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Monday 21 Aug 2017 | 09:05 | SYDNEY
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Iraq War: It's been almost 10 years

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This post is part of the The Iraq war ten years on debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

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7 March 2013 09:17


This post is part of the The Iraq war ten years on debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

Blogger and columnist Andrew Sullivan is marking the upcoming tenth anniversary of the Iraq War by reproducing some of his stridently pro-war blog posts of the time. Those of you who follow Sullivan's site will know that he has changed his mind completely about Iraq since those days, and he has been unusually open in his contrition. In fact, he's showing an almost masochistic willingness to lay bare his embarrassingly credulous endorsement of the Bush Administration's line leading up to the war.

It sets a good example. And in the same spirit, I place on the record my own support for the war at the time. My support was more hesitant than Sullivan's, and I recall having many doubts. But having served as a mid-level official in the Defence Department through the 'major combat operations' phase of the war (that is, before the real Iraq war kicked off), I also recall giving a farewell speech to colleagues before moving to DFAT and saying that we had done the right thing.

I was wrong for a lot of reasons — strategic, political, humanitarian — but the most important is that the Iraq War did not meet the basic test of a just war, which allows for pre-emptive military action against an imminent threat, but not preventive war designed to stop such imminent threats from even emerging. The Iraq War, to my mind, was clearly a preventive war and thus constituted a crime of aggression.

I don't suppose my support for the war mattered very much at the time, and although I now have a public forum to air my revised views, I doubt my change of heart matters much more now. I mention all of this only to encourage others to talk about their views of the Iraq War ten years after the invasion, and to tell readers what they continue to believe and what they have changed their minds about. Email me on blogeditor@lowyinstitute.org.

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