One of the criticisms made of the position taken by bloggers here on the Iraq issue and the anti-war movement is that we have spread the brush to broadly.
In attacking the likes of Tariq Ali for supporting the murderers of the Iraqi resistance, in highlighting the New Stalinism of the Socialist Workers Party or the retro Stalinism of Andrew Murray, we are accused of ‘smearing’ the entire body of anti-war opinion.
I am not convinced this is a fair criticism. An attack on the leadership of Stop the War or a criticism of key opinion formers of the anti-war movement such as Ali, Foot and Pilger, is also offering a chance for reasoned opponents of the war to distance themselves from those at the helm of the movement.
Indeed we have enjoyed some intelligent discussion here with opponents of the war who have made clear their distaste at the positions taken by the leading Stoppers.
Clearly I disagree on the main issue with those who opposed the armed liberation of Iraq and the arguments have been rehearsed enough times. But the situation in Iraq has moved on and it is surely worth looking to see if there is any common ground between the ‘reasonable opponents of the war’ and those of us on the left who supported intervention.
How to determine ‘reasonable anti-war’ opinion apart from searching their wallet for membership of the SWP or CPB or rummaging through their bookshelf in search of Pilger or Tariq Ali books?
Well, here’s one way – ten statements that I think a reasonable or principled internationalist and opponent of the war should be able to sign up to:
1. Iraq is better off due to regime change and the Iraqi people now have a more hopeful future without the Ba’athist dictatorship in power.
2.I am very pleased that Saddam Hussein was captured and now faces justice.
3. The Iraqi ‘resistance’ offers no hope for the Iraqi people and needs to be defeated.
4. Support needs to be given to both the Iraqi governing council and the coalition forces in their struggle against these reactionaries.
5. I hope that defeat of the ‘resistance’ will allow for a progress towards free and fair elections and democratic self-government in Iraq.
6.The Coalition troops should stay as long as they are needed to assist the transition to democracy and independence in Iraq.
7. I hope that a successful, democratic Iraq will be an inspiration to democrats throughout the middle-east.
8.I hope that the capture of Saddam and the fall of his regime will inspire other peoples who are fighting against dictatorship.
9.And that the end of his regime may warn off others who are considering developing or hiding WMD programmes.
10.All of the above are more important to me than the success or otherwise of the political careers of Tony Blair or George W Bush.