"All things are wearisome, more than one can say." - Ecclesiastes 1:8

Friday, September 15, 2006

Iraq conversions

Norm links to a New Statesman piece from Lindsay Hilsum who supported the war, now thinks she was wrong and finds both the anti and the pro-war debate shrill and tired:
"Their refusal to acknowledge the truth is as sickening as the cynical reasoning of the anti-war lobby, which opposed the war because its members hate America, not because they thought it would harm Iraqis. Most Iraqis I know agreed with Mohammed that there was no other way to get rid of Saddam, and that, however rough it was, war would in the long run bring a better life. They have been proved wrong, but the anti-war mob infantilises Iraqis, allowing them no responsibility for their own fate."
Her ambiguity I recognise - and share, I think, to a greater extent than most of the "pro-war left", many of whom have a certainty that I find it impossible to identify with.

However, despite everything, unlike her I have not - much to my own surprise - changed my mind. This has nothing whatsoever to do with a failure to recognise the disaster that has unfolded in Iraq since the invasion, as we who supported it are often accused. I have a number of reason for this but for now I'll restrict myself to this: I simply don't understand the tendency Hilsum identifies whereby those who took entrenched positions on either side draw a sense of moral satisfaction from saying, "I wus right" - as if political morality is a function of an ability to predict the future.

I can't speak for anyone else but I did not take the position I did and still take because I thought the outcome was certain. And I think I have the answer to Norm's question as to where the righteousness of those who acknowledge their wrongness comes from. It is the same as that which animated many, but not all, of those who opposed the war in the first place - a desire to keep their garments unspotted and unblemished by this world. How it has manifested in this situation has been the tendency for some to believe the position they have taken and how they felt about it are more important than the actual events themselves. It's so painfully protestant. For those who have done this - and especially those who have done both: get over yourselves, darlings, you're not that important.

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