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Reader riposte: Jim Molan and the Iraq debate

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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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21 March 2013 09:47


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

Sue Wareham from the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry writes:

Maj Gen (ret’d) Jim Molan's implication that Iraq is better off now because of the 2003 invasion goes beyond incredulity. Molan appears oblivious to the memory of the likely hundreds of thousands of innocent people who have died, and the millions of people who continue to suffer because of the war inflicted on them by the US, UK and Australia.

Is Molan really talking about Iraq, the country that was secular before 2003 but is now ripped apart by regular suicide bombings and other sectarian violence; the country where women were among the most liberated in the Middle East but whose rights have now regressed decades; the country where children have been terrorised and scarred for life by exposure to extreme violence, and where 3.5  to 4.5 million people have had to flee their homes? Is he including in the list of those grateful for our interventions the people of Fallujah, where he played a leading role in the second assault on the city in 2004? The descriptions of what coalition forces did there are not pleasant reading.  

Molan also appears to care little for the shifting goalposts that led us to Iraq. It was WMDs, no wait, there are none there. It was links with the September 11 terrorists, no, hold on, none of them were from Iraq, it’s Saudi Arabia we should have invaded. Hang it all, Saddam Hussein was a nasty piece of work anyway. And thank God he’s dead and can’t spill the beans about who helped make him a well-armed nasty piece of work. For a military man, Molan’s lack of concern for well-defined goals is surprising. He might wish to recall that PM Howard at the time told the National Press Club that he could not justify war if Saddam Hussein had no WMDs (then continued to do just that when no WMDs were found).

On 9 April, former Prime Minister Howard is to address the Lowy Institute. Unfortunately there has been no hint recently that he might do anything other than attempt to whitewash history, sanitise a bloodbath and justify one of the worst, if not the worst, foreign policy decisions in our history.

Given the significance of the decision to go to war that Mr Howard made, not least to millions of innocent Iraqis and to the millions of Australians who did not want his war, a proper debate on the subject, rather than a one-sided promotion of his cause, is the least that could be offered. Perhaps most importantly, we owe such debate to all those who will be affected from disastrous wars in future if Australia learns nothing from what happened in 2003. Such a contribution from Lowy, in the form of a debate on the decision made in 2003 and the manner in which decisions to go to war in future should be made, would be valuable.

The best way for Australia to draw lessons from the 2003 disaster would be through a high-level independent inquiry into the process and the decisions that led us to war then. Those who, like Molan, are keen to defend the decisions, should welcome such an opportunity and join the growing number calling for an inquiry. Then he could really have his say, with a very big and interested audience.

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