Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Things Can Only Get Better

The Pottery Barn Rule: You break it, you own it.
Colin Powell, 2002. Cited by Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack
The Iraq Body Count organisation has released a new report on civilian casualties in Iraq since March 2003. It makes for grim reading. Here's a summary of their findings and here's the full report (pdf).
The civilian death toll
24,865 civilians have been reported killed, almost all of them as a direct result of violence, between 20March 2003 and 19 March 2005. The population of Iraq is approximately 25,000,000, meaning that one in every thousand Iraqis has been violently killed since March 2003.
(Full report. Fact Sheet 1.)
1 in every 1000 Iraqi's has died violently since the invasion. That's more than 400 times as many people as were tragically killed by the London bombers. Nearly 25,000 scenes as graphic and disturbing as this one. I have to warn readers of the graphic nature of this image because 1 in 1000 readers won't ever have seen anything like this in their lives. In Iraq, something like this has *happened* to 1 in every 1000 civilians in two short years.

But things *are* getting better, right?
When did they do their killing?
Deaths caused by anti-occupation forces, crime and unknown agents have shown a steady rise over the entire period.
(Fact Sheet 2.)
The facts are that the violence has been getting steadily worse. There is no way to spin this. It's getting worse. Violence in Iraq has been steadily increasing since the invasion. Protecting the lives of Iraqi civilians is a legal obligation under international law. The "coalition of the willing" is failing in it's legal responsibility.

That's not to say that the terrorists or insurgents (or whatever you want to call them) are not responsible for their own actions. They are. I condemn their actions in the strongest possible terms.

But the fact is that the US and UK governments have created the conditions in Iraq for this to happen. Leave aside the debate as to whether the invasion itself was right or wrong. Can Bush or Blair honestly say that they have handled the post-invasion period in a competent manner?

I've never been opposed to the removal by force of Saddam Hussein. As I've said before, it's good that he is gone. What I am opposed to is the fact that this invasion was badly planned, badly executed, and based on more than one false premise. Now we are left with "saving Iraqi's from Saddam" as the only justification for the war. This is a noble cause, but only if we are able to provide a safer alternative. Sadly, the "coalition of the willing" does not appear at any time to have had a suitable plan to bring this about. Does anyone remember when we were told the US and UK liberators were going to be greeted in the streets of Baghdad with cheers and flowers? Instead, they are greeted with suicide bombers and RPGs.This misjudgement is the real tragedy of the invasion of Iraq.

And I'm not one of those people who thinks we should pull out of Iraq now that it's all got FUBAR. We've broken it, now we own it. What is needed is a fundamental rethink of how we can provide security in Iraq.

In the UK, the first step in that process must be for Blair to resign. He committed us to the war without a workable plan as to how to end it. This, despite the many warnings that the situation would develop just as it has. He doesn't accept that he's made any mistakes when the evidence is that he has made many.
Blair doesn't seem to think he's got a case to answer. Does anyone think the grieving relatives of the 24, 865 known Iraqi casualties agree?

No comments: