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Tuesday, March 23, 2004

OIF/TELIC ONE YEAR ON - "WHAT’S IN IT FOR US?" Why did Britain fight in Iraq? Was it right that our armed forces helped the US in toppling Saddam? Is it right that we are there now? I'm going to write about this issue in essay length sometime soon so I'm going to keep this short. Britain fought in Iraq because of the terrorist threat I explained yesterday. It's true that that threat is directed against the US primarily, but Britain and America have mutual defence agreements, which underpins the case further. Right now it is necessary to stay in Iraq because a failure would be a huge moral and strategic catastrophe.
As for the terrorist threat, Britain's actions will tend to have lowered the threat. As I remarked a few days ago on the Madrid attacks, you become a prime target of the terrorists if you're ambivalent. To the extent that they plan rationally, terrorists will only attack those whose minds they can change. That is why Michael Howard's recent bullish remarks about no change in policy under his potential premiership is just as important as the fact that after the Istanbul bombings public support for the war on terror and the transformation of Iraq rose. However, to the extent that terrorists plan irrationally Britain may still be a target, but there is by definition nothing we could about that, instead help the war on terror along as fast as possible, which includes succeeding in Iraq.
Some selected reads on Britain's position:

- Airtrip One's Emmanuel Goldstein asks despairingly what we got out of it

- David Owen explains how Blair's wrongheaded approach to government in general and diplomatic issues in particular brought about the catastrophe that was Britain's Iraq policy

- John C. Hulsman and Nile Gardiner of the American Heritage Foundation explained why : Why Britain will fight in Iraq,

- and on the issue, Robin Harris makes the case that Blair's Iraq policy could in the longer run do immense damage to US-UK relations, something not directly obvious

- and finally, in order to understand the different approaches Western governments have to take when building public support for military action, see this study by Ronald Asmus, Philip P. Everts, and Pierangelo Isernia on the different transatlantic attitudes. Explains why Blair did what he did with the UN and all that.

PS: If you're fed up with the Iraq debate, blogging will be back to normal again in a few days.

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