BBC correspondent Jim Muir saw it coming all along, but inexplicably failed to tell us at the time.
I have never written to a politician in my life. But I very nearly made an exception for Tony Blair. It was towards the end of 2002, when it was already clear that the invasion of Iraq was only a matter of time ... I was going to tell him, on the basis of three decades living and working in the region, that he was on the brink of a massive historical blunder. I never sent it, because I knew of course that it would not make a blind bit of difference, apart from perhaps salving my own conscience, and allowing me to say: "I told you so" - something that would bring no satisfaction at all. And so, four years on, look at what a terrible mess Mr Blair can now say goodbye to, and hand on to Gordon Brown.
I can write with a degree of "told you so" here, having written this the day Saddam's statue fell.
"... will survival be the biggest worry for most Iraqis ? The US and Brits are going to have to turn themselves into aid workers and/or policemen with some speed. When a strong police state collapses, anarchy often follows ... Night is falling in Baghdad. Let's hope they don't wake up to a looted and burning city tomorrow. I'm very pleased - but it seems to me that for the Coalition the hard work has only just begun."
Muir trots out the "US supported Saddam" line.
But when Saddam's excesses were at their worst, during the war with Iran in the 1980s, he was actually being discreetly supported by the Americans.
This support a/c/t Muir consisted of "turning a blind eye" to human rights violations. You can see who was supporing Saddam here. US support for Saddam increased after the Iranian revolution alright - from 'none' to 'small'.
But it's this bit - on why it was always going to be a mess - that intrigued me. Don't expect to see this line from a BBC Home Affairs corresspondent.
Iraq is a patchwork country, an ethnic and confessional cocktail, of Arabs and Kurds, Turkomans and Chaldaeans, Sunnis and Shiites. Such countries are usually held together by a strong centralised dictatorship, which could be benign or tyrannical.
Hang on a minute. In the UK, an "ethnic and confessional cocktail" translates into "celebrating diversity". How come it's so bad for the Iraqis ?
As soon as you admit the concept of democracy and take the lid off, it is bound to be difficult and chaotic in the best of conditions, in a place with no democratic traditions or culture.
I'm being fair to Mr Muir. That last is an important caveat. No democratic traditions or culture.
22% of children in English schools are now from ethnic minorities. Since Ray Honeyford the concept of using the education system to assimilate migrants to British culture has been seen as racist. 21% of babies in England and Wales have a forign-born mother. How many of those mothers are from countries with democratic traditions and culture ?
While we're in Iraq, an interview with one Rory Stewart, one of those public school adventurers Britain can still produce, and an interesting chap to read or listen to. He's been governing chunks of Iraq for a couple of years. He thinks we should get out.
Obama the reader
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