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How to solve Iraq?

  • Newsnight
  • 23 Oct 06, 03:13 PM

On Monday we devote the programme to the examining the future of Iraq.

iraqmap203.jpgMany options are on the table. Is now the time to be leaving Iraq or should we be staying the course? Should there be a phased withdrawal or is the only way to solve Iraq to partition it? Perhaps there will be no stability without talking to Iran and Syria. But will the American government allow that?

Are there any other alternatives? Tell us what you think.

And don't forget to watch at 10:30 on BBC 2 and the website.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 04:03 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Themos Tsikas wrote:

Alternative #1067

Do what the Iraqis want us to do which is to withdraw without conditions and pay reparations for the half million people killed by the war and the half million killed by the sanctions.

  • 2.
  • At 04:07 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Helen Russell wrote:

Considering that one of the many arguments from the opposition to the Iraq invasion suggested that the war may lead to regional instability. It seems only sensible that there will not be a long term and sustainable peace in Iraq unless regional dynamics are considered in reconstruction and that regional actors are involved in the process.

US foreign policy needs to update itself so that it is at least cogniscent (if not accepting) of a multi-polar geo-political global power balance. Thus requiring a combination of many different value systems, (and acceptance that none is better than the other) in determining models of development and that any future successes will only be facilitated through a concerted effort to compromise. The trouble with the US is that in the past, their understanding of compromise has meant "My way or the high way"

  • 3.
  • At 04:07 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • michael e pisarik wrote:

Why not get opinions on the matter of getting out of Iraq from the current leadership of Iraq, the sheite and suni leadership, and the kurd leadership (if there is any)? What would they prefer. I would ask each of them what they think would happen if we would get out from under using their plans. Then go from there.

  • 4.
  • At 04:09 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Rick wrote:

Put Saddam back!

  • 5.
  • At 04:09 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Lyn Dambelly wrote:

In my opinion the problems in Iraq are likely to last many, many years, with or without intervention.

The Americans basically unleashed a can of worms, which is now unfortunately not just restricted to Iraq.

Whilst the Americans, perhaps initiated the chaos,it is now a world problem which requires everyone to pull together.

There is a similar issue now with Iran and Korea.

It is about time the world stopped seeing the US as the 'world's power'

The world's power is now religion and until politics and religion are separated, there will never be any peace for anyone.

  • 6.
  • At 04:10 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • John Wooding wrote:

The main concern missing from most discussions of Iraq's future is what do Iraqis want?

Iraqis being MUSLIM will always be united against the West but at loggerheads with each other.

Iraq thus will be another VIETNAM.

Leaving the country as a whole, will enable it vie for super power status in Middle East and will enable her to produce atom bomb to destroy Israel. Oil wealth will go towards nuclear weaponry. There will also be the wish to revive the CALIPHATE.

The answer is to partition the country into as many small units as possible. Already there is the Kurdish area, Sunni area and the Shia area. The Shia area will most
likely join Iran. So it needs to be divided between Marsh Arabs and the Shia.

  • 8.
  • At 04:12 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Dr Rizgar Amin wrote:

Iraq's social & political problems are not new. It is true that at certain periods Iraq was cradle of civilization. However it also has a history full of blood shed and secterian violence.

Saddam managed to destroy the foundations of Iraqi society's values and principles. It is going to be impossible to have a "united" Iraq, as the USA and UK governments want and it was never united.

The best solution is to divide Iraq to 3 states, one Shi'a, one Sunni and one Kurdish. This is by no means an easy solution but perhaps the best and most durable one. Any other solution is not going to be workable or sustainable whether involving Iran & Syria or withdrawing the troops which will certainly lead to escalation of violence and lawlessness

  • 9.
  • At 04:13 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • ambrown wrote:

My comment is as follows:

I can hardly bear to hear or see, yet again the word Iraq as the whole fiasco is driving us all mad.

There was a time when I was extremely interested in the situation but that was long ago now and many, many discussions later. The question is exactly the same as before - to go or not to go. When?

Now then for God's (or Allah's) sake, let somebody make the decision and please let's try to find more compelling subjects to debate.

  • 10.
  • At 04:17 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Kemar A Bryan wrote:

I dont think withdrawing from Iraq is the best option right now because this will just a vacuum for the terrorist to fill. I am well aware of the many lost of lives that are occuring but if the coalition forces leaves now it be worst than if Saddam was in power.The hundreds of lives that were lost would mean nothing, i believe the forces should stay the course but maybe the strategies should be change in many areas.

  • 11.
  • At 04:18 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Bryan Crawford wrote:

Although it pains me to say it; we can’t walk away from this mess. Our invasion is the cause of the current problems and we now have a moral obligation to stay and sort it out.

The only issue is whether we can galvanise the support of the neighbouring countries and wider international community to help bail us out.

We also need something tangible to happen in the country for the local people to buy into – be it jobs, new hospitals, transport etc, or even letting them host the next World Cup – anything that will help improve moral and galvanise support.

The last thing we need is another Israel so please no splitting up the country along ethnic or religious divides.

  • 12.
  • At 04:23 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Jude wrote:

Since none of us had any right invading Iraq in the forst place, yes we need to get out ASAP as we did what bush wanted, we unseated Saddam and put in our own puppet government. Time to get out. I am sure if youask the families of the thousnds of dead in Iraq they will agree with me.

  • 13.
  • At 04:26 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Alex Rothney wrote:

We went into Iraq to destroy the weapons of mass destruction.

There were no WMDS,so,logically the mission was accomplished. We should have left. [Tony Blair had told Sadaam that if he gave up his WMDS, he be be allowed to carry on ruling Iraq].

The longer we stay the worse and worse the situation becomes. We must swallow our stupid pride and get out.

  • 14.
  • At 04:28 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Noel Dobson wrote:

We should state a date when we intend to pull out of Iraq and it should be a realistic intention like within the next 12 months. There was never a chance of achieving a solution and we should pull out rather than kill more Iraqis. If they want to fight between themselves then let them get on with it. It was only Tony Blair's idiotic foreign policy and the lies that put our ill equipped troops there to fight a battle that we could not win. Saving polititians faces is not worth one more of our forces lives. Get them out ASAP.

  • 15.
  • At 04:30 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Brian J Dickenson wrote:

Well if the Americans run true to form they will do what they did in Vietnam. Run away and leave the mess behind them.
There will be no chance of stability while the Christian west interferes.

  • 16.
  • At 04:30 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Michael Isaacs wrote:

I believe partition is the only logical way forward. This will likely come though civil war in the end if not implemented by decree sooner. Remember India 1947?

  • 17.
  • At 04:31 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Aaron Turner wrote:

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was illegal under the UN Charter (Kofi Annan himself has said so). This violation of the world's most important body of law (the UN Charter takes precedence over all other treaties) has led - according to a recent study in the Lancet - to the deaths of between 400,000 and 950,000 Iraqis or (taking the median figure of 655,000) about 1/10th of a Holocaust. As a minimum this corresponds to around 400,000 counts of manslaughter. What should happen now? (1) The issue of the legality or otherwise of the 2003 invasion should be put before the International Court of Justice. (2) If the invasion is confirmed to have been illegal, then the responsible individuals in the US and UK administrations (including the President and Prime Minister) should be held personally accountable, also via legal due process - and this should be established as a solid principle of international law. (3) The US and UK - who initiated the present chaos and are therefore responsible for it - should from this point on DO WHATEVER IS BEST FOR THE IRAQI PEOPLE, not whatever is best for themselves. Exactly what this might be is almost impossible for a lay person to suggest (as we have now created a new situation almost as intractable as Israel/Palestine), but the guiding principle when making these extremely difficult decisions should be crystal clear - DO WHATEVER IS BEST FOR THE IRAQI PEOPLE.

Involve all the Arab Nations including the South Arabian Penisular ones and the Horn of African ones including Sudan and the Mditerranian omes Libya Egypt Turkey and get someone like Nelson Mandela or Desmond Tutu or the Dalai Lama to Moderate

  • 19.
  • At 04:40 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • John Sutherland wrote:

Blair & Bush will obviously reap what they sewn. At the end of the day, I feel they will have to get both Syria & Iran onboard. Currently both these onlookers are enjoying the problems Bush & Blair are having. I can't help but feel Blair that advocates staying until the job is done is a scam to preserve his dubious integrity. He knows that in a very few months he will be shot of what has proved his worse nightmare. He will be content to let others eventually take any blame, particularly if it becomes another Vetnam 2 as it increasingly looks like becoming.
I agree we should let our elected party govern, but not by a bunch of wannabies like Blair & Co. We have one of the best fighting forces in the world, they certainly deserve better. It would be interesting to know how many of that bunch of yes-men have actually been in the fireing line. I'm a pensioner with 34 years at sea under my belt. I doubt there are few in Blair's government that could put up with what some of us put up with.

Roll on the next elections.

  • 20.
  • At 04:40 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Barbara Stewart wrote:

"Solve"? The implication here is that we have the right, not to mention the ability, to make well the tragedy that has befallen Iraq. We, the US & Britain, are responsible in total for the descent into chaos that daily life in the country has become. We had no reason and no right to violate the social fabric of this country with the invasion and occupation so recklessly and arrogantly engaged by our governments. Where is the discussion about the origins of the conflict? Without understanding the gross violation of sovereignity and self-determination we committed, we will eternally be unable to come up with initiatives that can actually assist the Iraqis in regaining stability and safety in their own land.

  • 21.
  • At 04:42 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Sean Girling wrote:

Ah, not terribly politic, but how about we just give them better weapons, stand back and wait for them to "solve" their problems. Not only would we make money from the arms sales, but when we "rescue" the further ravaged country in a few years time, there'll be less resistance. Erm, okay probably not the best idea at all.

What you should be asking is, how can we change the peoples attitude toward conflict, how can we ensure continued oil production, while the country falls apart and is rebuilt. That afterall is the ultimate goal isn't? It'd be nice to think that this is all for the betterment of humanity, but it's not.

  • 22.
  • At 04:43 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Barbara Stewart wrote:

"Solve"? The implication here is that we have the right, not to mention the ability, to make well the tragedy that has befallen Iraq. We, the US & Britain, are responsible in total for the descent into chaos that daily life in the country has become. We had no reason and no right to violate the social fabric of this country with the invasion and occupation so recklessly and arrogantly engaged by our governments. Where is the discussion about the origins of the conflict? Without understanding the gross violation of sovereignity and self-determination we committed, we will eternally be unable to come up with initiatives that can actually assist the Iraqis in regaining stability and safety in their own land. We must get out, now! Only then can Iraqis believe that they can actually shape their own futures. And offer up to neighbouring nations and the UN the wherewithall to allow for peacemaking and reconstruction, without conditions. Step one is to recognize our responsibility and stand aside.

  • 23.
  • At 04:44 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Jeff fernandez wrote:

This needs care but partition will be a short-term solution which arguably would bring stability to the region.

The next is to engage Iran and Syrian into respecting that using this country as a way of settling their disputes with America is not an option. Get them to invest in the country with conditions, this would make them more careful of using it as their battleground.

Regeneration needs to be more owned by the Iraqi people and this has been lacking.This coupled and a perception of some Western countries getting the main percentage of the contracts has arguably led to anti-western feeling.

But this is no pinic or indeed easy to solve without some faction being sidelined.

The idea of compromise is needed and should be held as an ideal, because nothing will work without populations being flexible.

  • 24.
  • At 04:46 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Charles Brindley wrote:

The problem is as I see it, WE have a Western Democracy, this in the middle and Far East does not fit into their way of life. Especially when you have so many Religious leaders with their own agenda's in other regions.
But there again do We have a Democracy?
It is little surprise that there is so much hostility in many areas of the world, when WE try and impose our ways on them!
Perhaps a Muslim lead and run coalition would be more representertive and understanding of their needs and culture. it would also bring the tension down, by being a Muslim army and not another western invasion by the Christians.

  • 25.
  • At 04:46 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Craig Walker wrote:

Maybe we need to take a longer termed view of the situation. All along the insurgents and their backers have wanted to make Iraq the battlefield for the Islamic extremist to take on the West, well maybe we could give them exactly what they wanted. If people are shown a future; one resembling the West and the other resembling the former Taliban controlled Afghanistan, i believe people would choose to live in a Westernised country. I believe at some point both these conflicting idealogies will go head to head so why not take the battle to them? I say get the backing of all the democratic countries, mass a huge army and go over there and create a haven for all arabs wanting to live in a free society.

  • 26.
  • At 04:47 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • jim scallon wrote:

I do not know the solution; but I do know the problem and am not sure that the majority in the West fully understand the consequences for us 10 years from now if we get it wrong. We are very belatedly waking up to the fact that we are in the early stages of a major energy crisis - but complacency still rules. By the 2020’s we will we totally dependant for oil supply on the “Golden Crescent” oil producers (mainly Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran/Iraq)who neatly separate the Western consumers (US & Europe) from the Eastern consumers (India & China).

Put simply if in 20 years we are still largely dependant for energy on oil and gas then the world will be controlled by whoever controls Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran/Iraq. Our heating, our way of life our entire economies will be vulnerable to a “Putin” and/or whoever calls the shots in the Mid East deciding to press the “Off Switch”.
So whatever we do in Iraq and the Mid East we better get it right - and from our selfish western viewpoint that means keeping control.

  • 27.
  • At 04:47 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • JPseudonym wrote:

I have a great idea...

Given that Saddam Hussain is still around, why don't we hand back power to him?

It was a remarkably safe and peaceful country when he was in charge compared to how it is now. It just shows how good a job he did.

I'm sure the Stop the War coalition would back this idea as they never wanted Saddam to be removed in the first place.

  • 28.
  • At 04:49 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Julian Brinkley wrote:

The current US administration would simply stay the course. They have already invested lots of resources and are positioning themselves to reap up all the benefits. In my opinion, leaving Iraq now would only benefit Shia Iran and neighbouring Syria. The south of Iraq has already fallen into the hands of the Shia, the north on the other hand is becoming more autonomous and run by the kurds. This leaves the centre of Iraq, Baghdad and the Suni triangle. After the invasion of Iraq, this triangle has turned into a war zone. More and more Shias are moving into Baghdad and the surrounding areas. All of this has happened under the US approval.
The British and the US have practically, ran out of options. And, the only option left is to partition the country into sectarian segments that can be managed, differently. However, Iran's long term expansion policy must be completed by acquiring the centre of Iraq.
The Americans must listen to the Brits on how to deal with Iraq. The allies must resume talks with Iran, Syria, Turkey and Saudi Arabia in order to bring some provisional solution to the region.

This is what once the Iraqi dictator meant when he said: "We'll make Iraq their (....)"

The neighbours are problems sometimes. No one forgets the last war between them. Some people said to be Muslims are killing themselves in the "Moharam Month" where the killings is forbidden, by their own religion.

The insanity is ruling and the Arab Leagues is not able or have no courage to take a positive attitude of responsibility to cure the pain of the Iraqis.

Partition will even create borders' disputes.

The American soldiers are dying in Iraq and their president will broker on them to get a third term in House.

Where's rationality?

It's absent, unfortunately... where great sadness rules.

Perhaps, we may need the British to get Iraq back. Then get the Iraqi to forget their differences and get united again to oust them and liberate their land again. Or what?

  • 30.
  • At 04:57 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Yvonne wrote:

I think it rather rich of Bush and Blair to now be telling the Iraqi Government to sort out the mess that both governments have effectively created. They were the ones who marched into Iraq in 2003 all gungho. Still they should leave and leave now. I doubt that even Saddam Hussein managed to create the complete and utter chaos that is the so-called new Iraq. I am convinced that it is the presence of the allies which is mostly responsible for fuelling such intense violence amongst the different factions. The people will sort it out themselves once the foreign armies have left.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.

Surely this institution and bigger political blocks than the UK and the USA are ultimately better than our narrow focus.

Its about time we got real with our roles and responsibilities in this world and behaved like true democracies are meant to.

The debate about where we are now, it really belongs in another forum beyond ours. As we see polarising forces making strife within our own borders because we have acted rashly and wrongly with Iraq and Afghanistan as well.

Rather than quell conflict we have made it worse, or rather Mr Blair has and he must be truly reticent by now, although an admission from him seems light years away.

We don't have the resolve or resources for this and we need recognise our situation and remedy it soonest.

  • 32.
  • At 05:02 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Matt Brown wrote:

At the risk of sounding naive, and having a very basic knowledge of the situation, I would ask the Iraqi Government for the answer & take their direction.

Make suggestions by all means, but ultimately the Iraqi Government must make the decisions.

I understand that the coalition got them into the current situation, in which case we should support their decisions, & provide resources as long as it is within our power to help. Isn't this the consequence of our initial actions?

  • 34.
  • At 05:05 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Themos Tsikas wrote:

"Our invasion is the cause of the current problems and we now have a moral obligation to stay and sort it out."

One hears that kind of argument. I ask you, if a plumber came to your house to ostensibly decommission a faulty boiler and made a mess of it (turns out you don't have central heating after all) and destroyed your house and killed some of your family, what would you think of his "moral obligation" to stay and sort it out?!!

  • 35.
  • At 05:06 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • emexco4unity wrote:

i love ur effort keep it up

  • 36.
  • At 05:08 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Ken Ramani wrote:

yes it is time to pack and leave Iraq. It was better off with Saddam Hussein. I suggest that Saddam be set free and be reinstated as president of Iraq. He has what it takes to make Iraq stable and prosperous as once was.

  • 37.
  • At 05:09 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Philip V Hackett wrote:

Omar Sharif said, before the conflict started, that we were wasting our time sending troops because Iraq would degenerate into a tribal conflict and would eventually be divided by tribal boundaries. Nobody listened, and consequently, many of our outstanding soldiers and airmen have needlessly died or been maimed. Muslim countries are not and never will be democratic. We should remove our troops now, before any more die.

  • 38.
  • At 05:09 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • John Wyatt wrote:

The key questions are; are we improving the situation now? and, if we stay, will we improve it in the future? Blair's old argument about the benefits of getting rid of Sadam (when we found no WMD) are now worthless as most Iraqi people are suffering more under the coalition than they were before. But we can only start from now and if we don't think we can help (or are making matters worse) we should start an orderly withdrawal and the US should use the goodwill of Syria and Iran to give Iraq economic support

  • 39.
  • At 05:12 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • mehrdad wrote:

my dear . i think you can not solve IRAG problem of way talking with IRAN goverment because you became encounter with more demand of iran goverment.way that have not iran there is programs for devasting situation of america in another countries.i think for solving of iragien people is better first solve iran ang MOLAHAof iran problem.i think the best way is staying of foreigner armies in irag.

  • 40.
  • At 05:19 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • alec wrote:

Surely if the Iraqi people want us there then we stay, if not we must go. What kind of democracy is occupation?

  • 41.
  • At 05:23 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Georgina Natzio wrote:

Agree with Helen Russell above as to involvement of regional interests as they affect conflicting internal social interactions ie aggressive dynamics in Iraq - if I've understood her points rightly - but how about bringing involvement in building a more secure infrastructure down to a much more detailed local level? In other words, ensuring that the people who are involved in restoration and reconstruction, whether of buildings or banking services, are primarily Iraqi and can demonstrably be seen to be so and are prepared to speak in public about what they are doing and have this broadcast at intervals to the world. This means that military and civil support and protection would have to be continued and in considerable detail ie, at many dfferent levels, if those Iraqis already engaged in rehabilitation of their country are to develop this further. Terrorism is preventing Iraqis from at last feeling that in beginning to seriously take control, they have a real interest in unifying their society (begging a lot of questions this, but notably re oil interests) across the divides - and through personal effort sitting out the anarchic conditions which appear to be prevailing in parts of Iraq, acquire a real, solid, lasting incentive to provide for a coherent national future in the teeth of the bombings and carnage. (It seems clear from press & TV reports that for many Iraqis the future looks bleak.) It would be a fine thing if Iraq could surprise us all and take the lead in bringing Sunni and Shia to a reasonable concorde (given the relations of the two religious groups in the wider middle east)and if both groups could be found once again prepared to do business with the Kurdish communities. For this, it seems to me emissiaries would be needed to be recruited to persitently reach across those divides, again at many different social levels.
A question. I wonder whether, in fact, some of the mechanics of a solution to the complexities of Iraq might be found within the Kurdish communities?
Although the Kurds themselves are said to be divided in their vision of the future for a Kurdish territory - there have been rapprochements made amongst them in the past which seem to have held together so that they have been able, in Iraq at least, to present their reqirements and make accommmodations (to the new Iraq government) with a reasonably unified voice.
A final thought - if the origins of the state of Iraq were artificial, then can we be sure that there is an overriding wish among Iraqis that the benefits of a united country are greater than a three-way split? (Or whether Iraqis actually care if tracts of their country are subsumed into neighboring countries so that Iraq effectively disappears?)
Is there a moderate, secular faction in Iraq, and if there is, how great are its numbers?

Sadly Iraq was doomed at the outset, being an artificial country made up of traditional Mesopotania, Kurdistan and the areas in the south occupied by the Marsh Arabs.

The only realistic way forward for the country now would be to turn it into a set of city states in the south, create a Kurdistan in the north East, create a Mesopotanian state in the North West and leave the rest to history.

Admittedly Mesopotania will need aid to rebuild with little oil revenue, but History teaches us that partition of these failed states is often the best way.

  • 43.
  • At 05:26 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Lynda Timms wrote:

We and the United States committed armed aggression against and then occupied a country that offered no conceivable military threat to us. We are no more fitted to solve the problem we have created than Nazi Germany would have been fitted to solve the problem of what should happen to the countries it invaded and occupied before and during the Second World War. We are the problem in Iraq, not the solution. Our continued presence there only makes the dire situation we have created even worse. We should get out now.

  • 44.
  • At 05:27 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Peter Tallentire wrote:

I think that if the Americans were to tell the Iraqi neighbouring countries that they would begin to withdraw troops in about six months time and the withdrawal would be completed 12 months after that: ie in 18 months from now, it would concentrate their minds as to how to cope with a cauldron of violence in their region and without doubt, force them to do something constructive to avoid the instability spreading into their countries.

  • 45.
  • At 05:31 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Burgundy wrote:

With the '45 minute' weapons of mass destruction nonsense conveniently forgotten, Blair and Bush are doing a lot of hand wringing with carefully planned leaks preparing the public for an admission of failure. Without the invasion would a civil war still have occurred? Most likely...but Britain and America's reasons for starting a war were lies. And now it is too late for reparation. Considering Iraq is bordered by Iran and Syria, it doesn't take a genius to work out why the fit spectacularly hitting the shan.

  • 46.
  • At 05:36 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Roger Ledger wrote:

Putting aside the reasons for going there in the first place, as predicted this venture has turned into an horrific farce.
We started - so we will have to finnish, so, time for messers Bush and Blair to take a deep breath and talk to Iran and Syria instead of issuing threats that they have no way of carrying out.
Alternatively - the UK pulls out and leaves the US to clear up it`s own mess.

  • 47.
  • At 05:40 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • alec wrote:

Occupation is not democracy; it is control of one over another. Democracy does not exist in Iraq - what we the West are doing is selfish and protecting our own interests, in the name of protecting the Iraqi people. Did they ask for it? Why don't the Western powers be honest and acknowledge their need for control, occupation and satisfaction of self interest and either take total control of everything and reap the full benefits (energy) or just get lost. I think the latter. While perching on the fence we look, and are, weak – and show that we don’t have a clue about our aesthetic goals of change.

Newsnight, what is the course to which you refer? A course has structure, beginning middle and end and is mapped out before – Iraq has nothing to do with that, full course or any other course.

  • 48.
  • At 05:45 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Charmaine Westwood wrote:

Only the Iraqis can determine whether or not they want partition. Thanks to the US and UK, these unfortunates have suffered untold damages - the only help we should offer which should be managed by the UN and other financial institutiions, like the World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development,should be financial help, and we should also urge the Arab countries - UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, etc to provide financial assistance and consulting advice.

The US, UK and all foreign troops should now withdraw from the country.

  • 49.
  • At 05:48 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • TedPeters wrote:

As the General on Today said this morning, foreign troops are seen both as occupiers but also as the only way to hold the country together and ensure some semblance of stability.

It's so simplistic to see it as one or the other.

So in order to have a "heated debate" you get one iraqi who thinks one thing and another who thinks the complete opposite.

The value that will be derived from this is what exactly? It just symbolises everything that is wrong about the coverage of Iraq. Heat but not much light.

  • 50.
  • At 05:54 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Ian Olive wrote:

Most countries have their civil war. It's part of the growing up process for countries. We had Oliver Cromwell and the Cavaliers in the 1600's,, The USA had its civil war, the French and the Russians had their revolutions, there was the Boer war to sort out South Africa, the Balkan thing in the 1990's and so on and on...

So why can't Iraq be allowed to sort itself out. They have already started and are killing each other at a far faster rate than the USA and the UK have managed. We should get out of their country now and leave them to do what they are going to do anyway.

The lines on the middle east map were drawn in those pre-oil days in the early part of the last century by powerful Europeans who took no account of the tribal homelands and history of the people and what they did has been a source of conflict ever since. It's going to be sorted out one way or the other, sooner or later. So let them get on with it. Yes it will be a bloodbath. It will be live on 24/7 TV News in glorious colour. Terrible things will happen. The Islamic civil war! New countries will emerge with new borders. Kurdistan, Shiitestan, Sunnistan to start with and there will no doubt be others and the surrounding countries will all be affected. But the end result might be a lot less of a problem for the rest of the planet than the Middle East is now.

The big problem is how the 'coalition' forces get out in one piece and avoid getting caught up in the crossfire, but I don't think they need too much planning input. The troops would be highly motivated to leave and if left to their own devices would be out very quickly.

Not a place for any of those silly politicians who got us all into this mess to make any more of their self-serving decisions.

  • 51.
  • At 05:55 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

At present the 'coalition' cannot stay and cannot go; so the only other alternative (which we're now hearing hints of) is to talk...
Who should talk? Everyone! From Osama Bush to Motada Blair... Seriously even the insurgents have to be included. Bin Laden did have an agenda beyond just killing all Americans; this was just a tit for tat response to the arrogance of the west and America in particular strutting aroud the world and thrusting our values on others. If it means America pulling out McDonalds burger bars and other money sponges from these countries of high culture; then it is a small price to pay! Is it only the French who put their foot down on these infiltrations?

We also must insist that America leans on Israel and forces it to grant the Palestinians a viable state. They must put an end to the 50 years of penning these innocent people up in an area of non viable dirt like caged chickens. Why have they had to pay for the crimes of Hitler and the Allies' failure to protect the Jews? This appeasement is a crime similar to the WW2 event itself. Lets hope that the last few pages of the 'History of Blair' end on a true high note.

  • 52.
  • At 06:09 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Clive wrote:

Why don't don't we send them Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley? After fomenting nearly 40 years of terrorism and bigotry culminiating (nearly) in an arrival back at square one, they must have some lessons in conflict resolution to benefit the Iraqis?

  • 53.
  • At 06:19 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

One has to preface any debate on IRAQ with Why?Why? Why?... we have had the same discussion time & again. Bush, Blair & cahoots invaded Iraq for the wrong reasons, of course there were disidents from that country in the Western World who would say & agree anything, yes even WMDs, as long as we would unseat Saddam Hussein, a absolute tyrant,of cousre.. but is this present carnage any better for the populace ? ...They didn't want our type of Western Democracy & never will!When i hear the Labour MP( our special envoy) today saying how many SH had killed/murdered (about 400,000) ,at the same time denying how many innocents have been killed,( about 600,000) since our 2003 invasion leaves me frustrated with her & the Blairite/Bush Denials!When she spoke of the Iraqi populace that had voted for democracy,when she spoke of the Saddam trial, as being a success story!(doesn't she know how long it's been & how many of the Legal teams have been killed)... doesn't she read the news... is she so blinkered... it's a very worrying fact that those who speak-up the successes.... never see the black truth of whats happening for real.... do they fear that if they admit the invasion was illegal they could all be summoned as war criminals...maybe?
Why did the DEPUTY Prime Minister of Iraq visit the UK today...where was the PM of that country?, has he been sidelined by George Bush? Allawi!...Until they all admit it's been a big ,terrible mistake & stop their foolish/irresponsible denials we cannot produce a strategy to restart the peace & prosperity in that once great country in the manner that is right & the population wish.

  • 54.
  • At 06:20 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

It has been suggested; that the only solution is to allow Iraq to divide naturally into 3 states. This is totally unworkable (but probably would have saved Nigeria from its great war):
To give autonomy to the Iraqi Kurds would give aspirations to the Iranian Kurds (not neccessarily a bad thing in some eyes) but would cause severe unstability in the strategically important southern Turkey area that controls the water supplies for much of the region...There will also be the natural expansion of Iran into southern Iraq...

  • 55.
  • At 06:26 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Leo Aliferis wrote:

I find it difficult to stomach Bush & Blair clap-trpping on about 'staying the course' and making sure Iraq is 'safe for democracy' !
Who with a functioning cerebral cortex believes or even takes in what they say when they drone out these redundant mantras ?

If they 'stay the course' , then the violence will spread out into neighbouring areas and ultimately the entire middle east will be aflame ! Maybe that's what the capitalist colilition wants ...a 'hot/cold war' just like the 'old days' ! The army stays occupied , surplus wealth is expended , demand for goods and services is stimulated and these martinets who govern us can prance and preen their inflated sense of importance on the world media show !

  • 56.
  • At 06:29 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Rory Considine wrote:

What "Course" might this be?

1. Ridding Iraq of the phantom WMD?
2. Overthrowing Saddam?
3. Imposing a corrupt though western (US) "friendly" Government?
4. Taking sides and supporting / building-up a Security force that is heavily involved in a developing civil war?
5. Lying to the world about the "on-going progress" of this Course?
6. Pretending to want to leave Iraq while continuously refusing to do so. While at the same time, building permanent military bases and the biggest and most secure Embassy in the world in Baghdad?
7. Refusing to talk or negotiate with either Syria or Iran on a probable solution and way out of the quagmire?
8. Hiding / denying the criminal and barbarous number of Iraqi deaths and injuries resulting from the Course taken so far?

Be assured that the BushCo cabal intend "Staying the Course" regardless of any justified criticism or further disastrous results. They will continue until they have finished the job, and won; or (hopefully), until they are forced out with no prospects of fulfilling their goal and reaping their long cherished prize.
The goal and prize of this greedy and immoral cabal is the control of Iraqi Oil and the vast undeveloped / undiscovered reserves Iraq is believed to hold. Controlling Iraqi oil would give them unlimited power in this oil-dependant world in which we live.

Deny these criminals their prize. Hand over security to the Iraqis and let them sort out the mess that Bush and Blair are responsible for. Both Bush and Blair should be facing a similar trial and fate as that of Saddam for their own lies and war crimes. Let the Iraqis seek help from their neighbours if required, to resolve and stop their civil conflict deteriorating. I am sure that help would be at hand as neither Syria, Iran or any other neighbouring country wants a Sunni / Shia conflict to develop, get out of hand and overspill. The rest of the world does not want this to happen either.

  • 57.
  • At 06:31 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Francis O'Brien wrote:

Wasn't it (Great)Britain which created the division between Iraq & Kuwait to get their mits on the then known oil reserves in the first place? Wasn't it also Winston Churchill who first of all bombed the Kurds with poison gas before Saddam?

Wasn't it the US which helped put Saddam in power and sustained him? Was it not also the US which armed and supported the Taliban against the Russians as part of their Cold War tactics under Regan?

One way of redressing the balance, if it can ever be achieved, might be to put; Bush, Blair,Eden, Nixon & Kissinger in the dock along with Saddam. They have far more blood on their hands and it's too late for Churchill.
Maybe it would show the rest of the World that the "Great powers" are a little even handed. Then reason might prevail…

  • 58.
  • At 06:41 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Willy Van Damme wrote:

Dear Newsnight,

I find it typical for a colonial and imperialist attitude to ask us Westerners what to do with Iraq. As if foreigners should have a say in the running of another country. As no outsiders should tell my familly what to do, so no outsiders should tell the Iraqis how to organise themselves. Whe can watch and hope for the best but its up to the Iraqis to find a solution. So lets everybody get out now and leave it up to them. The US first helped install Sadam Hussein, then asked him to start a war against Iran with millions of death as a result, then when the country was bankrupt because of this war the US refused to help. After which Saddam took Kuwait partly resulting from an unclear US policy at that time. Resulting in another war against the country and a UN organised boycott killing children on a massive scale. And then in 2003 came the 'helping' hand of George & Tony resulting in more mass killings and mass destruction. And now, the BBC asks what the West should do with Iraq. Apologise, start repaying the damage and begin with some real soul searching here, including in the media.

  • 59.
  • At 06:53 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • cyrus wrote:

what to do in Iraq? the main issue here is the lak of comunication between THE ALLIES/(IRAN,SYRIA).We shouldnt disregard they influences and mainly their support for milicia. IF wisely we take it under consideration if we keep enemies close ond scrutiny their action,cooperation untill the mission is done.I think they can calm the uprising by the element of religon, (WITHOUT ANY TRUST TOWARD ANY OF THEM SYRIA,IRAN ) CAUSE THEY ARE NOT TRUSTWORTHY. BUT AT THIS SITUATION THEY CAN IMPORTANT ROLE.AT NO TIME THEY SHOULD BE TRUSTED...CYRUS FROM TEHRAN

  • 60.
  • At 06:59 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Robin Jelly wrote:

GUNS never Kill. It is BULLETS.
Stop them getting supplies of bullets and explosives and the end will come when existing supplies run done.
The soldiers are in the WRONG PLACE.
They should be on the borders, the airports and all other entry points.
Let us do a bit of lateral thinking and not go like a bull at a gate.

  • 61.
  • At 07:35 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Paul Clyne wrote:

Keep out of another country's internal politics.If we want to change their way of governance do it by persuasion and advice.Big bucks are being made by a lot of dirty politiciams-the ordinary are yet again paying for the grandiose ego of politicians.

  • 62.
  • At 07:46 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • nigel perry wrote:

If we leave Iraq to the madmen it will degenerate into outright civil war. Give the normal people a chance: communicate more with them and provide enough foreign troops to discourage the killers while decent Iraguis take control. Those Iraquis can then decide the future of their country: partition or not it is their choice. The UN could make those choices possible and prevent a civil war. Every self-respecting nation should be helping the Iraquis to achieve that.

  • 63.
  • At 07:55 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • MARIANDEL wrote:

I agree with ALL comments above, especially(quote): "The goal and prize of this greedy and immoral cabal is the control of Iraqi Oil and the vast undeveloped / undiscovered reserves Iraq is believed to hold. Controlling Iraqi oil would give them unlimited power in this oil-dependant world in which we live".
Western troops and those clean cut Canadian boys recently added to fray, should indeed ONLY be on the borders, and only if they are acceptable to locals, to work with Syria and Iran and Pakistan in denying access to the constant flow of fighters and suicide bombers who infiltrate. These continue to pour in after the "coalition"/Iraqi Governement troops have attempted to sweep an area of influences that hold the traumatised population in thrall. Bring all Western troops out of there very soon. Let those ancient civilisations sort themselves out. If we can do this, the frightful debacle we now see may begin to have some historical point..The West MUST find alternative sources of oil/other fuels. What after all this talk are Bush and Blair planning to do about the two highly protected oil platforms they run on the Gulf and those allegedly unassailable embassies and army bases being built in this ancient land? Get Western troops out of there and let the Muslims run their own show at long and painful last...

  • 64.
  • At 08:05 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • shirley andrews wrote:

Ask the Iraqui people what they want.
Personelly I think the American and British troops should withdraw,and be replaced by Iranian and Syria armies.
Surely they can not make the situation any more dangerous than now?
Iraq & Afganistan is equivlent to Vietnam.
Both the British and the Americans are in a no win situation.

  • 65.
  • At 08:51 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Paul D wrote:

Wait for the mid-term election results. You may find a much changed attitude in Washington after that and a chance to move forward.

  • 66.
  • At 08:55 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Esther Wamboka wrote:

Why would you seek an advice from a President who doesn't know whether he is going or coming - the Iranian Prez. This is a war involving British, America and poor Iraqiiis. The best solution is to have a dialoque between the three countries. Give an ear to what the Iraqs want first. They may want British and American troops to leave in 3months time or 6months - Fine. Atleast that may help easy the tensions which are there.
Put yourself in there shoes....would you wait indefinately in your own house for an intruder to clear off. Come on' give us a break.

  • 67.
  • At 09:01 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • H. Odds wrote:

I can see that almost all the comments above are of the opinion of leaving Iraq, and most agree that the allies should never have been there at all.

I also notice that some of them, a minority, are sarcastic about reinstalling Saddam Hussain again or dividing the country. Either it is that they cannot cope with defeat, or they cannot wade through the sea of lies we have been fed and get to grips with the facts.

The issue is not getting out of Iraq or not, it is recognizing that force has a limited effect and the only solution is not control but cooperation between all nations on equal terms to achieve a peaceful and safe world.

We need to think and together combat the greatest threats we all face: gobal warming, hunger & poverty and such issues created by greed. globalization

  • 68.
  • At 09:10 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Benedict Aloysius wrote:

To interact with another person one must possess in mind a sense of respect for the others....this simple fact is felt only by cultured minds....not by a moral coward who publicly insults others....well, Americans preferred Bush over Gore....people get what they deserve...."life according to one's mind"....unless people think positively and participate truly in elections....and choose capacitated leaders people of usa will suffer defeats and insults with interest to those they dish out to others!!!
It's the natural order of creation!!!!

  • 69.
  • At 09:22 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Bob Goodall wrote:

Dear Newsnight

Those opposed to withdrawal argue that it could lead to civil war but that is where it is heading now. Any pullout will be messy -there is no getting away from it, and lives will be lost perhaps initially on a greater scale than at the moment.

Strategically we are being weakened and our forces should be kept for a situation when there is no alternative.

I think we should be grateful that the threat facing our country is less significant than at earlier times in our recent history when we faced the Russians and before that the Nazis, given the poor quality of leadership and strategic thinking at the moment. We need to think as a democracy how we improve the quality of leadership we have and I think one way is to make our democracy more inclusive.

One political commentator included in his book one hypothesis that todays politics attracted largely 'second raters'

Another part of the problem is summed up by Retired Marine Lt general Gregory Newbold when he said
"The commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions -or bury the results"

Perhaps one root cause of this conflict indeed dates back to the Vietnam war when the current president was allowed to avoid combat duty because of the influence of the family.

Both the actions of Bush snr and jnr at that time should have excluded them from ever reaching the position of C in C of their armed forces.

The way out of the quagmire in Iraq is I believe to reach a situation where most Iraqis will willingly side with their own army against the insurgents because their army is not seen as the collaborators of the invading forces. Pre invasion the sentiment of the country was largely against the views held by fundamendalist Muslims.

This can only happen when the Allied forces have left.

Logically there cannot be any end to this in the way that Bush and Blair are saying. If there are 10 guerillas left then the conflict will continue.

There might be a problem of intervention by Iran if there is a pullout. The Iranian leader has said some disgusting things and I have wondered if he for some reason was setting up his country to be attacked and if so why.

A carrier force off the coast of Iran and the warning that his nuclear installations would be bombed might be enough to deter even him.

Saddam was a cruel monster and we do not want the Iraqis at the mercy of anyone else. We need to also remember that the war has made huge amounts of money for arms manufacturers and interests close to Bush who know how to manipulate and psychologically dominate him -He still lives in the shadow of his father, and people know how to get him to do what they wish

This is what troubles me. Our leadership are being forced out of Iraq, they are not being driven by the same concerns as the rest of us or Sir Richard Dannatt and his officers.

We now need to be straight with the Iraqis and spell out the hard choices for them, but it is unfortunate that any dialogue with the Iraqis will likley to be miserly and without an open hand - they will sense this.

They will need to trust us about a planned pullout and if we set a date but while we have our current leaders Bush and Blair how can the Iraqis trust anything we say.

Perhaps there needs to be a rapid exit with a date set not too far in the future and a huge efort must be made to build up dialogue with the ordinary people of Iraq by every means possible.

We will have to ask the iraqis to set aside questions such as why we attacked them to answered later.

The people will now have to have the situation spelled out to them and be given clear cold options.

It must be made clear that the troops are definitely going and that it is up to those who want to live normal lives -most of them i believe - to either give in to the insurgents or to rally to the cause of a new Iraq.

Obviously in our straight talking the question cannot be answered if they ask why we came in the first place as both they and anti-war people here know the ghastly truth was that it was to steal their vast oil reserves and put them under the control of western interst. Our leaders will never admit to this.

However putting that aside large numbers of Iraqis may come forward if it is made absolutely clear that our forces are going -and we must hope that they can stretch to believing us and that there must be absolutely betrayal on this, after the horrible things we have done to them, so much cruelty and lies.

and if we do this and the Iraqi people, or at least enough of them can believe us there is a chance that support for a new Iraqi will form while support for the insurgents in the many forms it takes will lessen.

Just my thoughts

best wishes

Bob Goodall

"Americans preferred Bush over Gore"

If you say so it must be true, no doubt you counted the votes?

  • 71.
  • At 09:32 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Aaron Turner wrote:

Following on from my earlier posting (#17), before we can either formulate or evaluate candidate "SOLUTIONS", we must first ask "what (exactly) are the PROBLEMS?" Assuming the "do what's best for the Iraqi people" principle (in reality, a major assumption, but I make it anyway), I would suggest that the following are primary:

(1) Instead of a body of Iraqi law (established and maintained by Iraqis as a code of behaviour intended to maximise the sum total of happiness enjoyed by the entire population without favour to any particular group) that is reliably enforced by an impartial police force (and other internal security forces) in concert with legal due process, we currently have a diverse collection of armed groups determined to pursue their own conflicting agendas through the use of force, and a joint US/UK/Iraqi security system that seems completely incapable of stemming the now ever-escalating violence. Consequently, the (re-)establishment of LAW AND ORDER must be priority number one. Without proper law and order, the ultimate longer-term goal of Iraqi reconstruction and development (transport, electricity, safe water, sewage treatment, education, healthcare, industry, commerce, employment - basically, all of those things that we in the "West" pretty much take for granted) can only ever be a pipe dream for the Iraqi people.

(2) There has been a (pretty much) total breakdown of trust between most ordinary Iraqis and the occupying US and UK forces - and, let's face it, who can blame them? This will severely limit the extent to which either the US or UK can be part of any "solution".

(3) We are now starting to see a corresponding breakdown of trust between specific segments of Iraqi society along ethnic, tribal and religious (e.g. Sunni / Shia) lines. As more people on all sides are killed, injured and displaced, centuries of trust and tolerance are being replaced by suspicion and hatred that will likely burn for GENERATIONS. The exact same process occurred in the former Yugoslavia, and earlier in Northern Ireland.

(4) It will not be possible to restore reliable "stability" within Iraq if the region itself is unstable. The primary source of 95% of discontent within the Arab/Muslim world is Israel/Palestine. Until this issue has been properly resolved (i.e. the Palestinians have their own viable and autonomous state) problems in the region will persist indefinitely.

Unfortunately, the above motivations are very unlikely to coincide particularly with those of the present US administration, which are much more likely to be focussed on (a) the upcoming US mid-term elections, (b) the 2008 US Presidential election, (c) current US public opinion in relation to the US cost of the war (US military personnel killed and injured, US tax dollars spent, etc), and (d) US medium-to-long-term petroleum security. Consequently, we should probably add one final element to the "problem to be solved":

(5) The US - and in particular US politicians - will most likely act in their own (short-term) self-interest rather than in the longer-term best interest of the Iraqi people. Thus US self-interest is not only the primary root cause of the current crisis in Iraq but also an obstacle to its ulimate resolution.

That's it for this instalment - I will try to consider possible solutions in a future post...

  • 72.
  • At 09:47 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Leszek M. Mickiewicz wrote:

Leave Iraq immediately.
I someone is to be put on trail that are Bush & Blair for killing 600,000 peple and ruining the country.
Bring Sadaam back! May be he can repair the damage made by Yankes and British!

To the last post:


  • 74.
  • At 10:24 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Bob wrote:

I think that they should do an immediate withdrawl of the troops heedless of what the US government says.

  • 75.
  • At 10:50 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • james hodgson wrote:

Tim's report was totally undermined by the inept tracking shots, Hammer House of Horror lighting and shockingly bad sound (I suspect his last piece to camera was taken from the camera mic because your sole 'technician' forgot to plug in his mic - How in the name of Broadcasting can you expect viewers to wade through such technical incompetence in order to try and get the message Tim & the contributors are trying to convey? Bring back Live TV - at least they had a better budget and some pride.

  • 76.
  • At 10:50 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Dr Sibani Roy wrote:

Set a time span i,e one year, declare it officially, train local people in all aspects of operations and leave on the dot at the end of that time span. And never go back again unless invited

  • 77.
  • At 11:26 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Charlie Cooper wrote:

Why does the BBC continue to dumb down on its quantity and quality of social and political debate - as tonight's Newsnight's on Iraq. No mention of the illegality/ immorality of the US/UK presence in Iraq, and the subsequent social construction of the Muslim "folk devil" and "moral panic" against "Asian-looking" people in Britain. Does the BBC think they are beyond the public gaze? Well, not beyond mine - as I'm researching you're distortions for a book that will be in the public gaze. Enough is enough. You are engaging in "Gleichshaltung", and you will not be allowed to do this without being called to account.

  • 78.
  • At 11:26 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Richard M wrote:

Not once tonight was it mentioned that this war was (falsely) about WMD. This was the tissue of lies spouted out from our bankrupt prime minister and the villains in Washington. The falsehood now is that the bloody invasion was about bringing "democracy" to Iraq. The reality is over half a million civilians killed, a wrecked nation, nearly 3000 US and UK soldiers killed. Tonights discussion was meaningless because it failed to address the facts.

  • 79.
  • At 11:29 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • james wrote:

The real aim of the invasion was a) to defend Zionist Israel by weakening its most powerful neighbour, b) to grab the oil, c) to break up Iraq to keep it permanently weak and d) to conduct a war against Islam and the Muslims to divide and conquer. These aims have now been accomplished thus victory is achieved. There was never any aim to give the Iraqis any democracy in a unified country in which they might form an Islamic state
Overall, this is part of a global war aagainst Islam, an ideology which is the only current credible alternative to consumerist capitalism in the world today.

  • 80.
  • At 11:31 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Tony Allen wrote:

If the Americans decide to leave and the British decide to stay. Will the British stay?

  • 81.
  • At 11:33 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Paul D wrote:

Was there not another item on tonight's Newsnight? Is Iraq going to overshadow what is going on in our European backyard just as Suez did in '56? Come on Newsnight, today of all days, this blog should be embracing Hungary as well as the Middle East.

  • 82.
  • At 11:35 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Mark Preston wrote:

Many of us in this country argued from the very start that any military intervention in Iraq would result in exactly the situation we now have.

We did not argue this because there is something in the Iraqi nature, or in its sectarian divisions, or in its ethnic groups, or even in its tribal structure that made such a result inevitable. Far from it; we argued that the inevitable American reaction to a military victory would be to destroy all the tools of social control, to engage in a sectarian division of Iraq both for administrative and security purposes, to establish a political system of dubious authenticity that fails to represent the wishes of the people of Iraq and to fail to provide or improve social and economic infrastructure. They did exactly what we feared.

Consequently, the situation has now fallen to the very worst that we warned of. It has done so because of the actions of allied forces and allied forces remain the primary obstacle to putting matters right and doing so in a way of which the Iraqi people will approve.

True, now that we have created this disastrous situation, there will be anarchy, at least at first, should the troops leave. However, there is effective anarchy already and that anarchy can only be solved by our withdrawal. Yes, the situation afterwards may be dangerous; it may be bloody. But from that situation there is the hope of recovery and the growth of a stable Iraq. There is no such possible solution should we remain.

It is simple logic. We must leave and we must bear responsibility for what we have done. Those of us at home who knew and warned that this would happen must accept that we too bear part of that blame. Our efforts were not enough to stop something we knew to be wrong. We must not gloat that we were right, although clearly we were.

We were not right enough. We were not strong enough. We were not decisive enough. Now we must be. Now we must bring our troops home.

  • 83.
  • At 11:35 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Francis Mauger wrote:

In a discussion on the future of Iraq tonight there was, as usual, no mention of the objectives of the insurgents/militia/terrorists. Surely this is a vital part of the analysis of solutions.

  • 84.
  • At 11:37 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • jenni smith wrote:

Put Saddam back in power he was the only and the right leader for this area- and Paxman stop being so disrespectful about Iraq - you speak of spliting the region up as if it was a piece of cake - this is an ancient city where mathematics was born and writing and so much more. If you are so intelligent then please use it when you discuss this topic. I thought you would also know that the American Government has put a puppet Goverment in place - and goodness me stop telling the Iraqi people they need to get a grip on the law and order in Iraq. They didnt start the war in the first place!! is it any wonder they are without all the things they should have to fight the war with??? and thsi is a county that was accused of having WMD!!! when will the media wake up here and smell the coffee about America and stop going along with them?

  • 85.
  • At 11:40 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Ben wrote:

Iraq is headed for civil war whether British and American troops are present or not. So let's set a deadline for withdrawal; provide what peace-keeping services we can in the meantime; provide what training to the Iraqi security forces we can; and then get the hell out ON the deadline and not a day later.

  • 86.
  • At 11:41 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Irene McWatt wrote:

I wonder if it would help the problems in Iraq if the Brits and the Americans were replaced by the Germans and the Japanese? The Muslims seem to like the Germans for the way they treated the Jews (their enemy) during WWII. America is also their enemy and Japan fought against them during WWII.

  • 87.
  • At 11:45 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Keith Donaldson wrote:

Has there been a change of strategy on Iraq? Certainly there has, in two clear ways. First, while acknowledging that there is a terrorism problem there, Iraq is no longer being talked of as the front line in the war on terror. Second there is acceptance that the USA will not be able to succeed in remaking Iraq in its own image - possibly a realisation that if democracy is to flourish, it must develop from within, in the form that is right for Iraq and that democracy cannot be imported as a 'quick and easy flat-pack.'

And what is most important about this change in strategy is that it is finally allowing the debate to move on, as was admirably demonstrated in tonight's programme. There are lots of problems and lots of different views. My guess is that, in the long run, a compromise, or a solution synthesised out of all these viewpoints will provide the best (though perhaps not an ideal) solution. I think it will have to involve some element of internationalisation, involving the world community, hopefully through the United Nations on the one hand and Iraq's neighbours - including Syria and Iran on the other. However, this involvement must be based on what is in the best interests of Iraq and not on the self interest of these other nations. Some commitment of foreign forces in Iraq will be necessary for some time, helping to build stability, although unfortunately it will probably contribute to factional violence in the interim. It will be for the people of Iraq to decide what sort of structure their nation should have and with what sort of government; hopefully it will be democratic, but the essence of freedom means that it will be their choice to decide. The role of the rest of the world is to help them to reach that decision, without prejudice, whatever it may be.

  • 88.
  • At 11:46 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Paul D wrote:

Clive (52) - I think you will find Gerry Adams is currently tied up advising Hammas in Palestine.

It was suggested by the Iraqi deputy P.M. that the UN might send troops to Iraq if the occupiers were to leave. Could this proposal be put to the UN security council?

Since there was difficulty getting sufficient troops from the UN countries to peacekeep in Lebanon it may not be possible to get the huge numbers that would be necessary to quell the fighting in Iraq.

But theoretically I think the idea is preferable to a continued American occupation.

The programme tonight didn't discuss the American governments aims regarding the Iraqi oil and any potential long-term bases they might be planning. Of course the Americans should not be allowed to have any of that after all the death, destruction and mayhem they have caused.

I really do think that the Americans - aided unfortunately by our own country - have already done more than enough damage in Iraq. This isn't the fault of the troops who are only following orders (in the main, apart from a few sadists). The fault lies squarely at the foot of the US government. If they had any scrap of honour and decency the whole lot of them would have resigned by now, as would our own Prime Minister and all cabinet members who supported the war.

The briefest of reviews of 20th century history will show that barring the IDF there can't be any armies less likely to bring stability to Iraq than the British and American.

Unfortunately we will have to await a statesman to come to power in the US who can engange with the international community to offer an Arab security force which can bring peace to the country.

Only by solving the Palestinian problem will this be possible: ulitmately Arab nationalism will need to be used to unite the disparate ethnic groups of a region Balkanised by the British and French, then entrenched by the US in the cold war and their desire to control oil supply. We should be aiming for a Middle Eastern Union along European lines united amongst themselves and to the US and the EU by a desire for economic advancement and social justice.

Sadly, this type of "long-termism" is beyond the 4-5 year cycle of western politics, but is anyone else shocked and dismayed by the cross-over in political players between Bush's staff and Nixon's foreign policy team during Vietnam? Surely a 30+ year view should help?

  • 91.
  • At 11:59 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • John Bray wrote:

We went into Iraq on a lie. There was never a thought for the Iraqi people of what they or may not have been suffering from Saddam. It became quite convenient to suggest that people were being freed from tyranny. By this logic we should be invading Zimbabwe. No, the big issue here is the petrodollar v's petroeuro and the fact Iraq is sitting on the LAST of the big oil reserves. The US ecconommy is in dire straights. Saddam and many other oil countries started to or intimated that they were going trade in euros rather than the dollar, thus collapsing or weakening the dollar.
Enter the pretence of WMD, Bush & Co wanted to walk into Iraq and imposed a puppet government so they could take control of the oil fields and signal to the rest of the world you will trade in dollars.
However, things have gone pear shaped big time. If the powers that be wanted a model of when a dictator is deposed look at Tito and the Balkans, not that long to escape peoples memories.
The Americans, no, rather arrogant Bush and his poodle Blair have destabalised the country; objectives of installing a puppet government has failed spectacularly
and our troops are trying to clear up a mess which is an impossible task. It may not be the best solution for America because their foray will have been in vain, but splitting the country into three would appear to be the most viable solution to bring about a peace and some stability. I think the only action left is to internationalise the situation as much as possible withdraw our troops when and as soon it is safe to do so. What is put in place is what the people of the region want not the West

The Suez Crisis reminded us tonight that Britain joined the French and the Israelis in a shameful conspiracy against Egypt. The well made Docudrama revealed that Prime Minster Eden wanted to punish President Nasser for taking the historical step in nationalising the Suez Canal Company and ending the British control over such a sensitive and profitable Egyptian venue. Eden wanted to change the regime in Egypt because he looked at the matter in an imperial way. It is amazing how history repeats itself and after 50 years Britain joins the United States in another shameful conspiracy but against Iraq this time. Britain dealt with Iraq also from an imperial point of view and of course we should not forget the oil. Mr. Blair also played the guardian and the protector of the Iraqi people and wanted to change the regime. Should we be surprised to see the same catastrophic outcome, the same outrageous and senseless bloodshed and the same international shame and embarrassment? Now Britain is struggling to find a brave way out of this messy dilemma with some credibility of accomplishing democracy in Iraq. It is still a mystery for me to hear politicians talking about democracy in Iraq. What kind of democracy are they looking for? Is it the American model or maybe the British one including appointing Iraqi House of Lords? The conflict in Iraq is part of the whole Middle East misery. Stability in Iraq is part of the stability of the whole region. There is no solution for the conflict and therefore no peace in the region without a process which involves all the countries of the region. With this political process, another process is needed which is education which raises the awareness of the people to the importance of living in a diverse society. Such a process will not benefit only the Middle East but also Europe and the whole world.

After the programme tonight it's only clear than the choice is not clear or easy! The best-informed individuals on the programme - the deputy Iraqi Prime Minister, the member of the new Iraqi parliament and the chap - Brendan...?, with Kurdistan experience, all seemed to want the troops to remain at least for some time until the Iraqis take over all the provinces. As well as that, they disagreed with the Stop the War representative who of course saw no complexities and no choices. His argument was that there is going to be a mess anyway, whenever we leave, so we might as well get out now.

These chat boards are interesting at times, but are largely populated by anti-war people. They often have their own agenda, as often as not to see the end of the Prime Minister (and the war too of course, but not necessarily in that order) who they hate for taking Labour into the centre ground.

I enjoyed and was illuminated by Paxman's interview tonight. I have come to the conclusion that we need to stay, though I think we need to have some end date at the back of our minds, even if not stated. This lack of transparency won't be understood or accepted by those who constantly yell "foul" when they feel they are being kept in the dark. But this is realpolitik. They need to grow up.

The strategy of pushing the Iraqis to taking charge for themselves at the earliest date possible is right and should be a pre-requisite.

  • 94.
  • At 12:07 AM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:


I am reminded about the relevancy of the current sectarian & civil-war esque malaise within Iraq to the Baroness Orczy novel The Scarlet Pimpernel [1]

In 1934 version of The Scarlet Pimpernel, starring Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon, and Nigel Bruce, who plays the Prince of Wales (on Film4 Monday 241006)

After being rescued by the Pimpernel from the French Revolutionaries who had a propensity for chopping off the heads of the French aristocracy, a French countess asks the Prince of Wales if he would please help rescue her husband from France.

In reply, the Prince makes this most profound statement ....

“Madame, a government does everything in its power to save those who are threatened by death. But if a country goes mad, it has the right to commit every horror within its own walls.”


Perhaps when Iraqis have got sufficient vitriol out of their system, despite the piles of bodies of their own killed by fellow Muslims, reality will kick in & those people who live in histories 'cradle of civilisation' will be ready to return to & abide by the norms of civilised society.

Q. after 40+ years of dictatorship, given traumatised & violent society, did anyone really expect that the Iraqi boil could be lanced without pain & mess or a civil war was ever going to be avoided? *

* whether the catalysts was via 2003 allied invasion or after a successful assassination attempt against Saddam or his natural death or aftermath of another war launched by Saddam on Iraq's neighbours etc.




  • 95.
  • At 12:25 AM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Daud R. Matthews wrote:

To talk of evolving democracy in Iraq is a lie. The factions are caused by the intrigues of the US/UK military. Even the US insistence on a Shia majority is a lie to split the country.

What we saw tonight was an attempt to sell the US/UK approach by two Iraqi stooges of the coalition, even to the extent of the interviewer giving them preferential treatment by not interrupting.

To try to get the UN to widen the coalition is an insult and runs the risk of other countries facing terrorist activities, when the US and the UK invaded Iraq on their own, illegally.

Further, the Sunni repesentation in the initial coalition government was not fair as four regions did not elect representatives due to the activities of the US/UK troops and the areas, as a result of such actions being declared unsafe. Then, there is the issue of the constitution being forced on the Iraqi people and it not being a constitution of their own choosing. The US stated what the constitution could and could not be. Where is democracy?

It is obvious the militias will get together and fight the US/UK despite the best efforts of the US/UK to split them. The Iraqi people know what is going on.

The Iraqis have always lived together in harmony, often shias and sunnis marrying into each others family. The divisions have all been caused by the illegal invasion.

To think terrorism is caused by Iraq and Afghanistan makes one wonder where people have been for the past 60 to 100 years. It is US and UK foreign policy which has caused the problems of terrorism. When militias represent the people how does the US and the UK propose to talk to them, historically, e.g. Stern/Irgun; IRA; MNLF; HAMAS; (Hizbullah?) etc? See Pape and the Tamil Tigers for more on causes of terrorism and the perpetrators.

What has been the cost, in pounds sterling, to the British tax-payer (and why is it never mentioned) of the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan to date?

  • 96.
  • At 12:49 AM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • A.D. Johnston wrote:

The current mix of strategy and resources has clearly hit a point of diminished returns. An enormous increase in coalition troops--to 500,000 or 700,000--might help in the short term, but it is not at all clear where they would come from. So I think we should redefine our goals in Iraq.

We should aim to contain the conflict while Iraqis forge a solution. To do this we need to establish a consortium of regional powers, including Iran and Syria, committed to stanching the flow of weapons and fighters into Iraq and preventing any single actor from dominating the outcome.

If Iraqis decide on partition or all out civil war, I'm not sure the anyone can stop them. But, in concert with others and with certain reservations, we can participate in guaranteeing the territorial integrity of entities that result.

None of this requires a coalition military presence in country.

  • 97.
  • At 01:10 AM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Paul D wrote:

Rev. Nadim Nassar (92) makes my point. What is going on in the Middle East is of vital importance to all of us. It does not make it the centre of the world. Just as Suez was deflecting attention from events elsewhere in '56, so Iraq is doing half a century on. We should not be neglecting what is happening in our own continent.

  • 98.
  • At 03:04 AM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Azad Ayub wrote:

The only viable solution is to end the foreign occupation of Iraq.

Sooner or later it will happen in any case so where is the need for the unnecessary bloodshed.

Like on the previous occasion more than fifty years ago, a form of government of the people by the people for the people of Iraq, as desired and deserved by the people of Iraq, will come into power. There is no other alternative. The sooner we realise and acept that the better.

  • 99.
  • At 05:39 AM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • sam geoffrey wrote:

the best and effective option to bring iraq into normal i have is bring saddam again to power. only a leader like saddam can keep such a country in a normal state. what ever american forces do in iraq, they cant control the violence, even the new iraqi gov cant cantrol it. this is not only the violece against the american forces. this is the violence against iraqi people aswell. the aim of the insurgents is to worsen the iraq's situation.. these insurgents are still there during saddam's period aswell but they were kept under control by saddam by his brutal force.. my opinion is to bring saddam back into power or get his idea and you will see a very wonderful change in iraq's situation

  • 100.
  • At 06:29 AM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • krithika wrote:


  • 101.
  • At 07:30 AM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • geoffrey wrote:

Try to hand the problem to Iran asap

  • 102.
  • At 09:23 AM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Lee Goddard wrote:

Shame on Mr Paxman for the flappant inaccuracies that were his somments on the day's events in Hungary: what he termed a few protests by a few right-winders was reported better on BBC radio, CNN, HírTV and my witnessing family.

One protestor now has a rubber bullet embedded in his skull instead of an eye.

Plenty of film footage of people innocently walking the street, and getting shot at by the Police.

  • 103.
  • At 09:43 AM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

Before (post 53)& after the programme.
Essentially my views remain the same...distasteful & cruel to say ,but...The Iraqi's were better off in many ways under Saddam Hussein than at present.
Despite Welsh MP Ann Clwyd's ,almost patronising way, of talking -up the situation in Iraq today , although I'm sure she does it for the right reasons, she is not cognisant of reality outside the Green Zone. Listening to the extensive debate with Paxman in the chair ,pros & cons were discussed at lengh & then handed over to the visiting Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq for his views. ... He gave as good an account of the situation as i have heard & what he wishes for his country, which makes me very conscious that to cut & run would leave the country wide open to a terrible, unlawful mess.What he said was not a justification for the war as far as i'm concerned... but a justification for the UK & the US, the invaders, to right those wrongs & do our best to further his requests.
If this is not possible politically,& we voted Blair in, then we all have to bear the consequences that may follow.

  • 104.
  • At 09:52 AM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

Strange how, in consideration of Iraq, as fatigue sets in, the oil factor is allowed to vanish from consideration. Of course it is still behind so much. If Iraq splits ethnically / religiously, for which the new constitution has prepared the way, which groups will have the oil fields? Is America already placed to do that deal with them, and if it happens that way, how will the bitter, populous, impoverished sector done out of oil be contained? Their bitterness will be very longlasting.

Incidentally, how come the oil factor in southern Sudan hardly gets mentioned?

Sir, Blix had it all sussed and given time,like, a month, a lot of this madness would have been avoided. That did not suit the Blair/Bush agenda and we are the colonial heavies just getting hated more and more. We had no guys on the ground, ask the CIA and MI5, as we tend to stick out in a crowded marketplace in downtown Baghdad,even the recruited Iraqi spies working for us were too thin on the ground to be of any use. In we went all bluster and no brains, so typical and reminiscent of Europeans, no, British and American as the French always had misgivings of such an enterprise. The future is more mayhem and a scuttle out the back door when the primaries happen. Bush and Blair will be demonised for generations to come. Steve Calrow

  • 106.
  • At 11:13 AM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • jeff ettridge wrote:

The blindingly obvious solution is to withdraw immediately.This would be leave
the Iraq people to fight their internal battles in the way that they chose.The absurd assumption that we are helping the country to gain stability .in a war situation that was caused by the the west's unlawful and completely unrealistic occupation is,not only madness but totally inhuman.The need now is to for the West & Co to withdraw and then try to help putting right what Blair and his American masters have created.The world is a better and safer place since Sadam - I don't think so!!!.

  • 107.
  • At 11:30 AM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Paula Varley wrote:

Inviting Iran or Syria into Iraq to assist Iraq in becoming a peaceful functioning nation once more ignores thousands of years of history. Why would anyone believe that the Iraqi people would ever accept either Syria or Iran being invited in by a failed invasion force, on it's way out? They would be certain to see this as adding further injury to endless insult.

There's no clean exit strategy. Whatever ruling arrangement is bequeathed to Iraq will be challenged. The timing of the coalition's departure is therefore irrelevant. The only sevice that can be done is to withdraw as quickly as possible, so that Iraq can forge its own solution. Unhappily for the Ann Clywds of this world, it won't be pretty to watch.

I love it! Somebody said "history teaches us partition is the best way," and I ask "Just where is this lesson?"

India and Pakistan are nuclear armed and at each others' throats. Palestine/Israel is at the heart of the middleeast troubles. Sri Lanka? Balkans? Just where has partition shown us the way?

The prospect of a divided Iraq is becoming ever more widely accepted. Even the US, while Bush still pledges military victory, is seeking an exit strategy which relies on such division. This is perhaps not unreasonable when Iraq was – albeit three quarters of century ago – created by the British out of three separate ‘nations’.

The problem is that the strategy, such as it is, is being obfuscated by the participants wanting to pretend it is something else. In addition to the fantasy victory still sought by George Bush, the Iraq government (a puppet creation of the US) still wants to think it is control. Only Britain’s generals, at long last, seem to have accepted the inevitable.

But ‘federalism’ (or perhaps fragmentation) is not a simple choice. The spectrum of choices runs from the tight federation, with a strong central government, sought by the existing government (and now also by the US) and which is almost certainly wishful thinking on their part, through to total fragmentation – with chaos as local warlords fight to control their fiefdoms – which nobody except the militias want.

Somewhere in the middle is now the best we can hope for. This would be a loose federation, though how loose still requires considerable negotiation. But, whatever the final design, it will inevitably demand considerable military intervention from the US to ensure that the militias do not win their separate fiefdoms. This requires sophisticated military and political planning, if disaster is to be avoided.

Regrettably, still trying to be seen to win a lost war, most of the participants are steadfastly burying their heads in the sand. Disaster looms!

The very idea that Iraq needed "solving" is what got us into this mess in the first place! Perhaps we should in the future admit that others should be allowed to live their lives in a different way to ourselves.

  • 111.
  • At 04:56 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Ndive George wrote:

Hi there,
I think the best way is for the USA to hand over Iraq to the UN and just be part of the UN force

  • 112.
  • At 07:41 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Aaron Turner wrote:

Surprise, surprise, the US administration has today (nicely timed in order to help the Republicans in next month's midterm elections) announced a timetable for US withdrawal from Iraq in 12-18 months (nicely timed to help the Republicans in the 2008 Presidential election). Policy motivated by the best interests of the GOP, not the best interests of the Iraqi people (see my posts #17 and 71). And none of the aides or generals can quite look at the camera when they deliver their lines about this being the best way to restore order in Iraq, because they know it's not true. Because of course the remaining training of the Iraqi army and police force will likely take much longer, and they simply won't be ready when the provinces are handed over to them one by one, and the insurgents will simply bide their time until the US and UK troops have exited, after which they will be free to pursue their agendas in the ensuing security vacuum with much less interference from any government authority, and Iraq will gradually slip deeper and deeper towards decades of civil war, and the country - as well as the hopes of the long-suffering Iraqi people - will be destroyed.

All those lives lost and all that money spent for nothing.

  • 113.
  • At 10:14 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • michael godfrey wrote:

Ask General Wesley Clark. He is the only one who really does know what he is talking about on all matters political as well as military.

Unfortunately the American Public consider him the worst of all possible things "a liberal" but also he is a Democrat and so eternally damned.

But he is the ONLY person for the job of saving Iraq and possibly us all.

  • 114.
  • At 10:30 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Flyingbolt wrote:

Vikingar #94:

You ask the Iraqi people to 'abide by the norms of civilised society'.

Do these norms, by any chance, allow for the government of such a society to commit illegal and immoral acts of aggression against another country, after having used deception and lies in an attempt to secure the acquiescence of its own citizens in those illegal and immoral acts.

Just wondered.

  • 115.
  • At 10:41 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Benedict Davey TLC wrote:

Milandering extremists...It was not unextreme unradical to kill of Iraq's chains of command and try to replace them to create a liberal democracy..!

Iraqis are by welcome great naturalists and so forgiving you want to apologise...

This is a war by people confused against the traditional and knowing...

Only tradition can save Iraq..and that will take commanding authorities...

Colonialism was so much easier when the opposition run out of guns!

  • 116.
  • At 12:15 AM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref Flyingbolt #114

"Do these norms, by any chance, allow for the government of such a society to commit illegal and immoral acts of aggression against another country, after having used deception and lies in an attempt to secure the acquiescence of its own citizens in those illegal and immoral acts..... Just wondered"

Perhaps the state of Iraq has been served in the same coin it served on others & itself for 40+ years.

STOP PRESS ... politicians use politics to get their way ... more on this story later *

* btw - show me a nation & country that has not engaged in policy to benefit primarily itself & then others.

How dare the west presume other nations can handle the opportunity for change, democracy, law, justice, peaceful coexistence amongst different groups/neighbours & economic growth & prosperity.

Ref my #94 - perhaps its just Iraq cannot handle that amount of self determination at this time.

Q. what prevents them - history and/or culture and/or psyche/mindset?


  • 117.
  • At 02:06 AM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Idiot wrote:

Ref: Vikingar
You appear to have previously threatened posters who stray from whatever your particular line is with prison, and every word typed by you appears to be for bloodshed, can you explain what you really want? What part of your agenda is about anything other than bullying and villification? If you really supported our soldiers as you claim, you would want them out of that murderous situation too, to leave them in honour, not dishonoured any further in an illegal war as they are being by Mr Blair.
In YOUR OWN words please Sir, without avoiding the issue share with us your vikingar manifesto

  • 118.
  • At 07:36 AM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Paul Ashmore wrote:

One issue that I have not heard discussed is what do the Sunni and Shia groups want?Obviously they want foreign troops out, but do they want separate states or a federal Iraq?Do the Shia's in the south want to be considered a client state of Iran or is it just a case of "my enemies enemy is my friend?"

  • 119.
  • At 10:50 AM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Flyingbolt wrote:

Ref: Vikingar #116:

You write: 'Perhaps the state of Iraq has been served in the same coin it served on others & itself for 40+ years.'

So this is what you're saying: we are more civilized than you are, but as you're not behaving as we think you ought to behave, here's a salutary demonstration of just how uncivilized you've been. Sorry about the mess.

Is that your answer to my questioning of your notion of civilized norms? Pathetic.

You also write: 'How dare the west presume other nations can handle the opportunity for change, democracy, law, justice, peaceful coexistence amongst different groups/neighbours & economic growth & prosperity.'

It may have escaped your attention, but it's only in the last fifty years or so that Europe itself has had much success in many of these areas. Or do we draw a veil over the period 1914-1945 when we're lecturing non-Europeans?

You seem to believe that your political views have widespread support; are 'mainstream', as you often put it. You're deluded. Your monocular vision of the world fits you only for endless recapitulations of what Barbara Tuchman has termed 'the march of folly'. Most of your thinking compatriots have left you behind. Isn't it time that you, too, tried to move beyond the cliches of cultural triumphalism that have brought no gain either to the West or to the hapless objects of its missionary zeal.


Now is the time when US Presidents traditionally start to look at the reputation they will leave behind when they leave office. Pity, then, Bush (along with Cheney and Rumsfeld) as the architects of the Iraq disaster.

Even George Bush has now recognized the parallels with Vietnam; in terms of the willful damage it has done to the US image and the trauma it is increasingly inflicting on the US population as a whole. Everyone else did so long ago, and saw that the administration had already passed the ‘event horizon’ of the political and military black hole which was engulfing them.

With the benefit of hindsight, and access to the secret documents which will surely prove just how corrupt and venal this administration has been, future generations will label this government as one of the worst in history. By comparison, ‘Tricky Dicky’ was guilty of a bungled burglary, not the near genocide of hundreds of thousands. Even Vietnam, which scarred a whole generation, could not be blamed on a single group of individuals; there were too many fingers in the pie.

But, and here is the future for George and his cronies, Iraq is the legacy of just three politicians: Bush, Cheney and Runsfeld. They are ideally placed to become the bogey-men of the future. One could almost hear the new nursery rhymes – if they were to remain in popular culture – warning of the three ugly monkeys: George the out-of-control idiot, Cheney the evil robber and Rumsfeld the mad butcher.

I am just sorry that Tony Blair, otherwise one of the outstanding politicians of our time, will also feature as a bit player.

  • 121.
  • At 03:10 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • J White wrote:

Don't be sad , posting 120 , Tony Blair, " one of the outstanding politicians of our time " is the bench they are all sitting on.

  • 123.
  • At 07:27 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Hugh Waldock wrote:

It seems a shame that we couldn´t have predicted this BEFORE we went into Iraq. Saddam was already in a cage he was politically chained down, there were no fly zones the Kurds ran their own shop etc etc etc. Now we are dealing with the same problems Saddam had and we are using the same methods, namely killing all the opposition, more people are dying. This should have been predicted and we should not have decided to play the A Team or the glory boys.

To be honest with you, I don´t think we are the best people for the job. Only the Iraquis themselves can solve their problems.

The question is can we help them to help themselves? Maybe, but there is a total inconsistency between what the US and English governments´ aims were and probably still are and what the majority of iraquis want themselves, which is to survive and have the most basic of amenities to hand. This is more important to most than establishing a democracy at the moment. Remember we expected an iraqui led uprising against Saddam Hussain after 1991 and it didn´t happen, maybe Iraquis are not quite so willing to die for freedom like William Wallace. Some are forced to and others are dying for other aims. Are we really championing their cause or are we looking after our own interests? I don´t know.

  • 124.
  • At 07:29 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Hugh Waldock wrote:

Oh Mr Bush "I love it when a plan comes together".

  • 125.
  • At 10:12 AM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • ali asghar wrote:

if u have asked the comments
so i hope that these must make some
effect on the planning or decision
as far as iraq situation is concerned
and so far what all the allies had
done to improve the dillema , but
what has come out, it can be assessed
through this questionnere world wide.
i think, why not iraqi be left on their own will and decision to solve
or to maintain their stability, why
not the people of iraq be left to chose to which side they want to stay
to get support in order to stabilise
their country, because if see iran is
also blaming america for this whole
disaster. So why not left it for some
pre decided time table for which they
should be given some tasks to achieve
and get a monitoring team on them. this will enhance the america's role
as a peace keeper who first dig out
the dicitatorship and then give that region back to their native people.
now in this context some negative aspects will definitely come but for
a big goal and target some tiny mistakes should be done.
because keeping forces their means
waisting own men for other's cause
and in reward unstability and down morale.
The same situation is in afghanistan
and the same mistake has been commiting over there.

  • 126.
  • At 01:12 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Stuart Dennison wrote:

This is not a joke...

q) What is the difference between Iraq and Vietnam?

a) Vietnam they could leave.

  • 127.
  • At 02:57 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Robert Elliott wrote:

I suggest that the main reason for the fighting is that the groups want to control the money from the oil. I suggest that the oil companies in each area should be privatised with the government holding about 20% to provide initial stability. Each iraqie should get 1000 non transferable shares in each company when they turn 16 and 1000 tradable shares when they turn 20.

This will give all citizens a personal stake in the countries main industry and require the government to work with its citizens to collect income tax. There would be no reason to oppose the creation of autonomous regions as the oil money would flow to all the citizens irrespective of where they live.

The politicians would be able to concentrate on looking after their people and providing good governance.

We've thinking about a solution to solve this drama for many years.Some says that"if you don't know where to go,come back where you came from".The war sarted since september 11 of 2001 and in that time the americans' soldiers had to arrest ousama ben ladden and then his coopeartor Sadam ousen.Until now the americans' soldiers can't stop it so easily because the iraqians will never let it go so easily too.
It was an error trying the instore democracy in a country where the culture and values doen't match with that democracy.The only whay to staop it ,I think,is to enlenght to table of discussion so that every world instutition will be able to take a decision and not to draw a line for others countries,I mean americans must permit others coutries like japan for instance to countribute to the stabilishment of peace in Araqi.It seems that they loose countrol of the situation,so let get together and solve it once for ever before it turn worser.

J White - please can you clarify your comment number 121 for me?

Ref: this posting by J White on David Mercer's posting:
David Mercer said:
"I am just sorry that Tony Blair, otherwise one of the outstanding politicians of our time, will also feature as a bit player."

J White replied to above:
Don't be sad , posting 120 , Tony Blair, " one of the outstanding politicians of our time " is the bench they are all sitting on.

What do you mean "Tony Blair is the bench they are all sitting on?"

This is not another "Blair is the brains behind Iraq"? Surely not?

  • 130.
  • At 11:54 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Paul D wrote:

Re: Lee Goddard - Post 102.

All the time the demonstrators were gathered at Astoria for peaceful dissension, they were protesters. When over 1-2,000 of them broke the 'rules of engagement' by heading north towards the parliament, they became rioters. I confess that I did not know about the lost eye injury and that is to be regretted. I do however agree that a demonstration involving 20,000 odd people and a riot involving 1-2,000 is hardly 'a few protests by a few right wingers' and is neither truthful nor helpful. JP please note.

  • 131.
  • At 08:28 AM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • hossein M. wrote:

There is a good solution way, but it is a socio-economic project and it may not to be found through a simple email !!

  • 132.
  • At 02:30 PM on 08 Dec 2006,
  • Dave Coomber wrote:

Before Blair went most recently to see Mr Bush, I seem to recall the Iraqi President sugg4esting that in three months we could withdraw.
Perhaps we should withdraw to one secure place and have a unit in place to TEACH Iraqi police and soldiers how to help themselves in keeping peace.

Then we could shift several of our units to Afgahnistan and finish the job there; then they can all come home to defend the UK and not get mixed up in Someone Else's Problems.

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