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On Iraq: Stand up village idiots!

Mike Carlton is a fearless and up-front opinion writer for the Sydney Morning Herald.   

In his latest weekly column "Iraq today was sadly so inevitable" he reminds us of some of the "better" quotes and positions of a number of people in 2003 pre the attack on Baghdad.   Remember? - "Shock and Awe".

"WMD doubts are ludicrous'. Headline, The Australian, July 10, 2003.

"Obviously, the immensely difficult situation in Iraq is not resolved. Despite the election for the national assembly and provincial legislators, full democracy is still some time off ... But, now, at least Iraq has a chance of establishing a system of representative government ... There is a real possibility now that Iraq might become one of the few representative governments in the Middle East. – Gerard Henderson, The Sydney Morning Herald, February 1, 2005.

"The Iraq war was the right war against the right enemy at the right time, and waged for broadly the right reasons. There is no need to apologise about it. Notwithstanding many mistakes in execution in the peace-keeping phase, provided the coalition of the willing retains its nerve there is every chance of achieving a reasonable outcome still ... the decision to go to war was the right one. George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard deserve praise for their courage." – Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor, The Australian, March 22, 2006.

"The battle is actually over. Iraq has been won. I know this will seem to many of you an insane claim. Ridiculous! After all, haven't you read countless stories that Iraq is a "disaster", turned by a "civil war" into a "killing field"? You have. And you have been misled ... Violence is falling fast. Al Qaeda has been crippled. There is no civil war. The Kurds have not broken away. Iran has not turned Iraq into its puppet. And the country's institutions are getting stronger. The Iraqi army is now at full strength, at least in numbers. Iraq not only remains a democracy, but shows no sign of collapse. I repeat: the battle for a free Iraq has been won." – Andrew Bolt, the Herald Sun, November 2, 2007.

Sorry to inflict this drivel upon you, but there are some points to be made. George W. Bush and the neo-cons of Washington who fomented the war in Iraq bear a heavy responsibility for the catastrophe engulfing the country today. So, too, the principal leaders of that now risible coalition of the willing, including Britain's Tony Blair and our own John Howard (Dubya's  Man of Steel.)

In prosecuting that war they were cheered all the way by the unquestioning Tory toadies of the Australian media, principally –although not solely – in the Murdoch press. The hubris, the evasions, the lies, the errors, the lethal incompetence – the whole ghastly march of folly – was trumpeted to the skies by these people even as the ground shifted and chasms of fact and logic opened beneath them. 

They seized upon any piece of official idiocy to make their case. And not just Saddam Hussein's non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Vice-President Dick Cheney's boast that US soldiers would be garlanded with flowers in Baghdad and welcomed as liberators ... George Bush's "mission accomplished" ... Donald Rumsfeld's unknown unknowns, John Howard's claim that Saddam Hussein operated a "people-shredder" ... nothing was too bizarre to be pressed into service by the media propagandists.

If you dared to question the war, in concept or execution, they branded you anti-American. Ideological claptrap, of course,  but the worst of Tory insults. You were disloyal, even treasonous. Anti-war marches were organised by communists, Bolt claimed, and the protesters were full of "self loathing hatred of our civilisation and its freedoms".

Now we reap the whirlwind. Democracy in Iraq evaporated with the oppression of Sunni Muslims by the corrupt and ineffectual Shiite Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. When push came to shove, Baghdad's army, upon which the Americans spent so much blood and treasure, simply melted away. The wretched Iraqi people find new and unspeakable horrors visited upon them by Islamist fanatics reputedly too extreme even for al-Qaeda to countenance."
            
It was all so predictable, so inevitable. We saw in Vietnam that democracy cannot be imposed at gunpoint. Wilfully blind to the errors of history, the fools repeat them."

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