Bush…unforgivably, exploited Americans' fear and anger by launching an unfocused war in Afghanistan - which failed in its principal objectives of capturing 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden and isolating Afghans from the Taliban. Then he started a pointless, bloody war in Iraq - which had never harboured Al-Qaeda - and achieved nothing other than establishing itself as a huge drain on America's human and financial resources.
This is not a quotation from the Stop the War Coalition, but Peter MacKay writing in today’s Daily Mail. That’s right, you did read that correctly, I said the Daily Mail. It would be naïve (not to mention a rather puerile attempt at satire) merely to point out the hypocrisy of Mr McKay or the Daily Mail for writing and publishing these words. What I wish to highlight is what I think must change if we are to take my Obama’s words as a pragmatic call to action - "Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long." I take these words to mean an attack not just on the pettiness of US party politics but also on hypocrisy and and intellectual cowardice generally. The man or woman who has hidden behind patriotism in the past or fear, offereing up excuses for not speaking the truth about the US initiated wars in our recent history. This is a different kind of poison. This is the poision which permeats into our moral judgements as a nation (or group of like minded nations) this is a poison which allows us to look the other way when millions of young, innocent and for the most part silent people on both sides of conflicts have lost their lives or have suffered in ways in which we can only imagine.
The issues addressed in the Mail's quotation are no revelation of course. Some of us have been saying these things even before the war in Afghanistan in 2001 and certainly before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Saying it loud, but for the most part in isolation, without the backing of the official media, or politicians (Clare Short your cowardice still cannot be forgiven) and least of all by the Daily Mail of course. The point is that in the early years of this decade, in those times of fear and paranoia, just uttering the truth meant being ignored, insulted, accused of being unpatriotic and above all being marginalized as some lunatic fringe. Unfortunately, that time was precisely the time when the truth needed to be heard. Needed to be spoken loudly and authoritatively by all who knew it to be so, but kept quite through expediency, or ambition, or cowardice or vanity. You silence, the silence of the whole system is stained by the blood of all the countless victims of this century's futile wars. So let me now commend the Daily Mail for its honesty and express my wish that we cease to live in a culture where the only way to effect the reorientation of our moral compass is to indulge in retrospective hand-wringing and scape goating. Instead let us live in a culture where the truth is spoken and acted upon at the time when it actually matters.