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Iraq: UK trying to dig itself out of a hole that it dug in the first place


Dark days: ministers who backed the original Iraq invasion are now opining on today's crisis

Dark days: ministers who backed the original Iraq invasion are now opining on today's crisis

Dark days: ministers who backed the original Iraq invasion are now opining on today's crisis

It's fine that lots of ex-ministers who voted for the war in Iraq are now on the news, giving their opinion about what we should do next in Iraq. That's perfectly reasonable, as long as they start every sentence, "Please bear in mind I helped create this cesspit, therefore my comments are less than worthless and, if I had any respect, I'd bind myself in chains and slither across the floor like an eel for 10 years, living off bugs out of shame. Anyway, thank you for inviting me onto the programme."

Instead, they seem happy to assume the position of an expert. It's like a presenter telling us, "With me to give us his expert analysis on navigating ships is the captain of the Costa Concordia. Captain, lovely to have you here for the regatta, where do you think some of these yachts are going wrong?"

For example, Jack Straw, who was Foreign Secretary at the time of the invasion of Iraq, said on the news, "My instinct is for the UK to join US airstrikes." And you can see why he trusts his instinct, as it's always been so reliable in the past.

Maybe that's what happened last time. Maybe Jack Straw said, "I'm not going to waste time reading documents about Saddam's weapons, I'm sure he's got massive destructive ones, because I've got a funny feeling."

We might as well give the job of Foreign Secretary to random blokes in the bookies. Then they can make statements such as, "This afternoon there were disturbing developments in Ukraine. I don't know what they were but something in my waters tells me I fancy a punt on an airstrike."

Labour's Peter Hain was also on the news, explaining how we should deal with Isis, as was Margaret Beckett. But they both forgot to mention that they were in the Cabinet that went along with the invasion that made such a mess of the place.

They could try this method on Crimewatch, interviewing Fat Ernie on what can be done about the disturbing number of people having their legs broken in north London, without mentioning the role of the Fat Ernie gang that goes round north London breaking people's legs.

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Peter Hain's view now is, "We must work with Assad" in order to destroy Isis. And he might be the right man to sort that out, as he must still have Assad's number from when Blair invited him to London as a "great reformer". To be fair, Blair's description has turned out to be accurate, as Syria is now so reformed, some of it is barely recognisable.

Iain Duncan Smith is keen on supporting airstrikes as well, and we should respect his judgment. Because when Tony Blair was trying to convince us that Saddam had destructive weapons, IDS said it was even worse than we thought and Saddam could "strike most of Europe including London".

This has to be admired, as it was even more wrong than the normal weapons of mass destruction theories. It's as if Neville Chamberlain had a colleague who said, "Not only will there be peace in our time, but Germany in the 1940s will be remembered above all for its bright sandy beaches".

The politicians who backed the war on the grounds of Saddam's weapons probably weren't just making a mistake. They believed the stories about his weapons because they wanted to believe them.

There were plenty of people who didn't fall for it, so shouldn't these be the people who are now interviewed?

News at Ten would make more sense if it started, "As the crisis in Iraq escalates, Mrs Tilbury from the Co-op, who always said invading Iraq would end in tears, gives her first interview on how she would deal with the Islamic caliphate."

The pretence that the invasion played no part in shaping the troubles of today is an impressive leap of imagination, like an arsonist saying, "I did set the house on fire, but I don't see how that contributed to the house burning down".

At the time of the invasion there was no al-Qaida in Iraq at all, but now we're describing the latest groups as even worse than al-Qaida. That has to be one of the most spectacular failures ever, doesn't it?

Imagine in 2003 if someone had predicted things would get so bad, we'd think, "I wish we could go back to the days of al-Qaida. At least they were polite. And say what you will about bin Laden, he kept his cave spotlessly clean. And his little films always had a beginning, a middle and an end."

But it doesn't seem to have affected the politicians who got everything so wrong. They're still asked their opinion as if it's valuable – past gibberish never mentioned – like a football manager who was sacked for his team losing every single game after he insisted on playing a midfield of four squirrels, but is still invited onto Match of the Day as a pundit.

This would still make more sense than asking the invaders of Iraq what to do with Iraq, as would Sky Sports showing cage-fighting with analysis by the Dalai Lama, or Songs of Praise introduced by the military command of Isis.

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