"It is possible to say no"
So said Foreign Secretary Jack Straw yesterday about the proposed deployment of British troops into the part of Iraq affectionately known as "the triangle of death". So why do I get the distinct impression that we aren't going to? And why can't I help feeling that - even though support for such a barking right-winger should go against everything Labour is meant to stand for - the decision is being taken in part to bolster George Bush's re-election campaign?
This news has unsurprisingly been picked up on in the US, where one of the major lines of attack for the Kerry campaign has been that in Iraq it is US troops who are doing most of the dying. While some of the US media acknowledges this, perhaps unsurprisingly certain US papers don't seem to realise that the accusations that the move is in support of the Bush campaign aren't coming from the "opposition", but from Labour itself. A number of MPs have already spoken out against the proposal, and more will follow.
Which leads me to wonder - as, if British troops are deployed, this will certainly be used by Bush for political gain, will the response from America bemoaning how other countries are trying to affect their election be as rabid and vocal as it was in response to the Guardian's letter-writing initiative?
Update: Considering we don't have to get any more involved, why would we commit our troops to areas where this kind of thing is happening? As part of a UN - or even NATO - peacekeeping force, fine. But as the current occupation is illegal, why unecessarily put our soldiers in a position where they are not only far more likely to be killed (just before Christmas), but also where they are more likely to end up committing war crimes alongside their American allies?
I'm afraid I don't accept Jack Straw's claim that "we have a responsibility for sorting the situation out" in the north of the country. British troops have stuck to the south, and have - for the most part - done a damn fine job of maintaining control. I'm quite happy for the mess in the north to be sorted out by the US - whose heavy-handed techniques have at the very least been a contributing factor to the level of resistance they are facing - until such a time as there is a clear mandate for multilateral peacekeeping action.
For the record, however, I do agree that it's about time the UN got up off its arse and did something about the chaos the invasion has caused - in spite of the fact that the US-led incursions were not supported by it in the first place. sadly, the US doesn't seem to be trying too hard to gain the UN's support.
Maybe if Kerry gets in, eh? (The wishful answer to everything...)