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Oct 16, 2005 3:54 am


Four Links on Iraq



Today’s Independent (which goes behind subscription this Sunday at 7 pm EDT) carries four interesting stories on the subject of the invasion and occupation of Iraq: Harold Pinter on Wilfred Owen on the invasion of Iraq, Patrick Cockburn on the chaos that is Iraq, Phillip Knightley on Robert Fisk’s new book, and Margaret Thatcher on her doubts over the basis for the Iraq war.

Earlier this year the new Nobel laureate for literature Harold Pinter asked what the First World War poet Wilfred Owen would make of the invasion of Iraq. “I believe Wilfred Owen would share our contempt, our revulsion, our nausea and our shame at both the language and the actions of the American and British governments.”

Pinter continues, “You may say at this point: what about the Iraqi elections? Well, President Bush himself answered this question when he said:"We cannot accept that there can be free democratic elections in a country under foreign military occupation". I had to read that statement twice before I realised that he was talking about Lebanon and Syria.”

British journalist Patrick Cockburn exposes the monumental series of blunders that plunged Iraq into chaos—and explains why the conflict will be longer, bloodier and more profound in its consequences even than Vietnam. Go here to read his essay. He concludes, “[I]f there is no withdrawal then the war will escalate. The occupation exacerbates a crisis it purports to cure. Mr Blair says British and American troops will stay until the job is done, but their very presence means Iraq will never be at peace.” Remember this next time anyone tells you that the U.S. must stay the course.

Phillip Knightley, author of the best-selling book The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-Maker from the Crimea to Iraq (3rd ed., Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004) reviews journalist Robert Fisk’s new book, The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East (London: Fourth Estate, 2005; New York: Knopf, 2005). Knightley writes, “He [Fisk] continues to fulfill this duty with passion and anger. As he admits, his work, especially in this powerfully-written book, is filled with accounts of horror, pain and injustice. His triumph is that he has turned a slightly dubious and over-romanticised craft into a honorable vocation.”

And, finally, a story from Thursday’s Washington Post that has crossed the Atlantic and made it into the London press. Baroness Thatcher (that’s Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady) has, it seems, revealed her doubts over the basis for the Iraq war.


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