The 20th anniversary of the start of the Iraq war recently passed but the ramifications of it continue to rumble on. I was minded of it by a friend who had placed flowers at Robin Cooks grave. The former Foreign Secretary was courageous to both resign and speak out so vocally. That so many others in New Labour stayed silent, yet now seem to simply want to expunge it from their CV is shameful.
That war has been catastrophic not just for Iraq and all those killed or wounded by the conflict, but for our world where terrorism and insecurity has morphed. It’s also changed perceptions of the West within the developed world. We see things through a western lens and especially a UK/USA eye but the worlds a different place when seen from the perspective of the Global south.
It’s even impacting on the Ukraine War. The rejoicing at an International Criminal Court warrant for Putin ring hollow to many developing nations. After all, Russia no more accepts that courts jurisdiction than does the USA. Western condemnation of the mercenary Wagner Group seems to forget that they are simply modelled on Blackwater and others who came to fame and made great profit in war torn Iraq.
But it’s the wider hypocrisy of seeking to portray yourself as the upholders of peace, truth and justice. There’s no justification for Putin’s actions but the developing world equally laughs at western hypocrisy. That was shown in reports of from a recent meeting in India of developing nations. The Russian Foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, was laughed at when suggesting that Ukraine had launched an attack on them. But equally he received loud applause for condemning the Iraq invasion. That’s why when the UN held a vote to condemn the war and demand Russia’s removal from Ukraine 32 nations abstained. That’s way beyond Iran and North Korea or other pariah states and they can’t all be viewed as Russian client states.
It’s because the west is viewed as hypocritical and in no position to judge or condemn others. That won’t change until we apologise and seek to atone for what was just plain wrong. Those who were complicit need held to account.