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Can an action that is, on balance, wrong-waging war on Iraq-be retrospectively justified by its effects? To put it another way, what are the minimum criteria for success if we are to save the western system in something like its present form and the political skin of a decent British prime minister? Low casualties, no disaster with the Kurds, no terrorist outrages and a reasonably popular post-Saddam regime with a western commitment to nation building, preferably co-ordinated by the UN; these would suffice. This would achieve both the “demonstration effect” to other potential Saddams-the US administration’s main, if obliquely stated,…

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