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

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron visiting a primary school last year  

The only choice in schools is between the one you want and the ones you don’t

Jane Merrick
Zoë Ball says having her two children was the best thing ever to happen to her  

Start a family – you’ll never have to go out again

John Mullin
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn