The European football championship is almost over. 22 teams have lost and only France and Portugal are left, though it is possible to argue that Iceland and Wales are winners, given their expectations. But an analysis of the 10 year long (some would argue still continuing) Iraq War Championship – the Chilcot Report – was released this week. Many have wondered just who ‘won’ this event, but Chilcot made it clear. Everyone lost. And Chilcot explained why.
The Report released this week after 7 YEARS… reported that 179 UK people died in a war justified by President Bush and Prime Ministers Blair and Howard with lies, and implemented blindly with mistakes,secrecy, no end game plan and poor management, a war totally unjustified by the evidence at the time, a war decided by political leaders, not military leaders or even political leadership teams it seems.
So who won? Australia managed to lose only 3 people during this war. The US lost 4,400 people. Perhaps we ‘won’ because we lost the least. Certainly no one seems to argue that the US or the UK ‘won’, despite Saddam Hussein being toppled and democracy being imposed (now there’s a mixed metaphor…).
But no one seems to focus on the Iraqis. Chilcot notes in passing that THEY LOST AT LEAST 500,000 PEOPLE. I’ll say it again. 500,000 PEOPLE.
And is ‘winning’ determined by the number of dead? The numbers of injured are far, far higher, injuries that are often lifelong and personally alienating, with flow on effects such as streams of refChinaugees from Iraq and broken families everywhere.
And what has been achieved by this? The rise of first Al Qaida, and now the rise of ISIS, not to mention all the bombings all over the world and the rise of millions of refugees. Yes, that’s right. The refugees are an outcome of us – the all knowing ‘West’ – and our wonderful attempts to impose democracy on unwilling, unprepared nations. Their lives are ruined because of what our political leaders did in starting the Iraq war.
So who won the Iraq war championship? Australia, because we had the fewest deaths? Iraq, because they got Western democracy for the price of 500,000 lives, lucky them? Or is it really Al Qaida or ISIS, because they became powerful as a result of our stupidity?
No. We all lost. There is not a single ‘winner’ from this war, which is ongoing even after we think it has ‘ended’ because we withdrew finally, having achieved nothing that will last.
What did we learn?
What did we learn? Nothing it seems. The US has subsequently committed troops to Afghanistan and Syria (both total and continuing failures), the U.K. committed to Afghanistan and to bombing Libya), Australia went within an ace of committing troops to Ukraine (really!) after a single (non-Australian) plane was shot down. Now that would have been a good new war game – Australia v Russia played in Ukraine….
What should we learn?
Fighting wars in other people’s countries, in other cultures, without historical context, without global support, based on the lies of power-hungrypolitical and military leaders is rarely – rarely – going to lead to a ‘win’…for anyone.
if I were a dictator, I’d rapidly reduce our international military activities, whatever country I led. We only need to defend our borders, not enter other countries. I’d reduce the amount we spend on military equipment to that required to defend those borders. Australia could almost solve its budget deficit by doing This. Military spending is generally wasteful spending of virtually no value to our health or wellbeing as a society.
When will we learn that military spending, military power does not lead to ‘success’ in someone else’s country? Not so long as we are linked to the US foreign policy. Not till we have the guts to stand up for ourselves, be independent, and let other countries largely sort out their own problems without us invading them. We certainly don’t seem to be able to ‘help’ them.
Despite Chilcot, the first shots of the next war championship already loom. The US – despite its appalling record – wants us to join it in taking on China…in the China Sea over some disputed islands!!! Watch this space for the lessons of the Iraq War Championship (and the Afghan and Syrian and Libyan wars and more) to be ignored again.
4 thoughts on “Iraq War Championship Results: Australia 3 UK 179 US 4,500 Iraq 500,000”
Our leaders never seem to look back at the previous wars and the wasted lives and material. They perpetuate the desire for destruction at great cost to society which achieves very little
Thanks for the comment Paul. Completely agree. Graham
In recent times, wars on foreign soil have lacked success for the west-is that one of the reasons we have become disenchanted with them? The Ukraine is an interesting example where Russia could arguably claim a successful outcome of military action.
I am interested in the question of whether the intervention is wrong or is the execution flawed. The message in Graham’s article is certainly that military intervention is flawed and undesirable. It is not clear about whether he feels that we, in the broadest sense, should not intervene in the affairs of other nations, ultimately, an isolationist stance.
I fear I am an interventionist. I feel that the intervention of external nations in the Balkans to stop atrocities had positive outcomes. A Blair initiative. Many foreign wars are of dubious motivation, Iraq clearly. But isolationism – I feel uncomfortable standing by and watching when terrible things are happening. Alliances can be a means of the weak countering the aggression of the strong.
Is it correct that we do not intervene, or should we seek to ensure that when we do, it is effective? We should certainly be cautious about intervening, and we should question any suggestion that our ideas and models are a recipe for success elsewhere. These are the lessons of post-colonialism, and actually, many people understand this, including those who govern our countries. There are a lot of sensible, moral people in control of our government, and we rely on them to do the right thing, and to do so with extreme caution. They should explore all options, starting with influence and sanctions. But sometimes, force can only be met by force. There are evil people, who do terrible things, and I would not want my country to turn away. So I am on the side of intervention.Choose the occasions cautiously, choose the means cautiously, but recognize that sometimes force maybe the only response to bullies, ….and be effective.
Thanks Robert for these insightful comments, particularly around the intervention/execution issue and also around the isolation/intervention issue.
It is certainly worth considering whether, if the Vietnam/Iraq/Afghanistan/Syria/Libya/Egypt wars had gone ‘well’ for the West, whether we would think intervention was ‘good’. Because there is no doubt that there are ‘bad guys’ in most of these places (and, it turns out, many other places where we haven’t intervened – Russia, Ukraine, Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, North Korea etc etc), so, theoretically, intervention would be ‘justified’.
But when the outcomes are so poor – apart from Iraq 1 – where the West withdrew as soon as the objectives of freeing Kuwait were achieved – and some parts of the Balkans, I’m arguing that, despite the moral high ground we might have, the actual outcomes leave so many people – mostly innocent people – worse off. So, if implementation is ineffective, best not to intervene, even if it is theoretically justifiable.
And since so many interventions have been failures, I’m therefore arguing that leaving despots, crooks, and thieves is better than intervening. Perhaps where genocide is threatened, or occurring and we know about it, perhaps intervention there is ‘justified’. But we haven’t intervened in African countries where this has occurred, or Pakistan, or Egypt or other places where religious genocide is occurring, so, even on this basis, our ‘morals’ are wanting. Interventions seem more based on perceived power rather than moral righteousness, though it is arguable that that should not be the case.
So, increasingly, I’m an isolationist. We aren’t good at solving our own affairs (eg Australia with indigenous people and refugees) so what right have we got to go intervening elsewhere, especially when our interventions add little or no value to the countries in which we intervene?