Iraq – Seven years on

Read the whole thing, but here is David Aaronovitch talking about those blessed souls who forever will “feel” the pain of Iraq and the sting of Blair’s personal betrayal of their “values”:

It is (I am told) “understandable” that many sensitive Britons feel “wounded” by the circumstances of the war. Well, it certainly was understandable, but it isn’t any longer. Seven years on, it’s gone well beyond the original wound, and we’re at the stage where many folk twist the knife in their own scar to keep it bleeding. They want to stay wounded — they enjoy their wounds. And I’m not even talking about that corrupted part of our body politic that took sides with the murderous insurgents and described them as liberators.
there is huge pressure from the re-wounders, the knife-twisters, for Chilcot and his committee not to learn the long-term lessons of Iraq but to emerge with a conclusion that would effectively hobble future governments in taking action abroad. I note the pressure that Shortists of both Left and Right have put on the historians, Lawrence Freedman and Martin Gilbert, because they haven’t grandstanded, cross-examined like barristers or got all arsey and sarcastic with Messrs Brown, Blair and Miliband.

We know what the Shortists want. They want Chilcot to say, in effect, that it shouldn’t have happened and mustn’t happen again. Some explicitly want Britain to turn away from the troublous world and its bleeding peoples, and to isolate ourselves, leaving tyrants alone and hoping the resulting refugees can be stopped at Calais.

Even years on they won’t want Chilcot, or anyone else, to look at Iraq now and say that there is definitely an important new democracy in the Middle East, and that its existence is one of the most hopeful changes in recent times. And yet, miracle that it is (Iraqi miracle that it is), it’s true.

I tend to ignore these people now. They have got their inquiry. They can keep wailing and gnashing their teeth, saying “whitewash” and casting allegations of lying about as if the mere fact a war happened is evidence enough of a lie (afterall there can be no good reason for a war, can there?). They are beyond reach. No rational outcome of Chilcot would have sated their thirst for the “truth” as they already have it in their heads – fully formed and crafted for years. There is no balancing of considerations to take place, not the mildest of grudging acceptance that any good might have come out of Iraq. While I’d not go so far to suggest these individuals are conspiracy theorists, there are some parallels: the obsessive concern about minutiae (Who said what at Crawford) rather than the larger narrative, the inability to accept proven facts from previous inquiries (making off the cuff comments about David Kelly’s death do not yet make one a crank in polite company, unlike conspiracies about Diana’s death).

Let it go.