Leading article: A dangerous legacy, both at home and abroad

Share

On the third anniversary of the day US and British forces began to advance on Baghdad, we can see more clearly than ever that the invasion of Iraq has been an unqualified disaster. We were led to believe by the architects of this invasion that Iraq would, by now, be a stable, representative democracy; a "beacon" of liberty to the authoritarian regimes of the Middle East. The reality could not be more different. Iraq has become a bloodbath, with little prospect of release from the furies of sectarian violence.

Yesterday, the former Iraqi prime minister, Iyad Allawi, admitted that his country is in a state of civil war; something that has been obvious to all but the most blinkered of international observers for some weeks now. The Sunni insurgency is unrelenting. Horrific car bombings and assassinations occur almost daily. Meanwhile, Shia death squads are stepping up their campaign of kidnapping, torture and executions against Sunnis. Since the desecration of the Samarra shrine last month, mixed Shia and Sunni neighbourhoods are being torn apart in sectarian cleansing. The death toll since the invasion runs into tens of thousands.

Despite two elections and a referendum in Iraq, the writ of the Iraqi government runs little further than Baghdad's Green Zone. Most units of the army and police force are ineffective and undermanned. Those that are halfway competent have been infiltrated by Shia militants. Three years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein there is still no regular electricity or adequate sewage disposal. Water supplies are still unreliable.

As for the occupying forces, they are no longer in a position to affect events on the ground. The US military manoeuvres against insurgents over the weekend were a display of force rather than a serious attempt to take on the insurgents. As a result of indiscriminately heavy-handed tactics and scandals such as Abu Ghraib, the US army has lost any goodwill they might have enjoyed in the immediate wake of the invasion. British forces, the second largest troop contingent in Iraq, are largely confined to barracks in the south, distrusted by the local population after their own abuse scandals. The battle for hearts and minds was lost long ago. Military commanders are now simply treading water until withdrawal.

The invasion has left a poisonous domestic legacy for the leaders responsible for this folly. There is a profound lack of trust towards the governments that took their nations to war. President Bush's domestic approval ratings are at a new low. Meanwhile, Tony Blair is close to being a political spent force in this country as a result of his role in the Iraq débâcle. The outright lies about Saddam's weapons capability peddled in the run-up to the invasion have not been forgotten. And the arrogance and contempt for international law displayed by Britain and America in the rush to war still rankles.

The legacy of Iraq in the wider world has been equally toxic. Anger towards the US and Britain has been stoked across the Muslim world. The war has been a recruiting sergeant for Islamist terror organisations. A new confrontation with Iran is looming over the intention of Iraq's neighbour to develop a nuclear capability. Yet the US's diplomatic leverage in this dispute is sorely diminished. Thanks to Iraq, America is now confirmed in the eyes of the world as an aggressor power.

And who can now say, in all conscience, that even the most basic objective of this invasion has been achieved? We were told that Saddam represented a grave threat to international security that simply could not be ignored. Yet because of this military adventure, the world is now a much less safe place. This will be the verdict of history, God or any other power those responsible for this calamity care to invoke.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) pictured shaking hands with Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi on 25 March 2004.  

There's nothing wrong with Labour’s modernisers except how outdated they look

Mark Steel
 

Any chance the other parties will run their election campaigns without any deceit or nastiness?

Nigel Farage
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee