Leading article: A moment of clarity amid the bloodshed and carnage

Share

The state of Iraq is perilously close to collapse. As we report today, 1.6 million people have been forced to flee the country since the invasion in 2003 and a further 1.5 million have been displaced internally. This is one of the largest population movements in the Middle East since the formation of the state of Israel. The once great metropolis of Baghdad is now effectively a dozen small cities, each patrolled by its own sectarian militia. Only the Kurdish regions in the north of the country are unscathed. And even the future of that enclave of relative stability is in doubt as Iraq hurtles, apparently inexorably, towards final break-up.

There is no way of knowing for sure how many have been killed since the invasion, but it is clear that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died at the hands of coalition troops, sectarian death squads and insurgent bombers. Many Iraqis now say life is even more intolerable than it was under the iron fist of Saddam Hussein.

All this bloodshed seems to have provoked a moment of clarity in Washington. President Bush spoke at the weekend of his readiness to "change tactics" in Iraq. And a diplomat at the State Department gave an interview in which he claimed the US has acted with "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq. More hints have emerged that the Congress-commissioned Iraq Study Group, led by the former Secretary of State James Baker, is preparing to outline an exit strategy. Meanwhile, here in Britain, the Foreign Office Minister, Kim Howells, expressed the hope over the weekend that our own troops will be withdrawn within a year.

But dig a little deeper and it is clear that delusion and dishonesty still hold sway in the minds of our leaders. Tony Blair was still arguing last week that a withdrawal of troops would lead to a disaster in Iraq. And President Bush continues to stress that "our goal is victory". These two architects of the 2003 invasion are still unable - or unwilling - to accept the comprehensive failure of their policy in Iraq.

To any objective observer it is clear that Iraq is in a state of disaster already. And it also evident that our troops are failing to stop the sectarian killing. The US government's push to establish security in Baghdad this month only succeeded in boosting the death toll further. And even the head of the British Army, Sir Richard Dannatt, believes that our presence, far from keeping a lid on the fighting, is making the security situation worse.

We are constantly told that troop withdrawals will begin when Iraq's security forces prove able to take on more responsibility themselves. Yet this promise has no credibility. For one thing, there is no reason to believe that the Iraqi security forces will be able to impose order where British and American troops have so comprehensively failed. For another, Iraqi forces are simply not trusted by the population. Given that many sectarian death squads wear police and army uniforms, this is hardly unsurprising.

Yet Mr Blair and Mr Bush - in public at least - continue to argue that progress is being made and that ultimate success in Iraq is attainable if we will only summon up the will to complete the job. The truth is that can be no "victory" for President Bush or our Prime Minister. The hubris of these two men has broken a nation and placed the armies of Britain and America in the midst of an undeclared civil war. Their political legacies have been written in blood. All that remains now is the question of how our forces can be extracted from this carnage without making a catastrophic situation even worse.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Women are working in some of the lowest-paid sectors such as cleaning, catering and caring  

Women's wages have gone backwards. Labour would give women the pay they deserve

Gloria de Piero
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker