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

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Assistant Editor: Domestic violence is no petty matter

Siobhan Norton
 

There’s nothing wrong with GM

Steve Connor
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried