Douglas Murray Douglas Murray

Was I right about Iraq?

Back in March there was a glut of pieces about the 2003 Iraq war. The 20th anniversary seemed to much of the political and pundit class to be the perfect time to return to this scorched landscape. A number of people asked me to throw in my views and I failed, for two reasons. Firstly because, as some readers will know, I hate anniversaries and the lazy hook they provide to the news cycle. Secondly, because each time I sat down to try to write about those days I found myself unusually conflicted.

Those of us who defended the war have spent 20 years filled with ‘if onlys’

The reason partly relates to the wonderful, heroic former Labour MP Ann Clwyd, who died last week at the age of 86. After the war’s height, as the insurgency had begun, I went to Iraq with Ann. By then she already had a long and respected history of advocacy for the Iraqi people, and particularly the Kurds. This had come from visits from the 1980s onwards, when she saw for herself the terrible plight of the people whom Saddam Hussein had attempted to ethnically cleanse in the Anfal campaign and afterwards, through gassing, bombing and more. When Ann contributed to the parliamentary debate on the second Iraq war, the House was silent. Amid all the talk of WMD and more, here was a committed campaigner who could tell people first-hand the horrors of Saddam’s regime. It was a case I was in agreement with and to my great good fortune we became friendly.

Today there are no minds to change on Iraq. Those who opposed the war understandably point to the disaster that unfolded. Those of us who defended the war (many more at the time) have spent 20 years filled with ‘if onlys’ and agonised attempts to work out where it all went wrong.

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