Thursday 10 April 2003

Blair's War Has Shamed Britain

by Paul Routledge

The scenes of jubilation in Baghdad yesterday are both understandable and heartening. The Iraqi people no longer live under the heel of a tyrant who murdered my friend Farzad Bazoft and killed so many of his own people.

The toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime is a matter for celebration. Less clear is the long-term fallout from a war that killed thousands of Iraqis, military and civilian.

Euphoria is one thing. Reality is another.

Now that American and British supremacy in arms over ramshackle Iraqi forces has been confirmed – as if it was ever in doubt – the smug voices of militarism are loud in their denunciation of people like me who opposed this war.

They glory in the death of a tyrant, but much more so in the vanity of self-righteousness. It feels good, oh so bloody good, to be on the winning side.

Let them have their day of exultation. They cannot see it, but such sentiments are closer to the heart of Saddam Hussein than the phoney humanitarian motives that propelled our country into war.

What we have done is cast a huge stone into a deep and dangerous pool. The ripples will take a long time to reach the edge, and nobody can predict what impact they will have.

This is not a time for apologies from people like me. You will search in vain for a mea culpa in this column. Opposition to the war against Iraq was, and remains, my natural instinct. I know that Tony Blair is wrong. What I do not know is how long it will take for history to prove him so.

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