This week saw the end of the brilliant Norma Piercy three-part series on the Iraq War. The format is the same as before: talk to all the major players, get them to put their side of the story, and the editing will provide the full picture – what they said, what other people said, what actually happened. This way you don’t get the self-important Paxman type question – “didn’t you realise that your short-sighted policy was doomed to failure?” You just get the truth. A series of self-important people thinking they were in charge of a process that was way beyond their control.
Jack Straw describes how he and Condi had to explain to Ibrahim-al-Jaafari that he wasn’t in control, so it was time to give someone else a chance. He sounds like a genial prefect, explaining the facts of life to a wayward junior. “It’s a rough game, politics. and when your time is up, you have to go.” Of course, Jack, and only the real pros know how this game is played.
But who comes in instead? The Americans settle for Maliki, because all the alternatives are too close to Iran. Maliki makes rash decisions, but he’s their guy so they have to back him all the way. Surprise, surprise, he likes the taste of power, and doesn’t take kindly to anyone suggesting that there should be any limits on his. There are Iraqis who think that his rule is just as autocratic as that of Saddam. That, dear viewers, is how we spread democracy in the Middle East. Anyone who voted for George W. Bush should be made to watch all 180 minutes of this patient, unanswerable case.