Leading article: Money will not buy salvation from Iraq war

Share
Related Topics

As the summer turns to autumn, there is a distinct sense of end of era about the US adventure in Iraq. The violence, which had been in decline, is on the rise again. The United States is in the last stages of withdrawing its combat troops, leaving a non-combat force of only 50,000 for another year. More than five months after its elections, Iraq is still failing to translate the results into a government. And a year after the last British forces left southern Iraq, Tony Blair has announced that he is donating the proceeds from his autobiography to the Royal British Legion for an armed forces rehabilitation centre. Iraq seems increasingly to be gazing into an uncertain future, even as everyone else is starting to look back.

Yesterday's was only the latest, but by far the most costly, bombing of recent weeks, with dozens of Iraqis killed and more than 100 injured at a Baghdad army recruitment centre. July had already brought the highest number of casualties of any month for two years. Clearly, there are those who want to exploit the climate of uncertainty for their own advantage as the US military presence winds down. But the suicide attack also demonstrated once again the shortage of jobs and the desperation of Iraqis seeking employment. This, not just sectarian violence, is the malign legacy that the military intervention and the occupation that followed leave behind.

Nor are there convincing signs that any improvement in Iraq will be rapid. In the United States, the mood that accompanies the end of combat operations ordered by President Obama remains downbeat – a far cry from George Bush's prematurely triumphal claim of "Mission Accomplished". For quite other reasons, the timetable for the US withdrawal is not entirely welcome in official Iraqi quarters either, where the army commander says his country might not be ready to take control of its own security for another 10 years. That is hardly a vote of confidence either in the state of Iraq's newly trained armed forces or in the good faith of the Americans. It does not bode well for what is to come.

The long post-election political stalemate is only making matters worse. The Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki, is still refusing to cede power to Ayad Allawi, whose bloc won two more parliamentary seats than he did. Yesterday's bombing followed Mr Allawi's decision to suspend talks on forming a coalition.

There is speculation that the political vacuum is allowing al-Qa'ida to make new inroads. Valid or not, the speculation itself is corrosive. It also underlines a bitter irony: that the very threat the West's operations in Afghanistan were intended to avert may now have implanted itself in Iraq. And it supplies fresh proof of how badly this misguided invasion has rebounded: rather than reinforcing the West's security, it has compounded the threat.

This was a part of the background against which Monday's unheralded announcement from Tony Blair has to be seen: that of an imprudent, mismanaged and probably illegal war to which the then British Prime Minister committed his support. Not only his personal support either, but the good name of the country, the lives of its troops and a large slice of the national budget. The other part of the background was the domestic mood in Britain.

The Iraq war may no longer feature regularly on the front pages now that British troops are no longer there. As the impassioned response to Mr Blair's donation has shown, however, this war remains as fresh in the memory – and almost as divisive as it was when it began. That there will now be a positive aspect to Mr Blair's legacy, and one that implicitly recognises the human cost of his fateful decision, deserves to be recognised. But it cannot erase, nor will it compensate for, the irreversible damage that has been done.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst- (Customer Support) - £29,000

£29000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst- (Customer Suppor...

Recruitment Genius: Laser Games Supervisor

£14500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PPC Executive / Manager

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A PPC Executive/Manager is requ...

Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager - Retail / FMCG / WMS Operations

£55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager - Retail / FMCG / WM...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A mother and her child  

50 signs that we need to stop spreading the myth of the 'ideal mother'

Victoria Richards
The top ten places where people are most likely to catch an STI have been revealed  

Surveys of people’s sex lives: how do we know what to believe?

Simon Kelner
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
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness