The first draft of history

THEY say that journalism is the first draft of history. The images from Iraq give us the feeling of actually being there as history is created.

Who will forget the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad; as people celebrated the downfall of the tyrant?

Who will ever forget the heartbreaking picture of twelve-year-old Ali Ismael Abbas; orphaned, maimed and burnt by a coalition bomb? And today will be the funeral of Lance Corporal Llywelyn Evans, the first Welshman to be killed in the conflict.

As I wrote in this column some weeks ago, there is no monopoly of morality in the war on Iraq.

This is only the first draft of history but already we can draw some conclusions.

Fighting a pre-emptive war in Iraq without UN approval puts us in a completely new era of international affairs.

The strength of the American military is now greater than the next twenty-seven military powers put together. The new American doctrine is that in the 21st Century no other power should be able to challenge American military might.

There would be no need to worry about this if we knew that American power is always benign.
The USA could be a force for good, spreading values of freedom and democracy.

But it can also have a darker side, putting US strategic and economic interests above all else, including the freedoms of others.

Historians will say this war was a direct result of September 11th 2001. The attacks gave the necessary momentum to George W Bush to complete his father's unfinished business with Saddam.

But Historians also remember September 11th 1973, when the Americans helped to organize a bloody military coup against the democratically elected government of Chile because it was considered too left wing.

The men behind President Bush's foreign policy today are out of the same stable as those who planned the murder of President Allende in 1973. Thousands more perished in the years that followed.

If a free Iraq emerges, some will say the ends justified the means, whether or not Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were a real threat. The truth is that the events in Iraq do not mark the end of a period of history, but are part of a longer war.

British troops have performed with professionalism, courage and restraint. This is the third time in the last one hundred years that our soldiers have fought in Iraq.

At the end of the First World War Britain was given the League of Nations mandate to administer Iraq, Jordan and Palestine.

The real long-term source of instability and violence in the region is Palestine.

Now Tony Blair must use all his influence with the Americans, to press them to help solve the Palestinian problem.

The events which we see unfolding in the media, are only the first draft, of a single chapter, in a long history book, whose ending has yet to be written.