslims should look after their own.

In the past year that has totally changed. The lame-duck Obama has had to send forces to support the helpless armies of Baghdad and Kabul. He wages a token air war against Isis-held territory that he is in no position to occupy or govern. Trapped by his military-industrial lobbyists into launching drone attacks across the region, he seems oblivious of the aid they offer Isis recruitment.

Iraq has now secured pride of place in the forthcoming American presidential election. Last year’s polls have gone into reverse, with more than half of recent Pew and Rasmussen surveys now in favour of a ground war against Isis. The latest CNN poll put Donald Trump well ahead of his rivals, with double the support offered Jeb Bush largely as he is seen as the candidate ‘to best handle Isis’.

The defining feature of the wars of intervention was media-induced mission creep. Each tended to start with sanctions and bombing, ‘intervention lite’. These were the fool’s gold of intervention. Subsequent Pentagon assessments of bombing campaigns were highly critical of their contribution to any strategic goal. Bombs tend to entrench a regime and draw people behind it. They are highly destructive, making it hard to restore administration afterwards. The past year’s bombing of Isis has reinforced its claim as champion of Islam’s defiance of the West, clouding its role in the Sunni war against the Shia. The longer Isis holds power across Sunni Iraq and Syria, the more its neighbours will move towards accommodation.

The question now is how long can London and Washington tolerate weekly Isis atrocity videos. The western media lacks any self-restraint in publicising them, such that Isis is said to regard them as a far more potent way of drawing attention to itself than the occasional act of terrorism. The clear objective is to goad the West into sending armies back to the desert and renewed entrapment. Nothing has changed since Gladstone was browbeaten into sending Gordon to disaster in Khartoum.

American election candidates are responding as if on cue. Every one wants to take on Isis. Jeb Bush, hounded by Trump, declared last week that ‘the world is slipping out of control’. Only he could safely restore it. Hillary Clinton has attacked Obama’s plea that ‘We don’t do stupid’ as ‘not an organising principle’. She demands that he ‘fill the vacuum’, whatever that means.

Islamic State cannot pose any serious threat to any western state, yet the media is happy to accept politicians who pretend it does. Eisenhower’s ‘military–industrial complex’ should today be renamed the military–industrial-media one. For all the condemnation of Blair over Iraq, it should be remembered that every daily paper (except the Mirror) supported his call for force, including initially the Guardian.

In America, Fox News is hugely influential in setting the foreign policy agenda. It reincarnates Randolph Hearst’s belief that wars were good for circulation, retorting to a journalist who doubted there would be war over Cuba, ‘You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war,’ which he did. From another round of atrocities, it is a short step to transport jets roaring over Lakenheath air base and new carpets in Baghdad’s Camp Liberty.

There is little appetite in Britain for a return to Iraq. In the Commons last month, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon asserted, ‘Britain will not send ground forces into Iraq or Syria because it will be used by Isis as anti-western propaganda.’ He failed to explain why this did not apply to British pilots. But every British deployment in the wars of intervention began with similar denials of mission creep. Cameron has been making it very hard for Britain not to join an American reoccupation force.

In none of the wars of intervention was there any plausible casus belli, beyond the presence on television of ‘bad guys’. Kosovo was said to be humanitarian, but was effectively a war of partition. Afghanistan was punitive, but mutated into ‘rebuilding’ a nation — Britain’s Clare Short was even flown out to eradicate the opium crop. Iraq was claimed as a matter of ‘Britain’s national security’, but in reality was a simple decapitation of a dictator. Libya was ‘to avert a Srebrenica in Benghazi’, but soon changed into taking one side in a civil war — probably the wrong one.

I can find no truth to the left-wing claim that the wars were about securing oil. Even the most evil oil regime has to sell oil, and we have to buy it. Nor were the victim states significant harbours of terrorism. Most countries are that in some shape or form. In Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq it was only boots on the ground that altered the outcome, for good or ill. But the longer the boots stayed, the more likely was defeat, either in battle or in failing to resolve the anarchy that followed victory. ‘Wars among the peoples’ are rarely won by outsiders.

The conservative American Cato institute ran a regular analysis of the wars and their outcomes. It reached a clear conclusion. They were all wars of choice. The selected enemies ‘posed no existential threat to any western state’. Attempts to rebuild them proved ‘extremely costly, most of them fail and most erode American power’. The war in Iraq alone was estimated to have cost three trillion dollars.

Yet war still has the best tunes. Until the end Suez was popular in Britain, Vietnam in America. Foreign adventures have long appealed to insecure leaders. Callaghan said privately he was mortified that ‘I never had a Falklands.’ During Libya, Cameron yearned for a chance to play Henry V, with the help of his interventionist foreign policy aide, Ed Llewellyn. He still dives for his Cobra bunker at the slightest whiff of cordite and emerges speaking cod Churchill. Those who have no experience of war seem to crave it.

But Iraq, again? It is hardly to be believed. Must we join Kipling and watch as ‘the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire’?

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Simon Jenkins’s Mission Accomplished? The Crisis of International Intervention is published next month.Simon Jenkins is a former editor of the Times and the London Evening Standard, and a columnist for the Guardian.

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Show comments
  • Rik

    The waste of blood and treasure as our politicians posture over the bodies of our dead sicken me,the human rights lawyers who wish to second guess every battlefield action revolt me,the treatment or rather lack of it of our wounded veterans is beyond mere words.
    Armies are there to break things and kill the queens enemies no more no less,nation building?? Pahhh

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Welcome to the 21st century, Rik.

  • sictransitvan

    Very thoughtful piece that. Raises important questions.

  • Abie Vee

    You dismiss oil far too lightly.

    No one can doubt your fatuous remark that “even the most evil regime has to sell oil”. That is hardly the point. The point is one of access, extraction, exploitation, and profits (not to mention currency… )

    It would appear that all the oil producers who were switching their oil sales away from the US petro-dollar into some other currency, notably the Euro, were taken out militarily. When one considers the profound nature of the petro-dollar scam it hardly surprising… without this ruse the USA would simply collapse into bankruptcy overnight.

    • Clive

      The Chinese got the oil contracts which were publicly auctioned – on television, no less. The oil minister at the time was Hassan Shahristani a man of integrity. A nuclear physicist, as a matter of fact.

      The Left loves conspiracies involving money. What about Block 6 in Darfur ? An area of oil prospecting cleared by the Sudanese for the Chinese. No-one talks about that.

      • AtMyDeskToday

        You mock those who you say love conspiracies involving money, yet peddle the most ridiculous nonsense here dressed up as your interpretation of the facts.

      • Abie Vee

        Yeah but no but yeah but no but… tell us about the petro-dollars Vicky! Don’t change the subject, stay focused. KnowwhatI’msayin’?

      • Abie Vee

        Before the illegal invasion, Iraq’s oil was fully nationalised and closed to Western oil companies. Today the oil is largely privatised and utterly dominated by foreign firms, like ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and Shell.

        The war is the one and only reason for this long-sought and newly acquired access. There is no other reason.

        “Of course it’s about oil, we can’t really deny that.” Gen. John Abizad, head of US Central Command and Military Operations Iraq. 2007.

        “I am saddened that it is politically incorrect to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman.

        “People say we are not fighting for oil. Of course we are.” US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

        There’s more if you can bear to hear it.

  • Peter Stroud

    Perhaps the time has come to leave the Middle East, and other areas of Muslim conflict to sort out their problems alone. The West’s interference always seems to exacerbate the problems it aims to solve. Too many troops have died: too many have been injured, enough is enough.

    • right1_left1

      re leaving the ME to its own devices.
      Put that to a vote in the Knesset !

      re the mention of Eisenhower.
      He or his advisors had extraordinary foresight in challenging the contemporaneus and future policies of the US military industrial complex.

      He also , miracle of miracles, faced down France UK and unbelievably Israel over the Suez adventure.

      Very odd !

      • Clive

        Eisenhower regretted it deeply. He did it for cold reasons of power and it backfired https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/chuck-hagels-misreading-of-suez-crisis/2013/01/31/35e7ddee-6b21-11e2-af53-7b2b2a7510a8_story.html

        He was not challenging the military-industrial complex at all. He was part of it.

        • I get so sick of this silly myth about Eisenhower supposedly opposing the war machine that he was an integral part of. In the local area the pacifists used to hold up banners with words from Eisenhower on them, and did the same with Henry Ford as well, who actually was an outright fascist supporter, and not an antiwar hero of some kind. These same pacifists have largely disappeared off the streets for Obama’s DP run war machine, as well. They constructed no real movement for Peace and an end to the US’s militarism at all.

      • Roger Hudson

        Forget 3500 years, just think of the century of European anti-semitism up to 1945/8.

    • Hamiltonian

      The problem is, if you leave well enough alone and let the “muslim conflict” alone to sort out it’s own problems, you could end up with a movement succeeding in sorting out the problems, and a largely unified Islamic state stretching from Egypt to Iraq. That would present a lot of issues for the world.

      • susangalea

        I think that Iran would have something to retaliate on that one. Actually, even Saudi Arabia is getting antsy with increasing incursions by Daesh into their country. If the West could stop meddling that would force the neighbouring countries to act: they don’t want these fanatics to topple them, despite their original usefulness in the Saudi/ Iran proxy war in Syria the worm has turned- as they surely knew it would. Somehow they seemed to take their eye off the ball in SA. Their hatred of Iran and Assad allowed them to become one-eyed. The utter depravity of our ” friendship” with, and arming of Saudi Arabia is something to behold! We really don’t manage a coherent policy in the ME – never have- and should stop intervening.

        • Hamiltonian

          Iran is one of the potential winners, and are a dangerous nation on their own right now.

          • Roger Hudson

            Better a Persian than an Arab any day.

      • O rly

        yes yes i understand the vietnam war was a bad idea, and did not work out, but if we just disengage the khmer rouge will take over the world.
        i ask you what will the world look like if the united states does not fight the khmer rouge over there so we don’t have to fight them here.

        also who can tolerate Vietnam being run by a communist party, (its not like they are now our 27th largest trade partner with 30billion+ in trade)
        we must learn the lessons of the past never end a war ever!

        • Hamiltonian

          That’s a bunch of nonsense drivel that’s wholly unrelated to what I said.

          • Roger Hudson

            Don’t you ‘get’ irony.

      • Monte

        A revived version of the Abbasid caliphate, Baghdad to Damascus (Cairo’s fall is very unlikely), might well present a lot of issues for the world; it would certainly be barbarous and entirely unpleasant to behold. Whether it would pose any real threat to the West is another question. It might well solve a few problems for the West, not least the Syrian refugee crisis, since such a state is unlikely to allow its subjects to continue to flee across the Mediterranean. It would certainly concentrate minds in Riyadh, Tehran and Ankara, which might not be such a bad thing, especially if the new caliphs come to see their neighbors as more of a threat than the West itself. And if Charlemagne, the founder of the West, could deal with the Abbasids, and if Francis I of France could cut deals with the Ottoman Suleiman, there’s no particular reason the West can’t eventually come to terms with their putative successor in our time.

        • Hamiltonian

          Charlemagne and Francis didn’t have a lot of Muslims living in their midst, whose loyalty is likely more inclined to Damascus than Paris.

      • johnb1945

        That could happen but I don’t think it’s very likely.

        The area is too tribal and the ISIS ideology of permanent warfare until the Caliphate is established and their puritanism is unstable.

        For example, they are engaged in war or insurgency against other Muslim puritans – Al Nusra and the Saudis.

        • Hamiltonian

          That area has been tribal for millenia, it didn’t stop Muhammad from uniting Arabia through his literally identical to ISIS methods. As ISIS matures, it will slowly begin to look more and more like Iran than ISIS.

          Also, I realize “puritan” has become some sort of catch-all insult these days, but it’s really not fair to use them to describe ISIS. Yes, the Puritans burned some witches in New England, but I suspect ISIS burns more people each day than the puritans did during the entire Salem Witch Trials. The Puritans helped establish individual liberties for common people, both in America and in the UK.

          • johnb1945

            ISIS are Muslim puritans. Yes, they differ from Calvinist puritans.

            You might be right, but Muhammad was successful in 7th century Arabia. They didn’t have Internet and free trade and a whole load of other things then – the things which make totalitarianism less likely today. Not long after Muhammed European Christianity took on a theocratic nature, linked to Feudalism and that was sustained for about 6 centuries.

            ISIS are no different from anyone else and rely on either the subjugation or will of the people they govern. They might be able to subjugate them for a bit, maybe even a decade or two but that won’t be sustainable long term. If the people assent to their rule then that’s different, but I don’t think they do. They are relatively stable right now simply because they assert some kind of order in an anarchic vacuum and give a purpose to fundamentalists not from Syria or Iraq.

            We’ll see. I suppose.

          • Hamiltonian

            They don’t have the free trade in 21st century Arabia either.

            I’m well aware of the history behind the Reformation, but during the Reformation, it was the smaller nobles, the merchants, and other “middle-class” individuals who were fueling the religious movements. I don’t think the contemporary middle east has much of a middle class left. Most of the people there who might have considered themselves as such are trying to move to Europe or America.

            I don’t doubt that the people who assent to rule by ISIS. They have done so before.

          • johnb1945

            I definitely think ISIS will be around for a year or two yet but I think their popularity and ability to unify Sunni Muslims is overestimated.

            I could be wrong though, and you could be right!

          • Hamiltonian

            Hopefully I am wrong, but I very much doubt it. ISIS is capitalizing on decades of discontent in the Sunni world. Even though most Sunnis don’t support ISIS, most Sunnis in greater Arabia do support groups that are close enough to ISIS (Al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood) that they could accept living under the rule of ISIS. It’s a situation sadly similar to the Russian Revolution. The Bolsheviks were not supported by most Russians, but since they looked to be winning and people wanted an end to conflict, they submitted in order to end the war.

    • goodsoldier

      I’m sure Simon Jenkins is keen to welcome the constant stream of middle eastern and African Muslims to Europe (not too keen on Christians) who will sort out their problems here. They are all sweet, humble engineers, teachers and nurses, of course. They will replace our ignorant, uncouth, and incompetent white racist yobs. And they will all open up such delightful restaurants for those daring and sophisticated enough to try. It will be such a heartwarming collective experience.

      And we just need to ‘invest’ more in Africa and ‘charities’, and extract more taxes from the grasping middle classes. Housing for the poor hard working immigrants comes first: England must be concreted over and architects like Powell and Mayo can turn England into one great Churchill Garden Estate. Merkel as a an ex-DDR apparatchik can advise us on the joys of collectivism. No more wars abroad. Just the joys of open borders and the Comintern realized. No more death.

      • Morseman

        So what’s your point, irony aside?

        • WTF

          I think the point is that Simon Jenkins is talking rubbish !

      • I think what you are saying is that we can get out of the Middle East, but the Middle East will not get out of us. Quite the opposite, as we see.

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      • oregun

        Lovely sarcasm. The only meddling that should be done is to make sure the terrorists don’t have a nuclear weapon to bring to our cities. Other than that, let them continue to kill each other for supremacy of the sand.

    • Will

      If we weren’t so utterly dependent on the Middle-East for our energy needs, you’d probably have a point.

      • Roger Hudson

        We never needed to to be as dependent on ME oil, if it hadn’t been cheap we would have had to improve our nuclear and coal technologies.

        • Will

          You think we have that much coal? So who will we be dependent on for nuclear fuel instead?

    • Des Demona

      ”Perhaps the time has come to leave the Middle East, and other areas of Muslim conflict to sort out their problems alone.”
      That doesn’t seem to work out too well either. The result seems to be a wave of hundreds of thousands if not millions of asylum seekers from countries in conflict becoming utterly failed states.
      The major problem is that wars apart, for the ordinary working person, most of the world outside of western style liberal democracies is a fairly crappy place to be.

  • wudyermucuss

    attacks by powerful western states mostly against weak Muslim ones –
    Liberation by western states mostly against oppressive Muslim ones.

  • wycombewanderer

    We should have boots on the ground in the UK and across Europe rooting out extremists followed by mass extraditions.0

    Any country refusing to take their own back, even if they are third or fourthy generastion british passport holders should have all aid withdrawn.

    There should be internment camps on an island in the North sea.

    If the EU hes to have no internal borders then it must secure its external ones.

    Anything else is treason.

    • Gilbert White

      Which island in the North Sea? The Farne Islands? Some jews were tricked into paying for passage in medieval times and were cruelly dumped on the Dogger Bank!

  • John Carins

    1. The war bit is usually successful. It’s the follow up that is the intractable problem. 2. Don’t worry, because of Defence cuts,the UK hasn’t got sufficient forces to substantially contribute anyway.
    3. “Those who have no experience of war seem to crave it”. Surely by this measure Mr Jenkins you should be demanding another war. You are not making sense.

    • Clive

      It’s a hackneyed old phrase much used by politicians after WW2, many of whom had served in the war and wanted to highlight that fact.

  • Clive

    The Iraq War was the right thing to do and Simon Jenkins is wrong. Not least about Gordon in Khartoum who was making his own political point, not anything Gladstone told him to do.

    Those who oppose the Iraq War have comprehensively altered the background to it. That was that Saddam Hussein was intent on ‘subduing’ by massacre the north and south of the country. Coincidentally, those areas are where the oil is in Iraq and the French (TFE) and Russians (Lukoil) had large oil contracts which had to be fulfilled.

    Saddam had also taken a turn toward Islamic Correctness which seems to be overlooked http://www.hrw.org/legacy/backgrounder/wrd/iraq-women.htm
    Furthermore, as the economy constricted, in an effort to ensure employment for men the government pushed women out of the labor force and into more traditional roles in the home. In 1998, the government reportedly dismissed all females working as secretaries in governmental agencies. In June 2000, it also reportedly enacted a law requiring all state ministries to put restrictions on women working outside the home. Women’s freedom to travel abroad was also legally restricted and formerly co-educational high schools were required by law to provide single-sex education only, further reflecting the reversion to religious and tribal traditions. As a result of these combined forces, by the last years of Saddam Hussein’s government the majority of women and girls had been relegated to traditional roles within the home

    There is also David Kelly, the anti-war hero – who was actually in favour of the war and believed that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD in the shape of biological weapons

    The UN has been attempting to disarm Iraq ever since 1991 and has failed to do so. It is an abject failure of diplomacy with the split between France, China and Russia on the one hand, and Britain and the United States on the other, creating a lack of ‘permanent five’ unity and resolve. More recently Germany, a temporary yet powerful member of the Security Council, has exacerbated the diplomatic split. The threat of credible military force has forced Saddam Hussein to admit, but not co-operate with, the UN inspectorate. So-called concessions – U2 overflights, the right to interview – were all routine between 1991 and 1998. After 12 unsuccessful years of UN supervision of disarmament, military force regrettably appears to be the only way of finally and conclusively disarming Iraq.

    Then there are the WMD themselves which were ‘never found’ in Iraq. The origin for that is Charles Duelfer and the Iraq Survey Group who said they found 13 chemical weapons. A derisory number indicating the arsenal which had been used on Halabja and the Iranians had been destroyed..

    The implication of Duelfer’s report was just that – that they had been destroyed but he was wrong:
    …The Duelfer report also claimed that the United States had cleared more than 10,000 arms caches but found no other chemical ordnance. Several disposal technicians said this claim was false, though the report’s authors did not know it.


    One reason that government tallies were low, and that Mr. Duelfer’s team was not aware of all the chemical weapons recoveries, the techs said, was that by 2004 the military’s procedures for handling Iraq’s chemical weapons had created disincentives for troops to report what they found.

    During 2003 and 2004, the United States hunted for unconventional weapons and evidence that might support the rationale for the invasion. But as the insurgency grew and makeshift bombs became the prevailing cause of troops’ wounds, the search became a lower priority for the rank-and-file. Some saw it as a distraction.

    This report says that American troops and the Iraqi government found several thousand chemical weapons. That almost clears up the mystery. The New York Times goes to some length to say these weapons were unimportant. That is unsurprising (as is the fact that this got almost no publicity from anyone) because they, along with all the other news media, have been ridiculing the Iraq War for years because no WMD were found.

    They cannot answer the question – if these were so unimportant, why did Saddam Hussein not surrender them ? As a political gesture, just before the war started, Tony Blair said that if he just surrendered the WMD to the inspectors there would be no war.

    That has led to criticism from Chilcot, apparently, because the military were not allowed sufficient time to plan because there might be no war http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/aug/25/chilcot-inquiry-to-spread-blame-beyond-tony-blairs-inner-team-sources-say

    I do not doubt that Tony Blair intended to go to war with Saddam Hussein from some months before the war started. WMD was an excuse – but it was a good excuse.

    If Saddam Hussein was still in charge of Iraq now, he would probably be using IS – a Sunni group as Saddam was a Sunni strongman – as Iran use Hezbollah but with the prospect of WMD in their hands.

    • Harry Kumar

      Hear, hear.

    • Gilbert White

      You have wriiten Chilcot’s report for him claim you 700 pounds per day!

      • susangalea

        Do you mean Chilcott? Let’s hope he hasn’t!

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          “The Iraq Inquiry, also referred to as the Chilcot Inquiry after its chairman, Sir John Chilcot, is a British public inquiry into the nation’s role in the Iraq War.”

          Brits do insist on doubling the consonant.

          • susangalea

            Yes, I misspelled it. Point is that the OP has edited his comment without acknowledging having done so. He wrote some completely different name not just a misspelled Chilcot.

    • new_number_2

      The Downing Street Memo:

      “C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.”

      “It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.”


      24 February 2001:

      “the fact that the sanctions exist — not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein’s ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.”


      “If Saddam Hussein was still in charge of Iraq now, he would probably be using IS”

      There would be no IS. IS was a product of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

      • Clive

        IS was a by-blow of Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) was led by Ahmed Khalayleh who had been active in Ansar al Islam in the Kurdish region of Iraq which – possibly coincidentally – was what Saddam wanted. They were fighting the Kurdish militias and controlling Kurdish villages. Ahmed Khalayleh was treated in Baghdad for a leg wound. The seeds of Al Qaeda were in Iraq before the invasion.

        Abu Bakr Baghdadi became the leader of AQI when Ahmed Khalayleh was killed and went on to become leader of IS when it broke away from Al Qaeda.

        The main planner for IS was an Iraqi intelligence colonel who had worked in Saddam’s military http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/islamic-state-files-show-structure-of-islamist-terror-group-a-1029274.html
        …Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi was the real name of the Iraqi, whose bony features were softened by a white beard. But no one knew him by that name. Even his best-known pseudonym, Haji Bakr, wasn’t widely known. But that was precisely part of the plan. The former colonel in the intelligence service of Saddam Hussein’s air defense force had been secretly pulling the strings at IS for years. Former members of the group had repeatedly mentioned him as one of its leading figures. Still, it was never clear what exactly his role was.

        But when the architect of the Islamic State died, he left something behind that he had intended to keep strictly confidential: the blueprint for this state…

        How do you explain that David Kelly thought – right up to his death – that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons ? He also thought that only military action would remove WMD from Saddam.

        In fact the Duelfer report also says that nuclear scientists were told to take their research papers home so that they could continue when the inspectors were gone. So the nuclear program which was already a long way on due to AQ Khan – would have resumed.

        There is no question that the US govt’s policy was regime change in Iraq – that was established by Bill Clinton and continued under GW Bush.

        I have seen the ‘Downing Street memo’. ‘…the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy…’ means that the intelligence emphasising the danger of WMD was being publicised – which it was in the famous dossier. Incidentally, there were two ‘dossiers’ and this was not the ‘dodgy dossier’, that’s another myth.

        The memo also mentions the ultimatum to Saddam Hussein that I referred to. When that ultimatum was issued, why did Saddam not simply offer up his chemical weapons ? It would have completely defused the situation with the UK at least because Tony Blair had emphasised publicly more than once that even at that late stage, the whole military action would be called off. The chemical weapons were one of the indisputable parts of the WMD story. Nobody could explain what had happened to them and that meant Saddam was hiding WMD.

        You are also entirely reliant on these ‘Downing Street memos’ conjured by a diplomat from his personal knowledge of what was going on. The Foreign Office was opposed to the war at every stage so it is unsurprising that his stance is critical.

        As I said before, WMD were the excuse for war but they were a good excuse. The war was right anyway in that Saddam was intending to develop WMD above what he had and he had a record of using WMD to a far greater degree than, for instance, the Syrians have in recent times.

        Saddam was also murdering his people in the tens of thousands until the ‘no-fly’ zones north and south were set up. Those no-fly zones would not have survived the lifting of sanctions on Iraq and Saddam had every incentive to start murdering his people in huge numbers again.

        • new_number_2

          “When that ultimatum was issued, why did Saddam not simply offer up his chemical weapons ?”

          Because he didn’t have any to give up in the first place.

          • Clive

            Did you read the New York Times article ? It flatly contradicts what you just said. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/10/14/world/middleeast/us-casualties-of-iraq-chemical-weapons.html?_r=0

            I also note that you did not answer any other points – like why David Kelly believed until his death that Saddam had biological weapons and that only military action would remove them

            …and so on.

          • new_number_2

            David Kelly was asked to write that article anonymously and in any case he was proven wrong.

            From Tony Blair’s speech to Parliament 24 September 2002:

            “The reason is because his chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programme is not an historic leftover from 1998. The inspectors aren’t needed to clean up the old remains. His WMD programme is active, detailed and growing. The policy of containment is not working. The WMD programme is not shut down. It is up and running.”

            From Colin Powell’s speech to the UNSC 5 February 2003:

            “Indeed, the facts and Iraq’s behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction.”

            From the New York Time article:

            “Then, during the long occupation, American troops began encountering old chemical munitions in hidden caches and roadside bombs. Typically 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets, they were remnants of an arms program Iraq had rushed into production in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war.

            All had been manufactured before 1991, participants said. Filthy, rusty or corroded, a large fraction of them could not be readily identified as chemical weapons at all. Some were empty, though many of them still contained potent mustard agent or residual sarin. Most could not have been used as designed, and when they ruptured dispersed the chemical agents over a limited area, according to those who collected the majority of them.”

            So far from there being an “active and growing” WMD programme as we were told, what was actually discovered in Iraq were a few rusty shells manufactured before 1991. Indeed, thanks to the needless, catastrophic invasion of Iraq these weapons have fallen into the hands of religious extremists.

          • Clive

            The question is not what was available with hindsight, it is what Tony Blair and western intelligence services believed before the war began.

            I have no problem with the notion that their importance was exaggerated. I also have no problem with the idea that Tony Blair wanted to go to war for other reasons than WMD – he has said as much. It was also US government policy to make regime change. That was created by Bill Clinton and remained in place.

            Nevertheless, however much a lesser capability than was advertised, there were WMD in Iraq.

            Robin Cook had been foreign secretary and was opposed to the Iraq War, although he was removed as foreign secretary for other reasons. From his resignation speech (as Leader of the House)

            Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term – namely a credible device capable of being delivered against a strategic city target.

            It probably still has biological toxins and battlefield chemical munitions, but it has had them since the 1980s when US companies sold Saddam anthrax agents and the then British Government approved chemical and munitions factories.

            Why is it now so urgent that we should take military action to disarm a military capacity that has been there for 20 years, and which we helped to create?

            Why is it necessary to resort to war this week, while Saddam’s ambition to complete his weapons programme is blocked by the presence of UN inspectors?

            So former foreign secretary Robin Cook – even though his speech is hedged all around with reasons not to go to war (and this definition of WMD in the ‘commonly understood sense of the term’ is a little ridiculous given that Saddam had delivered these chemical weapons already using other means) – also believed that Saddam Hussein had these weapons. The weapons you said earlier did not exist but which the New York Times said do exist.

            Incidentally, Robin Cook appears to have been wrong about the UK or US governments supplying chemical weapons, it seems to have been primarily German companies http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-companies-suspected-of-aiding-syrian-chemical-weapons-program-a-1014722.html who knowingly supplied them, although others may have supplied ‘dual use’ facilities.

            You also say that David Kelly was proven wrong. The point is that he was a key government advisor before the war began who would have contributed to the intelligence dossier on WMD in Iraq. He will obviously have advised that biological toxins were extant in Iraq. He also may not have been wrong. Apparently biological weapons degrade much more quickly than others.

            The New York Times – along with all of the other media who have not reported this at all – have a strong interest in its lack of importance. They have been saying for years that there were no WMD in Iraq. The NYT has been ridiculing GW Bush for it just as the UK papers have been attacking Tony Blair. They have all been saying that Saddam’s WMD were destroyed.

            You might also note that at the outset of the invasion the invading troops had NBC suits available http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-156524/Chemical-attack-protection-suits-troops.html and there were fears that Saddam’s Iraq had fired Scud missiles with chemical warheads, although they proved not to have such warheads http://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/mar/20/iraq6

            There was also still suspicion that the manufacture of such warheads was still going on http://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/jan/17/iraq.israel
            The chemical, which is blacklisted by the UN as a key component for weapons of mass destruction, was routed to Libya but its final destination may have been Iraq or other “rogue states”, according to a report in the Italian daily La Repubblica. The chemical could be used to make large quantities of lethal mustard gas, the report said.

            The chemicals were produced in Germany and shipped by an unnamed Brussels-based company from Antwerp to Naples and then on to Genoa, one of the largest industrial ports in the Mediterranean, which handles more than 70,000 containers a month.

            This is nothing like the ‘everyone knew Saddam had no WMD’ atmosphere which is painted now.

            Anyway, I repeat to you – If these weapons were so unimportant, why did Saddam Hussein not simply reveal them and prevent the war ?

          • new_number_2

            “Anyway, I repeat to you – If these weapons were so unimportant, why did Saddam Hussein not simply reveal them and prevent the war ?”

            Because the UK and US were determined to go to war and remove Saddam from power and I’m sure Saddam knew this. The US and UK had already built up forces and were prepared to invade come what may.

            Even if Iraq had given up these few rusty munitions do you think for one moment this would have prevented war? Blair and Bush would just have said it was part of Iraq’s continued deceit and wouldn’t have accepted it.

            Hans Blix certainly saw no urgency for war:

            “Days after delivering a broadly negative report on Iraq’s cooperation with international inspectors, Hans Blix on Wednesday challenged several of the Bush administration’s assertions about Iraqi cheating and the notion that time was running out for disarming Iraq through peaceful means.”


            “How much, if any, is left of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and related proscribed items and programmes? So far, UNMOVIC has not found any such weapons, only a small number of empty chemical munitions, which should have been declared and destroyed.”


            Had the inspections been allowed to continue they would have found the undeclared munitions mentioned in that NYT article, so there was no need for war.

            “UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter who says that when he left Iraq in 1998, disarmament was “90 to 95 per cent”.”

            “For example, General Kamel says categorically: “I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons – biological, chemical, missile, nuclear – were destroyed.” All that remains, he says, are the blueprints, computer disks and microfiches.”


            Bush and Blair were always intent on war:

            Confidential memo reveals US plan to provoke an invasion of Iraq

            “The memo, written on 31 January 2003, almost two months before the invasion and seen by the Observer, confirms that as the two men became increasingly aware UN inspectors would fail to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD) they had to contemplate alternative scenarios that might trigger a second resolution legitimising military action.

            Bush told Blair the US had drawn up a provocative plan “to fly U2 reconnaissance aircraft painted in UN colours over Iraq with fighter cover”. Bush said that if Saddam fired at the planes this would put the Iraqi leader in breach of UN resolutions.”

            January 30, 2003

            “Meanwhile, in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell offered to help find a place for Saddam to live in exile if he leaves Iraq voluntarily.”

            3 January 2003

            “US President George W Bush rallied US troops on Friday, telling them that a war in Iraq would be “not to conquer but to liberate”.”

            “US Air Force Lieutenant General T. Michael Moseley, in “a [July 19, 2003,] briefing to military commanders, … acknowledged that the Air Force launched offensive operations against Iraq in June 2002. Three months before President George W. Bush appeared before the United Nations to present a case for ‘disarming’ Iraq, five months before the adoption of UN Resolution 1441 threatening ‘serious consequences’ if Iraq did not cooperate with weapons inspectors, and a full nine months before the war was officially announced, the Bush administration had already ordered combat operations to begin.”

            “According to Moseley, the Air Force received its orders from the White House to begin the preparations for a war on Iraq in late 2001–following the September 11, 2001attacks.”


          • Clive

            Because the UK and US were determined to go to war and remove Saddam from power and I’m sure
            Saddam knew this. The US and UK had already built up forces and were prepared to invade come what may.

            Even if Iraq had given up these few rusty munitions do you think for one moment this would have prevented war? Blair and Bush would just have said it was part of Iraq’s continued deceit and wouldn’t have accepted it.

            I believe it would have prevented the UK’s participation in the war. Tony Blair said several times very publicly that
            ‘even at this late stage’ he would not participate in the war if Saddam came clean. I remember thinking that was a daring thing to do. I honestly expected Saddam to surrender these weapons and prevent the war but he did not.

            You are using the rather propagandist NYT ‘rusty munitions’ line. First of all, all weapons age, chemical or not. Second the inspections were going on in Iraq through most of the 1990s.

            The vast majority of these weapons would have been
            usable then, when they should have been declared – and the NYT does not say that they were all unusable when they were found. It says ‘Most could not have been used as designed‘ which is somewhat mealy-mouthed. Several thousand of them were found.

            Those that were found after the war were not ’empty chemical munitions’ – they were causing chemical burns to the troops handling them.

            The NYT is a Democrat newspaper. It does not want GW Bush to get off the hook for the war but at least it had the balls to print the truth when it found it.

            The NYT article you quote from 2003 is irrelevant since the article I was citing is from 2014 and was quoting new evidence from soldiers who had been in Iraq and found these weapons.

            I know that Hans Blix made an essentially negative report on weapons to the UN. That is no surprise. The alternative
            would be to say his mission had failed because the Iraqis had fooled them. It has been said many times that this inspection team were not fulfilling the role that weapons inspectors should have.

            You might note that the Iraqis were still violating the inspections regime when Blix made his report. http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/30/world/meast/iraq-weapons-inspections-fast-facts/
            February 27, 2003 – Iraq agrees to destroy the country’s al Samoud II missile stock. However, the letter doesn’t specify a date that the missile destruction will begin.

            March 10, 2003 – It is revealed that Iraq possesses drone aircraft that could have been used to launch a chemical or biological attack against other countries. The plane has a
            wingspan of 24 feet five inches, which suggests that it could fly further than 150km/93 miles, which is the limit imposed by U.N. resolutions.

            March 18, 2003 – Inspectors withdraw from Iraq.

            The original idea of the weapons inspectors was that they should go to a consenting government – like the South African or Ukrainian government – which had WMD it did not want and help to destroy it. These teams were not supposed to find weapons concealed by a hostile regime.
            They were not very successful at it

            The Guardian December 2002:
            …the former Unscom inspector, Scott Ritter, insisted that Iraq was left with no capability to resume NBC programmes or weaponise any hidden stocks. The Bush administration refuses to accept this, but with no reliable monitoring since 1998, there is no way of knowing if Iraq still has weapons of mass destruction…

            You said:

            “UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter who says that when he left Iraq in 1998, disarmament was
            “90 to 95 per cent”.”

            “For example, General Kamel says categorically: “I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons – biological, chemical, missile, nuclear – were destroyed.” All that remains, he says, are the blueprints, computer disks and microfiches.”

            Yet The Guardian piece from 2002 says that the
            weapons inspectors performed the destruction of large numbers of Iraqi weapons, not the Iraqis. Also, that being the case, why did David Kelly – himself a weapons inspector with UNSCOM – believe that they still had biological weapons right up to the time of his death ?

            The key point about this 2014 New York Times article is that Charles Duelfer’s Iraq Survey Group – the group which declared that there were no appreciable WMD in Iraq – was wrong. This is a key part of that article for me:

            …The Duelfer report also claimed that the United States had cleared more than 10,000 arms caches but found no other chemical ordnance. Several disposal technicians said this claim was false, though the report’s authors did not know it.


            One reason that government tallies were low, and that Mr. Duelfer’s team was not aware of all the chemical weapons recoveries, the techs said, was that by 2004 the military’s procedures for handling Iraq’s chemical weapons had created disincentives for troops to report what they found.

            During 2003 and 2004, the United States hunted for
            unconventional weapons and evidence that might support the rationale for the invasion. But as the insurgency grew and makeshift bombs became the prevailing cause of troops’ wounds, the search became a lower priority for the
            rank-and-file. Some saw it as a distraction…

            Aside from these thousands of chemical munitions
            having been found in Iraq, there is also ample evidence that the intelligence before the war indicated to both Bush and Blair that there were such weapons and the seeds of weapons programs.

            Duelfer makes the same point, that these WMD programs were going to be resurrected as soon as the inspectors went, which they would have if the French and Russians had their way. If there had been no war, that is what would have happened.

            I repeat that I believe the war was necessary to prevent Saddam killing his own people, which was also Tony Blair’s motivation.WMD was an excuse but it was a good excuse.

            Commentators who are critical of the war are coy about what would have happened if there had been no war. What would have happened is that Saddam would have resumed his massacres of Kurdish and Shi’a civilians in the north and south of the country.

          • new_number_2

            “I believe the war was necessary to prevent Saddam killing his own people”

            Why do you believe the US and UK should police the world and take it upon themselves to act outside international law to remove regimes not to their liking? China and Russia can’t throw their weight around in a similar fashion and it would bring the world to the brink of a third world war if they tried.

            The US and UK are however apparently different and special and should be allowed to right wrongs and end injustice around the world. International law shouldn’t apply to these righteous white knights as they are acting on behalf of humanity to spread their benevolence.

          • Clive

            First, the ‘preventing a regime killing its own people’ ethos came about de facto with the Kosovo intervention in 1999. It followed the Rwandan genocide in 1994 which killed around 800,000 people and Bill Clinton called his biggest regret in foreign policy for not intervening.

            If you read the rest of Robin Cook’s resignation speech, he said:


            …I have heard some parallels between military action in these circumstances and the military action that we took in Kosovo. There was no doubt about the multilateral support that we had for the action that we took in Kosovo.

            It was supported by NATO; it was supported by the European Union; it was supported by every single one of the seven neighbours in the region. France and Germany were our active allies.

            It is precisely because we have none of that support in this case that it was all the more important to get agreement in the Security Council as the last hope of demonstrating international agreement.

            The legal basis for our action in Kosovo was the need to respond to an urgent and compelling humanitarian crisis…

            Robin Cook was saying that if there is a ‘humanitarian crisis’ – which in the case of Kosovo was Serbs murdering Kosovans – you have the right to intervene as long as a bunch of people go along with it – regardless of the UN which would not agree to the Kosovan war because the Russians would have vetoed it.

            If you look at the picture at the top of the BBC reports on Robin Cook’s speech you will see Jeremy Corbyn’s interested face. He was a fan of Robin Cook who helped organise applause at the end of that speech.

            The Kosovan War and the Iraq War led to the creation of the ‘Responsibility To Protect’ (R2P) protocol of the UN. Before that,

            Article 2 Clause 7 of the UN Charter prevented such action, it says:
            Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll.

            South Africa cited Article 2 Clause 7 during its apartheid era to repel any attempt by the international community to take any action against it. I believe some other noxious regimes used it was well.

            Chapter VII measures were those authorising the action against Saddam Hussein for non-compliance with UN resolutions. A string of resolutions from 1442 point back to 678 which is about the Iraq-Kuwait war but contains a Chapter VII provision. That was the legal basis for the Iraq War, I believe. I think it was a bit tenuous but American State department lawyers thought it authorised the war.

            The R2P protocol was devised in 2005, just after the Iraq War http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/responsibility.shtml. I believe it advances on the 1949 Convention on Genocide
            …The international community has a responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other means to protect populations from these crimes. If a State is manifestly failing to protect its populations, the international community must be prepared to take collective action to protect populations, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations…

            China and Russia have done as much of this as the USA. Everyone seems to have their ‘zone of influence’ within which they can work.

            The USSR suppressed an uprising East Germany in 1953 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uprising_of_1953_in_East_Germany#Reaction_by_the_East_German_leadership; invaded Hungary to suppress an uprising there in 1956 http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/mwh/ir2/hungaryrev1.shtml and invadedCzechoslovakia to end the Prague Spring in 1968 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prague_Spring#Invasion.

            Since the end of the USSR, Russia has taken Abkhazia from Georgia and invaded Georgia and has invaded Eastern Ukraine and taken Crimea.

            The Chinese fought (mainly) the Americans in the Korean War – the UK was also fighting there. It seems to have been forgotten that the UK/US side was actually the UN. The Americans were fighting as UN troops. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_War

            The Chinese have invaded India more than once since the communists took over in China, starting in 1962 https://www.quora.com/Why-did-China-invade-India-in-1962 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Indian_War

            I believe the only reason the Chinese have not invaded more people is that they could not afford it.

            I believe I am much like any other man in the world. I believe that if I was being attacked just for being who I am, in my case a white English man, I would want someone to do something about it.

            I believe that is what Tony Blair was doing. I am no great fan of Tony Blair but he was a decent man who held these principles. Given the reaction, I would not blame him if he did not any more.

            I am not sure of the American motivation. Oil is often cited but at best I think it was a minor consideration. Ironically, I think the USA really was worried that Saddam Hussein was developing a nuclear weapon – just as they have been with Iran. I don’t think the Iranian leadership ever did want a nuclear weapon but that does not mean the Revolutionary Guard could not have developed it separately.

            A foreign policy mistake on possession of WMD could cost many thousands in casualties.Saddam Hussein had shown his willingness to use such weapons several times – on the Iranians and the Kurds.

          • new_number_2

            The examples you referenced of Russia/the Soviet Union and China show them acting on their own borders or within their own sphere of influence.

            Only the US and UK seem to view themselves as the self appointed guarantors of worldwide human rights who are allowed to attack any country on earth to right wrongs, even when it is illegal under international law.

            Would Russia, say attack Peru to end human rights abuses? Of course not. Yet the US and UK attack and invade countries on the other side of the world, overthrow governments they don’t like and see themselves as above international law.

            It was stunningly ironic for John Kerry to say: “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text,” and “It’s an incredible act of aggression. It is really a stunning, willful choice by President (Vladimir) Putin to invade another country. Russia is in violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia is in violation of its international obligations.”


            America has invaded more countries on “trumped up pre-texts” than any other and violated more countries sovereignty than any other. More than a complete lack of self awareness though, it speaks of America’s arrogance and cynicism that they see the same laws they criticise others for supposedly violating as not applying to themselves.

          • Clive

            Rwanda was a disaster because it was in the French ‘sphere of influence’ The French wanted Rwanda to continue speaking French.

            The RPF had learned English in Uganda. The French saw it as a CIA plot to make Rwanda English speaking. It played to François Mitterrand’s paranoia about the French language. So nobody intervened as the massacre started, although I doubt the French realised it would get quite so bad.

            Bill Clinton was ashamed because the USA is the world power, so the USA has a responsibility at times like that.

            The French are in Mali now fighting Al Qaeda or similar

            The Saudis are fighting in Yemen and they have financed various factions in Syria.

            Many countries took part in the coalition that invaded Iraq and fought in Afghanistan, like the Germans.

            The Russians support Syria because it is their only deep water port in the area. Is that a good reason ?

            The Russians supported Saddam Hussein because they had huge oil contracts with him (Lukoil) and more to the point he was a Russian military client.

            Another of the lies about the Iraq War is that the USA armed Saddam. They did not. The Russians and Chinese did, mostly the Russians.

            The Russians did not want their military hardware tested against the American stuff because it had looked stupid in the First Gulf War. It looked stupid again.

            Tell me the countries the USA has invaded on ‘trumped up pretexts’ ? Not Iraq, we have discussed that at some length.

          • new_number_2

            Guatemala 1954, Gulf of Tonkin 1964 which led to US involvement in Vietnam, secret bombing campaign of Cambodia and Laos in 1969 and 1970, Grenada in 1983 under the pretext of “rescuing” 2,000 US students, the US invasion of Panama in 1989, the 1998 cruise missile attacks on Sudan which actually hit a pharmaceutical factory. Kosovo:


            “Serb killings ‘exaggerated’ by west

            Claims of up to 100,000 ethnic Albanians massacred in Kosovo revised to under 3,000 as exhumations near end”

            Afghanistan 2001:

            “A former Pakistani diplomat has told the BBC that the US was planning military action against Osama Bin Laden and the Taleban even before last week’s attacks.”


            “When presidents lie to make a war

            Fifty years on we know the trigger for war with Vietnam was a fiction. Will it be another 50 before we know the truth about Iraq?”


          • Clive

            You have rather changed the subject. You were asking why are the UK/US the world’s policeman and I pointed out that a great many nations have been taking action in parts of the world a long way away from them.

            You are also using hindsight reports. That is convenient but unreasonable. All wars are intelligence led. Governments can only do their best with the intelligence they have. They also have to plan for contingencies, that means moving forces into place to prepare for eventualities.

            It is also true that self-interested people lie about what happened. That has been particularly true of the ISI in Pakistan who have controlled elements of the Taleban for years and certainly knew where Osama Bin Laden was.

            If you want to get into the ‘excuses for war’ – nations around the world have made up such excuses going back centuries. Have you heard of the war of Captain Jenkins’ ear ? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_Jenkins%27_Ear That includes the Russians who are invariably invited in by ‘fraternal’ governments or to save the population as in Ukraine or Abkhazia.

            When the Russians needed no excuse, in Chechnya which is Russian territory, they killed 300,000 people. It was probably unnecessary but it made Vladimir Putin look tough.

            Like many on the Left, you seem to be looking for reasons to blame the West above all others. You might note that a hero of the Left, John F Kennedy, was involved in the escalation of the Vietnam War and commissioned the Bay of Pigs invasion. The West are not blameworthy above others, hitherto, we have all been much the same. IS seem to be something different.

            By saying that it was ok for the Russians to invade countries in their ‘sphere of influence’ you rather opened up a Pandora’s Box. Panama and Grenada (condemned by Margaret Thatcher) would have been ok for the USA to invade using your logic.

            Nor is war is always a bad thing. There is this notion extant among the Left – especially Jeremy Corbyn – that war is bad no matter what. It is not.

            Sometimes it is all there is to do. Sometimes it would have been good to use force but force is impracticable, all we can do is our best.

            Consider that if the Nazis were doing their thing and Jeremy Corbyn were prime minister, would we ever go to war with them ?

          • new_number_2

            “You have rather changed the subject.”

            You had asked: “Tell me the countries the USA has invaded on ‘trumped up pretexts’ ? Not Iraq, we have discussed that at some length.” I provided examples.

            “You might note that a hero of the Left, John F Kennedy, was involved in the escalation of the Vietnam War and commissioned the Bay of Pigs invasion.”

            “Cuban missile crisis: how the US played Russian roulette with nuclear war

            by Noam Chomsky

            President Kennedy is often lauded for managing the crisis. The reality is he took stunning risks to impose American hegemony”


            “By saying that it was ok for the Russians to invade countries in their ‘sphere of influence’ you rather opened up a Pandora’s Box.”

            No, I merely pointed out that Russian and Chinese military action has always been restricted to their borders and ‘sphere of influence’, whereas Western nations launch conflicts all over the world.

            “Consider that if the Nazis were doing their thing and Jeremy Corbyn were prime minister, would we ever go to war with them ?”

            That is unknowable. Jeremy Corbyn became a politician and an MP due to the world created by the Second World War. The world is a different place now, and the conflicts Britain has fought since WW2 haven’t been in self defence but to retain colonies and impose Western hegemony along with the United States.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            How long before 9/11 is exposed as an inside job?

          • new_number_2

            I don’t believe it was an “inside job”.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Gullible Muppets don’t.

  • rtj1211

    ‘Those with no experience of war seem to crave it’. I have long advocated compulsory conscription for all children of war voters. It is the only way to apply responsibility to vacuous politicians. Paying for it should also denude the war voters’ financial base. That will teach them what it costs….

    • Harry Kumar

      And how much does peace cost? How do you quantify that? Ignore the rise and expansion of evil at your peril.

      • susangalea

        The trouble is that experience has demonstrated time after time that our wars of choice do not prevent the expansion of evil- they facilitate it. Iraq being a prime example. We dismantled the Iraq army and when the Shia government alienated the minority Sunnis the stage was set for the sectarian theatre of war that Isis has exploited.

        Look at how this fomented disillusionment with the Sunnis in the UK. Remember 7/7? Have you noticed the recruitment drive to Daesh by our allowing this blatant partiality of our actions to feed their disillusion? It is a gift to the loony recruiters of the Islamic State.

        Those affected by this sectarian war and the proxies of Iran and Saudia Arabia need to sort this out- we will only make it far worse and escalate the casus belli which is what the Islamists want.

        • goodsoldier

          I love the way you say ‘Daesh’. Dead cool. Daesh will get on with it whatever we do. And when they want an amusing break they will take a boat to Lesbos and head here to retire.

  • Gilbert White

    Please do not buy this book. Ever wondered how the terror merchants feed and spread their doctrine? Old dinosaur, Jenkins was one of those who protested at the allies success at killing the enemy, during the closing days of the first Gulf War at Jahra and elsewhere. Lines like the, Crusader George Bush line, above can only help the enemy and cause more attacks. It is a brave new world for most but Jenkins had almost had his fill and is no longer relevant.

    • susangalea

      Except that Bush referred to this crusade. It was a clash of civilisations: you were with us or against us. Why would you attempt to shoot the messenger? Is there anything inaccurate about Jenkins’ characterisation here? I can’t see it. He seems utterly correct : he was always against the illegal war of choice in Iraq and he is right now when we consider the devastation that has grown in its wake. The utter folly of leaving the vacuum in Iraq by installing a corrupt Shia puppet leader- Maliki- beggars belief. And yet, it is what we always do. We support the dictatorial and seemingly West- friendly despots from Saudi to Egypt from Iraq to Syria… oh, until we don’t.

      No brave new world, just a repetitive nonsense of doing the same thing and expecting a different answer.

  • stuartMilan

    you don’t think Iraq was invaded to secure oil? ffs…

    • cartimandua

      Russia had insecure WMDs. Russia got the G20 to help clean up the post Soviet mess.
      Russia forgave Iraq 12.9 billion for arms sales.
      Russia got most of the oil leases.

    • rj

      It’s certainly a common enough suspicion, but I don’t recall seeing any actual evidence for it.

      I believe Iraq was initially invaded because of their occupation of Kuwait.

  • sidor

    First of all, the problem has to be formulated in real terms avoiding meaningless PC language.

    Clausewitz has pointed out that wars occur between states. Isis is not a state. Taliban is not a state. What state is the real adversary of the West in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    • Harry Kumar

      State of chaos.

      • sidor

        I don’t see any trace of chaos. The pattern of conflicts in the ME that we observe existed for centuries, and millennia. Nothing new.

  • MickC

    A well reasoned article, explaining precisely why the West, and particularly the UK, should leave the Middle East well alone.

    Camerons eagerness to intervene in Syria is an excellent reason to hope Corbyn wins the Labour leadership.

    • There is no value in electing militaristic leaders who will support any imperialist adventure that gets proposed. Not even if they claim to be for workers and for a better society and for minorities and Gays. They are actually simply for killing other people in far away places. That is no Left platform at all.

    • goodsoldier

      Too bad Philby isn’t alive to see the joyful incarnation of Marx nearly installed in the UK. We can now live happily ever-after in collective bliss, helping each other, sharing and caring. Let’s start by dicing up Jenkins and Toynbee’s property, and move on from there. Peace and love, no wars. Muslims will join in happily singing the Internationale.

      • MickC

        My point is that only Corbyn seems to have the guts to say intervention is a really bad idea.

        Miliband voted against it the last time, but then seemed to be softening his position.

        I don’t support Corbyn’s economic policies, but respect his courage in saying what he believes without trying to please everyone. He is a Labour Thatcher; he supports what the Labour was meant to do, be a socialist party. I just wish we had a Conservative Corbyn!

  • jim

    Plenty of crazies about.Anyone who goes back there for more of the same is surely asking for it. Let them chop each other up.Just keep ’em out of europe before they start doing the same thing here.

  • cartimandua

    What you mean Jenkins is that “Muslim ” nations are invariably failed states and ridden with conflict or so oppressive their populations flee.
    The question now is how to protect civilization as Muslim nations continue to export their violence and failure.

    • kitten

      What about Egypt, Iran and Qatar, Malaysia, Tunisia, Turkey?

      They’re not ‘failed states’ and their population’s aren’t fleeing.

      • new_number_2

        Egypt recently underwent a military coup and an insurgency in the Sinai with groups linked to ISIS is taking place.

        You could have also included Indonesia and Singapore as stable, prosperous Muslim nations.

        • FedUpIndian

          Singapore is not a Muslim country. Indonesia is not prosperous.

          • new_number_2

            Correct, my mistake: “According to statistics from 2010, about 15% of Singapore’s resident population aged 15 years and over are Muslims.[1] A majority ofMalays are Sunni Muslims.[2] 17 per cent of Muslims in Singapore are of South Asian origin. Other adherents include but not limited to those from the Chinese, Arab and Eurasian communities.”


            “Despite slowing down in recent years, Indonesia’s growth trajectory remains impressive. The country’s gross national income per capita has steadily risen, from $2,200 in the year 2000 to $3,524 in 2014. Today, Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous nation, the world’s 10th largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity, and a member of the G-20. It has made enormous gains in poverty reduction, more than halving the poverty rate since 1999, to 11.3 percent in 2014.”


        • kitten

          Are you talking about when they overthrew The Muslim Brotherhood?

          • new_number_2

            The elected president Mohammed Morsi (Egypt’s first freely elected president) was overthrown in 2013 and hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood protesters massacred by the army.

            “The killing of 817 protesters last August was this week judged a crime against humanity equal to, or worse, than Tiananmen Square. But feelings on the ground are mixed”


          • kitten

            The Muslim Brotherhood was ghastly.
            They wanted to install sharia law I believe; of course modern Egyptians didn’t want that, who’d blame.
            They were suppose to democratically elected but I don’t think they were, hence the who-ha.

            I remember the BBC being very sympathetic towards them which annoyed me as I was on the side of the modern Egyptian’s.

            Did you recognise me Btw? 🙂

          • new_number_2

            Yes, there’s only one possible person you can be.

            As a socialist and atheist I don’t support the Muslim Brotherhood. But I don’t support coups either, even of bad governments such as those in Egypt and Ukraine.

            If your followed events in Egypt, you will know Egypt now has a new dictator in the form of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned, hundreds of its leaders and supporters given the death penalty and hundreds of unarmed protesters massacred by the army.

            Ironically, after this US Secretary of State John Kerry said Egypt was “restoring democracy”.


          • Sunshine Sux

            The MB are terrorist islamist cockroaches, and Egypt should be applauded for dealing with them accordingly.
            You brainless ignorant dhimmi.

          • new_number_2

            Thank you.

          • Sunshine Sux

            Just calling it as I see it. You support the MB, tells me everything about you there is to know.

          • new_number_2

            And you interpreting my comments as me supporting the Muslim Brotherhood tells me everything I need to know about you.

          • Sunshine Sux

            How else should I interpret them, stupid?

          • new_number_2

            You wouldn’t want to know how I interpret your comments in that case.

          • kitten

            You say you don’t support coups but what else would you suggest?

            As I say, I believe the Muslim Brotherhood were elected fraudulently; something needed to be done.

          • new_number_2

            And what has been done has driven Egypt back to the same place it was in before Mubarak was deposed in the revolution. The military are once more all powerful and a strongman rules the country once more in an iron grip.

          • Sunshine Sux

            good fro them!

          • Roger Hudson

            The West opposed the Ba’ath for political reasons, secular Arab nationalism would really have been better that theocracy. Also Russian imposed secularisation in Afghanistan would have been better than the ‘Muj’.

          • Roger Hudson

            Egypt had Copts long before Islam was invented, yes ‘invented’.

          • Sunshine Sux

            Oh poor MB. If they were only left to mass-rape women on Tahrir square, throw gays off tall buildings, and kill copts and burn down their churches, in peace, then all would be jolly.

          • new_number_2

            I see. So you support the military overthrowing democratically elected governments?

          • Sunshine Sux

            ‘democratically elected’

            LOOL, please stop you imbecile, bwahahahaha!

          • new_number_2

            The fraud was actually apparently done by the Egyptian military:

            “Allegations have arisen that the interior ministry handed out over 900,000 ID cards to Egyptian soldiers so that they could vote for Ahmed Shafik, which would be a major campaign violation. Presidential candidate Sabahi asked for the Egyptian election to be temporarily suspended until an investigation was carried out.[119]

            In August 2013, former Israeli negotiator Yossi Beilin wrote that an Egyptian official had told him that the true results were in favor of Shafik, but the military gave the presidency to Morsi out of fear of unrest.”


            “A group of Canadians that was part of an election monitoring delegation in Egypt this week says the enthusiasm of voters was outstanding and that generally the election was held fairly and freely.”


            “President Obama called Mr. Morsi to congratulate him and offer support, the White House said in a statement.”


          • Sunshine Sux

            ‘President Obama’ – BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

          • new_number_2

            We are not amused.

      • Apaliteno

        Actually, Malaysia seems to be going down the route of becoming a failed state. Your other examples are pretty risible too.

      • Sunshine Sux

        LOL, you are calling Turkey (which is retrograding as we speak into medieval darkness), Qatar (poster child for slavery), Iran (where gays dangle from cranes in public), and Tunisia (where recently tourists have been murdered on beaches and museums), NOT FAILED STATES?
        Everything Islam touches, eventually fails, clearly.

    • MahmudH

      Correction, that should read: “Muslim nations *after western intervention* are invariably failed states and ridden with conflict or so oppressive their populations flee.”

  • Kasperlos

    As long as the populace has little interest in the goings on at No. 10 and Westminster, the dogs of war will continue to be unleashed. It’s an ongoing industry this, the 1,000 years war. Meanwhile, there is no call for a crusade from HM Government to halt the unrelenting onslaught of illegal migration, read breaking the law by crossing the border without showing a passport, obtaining a proper visa, like one is required to do upon arrival at Heathrow or Dover. The threat, as the gullible public are learnt by their Mandarin betters, is in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. Yet the same Mandarins are silent about the hundreds of thousands of healthy young Muhammadan males from those same lands illegally entering the EU annually. Illegals, whose backgrounds the UK Border Force, MI and European intelligence services are totally incapable of discerning. The EU behemoth and member governments have opened the gates to Europe’s doom. We live in the age of lies, duplicity and utter farce.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Taking of Crusades, invading and occupying someone else’s country does tend to end in tears.

      • Labour Mole Catcher

        Historical revionism writs large …

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          “writ large”
          If you were a pukka Brit rather than a half-cast China boy, you’d know that.

          • Labour Mole Catcher

            “Michael Shrimpton QC” …

  • Brogan75

    We should completely leave Africa and Middle East to their destiny. Close the borders and clean up in our countries.

    • 1__1_1

      Exactly. Now that we don’t need their oil, we no longer need fund their brand of insanity.

      • didi

        It is not only about oil. It is also about the rare-earth element and lithium ore deposits.

      • Will

        We don’t need their oil? Why? has fusion power been perfected then? I take it we don’t need their gas either?

        • 1__1_1

          No, we don’t need their oil or gas: like the USA we have sufficient quantities in shale beneath our feet.

          • Will

            Really, where’s all this oil then?

        • 1__1_1

          PS and fusion is probably quite easy using Atomic Optics. But more research is needed.

          • Will

            Erm, no it isn’t. That’s why they have been trying to solve the problem for several decades, with nothing even close to working properly yet. There’s a joke in the science industry that says, “Nuclear fusion is 10 years away, and always will be.”

            Are you really prepared to rely on fantasy for the UK’s future power needs?

          • 1__1_1

            I’ve never heard of “the science industry”, where is it?

            Just wondering if you know what Atomic Optics actually is?

          • Will

            If you’ve never even heard of the science industry (It’s commercial science BTW), I don’t hold much hope that you understand science itself.

            No I haven’t heard of Atomic optics, perhaps you should explain it to us and why you’re willing to bet humanity’s future on it and how it’s solved the problem of: a) Creating a sustainable fusion reaction that produces more power than is being fed into it, and b) Containing plasma which is 100 Million Degrees, without melting the container.

        • ì want to guíde you to amazíng online work opportunity.. 3-5 h of work a day.. payment at the end of each week.. performance dependíng bonuses…earnings of six to nine thousand& dollars /month – merely few hours of your free time, a computer, most elementary familiarìty wìth www and trusted web-connection is what is needed…learn more by headìng to my page

    • Leon Wolfeson

      Ah yes, after the mass murders here, we can be worse than the countries which you think are too good…

  • JewishKuffar

    As long as the Middle East has Islam it will have conflict. It was ever thus for 14 centuries. Only since 2003 do they have a convenient excuse to blame the West for their depravity. Are ISIS really throwing gays off buildings because of what George Bush and Tony Blair did? Or are they just doing what devout muslims have done for 1400 years?

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      The Crusades weren’t exactly peace keeping or humanitarian.

      • JewishKuffar

        No they were defensive wars against expansionist Islam. They were also 1000 years ago whereas ISIS et al are killing people in the name of Islam today.
        ‘Whatabout the Crusades’ is the weakest, Islamo-apologist argument and is wearing rather thin.

      • Sunshine Sux

        If Muslims hadn’t want them, they should have not started them.

  • dookieboot2

    The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank, not a conservative one. All the major conservative think tanks supported the Iraq War and some still do.

    • MickC

      Which demonstrates just how independent they were……

  • PerplexedSardine

    I laughed when I first heard Cameron try to call it a “humanitarian” intervention but now it seems to have caught on everywhere.

    There is no such thing as a humanitarian airstrike or democratic bombing. “Humanitarian” bombs turn human beings into stringy gore in the same way IEDs do.

    Whether or not we go back to Iraq, can we please just admit what we’re proposing is a war? Politicians got us into this mess by lying to us about what we were doing. Stop letting them get away with it. Force them to call things what they are.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      “I laughed when I first heard Cameron try to call it a “humanitarian” intervention”
      That must have been hard to say with a straight face, Dave.

      • PerplexedSardine

        I’d like to think it was, but a man who can stand up in front of the world and say with apparent sincerity that the Islamic State is “nothing to do with Islam” can probably say anything with a straight face. He’s giving Blair a run for his money in the sanctimonious drivel department.

        • jeremy Morfey

          I couldn’t sleep last night. In the middle of the night on the BBC World Service, there was an interview with Jürgen Todenhöfer.

          He is unique, being a Western German journalist who, after months of protracted negotiations over his own safety with Baghdatis himself, managed to get himself in and out of the lands occupied by Islamic State, where he could witness at first hand what was going on.

          Mosul itself is run as an extreme totalitarian way – so long as you obey the rules to the letter, no harm will come to you. I reflected that even if human society has the sense of freedom of a hive of honeybees, any individual worker can see out her span in safety, providing that all the rules of the hive are scrupulously observed.

          His conclusion and firm belief is that Islamic State indeed has nothing to do with the Islam of the Qu’ran, and actually blapshemes and contradicts it in a most appalling way. This must be got across to all Muslims, even if it makes them mad. There is nothing in the Qu’ran about forcing religion, denying education and a whole raft of other things that are being done in the name of Islam by this gang. Islamic State is brainwashing its followers, including formerly decent, intelligent people, into believing that this is none less than the great scheme God has been promising the faithful for 1500 years, and nobody can get in the way.

          As an aside, I reflected that the State of Israel maintains itself on precisely the same premise, which is why I often equate Zionism with Islamism as manifestations of the same devil. So too was the restoration of the pure Aryan Fatherland of Todenhöfer’s own homeland. Britain too could easily itself get sucked into precisely this way of thinking.

          Also you cannot tackle it by killing people, since it is an idea and new people will come continually to replace those lost. It is what makes it so dangerous. Artillery shelling cannot touch an idea.

          The only key to peace is held by Sunni Muslims in Syria and Iraq. The installation of a Shia factionalist Maliki (and indeed Assad) marginalised the Sunnis who regard Islamic State as their least worst option. This view needs to change if we are to change their mind, and it cannot come from the West, which has discredited itself too much already.

          Last night the relentless negation of the foundation stones of civilisation, as we knew it, goes on, with the Temple of Bel being blown up. I have no time for those who appease the enemy with charges of “sanctimonious drivel”. Whose side are they on?

          • sictransitvan

            Very thoughtful comment. I have been pondering the state of affairs too and have begun to see a general tendency shared by all of them. It seems there is a new Puritanism afoot. It is there in the fundamentalist islamic, so too in the ideological purity of the left and political correctness, and it is there in the reactionary right with its desire for racial and cultural purity.

            I would guess all three are a response to the effects of globalisation and demographic shifts and the instability of the geo-political world.

  • Steve Larson

    The invasion to remove Saddam is probably the worst and far reaching mistake since Hitler thought Moscow would fall by Autumn.

    Isis greatly desire western troops on the ground in Iraq. Don’t give them that massive recruiting tool.

    Help local allies.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      The decision to attack, invade and occupy Iraq, was the US’s greatest foreign policy mistake. For mistake, read catastrophe.
      Witness Colin Powell’s UN presentation in 2003: Those drawings of biological weapons trucks; gimme a break! Drawings? That’s not evidence, that’s hearsay.
      “Curveball” (research it yourselves) was classified by German Intelligence as “unreliable/fabricator), but the US Administration bought his fabrications hook, line and rapture. Because he was telling them what they wanted to hear, even though the CIA didn’t interview him until two years later.
      “Sure, effendi; I was head of the biological weapons plant just outside Baghdad… They put me in charge because I graduated top of my class.”
      In fact he graduated bottom of his class, and was a lowly operative who was sacked for incompetence. This something Chilcot should be investigating.
      See you later, fabricator.
      Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

    • The decision to attack Iraq was the decision to wage a permanent war to achieve regime changes in Syria and Iran as well. It was seen as a way to cut the Chinese and Russians out of any influence in the major energy producing region of the world.

    • Roger Hudson

      I even opposed the war against him in 1990, just the politicians and soldiers worried that their toys would be relegated to the attic after the fall of the power of the Warsaw Pact.

  • 1__1_1

    Now that we have shale oil and gas, all we need do is stop buying Middle East petro products. Then the problems will just fade away as they fritter away their remaining money.

    • Abbas Raza

      The problem is that we don’t because of Nimbys.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Is it too late to give Saddam his old job back?

  • Eric Johnson

    What is the Spectator worried about? The Brits will do the same thing they did before, hide on the FOB and let the Americans do all the heavy work.

  • FedUpIndian

    Some day, historians will look at the contemporary Western policy of invading Muslim countries and permitting tens of millions of Muslim “refugees” to settle in the West as a perfect example of the Roman proverb “Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad.”

  • Grace Ironwood

    Wonderful to read an article with such a nuanced analysis of geopolitics, sarc.

    We dun it. We always dun it.

  • Sunset66

    With GB s great military machine and its track record in the last two wars the bad guys must be shitting themselves ,. We spent £32 billion in Afghanistsn never mind the human costs. With the Taliban resurgent and increasing their controlled territory its gods way of telling you to leave it alone .
    Iran and the Shia will stop,the expansion of Isis leave them to it all we do is make it worse

  • Guest

    Leave well alone,support local troops to contain IS,we will only make a fist of it.
    The anti war movement will return too,this could backfire and you will end up with Corbyn as the next PM after Russell Brand organises a student demo outside McDonalds.

  • Phyllyp Sparowe

    We need our troops here. All these “refugees” look like fighting age men. If things are so bad where they came from why have they left their women there?

    In days gone by a large body of able young men on the march would be called an army. Now the leftist have us calling them refugees.

    • Amgine

      Would you call people fleeing poverty, oppression, war, famine or disease an army? Fleeing is not the same verb as marching. They carry no weapons, they are not following orders so they are not an army and you would do the same, in their shoes.

      Oh, and “their” women? How very retro of you; you seem very misty-eyed about “days gone by”. Days gone by have, indeed, gone by and there’s a good reason why we leave those days in the past where they belong. I’m more interested in what we do today and how we plan for fewer wars and offer more tangible support for people who lack the many opportunities and luxuries that the west has extracted from the world (usually forcibly).

      I agree with you on one thing, we need to stop sending troops into other countries. We can send so many more useful things and that would also help stem the flow of refugees and asylum-seekers. Most people want to stay in the same country as their family, friends and culture so, when you see refugees, your first reaction should be compassion and your first action should be to help.

      • JSC

        They flee until you stop them then, as has been shown, they fight with you. My compassion has limits, it is not a panacea for the world.

        • Amgine

          Your compassion has limits.

          • cartimandua

            Anyone advocating taking in endless refugees has no care for western civilization.
            The UK already has twice the population of Canada.

          • Amgine

            I am advocating a humane response. I would look much closer at root causes. I would look at spreading the load with other rich world nations and I would look at helping to build workable communities and infrastructures with people in their homelands at the same time as giving sanctuary where we can for as long as is possible. I would put as much economic and diplomatic pressure on the governments that are forcing their citizens to make dangerous journeys of escape. I would not export any weapons to any other country. The only things we should export are food, medicine, expertise in education and engineering, that kind of thing. And, as with our European partners, I would encourage and fund ties and links between individuals in our country with individuals in those nations that are experiencing civil unrest. Everyone in the UK should consider sponsoring a child in a developing nation or funding small enterprises using peer to peer microfinancing so that we feel connected with the real humans behind the headlines.

          • jonathan

            “Everyone in the UK should consider sponsoring a child in a developing nation”

            More lecturing. Is that so YOU would feel good?

            BTW, they arent our “european partners”. They are political and economic rivals who are happy to take money from Britain to subsidise the lavish and unsustainable spending ambitions of the eu empire

      • 1__1_1

        What are they fleeing, Turkey?

        They fled. Now they have become economic migrants. Now they are just trying to get around the immigration rules.

        • Amgine

          When we see people in trouble or in danger, however they got there, our first reaction should be compassion and our first action should be to help. That would be the humane thing to do.

          Even if you want to label people as “economic migrants”, what would be your humane response?

          • 1__1_1

            If you’d ever done a first aid course, you’d know that the first thing you do is make sure that you’ll be OK. So being a compassionate person, I’d scoop them all up and send them straight back to the safety of Turkey.

          • Amgine

            We are okay. If you “scoop them all up” and send them back to Turkey, would they remain there? Would Turkey accept them? How do you know if their welfare will be protected? Just dumping a problem at someone else’s doorstep is still not humane. Refugees are a worldwide problem and every country should be pulling its weight when it comes to welcoming refugees, protecting asylum-seekers and negotiating with their home countries for peace and economic stability.

          • cartimandua

            Not our problem. These are people from the MENA region.
            Do you even know that 2/3rds of Iraq is in government hands?
            Its as safe as Egypt.
            People might need help to get around Daesh to southern Iraq but…

          • jonathan

            “every country should be pulling its weight when it comes to welcoming refugees”

            They dont though, that is reality
            You’re too fond of lecturing us how you think the world should be, and how we should be.

          • Amgine

            You are correct, not every country pulls their weight when it comes to welcoming refugees or funding refugees in other countries.

            “The vast majority of refugees stay in their region of displacement, so that 86% of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries. Turkey now hosts the highest number of refugees at 1.6million, followed by Pakistan at 1.5million”

            (Source: UNHCR 2014 Global Trends Report)

            “With an estimated 173,100 asylum applications, Germany was the largest recipient of new asylum claims in 2014. The United States of America was second with 121,200 asylum applications, followed by Turkey (87,800), Sweden (75,100), and Italy (63,700). By comparison, the UK received 31,300 new applications for asylum by the end of 2014.”

            (Source: UNHCR 2014 Asylum Trends Report)

          • cartimandua

            Create an economic zone and a safe zone near their family and home.

          • Amgine

            Yes, that could be a helpful first step and it would be a long term proposition alongside taking in refugees and offering asylum, where necessary and, of course, building strong economic and cultural links with the nations that are hemorrhaging people. Our government should pressure and sponsor these failing governments to do better for their citizens and support economic prosperity. I don’t think we should become hysterical about refugees, we should act with compassion and with tangible solutions.

          • jonathan

            Why is it “humane” to indulge an army of illegal invaders at the expense of indigenous British people? Why is it just or fair to brazenly and systematically convert the British welfare state into an international emergency aid fund (as if enough wasnt already being given away to foreigners in the guise of “nternational relief”)? If there isnt money to treat pensioners and instead send them on the liverpool care pathway, or even give them a decent old peoples home, why is there still money available to “help” the seemingly unending stream of foreigners who think it is their right to come here and be supported?

          • Amgine

            What would be your humane response to refugees?

            The UK’s response is this, generally speaking: “The majority of asylum seekers do not have the right to work in the United Kingdom and so must rely on state support. Housing is provided, but asylum seekers cannot choose where it is, and it is often ‘hard to let’ properties which Council tenants do not want to live in.

            Cash support is available and is currently set at £36.95 per person, per week, which makes it £5.28 a day for food, sanitation and clothing.”

            (Source: Home Office)

            The UK is a very rich nation. We can afford to do much more to help our own poor as well as give temporary support to refugees. If we were not so politically stable, globally influential and economically affluent, the refugees would be turning elsewhere. Usually they do: Germany, USA, Turkey, Italy and Sweden are all doing more to help than the UK.

            Personally, I would prefer the UK to do more to help people closer to the source of the problem, to help them remain in their homelands or to return as soon as possible. If we have a problem with people trying to get across The Channel, that is because we have let them down before they even got that far.

      • Sean L


      • Phyllyp Sparowe

        Their weapons will be their votes and attitudes. If you allow your country to be flooded by a massive cohort of people from countries that have no experience of secular democracy you are asking for trouble. Even the immigration we’ve had so far has led to the Balkanisation and segregation of parts of England.

      • jonathan

        Dont lecture me about what my “reaction” and “action” should be

        Besides they all carry nice mobile phones which these days are very powerful weapons

        • Amgine

          I wasn’t lecturing you, I was responding to Phyllyp Sparowe’s comment.

          How do you know who is carrying a mobile phone? Is the ownership of a mobile phone a sure indication that someone can not possibly be in dire straits?

          • jonathan

            A mobile phone is a weapon, if you havent worked that out yet you are still in fairy land

            The illegal invaders use box cutters (stanley knives) to get onto wagons at calais, you are aware of that? Who supplies them? Do they stock up at b&q in somalia land, and keep them safely tucked away during the boat crossing?

          • Amgine

            I don’t know who supplies the means by which refugees make progress in their escape and journey to sanctuary or how they use luck to make progress. You, like them, would use any means possible to get help/sanctuary. The more we ignore the problem or under fund the efforts to help refugees and asylum seekers, the more desperate people will become.

            You still haven’t responded to my simple question in another part of this thread: what would be your humane response to refugees?

          • jonathan

            “The more we ignore the problem or under fund the efforts to help
            refugees and asylum seekers, the more desperate people will become.”

            That is the most stupid comment of the week……..bar none

            As in desperate enough to threaten to drop their baby in the sea if they dont get exactly what they want? Or threaten to kill a wagon driver who objects to their attempts to illegally break into his vehicle? Government policy should never be determined by the “desperation” of foreign illegal invaders. Governments are there (allegedly) to serve the interests of their own citizens, not those of foreign invaders. That is actually a humane approach-look after your OWN first.

            Your fantasy utopia view is exactly the opposite of reality. Hordes and swarms of illegal foreign invaders are determined to forcibly enter the UK…..encouraged in that criminal activity precisely because they realised that they arent ever going to be refused entry, and WILL be given support and assistance when they DO gain entrance. Why the hell else do you think they are being fussy and demanding and do NOT want to go to other countries? Our government is being too generous, too trusting and too naive. The sooner they say thats it enough is enough, no more illegals, and shut the borders, the better for everyone.

          • Amgine

            Oh, I see. You don’t have a humane solution. You would like us to become like North Korea.

          • jonathan

            What has n korea to do with it? What a bizarre comment! Your imagination is too fertile.

            The sooner you face facts that there really cant BE a “humane” solution, the better. This is not going to end well as it is. Because of unrealistic expectations on the part of the illegal foreigners, and their stupidly naive apologists within the eu and Britain. Procrastinating and crying about the plight of the poor foreign victims etc is only delaying the trouble and unrest that is inevitably coming our way-unless the government finally starts to act and put OUR interests first…..

          • Amgine

            North Korea has closed borders. You wanted the UK to close its borders.

            If you really believe that there can’t be a humane solution, you are not thinking hard enough. Come on, try. There must be something you can think of. If you can’t come up with something, I’ll just have to accept you are devoid of humanity and devoid of answers.

          • jonathan

            You can very reasonably close your national borders, and operate a proper immigration security system to legally and responsibly allow scrutinised passage of suitably approved people in and out of the country. Indeed, its what governments of normal, sensible (ie-non schengen) countries do. It doesnt then follow by default that you inevitably become a reclusive socialist state. Australia did exactly this-limit illegal invasion by foreigners by introducing strict border controls (and turning boats away) and to my knowledge hasnt been taken over by a kim yog ung type dictator.

          • Amgine

            The UK does have an immigration system. I’m not talking about overturning our border control although I would happily accept the Schengen protocol for freer movement around my home continent. Even in the Schengen area, movements through ports are very controlled and all countries can close their borders during national emergencies. So the UK would have very little to fear from signing up to that protocol.

            Just because the Australian government does something inhumane does not mean that the UK government has to follow them. If Australia jumped off the Empire State Building do you think the UK should too?

            You haven’t come up with a humane response, just more excuses for isolationism and lack of charity.

          • jonathan

            You explain (since you seem to think its important) exactly WHY Britain (and presumably germany/france etc) SHOULD display any “humane” compassion towards a horde of illegal invaders who are simply exploiting a promising situation presented to them? Where does that humane compassion come from?
            Our immigration system is not fit for purpose. It is treated with derision by the illegals because the British government does.
            You might, in your rosy pink delusions, see europe as your “home continent”. I do not. I see the eu as a very real enemy of democratic freedom. And I would quite like to be isolated from radical islam and all that that entails.
            And any way, who is stopping you from demonstrating humane charity? What are you doing personally? Or are you one of those puerile 6th form moralists who lecture us that we should ALL be humane, ALL should help etc….just as long as someone else pays……and condemn those who dont see the situation in the same naive fashion as yourself?

          • Amgine

            You have many fears. I am sorry that you do not share in my optimism and humanity. Of course I give to charity and I give on a regular basis. Unfortunately I am not in a position to give more because I do not have a regular income and I do not receive any government benefits or support myself. I am a part-time carer.

            Refugees are not “illegal” they are legally allowed to seek asylum and temporary or permanent refuge – just like you could if you were under threat in your country of origin. And we are obliged to help through our common humanity and through political treaties. If you can not even attempt a humane response, you are a very unfortunate and sad individual in my book.

            I can understand, I used to be misanthropic myself but I got over that phase. I’m still a loner, but I can at least feel empathy for my fellow earthlings.

    • cartimandua

      They are either going to send money home or be the anchor which they think will enable chain migration.

  • Franky

    When we look at the flow of people out of the rubble of what was Syria, the non-interventionist argument so popular since Iraq doesn’t look so great either.

    Sadly, if we really don’t want them here, I think that we actually might have to go there.

  • Chamber Pot

    No put our troops on duty at Dover shut off the tunnel and keep the jihadists pouring out of Syria and Libya locked out. How difficult is it ?

    • cartimandua

      Apparently migrants are ferried from small boats into tiny coves.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        “Five and twenty ponies
        Trotting through the dark –
        Brandy for the parson,
        ‘Baccy for the Clerk;
        Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
        And watch the wall my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!”
        Sure you recognised that Kipling gem.

        You have to move with the times. One door closes …
        Jack, the Japan Alps

        • Labour Mole Catcher

          “You have to move with the times” … by quoting a poem by Rudyard Kipling! An Oriental irony bypass?!

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Take in the Welcome Mat.

  • Glenmoriston

    The time is ripe to return to Iraqi and seize the oilfields from Islamic State. The UK wasted £30 bn on an unnecessary war ,it is now right to cut off IS funding source and provide payback for all who have suffered.

  • augustbrhm

    ISIS will bleed America/Britain until they leave in disgrace and another 3 to 5 Billion wasted go for it learned ones.

    • sidor

      ISIS is not an enemy: it is an effigy, a creature, like Taliban. Both can be finished for good in a couple of weeks by a dedicated bombing of a right country, and subsequent redrawing the ME borders. The problem is purely political and it is localised in Washington DC.

      • augustbrhm

        So is america and its people.

  • John welsh

    Classic Tory isolationism from Jenkins.
    “Those who have no experience of war seem to crave it..” Utter nonsense.
    Malcolm Rifkind said the same to Bob Dole when the U.S was pushing for intervention in the Balkans – Dole was a decorated war veteran. See http://oliverkamm.typepad.com/blog/2005/04/the_war_party.html

    “The question now is how long can London and Washington tolerate weekly Isis atrocity videos. The western media lacks any self-restraint in publicising them,..” Does he think raping and killing of Christian women and children won’t happen if the western press doesn’t report it? What an idiot.

  • cartimandua

    Option three create safe havens and back up local armies to deal with the Daesh vermin.
    Right now we should be dropping chem weapons on Palmyra to keep them away from it.
    And bombing the cr** out of Raqqa.

    • susangalea

      Insane. Strangely deluded too. Palmyra has been razed and why on earth would you offer us as the recruiting sergeants for Da’esh? It doesn’t make any sense.

  • jeremy Morfey

    It takes quite a long period of meditation to think of anything sensible to say. I will try, if only because I wake up deeply depressed early every morning hearing of tales of unjust suffering at the hands of so-called humanity in the Cradle of Civilisation, and I really cannot bear it.

    Firstly, Simon Jenkins is right to argue that bombing cities and collateral civilian damage may have saved our bacon against Hitler, but is quite plainly not militarily effective, and shouldn’t be used for this reason alone. I don’t think he is suggesting that it is not a just war; just that there are better ways of fighting it, so the Forces of Good have a sporting chance of winning it.

    First off, if this is a religious war, then what we need is not a secular general, but a prophet leading the troops. We do not choose to fight a religious war – that is foisted on us, but then we do not choose which weapons the enemy decides is most effective against us. It is up to is to have a viable and competitive answer against anything the enemy throws at us, even if they truly claim they have God on their side. God can be on our side too, you know.

    I challenge the very concept of Islam in how it has morphed since the Wahhabis destroyed the ancient cities of Mecca and Medina, removing any trace of their Prophet Mohammed’s presence from these holy cities. if they must worship gangsterism and ostentation, then we have every right to criticise them from an Islamic perspective, and drop leaflets in their language and on their terms pointing this out.

    Is not one of the great achievements of Islam the emphasis on education? What then is Boko Haram all about, if not the total annihilation Pol Pot style of the educated classes? Why all the burning of libraries or the destruction of pre-Islamic monuments that have no power over the faithful and merely reinforce that we have progressed since then? Without them, any sense of progress is in our imaginations, and easily debased by the corrupt.

    Above all, we need to explain in leaflets to all that they are not creating paradise for themselves, but in fact are the engines of where Lucifer lives [terrified of using the h word, lest the whole comment be censored] and there is no paradise for their fighters, just the eternal screaming of innocent people reminding them of how far they have drifted away from faithfulness.

    Take one look at an Arabian sandstorm, and the most sensible thing to wear is full burqa with niqab. The prophet Mohammed (pbuh) may well have ordered his women into such garb in order to ensure their comfort; it doesn’t mean it’s appropriate in all conditions and in very different circumstances. Interpreting the law means understanding why it was done, and whether such measures are still appropriate. Slavishly enforcing centuries-old edicts without understanding or learning may well inflict the opposite of what both Mohammed and Allah intended. In a European setting, such coverings, far from inviting respect and maintaining honour, are, by its different culture and history, the uniform of robbers – it’s no wonder then that people here fear and loathe them in equal measure. If this is the root cause of “Islamophobia”, maybe it is better to wear something more respectful to local tradition?

  • WTF

    Iraq has now secured pride of place in the forthcoming American presidential election. !

    No it hasn’t and as an ex-pat living there I can assure you that EXACTLY the same issues are mainstream for most Americans as they are for Brits and its not Iraq.

    The biggest issue by far in both countries is illegal immigration where legal tax paying residents are having to support illegals living in both countries. The level of benefits may be higher in the UK but its still present in Obamas attempt at turning America into a socialist state. People are sick and tired of paying for illegal immigrants when their own well being is under assault from the lib**tards.

    The next two biggest issues affecting both countries is crime & the economy which has some links to the first major issue but once more, its the lib**tards and their soft policies on crime and milking middle America & Britain that most enrages people.

    Crime in the US is now a major racial issue since the race pimps started dividing the nation along color lines rather than looking at the root causes of crime. In the UK its not dissimilar with Muslims for exactly the same reasons. Ethnic minorities in both countries get away with major criminal acts and are treated with kid gloves to become repeat offenders. It will be gang rape in the UK but black on black gun killing in America but law abiding citizens are sick to death with what happens on their doorstep.

    The economy in both countries has been subdued and salaries kept down by mass illegal immigration which the establishment in both countries use as slave labor. Until menial labor costs become realistic the next rung on the ladder is underpaid and so on up the line.

    As far as foreign policy, most people in both countries are not interested in more foreign war mongering and would rather Muslim groups just continue their genocidal policies without us as long as they keep it in their own back yard. As long as the state keeps them out of America & the UK, the electorate couldn’t give a toss BUT to date, they have no confidence that is happening.

    I watch Fox regularly in America and I can assure the author that they are NOT advocating going into war in the middle east its about national security at home that needs beefing up just like the UK. Their line is very much what I have said above so I don’t know what channel Simon Jenkins is watching on TV !!!

  • Jaria1

    The trouble with that is thousands of refugees streaming into Europe which floods their front line services.
    I still think majors safe havens have a lot to say for them selves. We would need our troops to occupy sufficient land to accommodate these displaced people . If chosen carefully that land need not be fought for as there is no shortage . All our troops would have to do is help guard it against any incursions by terrorists and why would they want to interfere. People in safe havens are no threat toISl.
    Itwould also cost a fraction of what it would forthem to settlein Europe.
    Sooner or later the Saudis and Iran would haveto reach a compromise and those livinginthese safehavens would not havethousands of miles to travelto get home.
    Theres absolutelynoreasonwhythis shouldntbe tried but with winterapproaching somethinghas to be done PDQ. Politicians dontcome outofthiscoveredwith glory.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Welcome to the decadent West, Jarai.

      • Labour Mole Catcher

        It takes a special kind of proverbial (p***) to twist a username from “Jaria” to “Jarai”.

  • Jaria1

    Thanks but ive been here for some time now and it cant be as bad as you infer because so many people are keen to come here.
    Relatively new but unstable nations are unable to provide their populations with the minimum rights and safety so they as would you or I seek the protection of the decadent West.as you call it.
    In my opinion the governments especially those useless overmanned and expensive talking shops called the UN and EU are failing to do their job and as winter approaches just where are these people from hot countries going to be housed properly.
    I refer again to John Majors safe haven suggestion as being the correct answer to the problem. These safe havens to be in the middle East.

  • cartimandua

    2/3rds of Iraq is in government hands and as safe as Egypt.
    So aircover to help local force yes boots no.

  • Richard Eldritch

    I know this sound abit bonkers but alot of ISIS tactics are based on SCI FI books namely Dune and The Foundation, Indeed Bin Laden was such a fan he called his movement The Foundation- or Al Qaeda in arabic. Their stratagy is to make Iraq and the region the centre of the Worlds attention and to Kill and Kill untill the Powers have to turn up to confront them.

  • Walter Ellis

    Of course there is little appetite for yet another invasion of Iraq, still less Syria. But, starting from where we are now, what is the alternative? Isis, Asad, now the Turks, and a hundred-and-one smaller groups, have turned the Middle East into a charnel house, with Europe, besieged by migrants, as collateral damage. We all know that Bush, Cheney, Blair et al (I blame Al in particular; we should have known better), were wrong to go in ham-fistedly, with no long-term plan for what happened after the initial “victory”. Our former leaders be paraded through the streets, as far as I’m concerned, so that we could have a chance to throw rotten fruit at them. But what happened happened, and now we have to deal with the fall-out, which is grotesque and getting worse by the day. The Arab people themselves bear much of the blame for the societies they created, but it was we in the West who went blundering in after 9/11 and made things ten times worse. The people of the region are in no position to sort the situation out. They are too busy fighting each other, struggling to survive or making their way to Europe to get anything done. So it’s up to us … again. A bummer, but a fact. If we don’t want millions of Muslim refugees, whose children are likely to grow up resenting the West, to move into the EU willy-nilly, we have to give them a reason to stay. Gawd knows what is to be done, but doing nothing is not an option. Simon Jenkins is wrong. But then, so is everybody else.

  • Dan O’Connor

    British, European and and American soldiers going off to die for a Western elite that hates its own native and historical peoples and is busy dissolving them and electing a new one.

  • trace9

    WW2 was a ‘choice’ you cretin, with 50,000,000 deaths because many earlier, cheaper choices were not made.

  • AverageGuyInTheStreet

    The only real solution to the Middle East is the nuclear option, the sooner we face that fact the sooner the world can move on.

  • MahmudH

    Will it be Cameron taking us back to Iraq? Or will it be Prime Minister Borris Johnson following in President Donald Trump?

  • L1A1.

    IS have made enough enemies. All the west have to do is keep a little bit of pressure on via air strikes while we train up the bods with a grudge. Pound to a penny next spring the IS reversals will start in earnest, outgunned by the boys with US and UK hardware. Then the only atrocities you will see reported will be those committed against those who are currently the ones committing them . Personally, I can’t wait!

  • Roger Hudson

    I never understood why we never totally repudiated the USA after Suez, kicked out their airbases and refused to play the silly war game with them. The US led the UK like a poodle into every war ,except Vietnam ( thanks Harold W.), and they’re still at it.

  • NickG

    Columnist for the Guardian, gosh, why not do something a bit less dodgy – perhaps set up a ring of under-age rent boys or something?

  • thomasaikenhead

    “As Cameron told Parliament last year after being stopped from intervening in Syria, ‘I get it.’”

    But he does.t, does he?

    He colluded with Sarkozy to topple the Gadhaffi regime and so caused the refugee crisis that has seen tens of thousands of people crossing the Mediterranean, many of them them trying to get into the UK.

    He should be held to account for his actions.

  • MrJones

    Maybe they’re being blackmailed over trips to private islands in the Caribbean – that increasingly seems to be how it works.

  • Jacobi

    “No more boots on foreign soil”

    They have to be different types of boots. The days of conventional infantry and
    armour are over. A different type of soldier is needed

    We destroyed the existing Muslim regimes now seen as so much better than the
    nasties they were repressing, ISIS and others. They are coming to get us us, as 10/10, the Tunisian massacre and the near massacre on the Amsterdam -Paris train has showed.

    The present flood of so-called refugees, undoubtedly contains some refugees. But
    we see on the TV fit, young healthy, well fed, apparently well financed, young men, who are coming for us.

    This group undoubtedly contains religious immigrants operating under direction
    or within a wider strategy.

    The answer is internment. Call it something else if that is a nasty non-PC word. This will involve containment, by Police/Army i.e., the Gendarmerie concept, while the probably few genuine refugees are sorted out and the rest can be transported back from hence the came. This of course applies to the now prominent “Dalmatian Coast” route.

    As for the established North Africa routes, NATO boats will have to patrol close
    in-shore off North Africa to prevent these boat leaving.

    Again internment camps for those who inevitably get through will be

    Turkey, a country which is assisting and facilitating this flood of Muslim
    immigrants into Europe should not be allowed to be included in this
    NATO operation.

  • Robert Henry Eller

    Worthwhile reading. Even more worthwhile thinking about. Thanks, Mr. Jenkins.