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The contribution of the Irish State to the Ameranglian war of destruction on Iraq in 2003 was slight. And it was despicable. 

It was justified at the time by a combination of cynical idealism and a calculation that a refusal to facilitate the transit of American warplanes would be disadvantageous commercially. The official justifier was Martin Mansergh. 

The idealism said that Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator and that it was unquestionably a good thing to get rid of him. But the Irish Government had better reasons than most to understand that the evil dictatorship was fostering a liberal, secular, European mode of life in Iraq. There had been extensive Irish trade with Iraq and large numbers of Irish citizens had worked and lived in Iraq; many of them working in its National Health Service. 

It required no great political insight to understand that the liberal, secular mode of life which was flourishing under the dictatorship depended on the dictatorship. 

Liberalism and Democracy are different things. They are often treated as the same thing in Western political slang just now, but for a couple of centuries they were regarded as being incompatible. The British state was conducted on liberal lines by an aristocratic ruling class two hundred years before it was democratised, and much of the opposition to democratisation was based on the apprehension that it would destroy the liberal way of life. 

The liberal system in Iraq was not operated by formal democracy. But elements from all the different social bodies thrown together haphazardly by Britain for an Imperial purpose were drawn into it and a national society was in the course of formation when the invasion ended it. 

Formal bourgeois democracy takes a considerable time to construct in a society which lived on very different terms for a thousand years. And it is functional only on the basis of a stable national society. The Iraqi dictatorship was constructing such a society. It was drawing people from all sections of traditional society into the functioning of a modern national State. In the course of time the routines of formal party- political democracy would probably have set in as the national bourgeois society fostered by the dictatorship took root and came to be taken for granted. 

The US and the UK invaded Iraq, destroyed the regime of the dictatorship in the name of democratisation, and the secular, liberal national society collapsed quickly in the face of overwhelming "shock and awe", and incitements to religious rebellion. 

The Irish Government, instead of making a defence of the state with which it had had normal civilised and profitable relations, genuflected before the catch-cry of "evil dictatorship", and apologised for having had normal international relations with it. (This was done by Mansergh.) 

There was no political movement within Iraqi liberal society for the overthrow of the dictatorship, and even the traditional communal forces organised by religion were quiescent as they were gradually drawn into the functioning of the State. Democracy was imposed by invasion and incitement to rebellion. 

In 2003 the most powerful military force in the world destroyed the liberal regime of state of the dictatorship. (A viable dictatorship acts by means of a regime of state no less than a democratically-elected Government does.) It incited the populace to rebellion. What the democratic rebellion, encouraged by the all-powerful conqueror, brought into action, when the regime of State had been destroyed and disgraced, were the traditional elements that existed spontaneously, independently of the State. 

Those elements had been passive under the regime. When called suddenly into action, to take the place of the disgraced regime, they could only be what is called fundamentalist

The big problem was that there was not a single Fundamentalism held in check by the regime, but a number of conflicting ones. They have been unable to form a new national regime of any kind, least of all a liberal, secular one. 


An official British Enquiry into British participation in the war on Iraq has finally reported after inordinate delays. Though chaired by somebody who was close to Tony Blair in the handling of Northern Ireland, it damns his war-making in substance, though refusing to do so formally. 

The Enquiry was set up by Gordon Brown when his turn finally came to be Prime Minister. It was his way of getting his own back on Blair for breaking their agreement to take turns at being Prime Minister and hanging on to the position too long. 

The multi-volume Report, as far as we can gather from media comment, did not deal at all with the nature of the national state that was treated as an object to be destroyed and was unduly concerned with a handful of British military casualties. 

When the Report came to be discussed by Parliament, the Labour Party (which had launched the War) had fallen into the hands of a leader who had opposed it at the time, in Parliament and on the streets. Corbyn's leadership was being boycotted by most of the Parliamentary Labour Party. And, when he apologised in the Commons to the people of Iraq for the War which the Party had made on them, he was barracked by his own back-benches, many of whom had been implicated in it. (It was the first British war that was carried out on the authority of the House of Commons, rather than on the Royal Prerogative exercised by the Prime Minister). 

Media comment on the Report threw some interesting light on the way the world has been governed during the quarter century of US dominance. 

Paul Bremer, an American businessman who was Governor of Iraq in the first year of the Occupation (2003-4) was interviewed on BBC's Newsnight programme on July 6th: 

"BBC: The de-Baathification process does get criticism in the Chilcot Report. And do you now accept that it was too deep and too ambitious and that it left the country ungovernable? 

"Bremer: No. I agree there was a mistake made in the de- Baathification. It wasn't the one the Commission focussed on. It's important to remember how it came about. It was part of the pre-War planning—one part that we actually got right. It was modelled on the de-Nazification programme in Germany in 1945 but much milder. It really was designed, the Decree that I signed, to hit only one per cent of the Baath Party, which itself was only ten per cent of the people. So we're talking about one tenh of one per cent. About 20,000 people. And all it said about them was they could no longer have roles in the Government. They were perfectly free to go out and set up a newspaper if they wanted to, a radio station, a business, or become farmers. 

"The problem, and the mistake I made, was turning the implementation of this narrowly drafted decree over to Iraqi politicians… "

BBC: What Chilcot said is that the British had thought it should be a much more limited de-Baathification, 5,000, not 20 or 30,000: that the British really had very little say in any of this Coalition Provisional Authority Government… and were very often ignored… And Chilcot says that the British vision was right and your vision was wrong…" 

Bremer replied that it was not his vision, but a vision drawn up before he entered the scene by those who undertook the invasion. The British had access to him the whole time and they had not made him aware that they disagreed with what he was doing, and that they wanted something very different to be done. 

He ridiculed Chilcot's suggestion that the British-American discussions should have been more formal—did he mean that the discussions should have been over a green baize table in the presence of incoming gunfire! Everything he did was cleared with the British. 

Bremer gave the appearance of being an honest man just telling the truth while the other side was engaged in apologetics designed to minimise British responsibility.