The Independent reveals today that the Admiral at the head of the Royal Navy at the time of the Iraq invasion seriously doubted whether the war was legal.

This confirms what I already suspected about the chasm between the military and government in 2003. From what I understand – in the UK, at least – the military was not keen on invading Iraq. Nor are they keen on staying in Iraq. Yet they can’t say this publicly because they aren’t supposed to be political. It’s a shame, really, because it seems to me the people who are actually on the ground might have a little more to contribute to the debate than, say, a Prime Minister who is more concerned with creating a legacy for himself and cozying up to Bush than doing what’s right.

The Iraq war is the responsibility of Tony Blair and the Bush Administration, not the military. I can’t tell you how angered I was to hear that tool Lou Dobbs tell Bill Maher recently that the failures in Iraq were due to the poor planning of the U.S. military. No, the failures in Iraq are due to the shitty idea of going into Iraq in the first place – a decision that was taken by Bushy and his cronies. Hell, I was still in undergrad when the invasion happened and even I thought it was the stupidest idea ever – not only because the reasons for it were unclear and it was illegal, but also because there was no way they’d win. It was a bad strategic move – expensive, deadly, wasteful, pointless. Oh, and morally wrong – but that’s a different argument that the pro-war folks don’t really want to engage with.

Here’s an excerpt from the article on Admiral West:

What was noticeable was the difference in attitude among the men and women compared to the Afghan war. There was genuine unease and it was the duty of the chiefs of staff, as the head of the services, to get clarification about whether they would be in breach of international law. There was also a degree of worry about the independence or otherwise of the government legal advice.

Admiral West approached lawyers … on whether the impending action over Iraq was justified. It was a personal decision on his part and he felt this was necessary because of his duty of care towards people serving under him. He and the other service chiefs did not walk blindly into Iraq, they asked all the questions they could under the circumstances and with the ever-present caveat that they could not stray into the field of politics.

I have as many problems with the culture of the military as the next anti-war feminist – military culture is inherently misogynistic and pro-violence – but I’m also not one to blame the messenger. The responsibility in going to war lies with the politicians, while the responsibility for the conduct of war is shared both by the military and by the politicians that sent them there ill-equipped. And, remember, it is the politicians at the top who gave the military the OK to torture, and who continue to proclaim the virtues of torturing suspected terrorists. The recent Republican presidential candidates debate reveals that all the candidates, with the exception of good old Ron Paul, are clear supporters of torture – even going so far as to say that the US needs more folks like Jack Bauer. (Watch that clip – sickening!)

Here in the UK, blood is boiling about the war and I suspect there’s only a few little loyal Blairites who are still in support of Iraq. It should be interesting to see what Blair’s legacy really is a few years from now, and how long the British public – and the British military – put up with a bunch of tools making stupid decisions that are costing far too many lives.

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