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Saturday, August 13, 2005


The armchair warriors of Fleet Street

As Iraq descends into an ever greater shambles, the American and British governments are making increasingly delusional claims about "remaining on track" and "improving security". And, of course, if they can claim to have "won", they can withdraw their troops (or "scale back our commitment", in the current jargon). Their euphemisms can barely disguise a decision to quit.

So why isn't the pro-war lobby protesting? As Matthew Parris
observes in today's Times, the journalists who cheered on the invasion of Iraq are curiously silent about the impending withdrawal.

... our own Government is talking about massive British troop reductions in southern Iraq, possibly for "redeployment" to Afghanistan ("or tsunami relief, or Oxfam, or anywhere", gulps Tony Blair into his shaving mirror).

The game is nearly up: not the military game, the psychological one. We can no longer take the strain in Iraq. We are going to make a bolt for it. You know that, don't you? I suspect most British people do. It's bearing down on us with a terrible inevitability.

Well? I am waiting. A number of us are waiting. We were expecting an angry chorus from a particular quarter. So why the silence? You could hear a pin drop. Why don't they sing out, the armchair warriors of Fleet Street? George W. Bush and his friends are preparing to scuttle Iraq, and nobody's complaining.

Where are they, those editorialisers whose confident "Tally-ho!" cheered our lads into Basra and Baghdad and whose cry was that we were "in this for the long haul", to "finish the job"? Finish the job indeed - do they really think, does anybody think, that the job is finished? Does anyone seriously suggest that a free and democratic Iraq is now heading into the home straight?

Of course not. The place is going to hell in a handcart. So where are those who urged our forces in, now that the political will to keep them there is faltering?
This military adventure has been a failure even on its own terms. It's time the pro-war lobby owned up and apologised.

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