I deplore the idea of a declaration of war - or even worse, a military attack without such declaration - on Iraq. I retain the rather forlorn hope that diplomacy will still find a way out of the present impasse without the loss of face, but the steady build-up of American forces (tagged by a token tail-wagging British contingent) may already have acquired a momentum of irreversibility. Who thinks of the consequences? ‘Regime change’? By imposition? How about regime change in Jerusalem? In Riyadh? In quite a few other places it would not be hard to name? What looks like the arrogance of American selectivity is of course no more than the reality of power, and it is not new in the world. But there is all the more reason to out it, to question it, to satirise it, since the stakes today are so high. The so-called Gulf War was not really a war but a one-sided massacre. Is British public opinion happy to underwrite what President Bush clearly regards as the finishing of unfinished business? Perhaps it is. If so, these are bad times!
Originally published as part of a debate on 12 January 2003 Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. 1.