"To claim that Britain and the US left Iraq a better place in 2003 is delusional"by Dominic Raab / June 25, 2014 / Leave a comment
The oil refinery in Beiji, Iraq, has been a key battleground in the conflict © /AP/Press Association Images
As jihadist rebels reportedly capture an oil refinery near Baghdad, the divisive Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki wants military support to see off a fresh terrorist insurgency. Tony Blair’s call for Britain to return to the fray was punctured by the assessment of the former head of the armed forces, Lord Richards, who said on Monday that the British armed forces are “not good enough” to combat the threat of “militant jihadism.” So, what should the UK response be?
Working as a Foreign Office lawyer in 2003, I was less worried by the quibbling over UN resolutions on Iraq than the coalition’s capacity to effect positive change. Ashen-faced colleagues were dumbstruck by the lack of planning for Britain assuming the role of “occupying” power. As events demonstrated, laudable ambition was punctured by a woeful lack of the means to deliver. To claim that Britain and the US left Iraq a better place is delusional, and the conundrum today is the same. Iraq lacks leaders capable of soothing sectarian wounds, and Western attempts to pick them or force their hand invite anti-imperialist backlash.