Europe and the Iraq War

Note: It was the Iraq War that prompted me into public dissent from the orthodox rightist line on the European Union. I have never accepted that membership of the EU is an attack by weasily foreigners on our free institutions, and that leaving it would give us a reasonably accountable government with low taxes and the common law. The truth appears to be that we are utterly corrupt as a nation, and British membership is more a symptom of what we have become than its cause. I don’t see the hand of Europe in the transformation of the police into cowardly thugs, or the universal degradation of our politics and culture. Even very bad things like the European Arrest Warrant are not applied in other European Union countries with the same wooden stupidity as in Britain. In Germany, for instance, it is still not legal for citizens or even residents to be extradited for trial elsewhere.

The main disadvantage of being in the European Union is that it enables our own ruling class to govern by decree. British ministers and civil servants push for certain things behind closed doors in Brussels, and then tell us, when we complain about the resulting laws rammed through Parliament, that is it all the fault of those beastly Europeans. As a prime example of this, see the history of the rise and progress of the money laundering laws.

Of course, this is to be deplored, and a decent government – assuming we ever get one – would leave at once: its rules would prevent or delay policies of radical reform. Until that day comes, however, British membership gives us certain offsetting advantages. These are:

1. Oppression has to be co-ordinated between several dozen governments, not all of them run by certifiable lunatics. See, for example, the block so far on minimum pricing for alcohol. Or see the compelled harmonisation of our porn laws with those of more sensible countries. Without that brake on action, I have little doubt we would by now have bar codes tattooed on our foreheads and on the spot castration for suspected child molesters.

2. The supremacy of European Union law, and our associated importation of the European Convention on Human Rights into our domestic law, have empowered our courts to stage a slow-motion coup against the absolute legislative sovereignty of Parliament. This was just about acceptable when the country was run by a committee of hereditary landlords. It became an unmitigated evil once Parliament was filled up with scoundrels. I was one of the very few people on the right to welcome the judgment in Thoburn v Sunderland City Council. I thoroughly approve of the transformation of judicial review from a yapping at Parliament’s heels into an increasingly powerful weapon of control over legislation. It would be nice to go back to something like the 18th century constitution. Since that is not possible, the new constitution emerging round us is an improvement on what we had until recently.

The connection between this and the Iraq War is that the second of these forced me to think more clearly about the nature of our “special relationship” with America. No advantages come from this. It is, indeed, rather like being handcuffed in a car driven by a drunk. If I had my way, we would choose neither Washington nor Brussels. Since the main issue in British politics is over that choice, I tend increasingly to regard Brussels as the lesser of two evils. The European Union has committed no atrocities comparable to those of the Anglo-American alliance. On the contrary, left to themselves, the European elites seem to be mostly interested in making regulations on things like the size of vacuum cleaner bags. Doubtless, these tend to privilege big French or German companies. But they never result in blowing the arms and legs off brown children. Even after ten years, what was done in Iraq continues to fill me with outrage and shame. SIG

Iraq: I Wish I Had Been Wrong
by Sean Gabb
(First Published 11th May 2004)

My normal reaction when I turn out to be right is a combination of surprise and patronising self-righteousness. Where this Iraqi business is concerned, I really wish I had been wrong. Since the American war aims were never fully explained, there is no official criterion for judging the outcome of the war. On any reasonable view, however, the war has been a disaster.

The Americans invaded Iraq on a false prospectus. There were no weapons of mass-destruction. There was no link to al Qa’eda, nor any reason to think an invasion would reduce the will and ability of other terrorist groups. They destroyed the country’s administration and much of its infrastructure, and have done little to replace this. They rule the county by armed force. They are censoring the media. They have imprisoned thousands without charge or trial. They have tortured many prisoners. Their military is degenerating by the day into an armed rabble, killing civilians apparently at random. Before invading, they spoke of injecting liberal and democratic values into the heart of the Middle East. Instead, they have simply made themselves hated without being feared.

Of course, the resistance is blamed for this failure. Without that, the country could have been returned to some kind of native rule, under some kind of representative constitution. And money could have been poured into reconstruction projects. But on this reasoning, we could call the German invasion of Russia in 1941 a success but for the weather. The resistance was foreseeable. Certainly, I and many others predicted it. If the Americans and their allies failed to predict it, and are now responding to rather than shaping events, it is not because they have been unlucky, but because they are stupid. We can still debate whether the invasion was a crime. There is no doubt now it was a mistake.

Because the war aims were never fully explained, it is still possible to rescue some formality of success. If anyone in Washington has been shocked into a semblance of strategic sense, the Americans will now be making every effort to get out of the region. They need to find a strong man to put in charge—someone who will be less openly beastly than Saddam Hussein, but no less able to keep the country together. They need to give him as much money and as many weapons as he demands. They also need to bribe the Turks, the Iranians and the Syrians not to invade and divide the country among themselves. They need then to keep their heads down for the next few years and hope for the best.

That is if they have any sense. I suspect they have none—or that no one in charge of policy has any. Instead, it is likely that they will stay in the country until American public opinion grows comprehensively sick of seeing the United States behave like the French in Algeria and forces a sudden and unprepared evacuation. Until then, we shall have the continued treat of watching men in their sixties punching the air and dancing about like the heroes in those ridiculous comic books, while the morons who still bother to vote over there grunt in approval.

It is, I admit, inappropriate to ascribe one state of mind to a nation of more than 250 million people. But Americans remind me increasingly of someone from the lower classes who has come into money, and now is sat in the Ritz Hotel, terrified the other diners are laughing at him every time he looks down at his knives and forks. I suppose it is because so many of them are drawn from second and even third rate nationalities. The Americans of English and Scotch extraction took their values and their laws across the Atlantic and spread out over half an immense continent, creating as they went a great nation. They were then joined by millions of paupers from elsewhere who learnt a version of the English language and a few facts about their new country, but who never withheld from their offspring any sense of their own inferiority. The result is a combination of overwhelming power and the moral insight of a tree frog.

It would be easy to gloat over the hole the Americans have thereby dug for themselves. But we are all of us in it with them. There are British forces serving in Iraq, and smaller contingents from many other western countries. If the Americans are now defeated, we share in the defeat. Moreover, the defeat applies to every member nation of the West, regardless of whether it joined in this ghastly war.

The more I think about it, the more firmly I reject the idea that a conflict is inevitable between Islam and the West. There is a problem in many western countries with large numbers of unassimilated Islamic immigrants. But I have more contacts with these people than most of my readers, and I just do not believe this is a critical problem. Burning hatred of our civilisation is not an issue in Oldham and Bradford. Nor was it in the slums of Baghdad before we began strip searching women there and dragging men off the streets into torture chambers. Islam is not some theological equivalent of Marxist-Leninism. It is an immensely diverse and sophisticated religion. As a classicist, I regret that perhaps two thirds of what used to be the Roman Empire are now within the Islamic world. This being said, Islamic rule for many centuries offered more tolerant and less rapacious government than the Byzantine and mediaeval Catholic states. Islam is Osama bin Laden. It is also Hassan al-Turabi, and Avicenna, and the Shiite clerics who sat in the first Iranian Parliament in 1906. It is not our enemy unless we try harder than we so far have to make it that.

The real enemy is our own ruling class. It is not Moslems in this country who are telling us to be ashamed of our past, and are gutting the museums, and using the schools and media to turn out generations of illiterate sheep. Moslems are not abolishing our ancient freedoms in the name of administrative convenience. It is not Moslems who have bled the old middle classes white with taxes that have then been used to pauperise much of the working class and to raise up a totalitarian clerisy. It is not Moslems who go about insisting that arithmetic is a discourse and the law of contract a set of self-referential artifacts. If our civilisation collapses, it will not be Moslems who have hollowed it out from within. The real enemy is not dressed in a jalabiya or a turban: he wears an Armani business suit, and is fluent in postmodernese.

This being said, it is advisable that, while they should not neglect their own particular interests, the western powers should be ready to come together for the defence of common interests. Whether or not it is to be desired, it cannot be denied that the United States at the moment is the leading western power. It is a defeat for us all if the Americans will turn out to have spent $250 billion dollars on fighting this war—and still have lost to a handful of ranting clerics and suicidal children. It lowers the prestige of the West as a whole, and it reduces our future willingness to act in concert should the proper need arise.

As said, the Americans need to find some exit strategy that does not leave them utterly disgraced. For us, the matter is less complex. We are at best a junior partner in the war and occupation. The last time I wrote about Iraq, I suggested that we had no choice but to continue with our share of the occupation. The escalation of violence there and the revelations of torture have now changed matters. The Americans have promised to hand over power to an Iraqi government on the 30th June [2004]. Whether this can be done, and in what sense, are not matters for us of any importance. What is important is that we should get our own people out on that date, and keep them out.

It goes without saying that we should also distance ourselves in future from the Americans. Until they can be brought to understand the nature of what they have done, they are best not encouraged to further lunacy by the fact of our friendship. This need not, but possibly does, mean closer friendship with the European Union. For myself, the events of this past year have made me reconsider my objections to membership of the European Union. This is a danger to us, I still believe, and it would be in our interests to withdraw from it. But that danger is not catastrophic. If forced to choose between the European Constitution and watching our armed forces sent off to fight like Sepoys in some other ill-considered American war, I am not presently sure which ought most to be avoided.

Finally—and this is a point I may already have made elsewhere – we need to free our country from the psychopathic fool who got us into this mess. If it had not required the suffering of so many innocents, it would be enjoyable to watch the moral and political disintegration of Tony Blair. But, as I write, I feel no enjoyment, nor the slightest complacency. I wish this nightmare had never been allowed to start. Short of that, I wish all my hawkish friends had been right. As it happens, I was right from the beginning. But this does not set off the fact that I and mine are less secure than at any time since the early 1940s.


  1. I have to say your artical does in fact make a good analogy,and true picture of the situation, from the point of ground level, I used to travel to europe a lot in my 20,’s 30.s and 40’s I was never able to make the link with the thug British police force and the European police forces, because quite simply it did not exist, of course it is true many of the laws passed by the EU have been hijacked and moldered by both the labour and the tory governments, they blame the EU all the time, but in reality many of the EU laws inforced in the UK have been interfered with in some way, or other, and then implimented with an iron rod, of course as you are aware, this is indeed not alway’s the case in Europe, and of course the Germans do indeed possess superior political wisdom on such subjects, In Britain we see total control of democracy by a miniority, who abuse power and abuse the law, a greedy industrialised administration of justice, criminalising the nation for the sake of monitory gain, at the cost of our loss of the right to justice and none existent Human Rights. I was looking at some complex reports last night, put together on the subject of various legal systems within the EU, it makes easy reading really, Britain has the most expensive, corrupted legal system in the whole of the EU as well as being the most bureaucratic. After reading throught the lines, and looking at the comments and comparisonsit gives cause for serious concern. The EU have undertook extensive research in this area, and I agree with their findings and conclusions to the letter, they have delevoped a great understanding of how our corrupted totaliterian mechanisims work in the UK, despite my own critisims of the EU I don’t think anyone will end up in concentration camps or be shot at dawn for that matter, we live in a time of trouble and turbulation, we all need friends at this time, this a bad period in history it is wrong to clout each others armour with swords of misinformation during this period, there are areas in which we must work together, this is esstential for our very survival as nations. My own big fright is Britain will indeed break down, by causation of state of crime and corruption within our very establishment, leading to social and economic chaos and continued bankruptcy!

  2. ‘There were no weapons of mass-destruction.’

    Found AFTER the invasion.

    What were those long convoys of trucks carrying that were photographed by satellite delivering their cargoes into Syria just before the invasion?

  3. Well they could have been anything, it’s a bit like looking down on the M1
    from space and asking the same question. Who will ever really Know!

  4. Of course you make a good point in respect of the money laundering laws, particularly (POCA) 2002, (TACT) 2006, again not european but a brtish creation, these laws are being put to criminal abuse by the state, where everyone who turns up at thier MP’s office, with a complaint against some diabolic political acts of violece by police are subject to immediate investigation, removal of their proven lawful property and then has to undergo lenghty legal process to get it returned, it is being used as a punishment to silence people who have been subjected to injustice without any evidence in law to enforce it. Just look at the recent wistle blowers on the dire situation of the NHS, they are being made to undergo mental health assesments and sacked from their jobs, the state fabricatiing mental health records agains anyone who makes waves. If we look at the policy of these practices under the conservatives, government archives show, that under the tories we are witnessing the highest number of illegal detentions on record, 2010, a 9% increase, 2012. an 11% increase, staggering 49,000 people were detained last year, with a further 8,768 detained by police under 135, experts are now claiming the act is being used as a form of political punishment and oppression against political opponents, these figures do not include referals by GP’s which are truely horrific in numbers, it has emerged that many of these people are being held illegally, I looked at government figures last night and they exposed that over 5,000 are being illegally detained in these facilities,the highest number in europe in what they described as secure detention units. We are living in a state that in someway’s has adopted the former policies of the old Russia, where the local government sends out, “Blackmail Squads” Maiming Squads” “Section Squads” with a bundle of forged medical records, you get a knock on the door to be confronted with a bunch of sociopathic thugs,complete with someone elses medical records, and then punched around in you own house before being dragged off for some diabolic forms of tourture, that’s what they call a health service in england, The official term “Punative Psychiary” if that not bad enough we see the removal of peoples driving licences, by maladministration of the law, that’s what they call a democracy, no wonder the suicides are at an all time high in england, they way people leave these so called hospitals it is for many their only option, their lives taken by the activities of a corrupted totaliterian state, who matains totalitierian control over freedown and democracy!

  5. Have you got any links or other references to what is going on with this POCA/TACT law, Karl?. What you have said is interesting but anectdotal.

  6. Not really, just look at the cases pending in the courts and money taken by
    the government and Police, look at their own figures under the FOI not really anectdotal, the section figures came from both the police and government
    point of fact!.

  7. Firstly, with regards to data, this is government data, if you look at the projected buget on MH, up tp 2017, they have already exceeded these
    projections by 11% the multi million pound buget, will become an even
    bigger multi million pound buget, they are spending more than labour
    point of fact!

  8. You can obtain all the accounts on the DVLA on line, every page. it’s a very complex pile of documents, It appears the departments is part privatised, they get civil service pensions, and also make profits for stake holders, at at a cost of hundreds of millions per year on the back of the tax payer. Steve hammonds depatment!

  9. I don’t think there ever were any WMD point of fact they never went to Syria
    or iran, if they had them they would have used them by now. When you have a scociopathic-psycopath running a sate you have a very big
    problem indeed.

  10. Anyway Sean as you are aware this week is the ten year anniversary of the Iraq war, TND’s article is interesting interview with Tony Blair, it quotes, he said, We can see from syria that there is a price for standing aside, as well as intervening, Iraq is much better off today because of allied action, they have a democratically elected government, the economy is three times bigger than it was under Saddam, prosperity and opportunities are growing! Don’t know what to say.

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