The Tigris two-step

Yesterday’s momentous events in Iraq today afforded liberal interventionists like me an opportunity to watch fascism’s fellow-travellers like him squirm like maggots on a hook.

As the day wore on, Galloway became increasingly apoplectic and self-delusional, as anyone who heard his interviews on Radios 5 and 2 can testify. As he screeched his way from lie (the elections were rigged) to conspiracy theory (the Iraqi electoral commission have helped to ‘fix’ the turnout), one could imagine those chubby cheeks of his gradually reddening. No leap of logic was too quantum for GG to reconcile 8 million Iraiqs voting under fear of decapitation and immolation with his insistence that the same people neither desired nor could handle democracy. Like the DFS ‘Double-Discount sale’, he just goes on and on. As the madness of the man who would be king George raged, I almost felt sorry for him.


Of course, not all Stoppers are like hapless George. Today’s other interviews with opponents of war and sundry columns and editorials in the anti- press, heralded the emergence of a new breed of Stopper: the ‘I wouldn’t have done it like that’ strain. Unlike the Stalinist celebrities that lead their cause, it’s not that these people don’t want to arrive at a democratic Iraq, it’s just that they wouldn’t have started from here.

This variety of Stopper appears ready to concede that, whilst much remains to be done, and whilst nothing can make the war ‘right’, the future of Iraq suddenly doesn’t look quite so bleak as it did 48 hours ago. There are some real giveaways, but one line more than any appears to dominate post-election, moderate Stopper discourse. Today’s Guardian editorial, quoting Kofi Anan, is perhaps the finest exemplar:

This election is…only a first step in deciding Iraq’s future.

How many times have you heard that line today, or something like it, from Stopper friends and family desperately searching for a cloud to go with the election’s silver lining? Well, I’m not happy with this sort of analysis. In fact, I have a real problem with the idea that the election was, is, a “first step”. You see, from where I’m sitting, the “first step” will always be the war that was fought to unseat a megalomaniacal, genocidal dictator with a predilection for acquiring and using WMD. These past couple of years have witnessed some of the most extraordinary intellectual gymnastics from, it must be said, both sides of the Iraq war debate, but even Pilger on a bad day would have to concede that without war, yesterday’s elections would have remained a democratic pipe dream for years, if not decades, to come.

So, please, let’s get it right. Whatever number step this election was in deciding Iraq’s future, and however many more there are to take, a “first” step it was not. Not on your Kissengerian, status quo loving, don’t rock the boat, Westphalian, nelly.

But it would be plain wrong to end today without paying homage to the Iraqi people who faced down the nihilists and fascists (yep – gonna keep using that word) who comprise democracy’s anti-matter, otherwise known as the “resistance”.

As somebody nearly once said, albeit in somewhat contrasting circumstances:

People of Iraq, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability…

And you can quote me on that.