The Telegraph reports on an apparent rift between the US and UK on Iraq, with the US painted as the young idealist frustrated at the pragmatism of the old colonial power. Which reminds me of my earlier blog on Graham Greene’s Quiet American, which warns of the perils of the idealism that died in Vietnam.
My own support for the war was pragmatic. As a student in the late 1980s, I chaired an Amnesty International branch; Iraq had used chemical weapons to destroy a whole Kurdish city and we wanted the US and the UK to end their support for the regime. When this war came, I never believed we were acting out of altruism, but was easily convinced by the intelligence that now appears false, especially as Iraq behaved as if it were hiding weapons of mass destruction and had already proved a willingness to use them.
I still feel that regime change in Iraq was a good thing no matter why it was done. Nevertheless, it was done – as so many opponents of the war point out – because the West needs to secure the supply of oil. Without security of supply, our way of life is imperilled and that’s not a sacrifice worth making for a brutal dictator. If it wasn’t for oil, we’d care for Iraqis about as much as we care for Rwandans.