March 24, 2004


Is anyone able to supply the full text of this? Or a link to the entire article?

Yes, I believe it was a just war
By Andrew Gilligan, Evening Standard

UPDATE. EURSOC supplies several extracts from the Gilligan piece. (Thanks to Bargarz for pointing this out). EURSOC begins by quoting Gilligan:

"One year on (since the war began), however the most important fact is that nobody’s worst fears on that wakeful night have come true. The vast majority of us, Iraqis, journalists, and Tony Blair alike, survived. Fedayeen guerrillas struck the coalition with small numbers, but there was virtually no real fighting with Saddam’s regular forces. The bombing of Baghdad looked scary on TV, but it didn’t even begin to approach the daily tonnage dropped on, say, Hanoi during Vietnam, London or any German city during the second world war.

"'Shock and awe' lasted an hour and a half, rather than the promised three days. And with only a few ghastly exceptions, the targeting, in the capital at least, was very precise. Colleagues who arrived after the war was over kept asking us where all the destroyed buildings were.

"There never was a military stalemate, a refugee crisis, a hundred thousand civilian dead …"

He goes on: "That old doom-mongers favourite, the revolt of the 'Arab street' across the Middle East, has remained as much of a mirage as any weapon of mass destruction."

Gilligan is largely critical of Blair’s reasons for going to war, rather than the war itself. "Right war, wrong reasons" he says:

"More than anything else, what discredited the war was the rush to conflict, the need to claim Iraq as a pressing danger. From this need stemmed all the Government’s most famous tabloid half-truths and non-truths. No one I know ever doubted that Sadam had WMD, or could rebuild them quickly. It was a perfectly fair inference to draw from his behaviour, even, if it now seems to have been wrong. But no expert, spook, or politician I ever met, apart from a few New Labour androids, believed Iraq’s WMD were a threat 'current and serious' enough to require military action in March 2003."

And via Melanie Phillips, news that anti-war Guardian columnist Andrew Anthony is now opposed to anti-war protesters:

I say this as someone who 12 months ago was probably 60% against the war, at least in the manner in which it was launched. Since then my doubt has remained roughly constant. What has changed is the doubt I have about the anti-war protesters. That is now running at record high levels ...

The response of some in the Stop the War coalition to the Atocha atrocity is reminiscent of the Eloi in HG Wells The Time Machine, who assumed a position of abject defeatism when attacked by the Morlocks, thinking it better not to get involved. The statement, however, that almost makes me want to campaign for George Bush's re-election was published in last week's New Statesman. It reads: "The current threat of attacks in countries whose governments have close alliances with Washington is the latest stage in a long struggle against the empires of the west, their rapacious crusades and domination. The motivation of those who plant bombs in railway carriages derives directly from this truth."

No, that wasn't the latest tape message from Bin Laden, that was written by John Pilger.

Posted by Tim Blair at March 24, 2004 12:48 PM

Try here.

It makes a nice bookend for this post by Norm Geras.

Posted by: bargarz at March 24, 2004 at 12:59 PM

I'm impressed by both articles. An intelligent, rational approach to the problems at hand. Thought provoking, to say the least.

Not the usual mix of delusions and trite phases fueled by some sort of self-hatred, spouted by useful idiots.

Thanks for the links!

Posted by: JeffS at March 24, 2004 at 01:21 PM

More of the story can be found here, but not all.

Posted by: bailodor at March 24, 2004 at 01:21 PM

Gilligan still can't think seriously about the basis for the war. He stipulates all the basic important facts concering both (assessed) extant WMD and the certainty of future WMD, then breezily concludes that there was no particular rush to deal with the problem. The near-impossibility of accurately assessing WMD development or cooperation with terrorist organizations in a closed society like Iraq; the collapsing edifice of containment and sanctions that was beyond rescue; the window of vulnerability for the Iraqi regime that would only start to close over time -- Gilligan just cruises right past those fundamental reasons to achieve regime change ASAP. Given his preposterous "reporting" from Iraq, this analytical ineptitude is not surprise. I'm thrilled he's dropped much of his cheap-shot snarkiness and outright prevarication -- henceforth he should stick to topics more suitable for his apparent intellectual capacity.

Posted by: IceCold at March 24, 2004 at 01:27 PM

On the "right war, wrong reasons" bit; while Gilligan's gotten a bit further than most, I'm getting awfully tired of the reiteration of "This last temptation is the greatest treason/To do the right thing for the wrong reason." (Well, the last half is reiterated a lot, anyway). Somehow nobody ever draws the obvious conclusion that if you do the right thing for the wrong reason, it's STILL THE RIGHT THING.

Posted by: Sonetka at March 24, 2004 at 01:34 PM

Did you hear Latham promised to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq if elected ? Its making headlines now.

What an absolute asshole - cowering to the terrorists.

Posted by: Jono at March 24, 2004 at 01:58 PM

Jono: Home by Christmas. Given the handover is scheduled for June, what's uneeasonable about that?

Posted by: ChrisV at March 24, 2004 at 02:22 PM

Bah! Sonetka beat me to the "Right war, wrong reasons" line.

Posted by: Ken Summers at March 24, 2004 at 02:24 PM

"Let all the poison that lurks in the mud hatch out."

I think this best describes Pilger's writings.

Posted by: Rob at March 24, 2004 at 02:43 PM

It has been suggested that Pilger isnt a traitor, he is actually on the other side. Maybe we should actually take that a step further, and realise that Pilger is actually a double agent for us! What better way to convert people to the 'pro-war' arguments, than to have Pilger rant and rave against them? Reasonable people, who may be disquieted about the war, will see his lunacy and hatred of the west, and decide that anything Pilger is for, they are against. This must be some sort of brilliant CIA plot. Maybe Pilger is even actually a robot...

Posted by: atilla at March 24, 2004 at 03:37 PM

Andrew Gilligan has landed an editorial job at the Spectator. I think he's Defence editor, though I'd advise you to double check that.

Posted by: TimT at March 24, 2004 at 04:53 PM

There was a brief and uncharacteristic outbreak of sanity at the Guardian yesterday, with even George Monbiot admitting "the survey that the BBC conducted in Iraq last week is shocking to those of us who opposed the war" and defending the principle of humanitarian intervention.

Normal service has resumed today, though, with an article by Naomi Klein headed "Terror As A Weapon Of Occupation":

Twenty minutes after the bombing of the Mount Lebanon hotel last Wednesday, the rumours began to fly: it was the US, the CIA, the British ... If these conspiracy theories have traction, maybe it's because the occupying forces have so brazenly taken advantage of the attacks to do precisely what they accuse foreign terrorists of doing: interfering with the prospect of genuine democracy in Iraq.

Posted by: wardytron at March 24, 2004 at 07:13 PM

Atila, dude, it's not the CIA behind Pilger, it's Karl Rove.

Posted by: Sortelli at March 24, 2004 at 07:25 PM

IceCold: Very well said. Not much of a Mea Culpa on Gilligan's part. His assessment of the WMD issue is office water cooler level musing at best. Like so many high profile commentators throughout the western world, both pro and anti-regime change, Gilligan has obviously opted not to thoroughly inform himself on the history and facts of Iraq's WMD programmes. Small wonder. The UNSCOM and UNMOVIC inspection documents make for tedious reading. Not to mention the fact that they provide very unpleasant reading for those who opposed regime change, so devastating is their indictment of Iraq's deceit during the UN inspections.

One wonders how high profile think tanks such as the Carnegie Endowment for World Peace have escaped scrutiny, given the propaganda laden, fact-misrepresented, fact-suppressed reports they have produced post-regime change, on the topic of WMD.

The ongoing debate concerning the legitimacy and wisdom of regime change in Iraq leads to a collateral, but vital sidebar; The need for individuals of an objective mindset to lobby (badger, if need be) the public at large to inform themselves of the facts that constitute the issues of our day. There is no better deterrent to dishonest media commentary than a well-informed public.

Read those UNSCOM and UNMOVIC documents, especially the " Bush is a lyin' liar " zombies.

Posted by: Mike at March 24, 2004 at 08:45 PM

What better way to convert people to the 'pro-war' arguments, than to have Pilger rant and rave against them? Reasonable people, who may be disquieted about the war, will see his lunacy and hatred of the west, and decide that anything Pilger is for, they are against. This must be some sort of brilliant CIA plot.

You know, I sort of wondered about this with the anti-war protesters, I mean, could they possibly be that stupid?? The protests were never going to achieve anything but make them look both brainless and heartless at the same time because of the devastation that would be caused by a coalition pull out at this point. With the latest Iraqi poll basically obliterating any argument they had, it was extraordinarily bad publicity for them still to be insisting on "saving" the iraqi's from the coalition.

Posted by: Jacob at March 24, 2004 at 10:53 PM

Jacob, having spent time with this type of protester, going all the way back to the late '60s, let me assure you, yes, they can be just that stupid. A better term, though, might be "obdurate ignorance." This is the situation wherein one is intelligent enough to understand and make use of facts bur stolidly refuses to acquaint oneself with the facts. These protesters prefer not to be disillusioned by anything that doesn't fit their world view.

My lovely wife points out the difference to the attitude of more rational types, "Oh, rats! Another beautiful theory slain by an ugly fact>" If you don't accept any ugly facts, your beautiful theories live forever.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at March 24, 2004 at 11:04 PM

I guess Harold Pinter couldn't find any bleeding rectums to count.

Posted by: Joe at March 24, 2004 at 11:11 PM

More than anything else, what discredited the war was the rush to conflict, the need to claim Iraq as a pressing danger.

Rush to conflict: 12 years of Saddam violating the cease-fire.

And there was no claim of Iraq as a "pressing danger" -- which I assume is just a rephrasing of "imminent threat".

Yeah, he may have "come around", but he still buys into the crap.

Posted by: Robert Crawford at March 24, 2004 at 11:28 PM

It's amazing so many people don't remeber that WMD was A reason and THE justification, not THE reason.

Posted by: aaron at March 25, 2004 at 07:12 AM

Asshat Andrew - Bali was bombed not only because we dance, but Australia helped East Timor break away.

Posted by: Sandy P. at March 25, 2004 at 07:46 AM

TimT, Andrew Gilligan, believe it or not, is now the 'Defence and Diplomatic Editor' of the Spectator. Frankly, the Speccy's obsessive hatred of Tony Blair has led it into making some very poor judgements in recent times, rather spoiling what used to be a fine publication. How could such a repuatble publication employ a journalist whose apprecation of proper journalistic standards and ethics has been publicly shown to be totally lacking?

Posted by: Richard at March 25, 2004 at 07:59 AM

I have no opinion on the matter whatsoever, Richard - just making an observation! But I would note that the Spectator is a Tory magazine, so it's not surprising that they have come out so strongly against Tony Blair.

Posted by: TimT at March 25, 2004 at 08:51 AM

The phrase "Right war, wrong reasons" is gibberish. I translate that statement as "the war is just because of some vital strategic or humanitarian reason, yet those reasons aren't enough to convince me we should have fought the war". Huh?

So there were better reasons than the ones that caused you to view the war as just? What does that even mean? Do these people question their own platitudes, to vet them against actual arguments? This obsession with how we feel about everything is the mark of the muddle-headed.

If it was the right war, then by definition, you've got all the reasons you need by virtue of the fact you view it as just. The End.

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at March 26, 2004 at 01:31 AM

Jeff, you're close. "Right war, wrong reasons" really means "Right war, too bad we didn't think of it first"

Posted by: submandave at March 26, 2004 at 07:46 AM