Nick Cohen on Pinter and "all the liberals and leftists like him".

Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
28 December 2008

Anthony Barnett (London, OK): In an uncharacteristically generous (mostly) response to Harold Pinter's death which attempts to make some necessary moral distinctions, Nick Cohen also writes this about opposing Saddam Hussein and the Iraq war.

I understood that he [Pinter] wanted the annihilator of the mountain people of Kurdistan to be left in power for good as well as bad reasons. I still could not and cannot understand, however, why he and all the liberals and leftists like him did not oppose America while supporting Kurd and Arab Iraqis who wanted something better than the Baathist gas canister or al-Qaida suicide bomb.

Most liberals and leftists did support the Kurds and Arab Iraqis. There was an ongoing debate about this in openDemocracy, for a start. Indeed, support for them led us to opposing the US invasion. It was a good judgement, not a moral betrayal. Cohen himself first opposed the invasion of Afghanistan and then savaged everyone who came out against the US invasion of Iraq as mindless anti-Americans. Today, supporters of the war who change their minds are regarded as wise while those who were wise are still tossed into a bucket with a casual dismissal. As John le Carré put it in his contribution to the oD debate at the time

Where’s the hurry? Iraq is a vile dictatorship, and Saddam is a monster who sits on the world’s second largest oil reserves. But there is ample time to consider how to unseat him before we plunge into this predatory and dishonest war. Leave the UN inspectors there. Convene Iraq’s neighbours. And consider for a moment where the will came from to make this war in the first place.

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