Thursday, March 20, 2008

Five years ago the war in Iraq began.

It was a war justified to the public and world audience on the premise that Saddam Hussein’s regime had successfully developed a weapons programme which could kill human beings on a biblical scale. If successfully deployed, these weapons of mass destruction would cause untold levels of harm to thousands in the Middle East and, thanks to the missile system he was developing, even directly to the fringes of the European continent. If these weapons were to get into the hands of terrorists, the danger posed by Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons arsenal would be spread worldwide.

Today’s newspapers carry countless facts about the war and this country in turmoil. The financial cost of the war. The number of Iraqi civilians, soldiers and journalists who have died in the five years of conflict. Iraqi inflation.

There also are stories today about defiant statements made by those politicians who took us to war, declaring their continued belief that victory, one day, will be theirs and how those who criticise the actions of the UK and US Governments in taking us to war implicitly support the return of a dictatorial regime in Iraq and the return of Saddam Hussein from the dead.

The important fact remains that this is a war based on a lie. There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Saddam Hussein had no links to Islamic terrorist organisations.

Iraq is a tragedy. It is a tragedy because thousands have died, and millions displaced, while many more continue to live in fear. It is a tragedy because the world is not now a safer place because of these actions. It is a tragedy that because of the actions of the US and UK five years ago it is now impossible to see a peaceful solution for the population there in either the near or distant future, with or without the continued presence of foreign troops. It is a tragedy because of the crisis in the international community caused by this bilateral action without the support of the United Nations without a basis in international law.

But when our leaders lie to us to justify war, it is beyond a tragedy. It is a fundamental challenge to the social contract, the underlying principles of our civilisation. And that’s why it’s important to remember, to challenge, and to change.