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Mr Grumpy can now be found posting at

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Probably legal, or Two and a half cheers for David Aaronovitch

So the Grauniad has managed to purge one of its leading revisionist traitors. Mr Grumpy has identified strongly with his growing realization that there is at least as much illiberalism on his left as on his right, and has enjoyed watching him wind the comrades up. He has done sterling work patrolling the creepy interface between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, from which Sue Blackwell has emerged with her academic boycott of Bad Jews. His sign-off column is powerful stuff. OK, now we can read him in the Times, but it’s the Guardian that really needs him.

But Dave, why oh why have you dug yourself into such a hole on the Iraq question?

On 1 May we find David A defending Tony Blair against charges of lying, thus: “To spin the advice, as many journalists have done, as showing that Goldsmith was saying that war 'could be illegal' is disingenuousness worthy of the slickest weasel. The advice shows, crucially, that the Attorney General thought that UN Resolution 1441 probably was permissive of military action against Iraq, without further decision of the Security Council.”

Now I have no more regard than David A for the less sentient members of the anti-war lobby. But even those with a couple of brain cells to rub together are not likely to be impressed by the distinction between fighting a war that is probably legal and fighting one that is possibly illegal.

Don’t get me wrong. I rejoice that Saddam is behind bars, in or out of his underpants. I hope and pray that Iraq’s first elected government can establish its authority. And I think we are duty-bound to help it do so, if only because the alternative is so appalling. But looking at how we got to where we are now, I am more than ever convinced that Robin Cook got it spot on. Would even George Bush have taken the decision to invade if he had been able to foresee how it would turn out?

Sorry Dave, but probably legal just wasn’t good enough.

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