'Independent' writers debate whether world is safer place

Two of
The Independent's most provocative writers engaged a large audience in an animated public debate on the merits of the Iraq war at Manchester town hall last night.

Two of The Independent's most provocative writers engaged a large audience in an animated public debate on the merits of the Iraq war at Manchester town hall last night.

The Independent debate, which placed Robert Fisk against Johann Hari on the question "Has the Iraq war made the world a safer place?", gave an eloquent voice to anti-war sentiment, in the traditions of Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky. Fisk's case, that the war had succeeded only in consigning Iraq to a state of "anarchy and madness", comfortably held sway among the audience of 500.

The debate, chaired by Simon Kelner, editor-in-chief of The Independent, pitched Fisk's argument - that the West's century-old obsession with "rescuing" the Middle East from itself had left it at the mercy of anarchists whom the West will be forced to do business with - against Hari's proposition that Iraqis wanted the war and that today's chaos was an improvement on Saddam's tyranny.

The notion that the West had created "an oasis of democracy with its centre in Iraq" was "a lie", said Fisk, opening the debate. "The one thing we did do was get rid of the man we helped to create - Saddam Hussein - and we are now searching for other beasts to take his place: the name Zarqawi comes to mind."

Fisk, whose writing in The Independent had clearly won over many in the audience, described how a recent journey south from Baghdad to Najaf revealed burnt-out Iraqi police vehicles, US trucks and an occupying force which was manifestly overrun. "The chances of [January] elections are fading faster than water running into the desert," said Fisk. "The Americans must leave Iraq, the Americans will leave Iraq, but the Americans can't leave Iraq."

Hari countered with his own vivid experiences among the Marsh Arabs. "While the Baathist [minders] were away, I asked them: what do you think about the war? They concluded it was better to take your chance with the Americans than live with infernal Baathism."

There was also eloquence from the floor. A former US naval officer, worrying that the West had "lied about Iraq like we lied about Vietnam", urged The Independent to continue "challenging the lies" in a way no other paper has.

"It is astonishing," concluded Kelner, "that despite the illegality of the war, the thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of soldiers who have died, that nobody on either side of the Atlantic has paid a political price."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'