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A response to Tony Blair's essay of June 14th advocating the continued use of military force in Iraq and elsewhere.

The Casualties of Support

by Lily Hamourtziadou
16 June 2014

‘We will have to re-think our strategy towards Syria; support the Iraqi Government,’ writes Tony Blair, as Iraqis continue to be bombed.1

‘Support’… a word that sounds so positive, so selfless; the shouldering of someone else’s burden; the sharing of responsibility; the assistance and provision of what is needed to do better, to recover, to flourish.

These are the casualties of our support so far:

Since March 2003, when ‘we supported’ the Iraqis in overthrowing Saddam Hussein, 140,768 Iraqi civilians have lost their lives in bombings and shootings.

As for this year, 7,665 civilians have been killed since January, 617 of them killed in Falluja by government forces.

They are the victims of our support. Direct victims, killed by our military, or indirect, killed by the insurgency and the terrorism that followed the invasion and occupation of Iraq, as well as the ‘democratic elections’ also held with our support. More recently, direct victims of Iraqi government forces.

The US has been offering further support to the Iraqi government.

The United States plans to sell nearly $1 billion worth of warplanes, armored vehicles and surveillance aerostats to Iraq, AFP reported. The deal includes 24 AT-6C Texan II light-attack aircraft, a turboprop plane manufactured by Beechcraft that has .50 caliber machine guns, advanced avionics and can carry precision-guided bombs, the Pentagon said. The aircraft and related equipment and services are valued at $790 million. 2

It has also been somewhat less reported that the US has been offering support to Syrian insurgents.

Syrian rebels have told a visiting journalist that the United States is arranging their training in Qatar. In a documentary to be aired Tuesday night, the rebels describe their clandestine journey from the Syrian battlefield to meet with their American handlers in Turkey and then travel on to Qatar, where they say they received training in the use of sophisticated weapons and fighting techniques, including, one rebel said, “how to finish off soldiers still alive after an ambush.”…

The interviews are the latest evidence that after more than three years of warfare, the United States has stepped up the provision of lethal aid to the rebels. In recent months, at least five rebel units have posted videos showing their members firing U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missiles at Syrian positions. 3

Support for the insurgents in Syria, support for the government in neighbouring Iraq. Support that has resulted in thousands of innocents perishing every year, in both countries. ‘There is no sensible policy for the West based on indifference,’ insists Tony Blair, ‘whether we like it or not’. So we must intervene and we must support, to be sensible. As sensible as we appear to be so far. Why we should support the Iraqi government, a government Blair believes to be sectarian, poor, weak and corrupt, yet not support the Syrian, which is fighting the same insurgency, is unclear.

Blair continues to have no regrets over the decision to attack and occupy Iraq. After all, he writes, there were a few fairly good years in Iraq, following the carnage of 2003-2007. ‘3/4 years ago Al Qaida in Iraq was a beaten force,’ he claims. He must be referring to the quiet years 2009-2012, when 18,000 Iraqi civilians were killed.

The truth is violence never ceased in Iraq. The cracks never filled. The wounds never healed. Our continued support has been catastrophic, costing thousands of innocent lives and delivering the final blow to a divided society. ‘We need a comprehensive plan for the Middle East that correctly learns the lessons of the past decade,’ writes Blair. Sadly, he still appears to need to include himself in that ‘we’.