Do we still have the will to win in Afghanistan? If so, the question the Iraq inquiry should be asking is not “how did we get into this war” – we have had a number of separate inquiries into that already – but “why were the military defeated on the ground in Basra?”. If the Chilcot Inquiry were to focus on that, it might actually serve a purpose: not just in unearthing new information (which it has signally failed to do so far) but drawing lessons that just might help the troops in Afghanistan. …
I am in a tiny minority of people who a) supported the war in Iraq, and b) still admits it. People like me feel every bit as angry as the anti-war people about what happened next. I suspect the following happened in Iraq and I do hope the inquiry gets to the bottom of it.
I’ll just quote the first one:
1. Political prejudice contorted post-war planning. I went out there first in May 2003, just after the invasion. I spoke to civil servants who said Claire Short had sent them out with emergency food packs and tents, so convinced was she that the invasion would cause mass displacement. In the end, the price of chicken had risen a bit, but that was all. The main issue was civil service pay – or Britain’s inability to pay people who promptly signed up to the Shi’ite death squads. No one had thought through the occupation properly.
And #5 is interesting too, that all the British journalists were stuck in Baghdad telling an American story and depending on American wire stories, letting the government spin what was happening in the south until the NYT sent Stephen Farrell (the one that got kidnapped in Afghanistan).